Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to being a wedding DJ. The first is to focus on quantity. You book two or three weddings every week. You spend a bit of time prepping for each one, turn up just prior to the evening party, set up, play for four or five hours, pack up, go home, and do the same thing the next night. The second approach is to focus on quality and personalisation. You seriously limit the number of bookings you take, but you then devote a huge amount of time to making each one uniquely special. You spend hours, even days, in preparation for each booking and on the big day you are there from before the start right through to the very end.
Both are valid. There are clients who will book either type of DJ, and be happy with their decision. However, as my DJ business developed, I decided to take the second route. So, I know from personal experience, that it can be immensely rewarding, both emotionally and financially, but that it is also hard work. Those people who think that I only work one day a week are sorely mistaken. I spend a huge amount of time preparing for each booking, and at the heart of that process is building a rapport – a genuine relationship – with each of my couples.
The beginning of this journey is attracting the right kind of couples – the ones who will value unique, personal service over a low price. This means that your marketing material and your online presence must look really good. I have had many websites over the years and have always used a professional to design them for me. If you’re able to do it yourself and make something that truly stands up in comparison to other (out of industry) websites that your clients will come across, then go for it. But it really is false economy to save a little money going down the DIY route if the result is not going to be as good. Also make sure you only have excellent-quality pictures on your site. Dodgy iPhone photos look really bad and don’t project a professional image. Make friends with the photographers at your events, many will be happy to provide you with photos free of charge (they’ve already been paid by the client) if you strike up a good professional working relationship.
The photos on your site are immensely important, the images you choose should be deliberately selected to attract your ideal client. All of my photographs are (hopefully) very emotional, with happy smiling brides, grooms, and guests having a great time. I don’t really go for pictures of my rig or lighting, as that’s not my style. However, not everyone is the same, and we are not going after the same clients, so I’m not knocking anyone who does this. But it really is important to think really hard about who you would like to attract to contact you and what they want to see on your site.
This needs to be reflected on your social media presence as well. Don’t ruin all the good work you have done by acting like a clown on your Facebook account. These days, Brides and Grooms often know all about you before they even reach the stage of getting in touch! They have done their research and all this can come undone if you come over in a poor light on social media. Also keep in mind that a lot of the DJ forums and Facebook groups are open to the public and couples can get a feel of the ‘true you’ from what you’re posting.
Having attracted interest through your website and other marketing channels, the next stage is usually an enquiry e-mail from a prospective client. I never reply to this with a price, as I want to talk to them first and try to build some rapport with them. I want to find out all about their day and what they have planned; I want to know if I’m a good fit for them and if they’re the right type of customer for me. Asking for an initial chat on the phone or Skype is my preferred next step. If we connect, then I will ask for a meeting in person.
This is a formula that works for me, and I find that it filters out the price shoppers and “how much for a disco mate” enquiries. However, my pricing is not any secret, and is posted on my website under a ‘Pricing’ tab. I only started listing my pricing online three months ago, but haven’t really noticed a difference in the amount of enquiries I get. I know some of my DJ colleagues do things differently and withhold pricing until the end of the client meeting, and that was how I worked up until a few months ago. There is no right or wrong answer to how you do this; you will have to work out what is right for you and your business model. Personally, I find that publishing my prices works as another great filter, as I only want to book around 40 weddings a year, so I only want to talk to couples who are really interested in what I can offer, and are willing to pay my rates. If you run a multi-op, then this is not going to work for you. But, for the single operator, I’ve found it to be a very effective system.
The next stage is the client meeting. I will normally meet clients at the venue or their home. The venue is usually better – as there are no distractions from kids, pets, televisions, etc. – but I try and make everything as easy as possible for them. Most people work in the week, and are much more comfortable in their own house, so they often ask me to come to them.
I always start the meeting by showing up on time (but never early) and looking smart and clean. Smart casual is my preferred way to dress for meetings. But, again, this is down to personal preference and what sets the best tone with the couples that you are meeting.
I always begin by getting them to talk about their day, family, guests etc. I ask them how they met, how the engagement went, and how they imagine their big day playing out. Basically, my advice is to shut up for the first fifteen minutes and don’t say anything about how great you are!
After they’ve told me all about them, it’s my turn. I will ask them if they’d like me to show them what I can do for their wedding day? (Which, of course, they do, as they’ve agreed to the meeting!) I will then run through a keynote presentation – filled with plenty of good-quality pictures and video – which will tell a story of what is possible on their wedding day. However, I don’t ‘do death by PowerPoint’ and will go off track a lot of the time. I have a real conversation with them, I don’t give them a sales pitch.
I also tailor what I say and show them to match what they’ve already told me, so that effectively I’m offering them exactly what I know they’re looking for. This isn’t in any way deceptive, it’s just focusing on aspects of my service that are of value to the couple instead of boring them with lots of information about something that’s not important to them. I’m also very careful not to show them everything, especially if it’s really not appropriate. For example, I won’t show them video of the wonderful father/daughter dance I did last month and tell them how everyone loved it, if I’ve not first made sure that the bride has a good relationship with her dad and, more importantly, that he’s still alive! If dad has passed away and you focus on the father/daughter dance idea, I can guarantee there is no way back – you will not be the DJ at their wedding! On the other hand, if – as is sometimes the case these days – the Bride has meaningful relationships with both her biological father and a stepfather, I’ll suggest ways of putting together two father/daughter dances.
Throughout the meeting, always try to ‘dig deep’. Ask the ‘why’ question as much as possible. For example, if a couple tells you that they don’t want a first dance, find out why. It may be that they’ve seen their friends spend four minutes awkwardly shuffling around a dancefloor at their wedding! When you then suggest an alternative that still gets them a ‘first dance photo’, but spares them the longest four minutes of their life, you may just clinch the booking there and then. Most importantly, don’t just blast them with everything you can do, as it will probably just turn them off. Talk about things that they bring up, or that address issues that are relevant to who they are and what they want from their wedding day.
At the end of the meeting I will go into my pricing options. Mine are quite straight forward: evening only or all day, with a few ‘finishing touch’ options like monograms etc. I like to keep it as simple as possible. I then ask the question “what do you think?” My advice is to ask for the sale. Don’t be shy, they have gone through the trouble of checking you out online and meeting with you. Make it easy for them to go ahead and book you!
This really just scrapes the surface of what I do and how I do it. But, in a nutshell, it’s all about forming a relationship with clients and showing them that you are the only option for this one special day in their life. Show them that you really care as much as they do about the success of their wedding and they will book you. Then make sure you follow through and delivery everything you promise – and, if possible, even more!
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 82, Pages 34-38.