Little did I know way back in February 2002 as my wife and I boarded a plane heading for Las Vegas, Nevada, USA that my DJ business was about to take off in a whole new direction. We were heading for the MobileBeat DJ show and convention. The idea was to learn how we could expand our business and hire and train more disc jockeys.
I had previously come across the MobileBeat magazine whilst on holiday the previous year. The magazine was full of articles about being a mobile DJ. Each article was written by a working DJ and the topics covered just about every aspect of the business. This was like gold dust to me because there was nothing like it available in the UK at the time. So when I heard about the show I just had to go.
From the moment we set foot in the convention hotel we were given a very warm welcome. The first evening we were sat outside the restaurant in the bar having a drink. It was evident by looking around us and noticing all of the people wearing DJ T-shirts and Branded company logo jackets that we were among fellow convention attendees. Someone overheard our conversation and invited us to join their group. everyone was amazed that we had travelled so far to attend the show and within minutes we were sharing ideas and discussing the differences of DJing around the world.
The following three days were an education in more ways than one. We met dozens of people who all took an interest in us and who wanted to share what ever they believed would help us in our business. Little did Carol I know that this was to be the start of a journey which would see us returning year after year. Each visit produced more insight and knowledge which we used to develop our DJ business. If only we had a show like this one in the UK.
On our second visit to the show in 2003 it became evident that the American DJ industry was both driven and supported not only by MobileBeat but by a number of other publications and disc jockey associations. It was also pointed out to me that i had an obligation to share my new-found knowledge with my fellow DJs in the United Kingdom.
National Association of Disc Jockeys
I had to search around to find a disc jockey association in the UK. There were none in the north-west of the country and it transpired that the only two associations I could find were located in Reading and Maidstone. I visited them both. In the end I chose Thames valley DJA over SEDA. Thames valley was nearer and a little more open when it came to membership from outside of their base area. TVDJA already had a couple of members from Wales so the idea of a crazy scouser travelling five hours to join them on a Sunday lunchtime was bemusing but accepted.
Membership of both associations in those days was small by comparison to what it had been in the past. I was frustrated and wanted to make the association available to more DJs around the country. The committee agreed and the following year Thames Valley changed its name to The National Association of Disc Jockeys or NADJ as it has become known. Austin Levitt was the founding chairman however he was soon to step down and I found myself as the Chairman of the organisation. I had a vision and a plan which saw me travelling the length and breadth of the UK over the next three years. Local meetings were arranged and branches were established around the country. The committee evolved and thanks to the help of many people we finally grew the membership and provided a facility for British DJs to exchange ideas and learn new skills.
As word spread some DJs were suspicious of NADJ and me in particular. Why do we need an association they would say. Forums where the place most Djs went to exchange views. The internet was seen as the modern way to communicate. Others decided to do their own thing and within a couple of years there were more than half a dozen DJ associations to choose from in the country. While I was disappointed that NADj would not be the “umbrella” organisation I had hoped for I was delighted that in just a few short years the UK had a network of learning and sharing for DJs to choose from.
Whilst the DJ associations were growing a young man by the name of EDDIE SHORT was developing a magazine for the mobile DJ in the UK. Pro-Mobile Magazine was badly needed and filled a gap in the market perfectly. Together with a small number of like-minded DJs who contributed articles Eddie and his team created a product which spread knowledge far wider than the associations could.
I managed to convince Eddie that he would benefit from a visit to the MobileBeat show in Vegas and eventually he agreed to join me. I knew the owners and introduce him to them. I remember the meeting one evening in their hotel suite where I left Eddie to chat about DJ shows, publishing and all thing technical. Needless to say Eddie was impressed and returned to Vegas on a number of occasions in order to pick up more knowledge both for his magazine and for himself as a working DJ.
I had always wished that we could have a show of our own like MobilBeat in the UK. Eddie also thought it would be a good idea but he also knew it would have to be different in order to appeal to our British way of doing things. Eddie teamed up with Mark Walsh and together they created the blueprint for what would become the BPM show. So you can imagine how delighted I was to be in Las Vegas with both Eddie and Mark and to see the first BPM show take place later that year at Donnington Park.
NADJ had organised their own trade shows and led the way by introducing seminars as well as displaying products from manufacturers and retailers. Paul Arnett’s DJ Show North had also provided an opportunity for DJs to experience the best of what the industry had to offer. PLASA show in London was becoming less and less mobile dj friendly which helped drive more and more visitors to these new DJ events.
Fast forward to today and what do we see. BPM is bigger and better than ever, in fact it is the biggest DJ show in the world. BPM 2012 at the N.E.C. in Birmingham this October is set to break all-time records for visitors to a DJ show. Education will play an important part of the event with three full days of seminars covering all things DJ. The contributors will be assembled from all walks of DJ life providing advice and education for those who want to develop their skills or grow their business.
I have had the pleasure to present many seminars at BPM over the years. These have been well attended and warmly received. Feedback from the seminars indicated that there was a need for a more focused and dedicated method of sharing ideas and experiences. This led me to develop a series of workshops were a small number of djs can relax in an environment where ideas can be examined and refined. Workshops also allow for one on one coaching and development for the attendee. The workshops have been an amazing success. I am humbled when I list the gifted and talented Djs who have attended.
This year I shall be holding a workshop to coincide with BPM.
It will be held at a nearby hotel on Monday October 8th and repeated on Tuesday 9th. For more details please visit the eventbrite web site.
So, looking back if Carol and I had not boarded that plane ten tears ago would there be an NADJ today?
Would Pro-Momile Magazine have developed the way it has?
Would there be the choice of associations for DJs to choose from?
Would BPM have very been created?
Would DJs be able to attend seminars and workshops?
The answer to all of these questions is YES, probably they would, all be it in a different format.
I wonder what the next ten years will have to offer?
Thanks for reading.
How well are you really connected with your prospective customers?
In the early days before the internet mobile DJs or “Discos” would place advertisements in the local press and also be listed in directories like Yellow Pages or The Thompson Directory. Since the introduction of the internet these advertisements have largely disappeared to be replaced by websites and “catch-all” portal sites designed to capture leads and forward or re-direct the client to the DJ service.
So nothing has really changed. The process is one where the disco places itself in public view and awaits potential clients to find it in among the dozens, hundreds and thousands of other DJ services to be found on the world-wide web. In fact the situation is probably worse now because of the sheer number of businesses who use the internet for marketing.
However all of this new technology tends to still be mainly one way. Traffic is being driven to your site. However most of that traffic is derived from mass marketing. Very few of the visitors will actually be converted to customers.
So how do you connect with potential clients?
I would suggest that you have to go and find them. Identify who you want to provide services for and then research where they hang out. Which shops bo they use, which restaurants do they eat in, what hairdressers / stylists / beauty / grooming parlors do they frequent. For wedding DJs this would include which Bridal shops, venues, photographers, cake makers, chocolate fountain suppliers and wedding car operators. All of these suppliers are constantly talking to their customers. Usually they have secured their client early on in the process of making arrangements for the wedding. Alas choosing the entertainment is further down the list which is not good. However by being connected with these service providers hopefully they will be able to refer and recommend you and your DJ service to their client.
Targeting brides who are already shopping for services is more proactive. Just think about the number of customers there are out there who you never get a chance to contact. How many weddings are there each weekend in your town or city? I’ll bet most DJs have no idea. How many are slipping through your fingers? You can’t be in more than one place at a time so it makes perfect sence to have a trusted professional relationship with as many other professions as possible.
Who is talking about you right now.?
What about all of the other professions who may come into contact with a future bride today? Financial advisors, insurance salesmen, travel agents, printers, florists, marquee hire and outside caterers are just a few who spring to mind. How well are you connected to these businesses. Do they know what you do/ are they confident and happy to recommend you? Will they mention you without being prompted?
A third-party referral is very powerful.
Imagine when the phone rings or you receive the email and the person opens the conversation with, “I was talking with my hairdresser and she told me to call you”. Not only is the caller a genuine hot lead it is also a qualified lead. It comes with a recommendation which instills value from the outset. The following conversation will be about how you can serve the callers needs and believe me price will not be a major factor.
Easier said than done?
Like many simple ideas the theory is fine, unfortunately the practise of turning theory into reality requires hard work and will take time and substantial effort to achieve. I am currently working with a small group of independent DJ s who have dedicated themselves to building relationships both inside and outside of the wedding industry. We will be working together to create an environment where third-party referrals will become their main source of business. The aim is for them to slowly reduce their large-scale web activity and replace it with an entirely performance & referral based model for generating new business. If you would like to join us in this venture please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
How did it come to this?
Almost all DJs insist that they do what the do in order to fill a dance floor. They are passionate about their music selection and their ability to mix music seamlessly. So why would they want to get involved with hosting what is basically a talent show or lack of talent show to be more precise?
Karaoke first became popular in Asia. The idea was designed for self-entertainment. Small rooms or booths were constructed which had the equipment required installed and people paid by the hour to rent the facility. This was ideal and meant that only those in the booth were inflicted by the others. It was essentially a private form of entertainment.
Soon household versions of Karaoke machines where on the market. The idea, once again, was to allow individuals the opportunity to sing within the privacy of their own home in the company of friends and family.
So how did this phenomenon transcend to the public house or wedding reception. Why did there suddenly need to be a host or operator? More importantly why did DJs want to forego their talent and skill in order to allow complete strangers to use their PA systems and abuse their microphones. What is the satisfaction of an empty dance floor and a tuneless singer?
Could it be I wonder that incorporating karaoke into a disco evening is a lazy cop-out? Is it the case that the DJ knows it is difficult to keep a dance floor filled for five hours? Maybe allocating a couple of hours to karaoke is a way to warm-up an audience in such a way as to almost being grateful when it comes to open dancing to the latest hot tunes?
You may have already guessed that this is written with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek but non the less there must be a good reason as to why DJs like karaoke so much. Where I live almost every bar offers karaoke. Even solo singers and double acts now offer karaoke as part of their evening entertainment. Again I ask you, why would a professional singer want to share a stage with an incompetent amateur?
Yes, I know people like to see others cringe and suffer. I understand the attraction of karaoke. What I can’t understand is why professional entertainers have been dragged into the whole process. Why can’t karaoke be as was originally intended and be do-it-yourself?
And before you ask, yes i have hosted karaoke parties in the past. Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt and have moved on. It’s a shame others have not!
Is being number one in Google rankings all it is cracked up to be?
As anyone who has ever published a web site will know, it’s not long before you are inundated with offers by technical wiz guys who promise to get your web site to the top of the search engine rankings and keep it there.
I must point out that I have very little knowledge of how this position can be achieved. I do know that the search engine companies are constantly changing their criteria for their rankings systems and that logically this means that a web site will need to be constantly tweaked in order to maintain its position. This will require a great deal of time and I guess money.
However, what if a dozen DJs in your area all accepted the services of an SEO expert. How can you all be number one on any given day? Would you be happy to land on the first page of results and content to float up and down the rankings depending on the changes made to the other web sites.
If your ranking is enhanced by the number of links to other web sites why is it that many DJ web sites provide links to their competitors? I don’t see the point of successfully attracting a surfer to your website only to invite them to click away to a “Find a DJ” web portal which may carry not only your information but contact details for dozens of your competitors too.
Are “Find a disco” portal sites a good idea?
On first glance the idea of being listed on one of these sites makes a lot of sence. A potential client can find your contact details within a few clicks. This is attractive to those looking for a dj, it saves them time. The DJ likes the idea because more people can find his details. Perfect! Well not really because the same person can now also see your competitors details too.
Is the tail wagging the dog?
If a potential client can obtain the details of dozens of DJs with a couple of clicks he is likely to view them as commodities. He can put his requirements out to tender and will expect the laws of supply and demand to kick in. In other words a dutch auction. No wonder many DJs who subscribe to these portal web sites complain that the quality of the leads are poor, or are basically price shoppers.
Is there a better way?
I guess it would be better to have visitors to DJ portal web sites click a direct link to your web site. Direct links are usually part of a more expensive subscription, however the extra cost can easily be justified if you can track a visitor and convert them to a customer. Check your statistics regularly to monitor where visitors to your web site came from and more importantly which pages they are reading.
Quality over quantity.
I would rather have thirty visitors a month to my web site who clicked on the “Book here” or “contact me” button than a couple of hundred who simply clicked away after looking around. The real content of your site will ultimately determine if the visitor likes what he sees. If your site is informative and attractive to your target market they will want to contact you in order to gain more information or go ahead with booking you.
Who are you targeting?
Maybe the problem with many DJ web sites is that they are trying to be all things to all visitors. Not everyone is your customer and not every visitor will like what they find on your web site. If you spread your marketing message too thinly it will be of no surprise that visitors don’t understand what you are trying to communicate. perhaps you need to start thinking like a client? What are they looking for? how will they react to your web pages?
Target Groups & Market Research.
Before you publish a site or embark on a rebuild why not seek out the views of other people? Do not pre-judge. Ask your friends and family and work colleagues to take a look and offer constructive feedback. It will save you lots of pain in the long run and will enable you to focus on what real people really want from a DJ web site.
Best of luck,