BY HOSS OSKOUIELet’s face it: Anyone can make their company look great with a slick website, a shiny brochure, or a flashy presentation. It’s so easy, in fact, that we’ve already had success embracing all the tried-and-true traditional marketing avenues, including social media—and so have our competitors.
So when we wanted to launch an outside-the-box marketing campaign, we knew it had to do more than just present a polished façade. We would have to bring clients and affiliates alike right into our facility to illustrate the ways we stand out from everyone else in our market. Going behind the scenes was the best way to get people sold on our company, but not everyone—especially our out-of-town affiliates—can take a personal tour of our facility.
Perfect timing and collaboration were on our side as we scratched our collective heads dreaming up ways to show off our 50,000-square-foot facility and fleet of 75+ vehicles to bring our company to future partners and passengers. A friend happened to be on-site while we were brainstorming, and he told us about his own experiences using a drone to photograph his facility—a method for showcasing property that’s become popular in the real estate industry. We immediately seized on this as the inspiration we needed to creatively present the breadth, scope, and professionalism of our operation.
It’s difficult to get a client to visit, even beyond the limits of geography and travel costs. Many of the people booking transportation wear several hats: Some are administrative assistants to company presidents; even more are meeting and event planners who are juggling an array of different activities at any given time. Employing a drone to bring our office to them was the creative solution to our problem; however, we took it one step further. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what kind of story a video could tell!
And that’s why one afternoon saw a drone buzzing around our facility, inside our garages, and down our office corridors as it filmed video all throughout the property.
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical at first. Would this show our facility in the best possible light? Would our clients feel as if they had personally visited with us? What would get them to watch the video? How could the presentation convey the message I wanted them to hear?
My fears were allayed when we looked at the unedited film of the drone’s footage. I was expecting shaky, unusable images; while a lot of it did end up on the virtual editing-room floor, the end product was a smooth video that I was proud of, and one that introduced us to a whole new marketing concept.
But just because we were pleased with both the initial results and the project’s potential doesn’t mean we nailed it on the first fly-through. While the drone recorded tons of images of our property, we forgot to highlight one key component of what makes our company stand out from the rest: the people who make every client experience an exceptional one. So we went back, this time with a handheld video camera, for footage of our dispatch, reservation, maintenance, and chauffeur teams to include in our marketing video.
Once we had all the footage we needed, it was time to create something with it. To start, we kept the presentation in PowerPoint. We had the intention of eventually hiring a professional narrator to help us craft this virtual visual tour into an audio story later on, but our first foray into uncharted marketing territory was going to be a simple video overlaid with descriptive text.
Of course, there were hiccups at that stage that we didn’t expect, like the deceptively simple process of adding captions to the video. Superimposing text was more time-consuming than we expected, and both the time and the cost exceeded our original estimations.
But the more we worked on this new venture and the more it started to come together, the more we realized the potential of this novel marketing approach. I was seeing my facility with fresh eyes as I got a new perspective of our business—literally. We pored over footage of our property that gave us eagle-eye vantage points we are rarely privy to, offering us a whole new look at our operation. And as we worked with friends and outside experts to make this video come together, we got to see firsthand just how beneficial relationships can be and the wealth of knowledge that can be shared among a team of professionals from different fields. That shared knowledge also put a drone in our hands for free, lowering the cost of an already inexpensive venture—paying video-editing talent was our biggest expense, though drones themselves are dropping in price as they become more popular—and increasing our ROI from the start.
What’s more, upon completion of our drone-guided tour, we had a whole new marketing tactic capitalizing on the increasing trend of operational transparency that was also rife with branding potential. I remember how wowed I had been years ago when making a call to Miami’s Aventura Worldwide Transportation and the automated attendant announced himself as the voice of the Miami Dolphins. That was over-the-top impressive and a unique branding opportunity, and we, too, have begun looking for our signature voice with our drone marketing.
In the meantime, we have begun using our drone-recorded PowerPoint video as an effective sales tool. We have sent emails to our clients inviting them to take a virtual visit in less than five minutes. It is now posted on our website and I encourage you to visit and take a look. If you are as proud of your facility and outstanding staff as we are of ours, consider making a drone video presentation and step out of your marketing box to show off the investment you’ve made in the success of your company. [CD1017]
Hoss Oskouie is Vice President at Atlantic Limousine & Transportation in Atlanta. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.