Ep10: How to run a successful marketing competition and using drones in your business with Seb and Kirra from BIRDI

Dec 17, 2019

How do you run a successful marketing competition?

Sebastian and Kirra from BIRDI, a platform that enables businesses to integrate drones smoothly into their operations, dissect how their marketing competition helped them reach over 300k people and provided them with an opportunity to work with Canva.

We also touch on the best ways your business can get started in leveraging drone technology for your marketing, how to create successful events for your business that engage current and potential customers and how to build a loyal community.

So please enjoy this special drone marketing episode with Seb and Kirra from BIRDI.

What you will learn in this episode

  • The best ways your business can leverage drone technology for your marketing
  • How BIRDI built their most successful user activation campaign
  • How to run a successful marketing competition
  • How to build and engage a community
  • Drone breakfasts! How to create successful events for your business to engage current and potential customers
  • How to get started using drones in your marketing activity
  • How to understand your customers and know what they really want
  • How BIRDI uses Metigy to make the most effective choices with their marketing strategy

 

Resources mentioned

BIRDI Forward Thinking Marketer Award campaign

BIRDI photo marketing competition [check out the amazing images]

BIRDI and Pexels Drone Video Contest sponsored by Canva

Uber Elevate – Aerial Ridesharing at Scale

Amazon Prime Air Drone Delivery

Federation of International Touch

Metigy

Metigy Learning

Canva

Mailchimp

 

What business you would build on Mars?

That’s a good question. It’s very difficult to come up with the solution if you don’t understand what problem the customer’s going to look at. So you’d really want to make sure you understand once you landed there, who were the customers that you’re trying to serve and what was their purpose. Now if I take that, if I put my entrepreneur and fast moving hat on, I think from a quick response I’d be like, “One you’d have to be looking at, hey, strategically partner with SpaceX themselves because that offers, you get quite strong distribution, right?” And so whether that was selling tickets back to come to Earth, the return trip, you never know what environment they’re in. They might be looking to get away just as much as we are looking to get away.

It can be good exchange exchange, opportunity. Obviously there’s an element of natural vital resources. So you’d be looking at, you know, who’s supplying oxygen, water, food on-site, but then I don’t know what this, I guess these Martians are pretty self-sustaining in some way on their own merit. So I think I’d be, personally, I’d be looking at that partnership opportunity with Space X in some way, shape or form that I was addressing one of their problems primarily because I’m more likely to understand their model. I think it would take me a bit longer to recognize what a martian might need.

And then in terms of promoting it, you always give away freebies. So we just make sure to load up on like some earth rocks or something and pass them out because then they’re looking at them, they remember us and we gave them something. So it’s like a good feeling as a potential customer.

 

Get in touch with Seb and Kirra

Sebastian Robertson on LinkedIn

Sebastian Robertson on Twitter

Kirra Stutchbury on LinkedIn

BIRDI

 

Transcript

Brendan Hill:
So tell me more about BIRDI.

Sebastian:
So BIRDI is a drone management platform and what we do is we help businesses to integrate drone technology. So we have one of the largest databases of pilots across Australia and we help them find work across the different portfolios vary that they’re working in. And we also help businesses that are looking to integrate drones internally. So if they’re looking to train up their staff, we help them around compliance management. So simple terms, four simple steps. We look at compliance, how you capture, how you store that data and then how you analyze that data to make better business decisions or from aerial data captured via drones. So-

Kirra:
And if you’re thinking that’s complicated, that’s why Birdi exists because we help businesses to integrate drones smoothly into their operations.

Brendan:
Tell me about the moment you realized that you could work with such an exciting technology and turn it into a successful business.

Sebastian:
Yeah, I think this is one of the benefits of been in an emerging space is that there is a lot of discussions and topics that you’re at the forefront of and we get to support businesses in that integration of new technology. And that’s something that really excites us and the team to help businesses do that successfully.

It came about from a more of a personal journey using drones for sport. And looking at how the aerial capture could make you look at performance improvements from an aerial perspective. And that came down to spacial awareness. Where was my competition running? What line was I running in an aerial view?

They use it a lot in professional sports. We were amateurs and we said at the time, this is many years ago, and we said if this commercially starts to take off and it becomes more accessible financially for businesses, that there was really going to be an opportunity here for all businesses to integrate drone technology.

Brendan Hill:
And what are some of the examples of the ways that small and medium businesses can use a drone?

Sebastian:
The main examples? A lot around marketing. So in photography, video capturing. Anything that can help promote a business from a marketing perspective. So good example is in real estate, we do a lot in real estate photography, right? And then you can kind of go more into the more technical aspects.

So 2-D modeling 3-D modeling. Point clouds for surveying aspect to light up and attached to a drone. So a lot of the interest for us is that big amounts of data that comes through and then how businesses use that data moving forward. So we’re really interested in helping people get to the skies and take off and then helping them make better decisions at the back end of it.

Kirra:
And on the smaller level, we all know that drone images are just amazing. You can see parts of the world that you wouldn’t be able to see on the ground. And so those images make social media posts and blog posts. Just that next level great and click-worthy.

Brendan:
Speaking of next level. Great. I’m always a big fan of your social posts, I mean the amazing images that you get from your clients. Can you tell me about the activation campaign that you ran. You ran a photo competition with some of your customers?

Sebastian:
Yeah, that’s right. So we ran a photo competition and the reason why it kind of came about in the first place was that what we realized was that we had a lot of small business operators that were either drone operators looking to promote themselves in the work that they’d already captured.

Or we had new operators that were buying drones because it’s still kind of coming into the space, buying drones, getting amazing footage and not knowing what to do with it.

So we decided, well we’ve got a good audience, why don’t we facilitate this through a drone competition. And we had this incredible imagery come through from the network and just being able to … I guess the imagery was amazing, but the stories behind the images were phenomenal as well. so do you want to touch on them too?

Kirra:
Yeah, we had six winners and then an overall winner but each week the stories were amazing. And so two examples that I’ll give:The week two winners. It was this amazing imagery of decommissioned mining trucks in WA and it was taken by this geologist. This was just his side job. He brought it with him and he threw the drone up and took this amazing imagery.

Now you can see all the drone photos on our website, but it just shows that in his spare time that’s what he did and he was able to articulate in a visual way the different sites that he was on.

The week six winner was a great story. Now they’re a family of six and they’re traveling around Australia in a camper van and taking journey imagery to provide a visual story of their journey with their family and friends on a blog and across social media. And so it was taken of the great Australian Bight in South Australia and it’s this drone shot where it was a hundred meters off, the great Australian Bight and you can just see their camper van. Small distance.

Sebastian:
Yeah, it’s amazing.

Kirra:
It’s incredible.

Brendan:
We’ll include all these photos in the show notes. And I’d say can checking out. Definitely worth checking out. So, I mean you’ve done a great job building your community, engaging all your different customers as well. And another interesting event that I’ve been invited to is a drone breakfast. Can you tell us more about, don’t try to impress.

Sebastian:
We host these drone breakfast series and we go across capital cities and we encourage and we invite those engaged in I guess looking at drone technology or already using drone technology.

And it’s been an amazing engagement piece for our potential customers and also for our current customers. And the reason why it’s been brilliant is to get them in the same room and to share their insights about a new technology, about what the challenges were, what the barriers were for implementation.

And what we’re able to do is kind of facilitate what the potential solution is and how they can learn from each other. So you’re not necessarily starting from scratch. There’s a lot of incredible knowledge already out there. And we see our role or of our roles is to help facilitate that knowledge and experience being shared again within businesses that are looking to use dry and technology. And that’s what the breakfast series really has done. It’s been amazing.

We’ve only just started rolling it out, it would have been about six weeks ago. We’ve run a five already. We’ve got another five locked in. And people are coming from drone pilots to Government bodies to-

Kirra:
Small businesses,

Sebastian:
Large enterprises. It’s really been an amazing, amazing experience.

Brendan:
Right. Can you talk us through the process of putting on an event? I mean a lot of businesses want to do events, they struggle with it. What were some of the takeaways that you guys?

Sebastian:
Already through a bit of the journey because it’s been quite interesting. So we started off and all these, it’s education and unfortunately as a small business or as a startup, education isn’t necessarily where you want to be spending your time and efforts and resources.

And so we made a conscious effort to do it because we had growing engagement with our current customers and we knew there was a pipeline of people wanting to learn more about it. And so we decided this would be great facilitation role for the business as well. So we hired a venue location’s really important. So in Melbourne we do it at the art center right near the Sydney Center and in Sydney we did it at ridges hotel in this same day as well. In Brisbane we did it right near the center of town is as well. Proximity is really important for those. So it’s like we do it as a breakfast because you get great attendance.

We start at seven 30 presentation starts at eight it’s hard finish at nine so people go straight to work. We host it on Friday, which we seem to have seem to have great engagement off the back of it. I don’t know if this is too much detail, but this is like, and that makes it easier for someone to say yes to come to.

Off the back of that success of those early breakfasts, we now start to co-host them. So off the back of that, enterprises and businesses that have come to the breakfast have now asked to co-host breakfasts with them. So we did one just on last Friday with Mills Oakley, a law firm and they hosted and they brought in their customers at clients and we brought in people as well and so we’ll be able to do it together.

We still provided the content, we still facilitated it, but they put it on, which meant from a cost perspective we get basically becomes free for us to do it and we’re bringing the knowledge and the expertise into the discussion.

Kirra:
And then from a marketing perspective, once you do one, you post about it, you then get a whole lot of content that you can turn into blogs. You can put it on your news letter, you can throw it across your channels and that just gains momentum because then people see you talking about it. They ask about it, they then want to attend.

And then we’ve now got a long wait list. Phage city. So we’ve got events until the end of the year almost.

Brendan:
Speaking of marketing, you’ve done a great job so far. What’s in your current marketing black box? What are you trying to solve for BIRDI?

Sebastian:
Yeah, I’d say there’s two in all this base its always about growing the business from a sales perspective. So there’s a journey of educating customers and clients about the opportunity of working with BIRDI and what that looks like.

But there’s also an element of, because we’re a new company and not many people know about us, there’s also focus for us in the next 12 months and we’ll look about how we get our BIRDI story out there. How do we start to tell our journey as a company and what that is evolving to and what’s our vision for where we see us going as well?

And I think that’s really important that we allocate time and effort to telling that story and that vision because that’s what people like to be a part of. And for us, it’s always been from the start, was that we would be a platform to the skies.

We’d help businesses look at aerial data, drawing data as a new way to gain insights to their business. And that hasn’t changed since we started, but what we really need to focus on is what’s coming up with it.

And so when we do these activations, like the photo competition or the, the drone breakfast is that it also is matched up with the appropriate distribution story at the same time. So exactly why one of the major benefits of having Kirra in the team is looking at, okay, you do it there, but how do you tell other people that weren’t there about the story that you’re creating?

Brendan:
You’re in an exciting space. What has you most excited about the next 12 months?

Kirra:
I mean just the pace that this space evolves so exciting, especially in the last six months. Businesses have really jumped on taking advantage of drone data as well as drone imagery. And so it’s just exciting to see where BIRDI will be in the next six months and what businesses will be able to do and take advantage of with drone data.

Sebastian:
I think one of the big things to me is there are a lot of complexities in really seeing the benefits of a drone coming to life. There are regulatory issues around aviation, around you’re not meant to fly beyond visual line of sight. There’s certain restrictions on what licensing you need. My kind of what excites me is that as we progress with the platform, we’ll start to automate a lot of those processes and work with the regulators to see how can businesses benefit from the great technology and tools out there and make that more accessible to the market and making sure it’s compliant.

Making sure you’re gaining the right insights from why you’re doing it, are the people appropriately qualified. That’s all really important things that are mundane to most people, but we really love at BIRDI is that compliance and operational insights about hey, get that going.

And I think that’s something that really excites me is that we’re about to see a real transition into commercial adoption of drone technology. So for us, I think we’re in a really interesting space now and I think it will be amazing to go on this journey with both the drone sector, which I think is just really coming into its own, but also broader applications within industries and passing on that skillset to industry players.

Brendan:
So if you had to get your crystal ball out right now, the drone industry in the next five to 10 years, obviously drone delivery is coming, Amazon’s testing that. I’ve heard of examples like security companies using drones to go out ahead and check what’s happening. Have you heard of any crazy stories on your own?

Sebastian:
There’s a lot of focus on drone delivery and then where that comes and even passenger drones and Uber is doing amazing stuff and Melbourne’s getting a great focus at the moment as the first city outside of the States that they’ll set up a shopping.

The challenge there is just the infrastructure required to do it well on the back of it. The exciting thing for myself and I’d say for BIRDI is more what can be already implemented now that businesses don’t realize? So 2-D mapping, it’s readily accessible. You can get it up there, you can get great insights, you can use it from a marketing tool to promote your business.

I think there are some really simple uses that will get people excited about this technology and they’ll start to recognize that drones aren’t what I’ll call is like, there’s like a PR nightmare around drones.

It’s like a love-hate relationship with the public and the Gatwick experiences. And then the very next time you’re talking about drones being used to save people out at sea with a flotation device. And so there’s a real contradictory story going on at the moment. I think where we want to say it is that drones represent good risk management.

It’s a safety procedure, it’s a smart use of tools and resources. It’s safer for people and you’re also being more efficient with operations. And I think that’s what excites me is that element, and I think that’s coming more and more to the forefront and that will the next 12 to 24 months will be really vital in that discussion.

Brendan:
Yeah, that’s super exciting. So if you’ve got any stories of customers on your platform that have had great success with their first use of drone technology?

Sebastian:
Yeah, I’ll give you a good example of George Gussie’s, a small business operator runs a solar installation operation. So we did some work with him early on and initially we got some marketing imagery. So they did a on a shopping center. We captured some imagery for him and it was brilliant kind of to show off his work and what he was operating on.

But whilst we were out there, we also did some testing with him on thermal imagery. And so we looked at how they manage the solar panels. And so with the thermal imagery on the drone, you’re able to actually see the output of each panel and determine where the faults were for him. So previously what would happen is there’d be a bit of a very manual process where the engineer inside would walk to different sites, check it out, walk back to the main frame, test it out, see what the output was, go and try and fix it, return back.

And what we had an operator that had no experience in, thermal-solar around flying it and saying, you know, there’s three, four hotspots and there were strings that were out there, just a string of solar panels that weren’t efficient at the moment. But then, and they were testing us, so they purposely pulled them out to see if we actually could do it.

But then why we’re there, the operator was also like, and he was a small business operator himself. So we were facilitating two to come together. And he said, “I also think there’s a panel in your far right corner that is out.”

And they’re like, “No, no, no, it’s fine.” And we were like, “No, we’re pretty sure. You look at the imagery.” And what they had left was they’d left a spanner on the solar thing. Their prior engineer had and they went and was able to remove it and basically brought the farm back to life.

So it was a great example of like, he was like, “Oh, I just left that there, sorry.” And went and grabbed it. And so it was a great example of one brought out to the site for a marketing purpose with the, we tested and showed the demonstration of how thermal can be beneficial in operational efficiencies and looking at how he could use it from that aspect.

And we’ve maintained that relationship that they are doing amazing in stores across the board. But that imagery has helped them tell their story about how they help their customers out. So it’s been great to be part of that from his perspective as well.

Kirra:
I think probably you should expand on the Federation of International Touch. We’ve helped them revolution the way that they stream the footage back to their viewers back home.

Sebastian:
So the Federation of International Touch for context is the peak body of touch football globally. And so they host, I’m going to get this wrong, but I think it’s every three to four years. They host a World Cup and they do two. A youth world cup and then open World Cup and it brings together about 60-odd countries.

It’s an amazing event and they host it in Malaysia this year and one of their challenges has been how do they engage with people back home? Like how do they see the games? How do they see the footage? They also had challenges where they knew people were using drones but they didn’t know how to safely operate them in that environment and how would they regulate it and so we worked with them to design a standard operating procedure for them for safe operations in that environment.

Then they asked us to, send over trained qualified pilots, so we sent over a couple of train qualified pilots and we captured, it was over 200 flights in the space of five days and that live-streamed into YouTube and then off the back of that they were able to engage with their viewers back home.

They were also then able to look at whether or not they’d commercialize and get better sponsorship for the sport and the event because now someone had better data around how many people are engaged in the sport and they just haven’t had this content before. So it was a brilliant combination of uses of revenue, to help them with.

Kirra:
And were able to create a custom portal which allowed the viewers to interact with each other, which took it to the next level. They could say, “Oh, nice try Joey”, of like Joey’s mom watching back in the U.S. Or whatever it was, which was great. It was great to see the engagement piece as well and it was just, I think next year we’ll be there again or in the next four years when they do it.

Sebastian:
When the championship’s there.

Brendan:
Wow. That’s amazing story. I never really thought of the data implications that drones can capture.

Sebastian:
Yeah. When you start talking video stream, you start to talk about a lot of content that gets pulled through as well, so we help to manage that with the storage element on the platform.

Brendan:
And then how do you, once you’ve stored all the footage and done it, you can analyze that in different ways?

Sebastian:
Yeah you can analyze it. So depending upon what use you’re using it for, we’ll help plug it into analytical tools. So there are some great drone specific companies out there, but we also have other partners like Bentley Systems which do 3-D modelling. There’s a … You can push it through to YouTube if you just want to do a live streaming capability. There’s many different options that you can look at to benefit.

And one of the roles that BIRDI will play is facilitating. If you think of a farmer they might be used to inspect their water resources, but what you can also start to do is some great research around cattle counting.

So same imagery, same shots, and you can also then count how many cattle you have in one paddock at one time. So the farmer doesn’t have to drive around and manually do it. So there’s some amazing applications like that. Those that are integrating drones. We really go and reach out to us, jump on the platform, set up an account so that we can start to share with you different insights and applications that might be useful for you in that environment.

Brendan:
Amazing. And so if there are any small, medium businesses listening now, it’s definitely a fast-moving industry. What would your recommendation be? I mean just jump in and get started? Some kind of small tests?

Sebastian:
Yeah, look, I do. The first one would be don’t shy away from it just because it’s new. Like I think the benefits of it being new means that you can get a competitive advantage by being an earlier first-mover adopter.

So the first thing is if you think there’s an application, jump on. Jump onto our platform. You can set up an account for free. You can contact us and say, what are you looking to do? And we can try and help point you in the right direction as well.

The other one is be very conscious of safety. I think the primary thing here is it’s easy to go and buy a drone, but it’s really important that you’re flying within the regulations and where you’re flying is really important for the safety of this skies. So that’s one of the big concerns is about how manned aircraft interact with unmanned aircraft and that’s something that we’ve got to pride ourselves on is the safety of the skies because the safer we are, the more people be able to do it.

So just be aware of what the regulations are. You can check through the platform. If you’re flying, you can log your location and click on the aviation button in the platform and that will pop up with all the regulations within that flight area as well. So we can kind of help you with that as well from a practical perspective.

Kirra:
And then if you’re interested in attending a breakfast … If you want to know more and just are generally interested in how your business can integrate drones. It’s a great way to get started and a free breakfast.

Sebastian:
I think there’s two. There’s also, you might look to use it yourself, but you might also go, I just want an image of our business from the skies so we can use that through social media. And you might go, “I don’t want to fly it, I don’t want to get trained.”

But you might ask for a pilot to go and do that job. And so you can go onto our platform and request a pilot to come out to you to take that footage for you. And so then now manage everything else and then you just get the great content off the back of it. I think of it like a real estate job almost. So there are ways that you can … You don’t have to be an expert in everything and you can really leverage off what’s already in the market.

Brendan:
Amazing, super exciting. I love it that you’re educating everyone as well. Definitely being massive evangelists. Speaking of education, moving on to a personal level now. I mean you’ve done a great job marketing BIRDIso far.

Brendan:
How do you guys learn marketing? What are your inspirations that you guys be greeters? Do you invest in any resources like courses or tools? Talk me through your process.

Sebastian:
I would say it was one of the cofounders, one of my jobs is to hire well so I’ll leave this to Kirra to add something more specific.

Kirra:
Yeah, I mean I think the space moves so fast that you have to constantly be evolving and I don’t mean to plug Metigy, but I definitely do and we’ve been a Metigy user for a while and it’s been a tool that’s been incredibly helpful in sort of helping me understand the trends that are out there and industry specific trends.

So looking at a company that we admire in terms of their marketing campaigns and really dialing down into how often they post, what sort of topics they post on, what channels they post on. And so that’s been a really interesting and useful tool for me to use.

It’s also an incredible time-saver to push content across the different channels. And then I also, I love tools like Canva, which is a huge time-saver and you know MailChimp from the U.S. And they all have great education sort of portals and arms.

Brendan:
Oh definitely. And although resources and tools will be listed in the podcast show notes so you guys can check them out along with the BIRDI drone imagery photos at the end of the episode. So I just wanted to thank you guys for coming on sharing a bit about the exciting drone technology world. Definitely a fast moving space as you said. There’s one more question that we like to ask our guests. It’s a bit abstract. Are ready for this one guys?

Sebastian:
So don’t know if my wife’s planted a question or-

Brendan:
You’re on the first flight to Mars with Elan Musk and the first settlers aboard the Space X starship rocket. So what business do you start when you land on Mars and how would you market it to the new Martians?

Sebastian:
That’s a good question. It’s very difficult to come up with the solution if you don’t understand what problem the customer’s going to look at. So you’d really want to make sure you understand once you landed there, who were the customers that you’re trying to serve and what was their purpose. Now if I take that, if I put my entrepreneur and fast moving hat on, I think from a quick response I’d be like, “One you’d have to be looking at, hey, strategically partner with SpaceX themselves because that offers, you get quite strong distribution, right?” And so whether that was selling tickets back to come to Earth, the return trip, you never know what environment they’re in. They might be looking to get away just as much as we are looking to get away.

It can be good exchange exchange, opportunity. Obviously there’s an element of natural vital resources. So you’d be looking at, you know, who’s supplying oxygen, water, food on-site, but then I don’t know what this, I guess these Martians are pretty self-sustaining in some way on their own merit. So I think I’d be, personally, I’d be looking at that partnership opportunity with Space X in some way, shape or form that I was addressing one of their problems primarily because I’m more likely to understand their model. I think it would take me a bit longer to recognize what a martian might need.

Brendan:
A lot of customer research.

Kirra:
And then in terms of promoting it, you always give away freebies. So we just make sure to load up on like some earth rocks or something and pass them out because then they’re looking at them, they remember us and we gave them something. So it’s like a good feeling as a potential customer.

Brendan:
Maybe a few drones as well.

Sebastian:
Yeah, it would definitely give them a different type of experience with technology over there. I think the benefit in most of these things is you take what you already know. And you go over and even even within the model that you might run a business, I’d look from a centralized platform perspective as well.

So could you be a distributor for operators here in Australia that don’t have that tangible presence on that land yet? So could start to be a facilitator rather than necessarily a sole implementer of your own product.

Kirra:
And then with my marketing hat or from a marketing perspective, we’d bring drone shots of earth because everything is so visual and you can really communicate things in a big way that are much more impactful than words. So if I can hand out images of earth and trying to promote the trip back, I think that would resonate.

Brendan:
Kirra and Sebastian really appreciate your time and the value that you’ve dropped the audience today. So anything you’d like to say before we wrap up and how can people get in touch?

Sebastian:
Just a massive thank you to yourself Brendan and Metigy for hosting us. I think this is a great initiative so that businesses can start to learn off each other in particular small operators across Australia. So if you are looking to integrate drones, please do jump onto our website, BIRDI, B-I-R-D-I.com today you can create an account and please reach out to us if we can assist you in any way. We certainly, we are more than happy to help facilitate that. And if we can’t answer it directly, we certainly know where to point you towards within the space because we helped to bring the ecosystem alive.So thanks again for your time and for having us on.

Kirra:
Yeah, thanks.

Brendan:
Thanks guys. It’s been fun.

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