PfCO’s be the blue cow – surviving in the competitive drone industry, part 3

PfCO’s be the blue cow – surviving in the competitive drone industry, part 3

In this third article about surviving in the competitive drone industry, we’re going to look at INNOVATION, a concept designed to make yourself distinguishable in the market.

So you now have your plan and it’s sound. As you work up to legal commercial drone operations you will have looked around you and seen lots of other operators just like you. So how do you make yourself different from them?

Being a ‘Blue Cow’

A contact of mine in the marketing sector once said to me, ‘Innovation is about standing out and if you want to be successful, to do that, you have to be a blue cow in a field of black and white cows’. It is a vivid analogy but the essence of what he was saying was that you have to have, or at least aspire to have, a unique proposition, one that sets you apart from the herd.

Focus less on Technology

In drone terms, most think that innovation relates to technology because it is the central piece in our sector, the factor that seems to create the most buzz. When a ‘well known Chinese drone manufacturer’ releases a new product there is much discussion about its new features and expanded capability. The reality though is that unless you are a manufacturer with a considerable amount of capital achieving technical innovation is difficult in this space.

But the key point of innovation is that it doesn’t have to be linked to any one aspect of a business. So think less about the technology and more about conceptual, operational or marketing innovation. For instance, you might have the same drone technology as a competitor in the same town but if you offer the same things in the same way and market yourself similarly then you operate shoulder to shoulder. Ultimately it will be you against them.

How does your proposition stack up?

Look at what you offer as a PfCO holder, does it stand out? Do you follow a standard path to offering services? Is your service model boring and ineffective? Does your website look simple and amateurish? Do you conduct limited marketing activity? What is your Possibly Unique Selling Point (PUSP)? – very few have selling points that are unique.

If you are an NQE, are you offering a different path? Almost all NQE’s follow the same conventional training and assessment model, one that is staid and unimaginative. The problem here is that people follow the accepted path because, well, that’s the way it has always happened and frankly, it’s easier to do that.  Many NQE’s will tell you that they are the best, the busiest, the safest, the first in the market or have the most experience but very few of these claims can be qualified. A better way to demonstrate innovation would be to show a different technical path to their product, one that better serves the drone sector. Why not approach this in a different way? A different way to deliver instruction? New training media or a different assessment model perhaps?

So, whether you are a drone manufacturer, an NQE, a software developer or a PfCO holder, what are you doing about making your proposition innovative? Ask yourself the tough questions and answer them honestly. If the answer to any of these questions are not ones which make you stand out then you are not innovating you are simply following the herd.

You don’t have to be unique in this respect and the likelihood is that you won’t be. But you can be rare and distinctive if you put your mind to it.

You might ask me how I am being innovative? Well, I’m writing this article, I’m creating content in a market which is mostly populated by consumers. I’m seeking to influence my industry with strategic insight, and by doing so, I am aiming to be that ‘blue cow’.


Every business aspires to innovate and, more importantly, be seen to be doing so. The reality though is that very few actually are.

In the drone industry across the world, a ‘commercial crash’ is coming. Competition is increasing as organisations looking for success and jostle for position in a narrowing commercial environment. If you want to survive this process then look to innovate, and do it now.

In the next article, we will look at the concept of FOCUS and how it can supercharge your business in a competitive environment.

ClearSky Consulting has successfully completed business strategy projects for major global clients. These can help transform your drone business into a major success so if you would like to know more about this offering then please email

Craig Lippet