How To Get Gigs (Part 1)

Aug 22, 2012 by

How To Get Gigs (Part 1)

How to get gigs – Part 1 (The Inquiry)

Your website and marketing efforts have done their jobs and you’ve received an inquiry from a potential bride.  Now what?  Several DJ’s are great entertainers, but some lack strong selling skills.  A DJ provides atmosphere and entertainment, however you need to realize that sales is still a big part of what we do.  I will admit that I am not the best salesperson on the planet, but I do have a high closing rate for booking gigs.

The first thing I do is “make it personal”.  The person on the other end is a bride, a bride’s Mother, a close friend or relative…..NOT just another voice or email.  This is an emotional time for them and they want to know that someone on the other end of the phone or email realizes this and will take the time to listen and learn more about them and their needs.

Here’s how the communication may go….

I have received an email from the bride with the message:

“Are you available to DJ my wedding on June XX and how much do you charge – Mary”

My response would be:

(1) Hello Mary and thank you for contacting me.  First, I would like to congratulation you on your upcoming wedding.  This is a special time for you and your fiancée’ and I will do everything possible to make it a memorable experience.

(2) How did you come across my contact information?  Have you or someone you know been to an event where I was the DJ?

(3) Your date of June XX is available and I would be honored to be selected as the DJ.  Mary, one of the most important factors in hiring the right DJ is having a positive connection.  Making sure that I am the right fit is very important to me.  I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and your fiancée’ to discuss the type of DJ you are looking for.  At this meeting, I will share with you letters of recommendation that I have received from other brides.  Hopefully after our meeting, you and I will feel confident that my experience and personality are the right fit for your wedding reception.

(4) I am available next week on either Monday or Wednesday at 6:00 PM.  Which day is best for you?

Let’s break this email apart.

Reference (1) A heartwarming congratulation letting her know that you are a person with feelings and are simply not another DJ that she is contacting.  I mentioned her fiancée’ because she is not alone and I want to include both individuals in the decision process.

Reference (2) You need to know how she came across your website/email address.  If she was referred from a previous event, how much did you charge that person?  If she found you through the Yellow Pages (does anyone still use this?) or specialty print publication.  You may be able to get a feeling if it’s all about price or quality.  Did you advertise a percentage discount off your regular fee?  Make sure you find out how she found you so you can properly establish a fair price.  You need to know this!

Reference (3) Set-up for a meeting.  If you noticed, I never did disclose a price.  Sure, some insist on knowing a rate before we meet (or not meet).  At least I know that this person may be looking for a bargain and may not be the type of person I would work with.  If you come across this situation, I provide a range ($700-$1,200) and mention that I can give a more accurate quote once we meet and I learn more about their needs and requirement.   And it has happened when I receive a return email asking if I would do it for $300.  This is where I either flat out say “No”, or dive into the cost factors of a wedding.  For instance, I dance around the questions, how much are you paying for your cake, for a limo and driver to pick you up and drop you off, wedding favors, etc.  Is the entertainment a key component for the overall success of your wedding reception, or is it the $400 you spent on the car?  Without being rude, politely show a comparison and put things in perspective.  It’s been said that a DJ can make or break a party.  What do you think the guests will remember more, the dinner or the DJ and how many people had a great time?  I sometimes reply with “Mary, I certainly understand that keeping within your budget is a concern, and I know that negotiating a fair price with each vendor can be overwhelming.   I have been a DJ specializing in wedding receptions for over 30 years.  During that time, I have discovered the formula for a great party.  Although the price you are asking is below the regular fee for my professional service, I am willing to provide a courtesy discount as a way to help.  Before I rework my fees, can you tell me how important you believe I will be to the overall success of your event?”  Somewhere along the line, we have to establish VALUE.  We are valuable to the party and need to be properly compensated.  You may want to “add value” instead of offering a discount.  Mary, I will provide a free lighting upgrade…etc.

Reference (4) This is called the “either or close”.  Give two or three options and ask them to make a choice.  I would avoid simply saying “when would you like to meet?”.  Providing a choice makes them realize that you are a busy person and can set aside this time to learn more about their event.

Before you go to the meeting, BE PREPARED.  I never wear jeans or a cap.  My “meeting wardrobe” is a pair of kaki’s and a collard button down shirt.  It’s business casual.

Bring your brochure, business cards, any marketing material that you want them to leave with.  Bring letters, note cards, feedback forms or anything that shows you are a true pro and someone that they should seriously consider hiring.  If you have them, pictures of you and your equipment would be beneficial so they know how you dress and the presentation of your equipment (avoid showing wires and an unattractive setup).  Prepare a series of questions and be prepared to answer theirs.  I always ask questions about their likes and dislikes with DJ’s they have seen, types of music they and their guests will dance to, approximate percentage of older vs. younger guests, etc.  I also ask questions about the venue.  Are their steps for load-in, will I be on a stage or on the floor, can I have the catering managers name and contact information so I can coordinate the itinerary with them?

Another suggestion is to never interrupt, listen closely and maintain eye contact.  Maintaining eye contact is a sign of trust.  Let them see who you are.

Once I have gathered this information, I can discuss my fee and provide an agreement to secure my services.  When you have reached this level, you should have a good idea of what a fair rate would be.  By now you have established credibility.

I’m always available to answer any questions you may have.  Comments to this post are welcome!




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