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ARTICLE
BLUE SKIES AHEAD
2018 Pro Mobile Conference leaves delegates feeling positive, as mobile DJs gather in Birmingham to network, learn and take their businesses to the next level.

This year’s theme, Bring On The Blue Skies, really couldn’t have been more fitting as the Spring weather arrived just in time for the 2018 Pro Mobile Conference, which returned from a year off with arguably its best line-up of speakers yet. The event saw mobile DJs, retailers and equipment manufacturers gather at The Village Hotel in Solihull for two days of keynote seminars, networking sessions, workshops and the inaugural Pro Mobile Awards, the latter of which was accompanied by some hard-earned debauchery in the bar.

Here’s what happened across the two days…

SUNDAY

As always, delegates began the two-day Conference (15th – 16th April) by taking some time to meet their fellow DJs over coffee and snacks in the Break Out area, where equipment manufacturers including ADJ, FBT and Pioneer DJ were showcasing their latest products. This relaxed introduction gave first-time attendees the chance to socialise and meet some of the DJs they’d be spending the next two days learning and idea-sharing with – always a positive way to start!

Then it was straight into the Inspiration Suite, where the quality of the stage production had been turned up quite a few notches compared to previous events. An impressive set - featuring lighting and LED video wall provided by ADJ, sound from FBT Audio and AV support from Production Hype - provided the backdrop to the two day educational programme. This kicked off with an official welcome from Eddie Short (Editor of Pro Mobile) and Mark Walsh (Conference Host), before they introduced the Lead Keynote Speaker…

“BILL HERMANN IS AN INSPIRATION.”

Kicking off the Conference was veteran US host and all-round industry legend Bill Hermann, who explained the value of experiences over products, especially when dealing with the millennial generation. Filling the room with his big personality, Bill explained – with consistent good humour –how he started out and became involved in the mobile DJ and entertainment industry in the US.

“Bill Hermann is an inspiration,” said Greg Frost, a second-time PMC delegate. “He thinks outside the box, which is what it’s all about. As a young person, I’ve got a long way to go before I get to anything like him. But to have the information he’s given us, now, at my age, is very, very helpful.”

Bill also ran through some hard-hitting quotes from brides, hotel managers and other service providers, showing what a skewed perception some people have when it comes to DJs and the value they bring to weddings and events. Offering advice and solutions for eradicating this negativity, the session – ‘This Changes Everything’ – provided an excellent and rousing start to day one.

“NETWORKING OPENS UP A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES.”

After Bill Hermann’s well-received keynote, delegates headed out into the Break Out area for a Networking Lunch with a buffet and cakes. But this was also a chance for delegates to speak with manufacturers and try out the latest gear, including Pioneer DJ’s XDJ-RX2 and the new SelfieWizard event photo sharing system.

This time away from the Inspiration Suite also gave delegates the chance to collect their thoughts and chat with other DJs, sharing ideas and discussing ideas raised in the keynote. As new delegate Stephen Dutton explained: “Coming out and actually networking with people and learning from people in the industry, it opens up a world of possibilities, not just for yourself but for other people too. I’ve come to the Conference, it’s the first time I’ve been, and I now have a wealth of knowledge that I didn’t when I got here.”

“THE PHONE ASSASSIN WAS VERY GOOD ON HOW TO TURN THAT SALE FROM A ‘NO THANKS’ CONVERSATION INTO A ‘YES’.”

After lunch, it was industry outsider Anthony Stears’ turn to wow the crowd with his expertise on phone etiquette and sales technique. Known as The Telephone Assassin, Anthony had plenty of useful takeaways for delegates, highlighting the importance of quality phone conversations rather than the number of pitches you make, and sharing his Golden Rules for phone etiquette. Applying his knowledge effectively to the mobile DJ industry, Anthony also asked delegates some frank questions – “Ever done a gig for a client you hated?” – that led to a few humorous but honest answers.

“The Phone Assassin was very, very good on phone etiquette and how to turn that sale from a ‘no thanks’ kind of conversation into a definite ‘yes’,” said Stephen Dutton. “[He explained] how to move into the next stages of actually securing that booking and marketing yourself at a price that you think you should be charging.”

An action-packed day saw two more keynote seminars take place following another chance to network over tea and coffee. Brian Buonassissi explored ‘Mobile DJ Customer Service’ by using Disney theme parks as an inventive example. Looking at the theory of customer service mapping, Brian showed delegates how to analyse their client’s experience and aim to improve each area to drive loyalty and referrals. Other areas of focus included ‘creating moments of wow’ using post-event gifts and an honest look at presentation, asking delegates to think about the ‘distractors’ – such as untidy cables or website errors – in their own businesses.

“THE SPEAKERS GAVE PLENTY OF INFORMATION… BUT MANAGED TO KEEP IT PRETTY LIGHT.”

If Brian B’s session gave delegates plenty of customer service takeaways, it was final speaker of the day, Robin Kershaw, who provided some smart insight into customer interaction. As the Co-Founder and Director of Lancashire-based multi-op DFC, Robin shared everything he’s learned during years spent both behind the decks and at the helm of a successful business. Boasting an impressive 95% meeting conversion ratio, mobile DJs were all ears as Robin explained how to remain in control of client meetings and how, by steering the conversation, you can make more bookings and form deeper relationships with your customers.

“All the keynote presentations were very inspirational,” said first-time delegate Andy Malcolmson, looking back on an action-packed first day. “The speakers gave plenty of information – and there was a lot of information – but managed to keep it pretty light. There was some comedy in there, too, which kept it interesting!”

After a quick recap of the first day and a few words on the 2018 theme – Bring On The Blue Skies – from Mark and Eddie, there was just enough time for delegates to split off into various interactive workshops. In the Vision Room, Anthony Stears flung open the doors to his ‘Telephone Clinic’, a workshop that followed on from his well-received keynote seminar by walking DJs through a successful call using real examples.

Meanwhile, inside the Motivation Room, Mark Walsh encouraged delegates to share ideas and collaborate on a ‘Great Mobile DJ Mind Map’ – an industry strategy and white paper document that would serve as a blueprint for mobile DJs moving forward. As you’d expect, there was plenty of fun to be had! But when delegates got down to business, it became clear that when we put our heads together, it’s surprising what we can achieve.

Robin Kershaw headed up the third workshop, asking: ‘Do you really want to be an elderly DJ?’ The question did garner a few chuckles from delegates, but when Robin began to elaborate on this idea and point out that DJing forever could take both a mental and physical toll on mobile DJs, the reality did begin to sink in! Using his successful DFC venture as an example, Robin highlighted how upscaling your business now could benefit you in the future, when you’d rather be freeing up your own time by utilising the talent of other (probably younger) DJs.

Every Pro Mobile Conference has involved the chance to get suited and booted for a three-course meal and the chance to socialise with fellow DJs. This year was no exception! At 8pm, delegates gathered outside the dining room for pre-dinner drinks and a quick photo opportunity. Once appetites had been sated with a delicious meal, it was time for a new addition to the evening – the inaugural Pro Mobile Awards. A total of eight awards were presented – with most of the recipients present in the room. So, plenty of reason to celebrate, then! And that’s exactly what delegates did, with Brian B taking to the decks and the beer flowing in abundance from the hotel bar. It was the perfect way to end the first day – a hard-earned reward for delegates following a productive day of learning and networking.

MONDAY

Needless to say, there were a few sore heads during the Networking Breakfast on Monday morning – though we won’t name any names! After delegates had prepped themselves for the day with a hearty breakfast and plenty of coffee, day two kicked off with a sponsored seminar from new mobile DJ planning app Vibo, before Eddie and Mark official launched the 2019 Conference. They unveiled the 2019 theme – Build Your DJ Business – and announced special guest Mike Walter, a US-based DJ, author and experienced speaker.

One of the best-received speakers of the weekend was Bill Hermann, who took to the stage twice during the two days. On Monday morning, he gave delegates some top tips on ‘The Art of the Interview’, exploring how this useful skill can transform everything from your initial client consultations to your planning sessions.

Damian Bailey – a wedding photographer and the founder of the Wedding Industry Awards – delivered two keynote presentations on day two, leaving delegates with plenty of takeaways. On Monday morning, he explored the concept of award ceremonies and explained ‘Why You Should Enter And How To Make Them Work For You’, allaying some of the confusion and concerns from the mobile DJ point of view.

That afternoon, Damian took to the stage once more to give ‘The Photographer’s Perspective’ on working with DJs. As many of us know, working with photographers can sometimes be contentious. But Damian’s seminar gave delegates some insight into what DJs can do to help make the job of the photographer easier, resulting in more referrals to future clients.

“TALKING TO THE BRANDS WAS REALLY HELPFUL. IT ADDS TO THE WHOLE WEEKEND.”

In between sessions, day two gave delegates plenty more opportunity to meet the brand reps inside the Break Out area. This was also the chance for DJs to get their ‘Break Out Bingo’ cards stamped ahead of the Gemini DJ prize draw later that day.

New equipment is a vital element of maintaining a DJ business, so it was great to see so many DJs take the opportunity to speak with representatives from DJ Event Planner, CHAUVET DJ, Gemini DJ, NADJ and more. As Andy Malcolmson pointed out: “Talking to the brands was really helpful. Being able to talk to them on a one-to-one basis is just so useful. It adds to the whole weekend.”

Perhaps the only keynote speaker of the weekend to convince delegates to dance mid-seminar was DJ and host Norry Ashcroft, whose midday session was one of Monday’s main highlights. In ‘Reaching Your True Potential As An Entertainer’, Norry – who moonlights as ‘the king of disco’ Lionel Vinyl for audiences across the UK – shared his knowledge of human behaviour and explored emotional needs such as certainty, uncertainty, significance and connection. Coffee cup in hand, Norry stepped down off the stage to give DJs a down-to-earth talk on self-belief, physiology and how behaviour is a clue to people’s wants and needs. He even got delegates standing up and dancing, drawing plenty of laughs from a full room.

Then it was down to wedding host and regular PMC delegate Euan Bass to deliver the final keynote of the Conference: ‘Make Your Mobile DJ Marketing Work’. Using his signature dead-pan humour and an array of tips picked up from his years in the business, hard-talking Euan gave delegates a wealth of DJ-specific marketing takeaways that can be put into action straightaway. Euan received a standing ovation from delegates, marking the perfect end to an unbelievably positive and constructive weekend.

“IT’S GIVEN ME THE GROWTH PATTERN THAT I NEED TO TAKE MY BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL.”

In light of another action-packed day, all that was left to do was for Eddie and Mark to summarise the Conference, giving delegates the chance to feedback on their experience. Needless to say, after such a successful year, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“[The Conference] has given me the growth pattern that I need to take my business to the next level,” explained first-timer Alistair Craig. “I’m really expecting to build on some of the points I’ve learnt and hopefully I can come back here next year and say, I’ve acted on that, it has made a difference and I’m becoming more profitable.”

In fact, more than half number of this year’s delegates signed up for the 2019 PMC right there and then, citing the value of the package as a key reason: “The price is a bargain for the two days. It’s a fantastic offer,” said delegate Stephen Dutton. “And to anybody who’s never been before: Once you make that first step, it’s a no brainer, really.”

Alistair Craig, meanwhile, pointed out that the cost of attending the Conference is a legitimate business expense. “I would seriously take a look at the costs and because you’re in a legitimate business it’s a very good tax offset on your business expense,” he said. “I wouldn’t hesitate – in a way I kicked myself for leaving it this long.”

It wasn’t just the newbies who found PMC 2018 inspiring, though. Long-time attendee Tom Norridge said, “I’ve been to every Conference and I’d probably say this has been the best one yet. I love the new venue… and I’ll definitely be back next year.”

It’s a good job that places at Pro Mobile Conference 2019 are already on sale, then.

See you next year – we can’t wait!

Sunday 24th & Monday 25th March | The Village Hotel, Solihull
If you would like to join the UK’s most forward-thinking mobile DJs for two days of focussed learning, networking and professional development next year, book your place now! The 2019 Conference is already over 70% full!
www.mobiledjconference.co.uk
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music.

The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 89, Pages 54-60.
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