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Dan's Soup (Marketing)



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Dan's Soup
Turning Your Contacts Into Cash
by Dan McKay, Editor

Contrary to what my salesman at the car dealership prefers to believe, the two hours we spent negotiating the deal on my Toyota Rav 4 did not make us lifelong buddies. Although he was polite and businesslike, offered me free coffee, and threw in deluxe floor mats, he wasn't someone I gave a second thought to talking with ever again. Yet he's done just about everything to make sure that I'll never forget him.

While the average person will use DJ services far fewer times in their life than buy a car, we can take a lesson from the way the automobile industry excels in fostering customer loyalty. Right after the sale, I got a handwritten card thanking me for my business. Enclosed were two of his business cards to pass along to friends. (I gave them to my five-year-old son to play with.)

Three months later, another handwritten card, this time to invite me to an after-hours "preferred customer reception" with wine, hors d'oeuvres and live music. The new year's models would be introduced there, with door prizes for those attending. Two more business cards were enclosed.

On it went, through Christmas greetings (complete with enclosed wallet calendar), spring tune-up specials, and summer tent sales. I now have enough of this guy's business cards to even out the wobble on one of the uneven legs on my desk. But you know what? Next time I'm in the market for a new car, you can bet I'm going to give this guy the opportunity to earn my business!

Too many DJ's look at gigs as one-night stands. Sure, you've spoken with clients many times over a period of months to work out their special day. They've completed information forms and request sheets. Maybe they've even called you at home after hours with a song they've just heard that they MUST have played at their party. Yet after you've pushed "play" on their last dance, most clients will never hear from their DJ's again. What a marketing travesty!

It's a long-held business tenet that it's easier (and less expensive) to resell an existing customer that to find a new one. So here's five ways to leverage your existing contacts into generating future revenue:

Join The Club - If you specialize in weddings, you've tapped into a hugely sought-after market. The smiling gal in the white veil today will be searching for everything from sheets to sofas for her happy home tomorrow. This is an excellent opportunity for you to approach local merchants to offer free discount coupons to your clients.

Chances are many of these businesses are already offering similar coupons through Val-Pak, Entertainment or Gold C books, or newspapers. In fact, calling on those who are already couponing will make your search easier.

What you will propose is their free inclusion into the "XYZ Mobile DJ's Wedding Bells Discount Book" which will be distributed at no charge to all your company's clients, as well as at any bridal fairs at which your company appears. Naturally, you will also include coupons for your company. Consider coupons for a $50 discount off regular price, a free extra hour, or complimentary lighting add-on.

This is not only a great free incentive to give brides before they book, but also a mechanism to promote customer loyalty and repeat bookings.

Anniversary Cards - This one is easy  after all, you already know the date! But make sure you get the couple's new address, as the place you mailed your contract probably will not be where the betroved will be setting up house.

The couple will be amazed that you "remembered" their special day (databases are a wonderful thing!) and it will remind them of all the fun they had at their reception. An advantageous memory when it comes time for their friends to head down the aisle!

Take it one step further and treat them to a dinner and a movie. Many theater chains offer books of discount tickets at about $5 each, and a large pizza can be had for about $10. In fact, if you deal with an independently owned pizza place rather than a national chain, it could be easier to secure certificates at a discount - or even free in exchange for the advertising value. Want a smaller cash outlay? Consider enclosing a 2-for-1 coupon at a local restaurant -- pitch the manager your promotion and many will be happy to provide those to you free.

Sure, you're not sending them to the Ritz, but this small investment will pay off in spades by putting the name of your company indelibly on their minds whenever it comes to booking or recommending DJ entertainment.

Making Vendors Your Salesmen - Just about every DJ client fills out a planning sheet where they provide names of their venue, caterer, photographer, videographer, etc. Isn't it strange that many DJ's take all this specific contact information and just file it away after the gig?

Leverage the power of these contacts by first getting to gigs extra early to set up. Take a moment to shake hands with as many vendors as you can -- from the catering director to the wedding cake guy, to the florist. Remember, they're in a hurry too so don't overwhelm them with a sales pitch (you'll do that later!)

After the event, go back to the planning sheet and dash off a few letters to the vendors saying, "It was a pleasure working with you to make Bill and Susie's wedding a success. I especially liked <your menu, your flower arrangements, the candid shots you took> and thought you exhibited a great degree of professionalism. I will be sure to add your firm to our list of recommended vendors, and hope you will do the same. Please find enclosed more information on our DJ company"

This says two things to the vendor. First, that you operate in a businesslike manner. For years, I never thought that my company did anything that any other professional DJ wouldn't do, yet I became amazed at how many caterers would come up to me after the gig to tell me horror stories about other DJ's they've seen. Vendors want to be associated with DJ companies that make them look good. (By the way, in my closing blurb on the mike when I ask for applause for the bride and groom, I always mention - by name - the on-site vendors who helped make the reception a success.)

It also says you think enough about their company to agree to recommend them to your clients. In business, networking is what it's all about. You are far more likely to engage the services of a company recommended to you than one you pulled out of the phone book.

Request Cards: The Silent Salesmen - Although placing business cards on everyone's table at an event might be perceived as tacky, you can accomplish the same goal just by making them into "request cards".

I use a foldover card that says in script on the front, "Requests & Dedications". Inside are lines for "dedication to", "dedication from", "title" and "artist". On the back is my regular full business card complete with phone number and website address. Then I place a small "golf" pencil on the table, and ask guests throughout the night to fill in their favorite tunes and bring it up to me.

Know what usually happens? Let's say I put out 100 cards and get back 20 with requests. But at the end of the night, I'll see only about 50 or so left on the tables. Not a bad way of getting 30 business cards into people's hands!

Evaluation Forms - Although evaluation forms are a marketing mechanism many DJ companies already use, they can be made much more effective with a few simple steps.

First, never take the client for granted. Don't assume the client is obligated to take their time to give you feedback. They are doing you a favor. So reward them with a token of your appreciation such as a certificate for a free CD or pizza, or a discount on a future show. This not only encourages them to send back your form in a timely manner (don't forget the postage-paid return envelope!) but shows that you place value on their time -- just as they valued yours with a big check!

The best feedback you can get from your clients isn't with a checkbox. It's the "essay question" - the freeform answer where the quotes are the most quotable. On the back of your form, ask an open-ended question like, "What did you enjoy most about your experience with XYZ DJ's". Then have a large, unlined area where people can spill their guts. You will reproduce this handwritten testimonial on your sales materials along with those of other clients.

Compound the power of your feedback mailing by also including a "friend-to-friend" discount certificate. In fact, you can compile a list of everyone you've gigged for and send them one as well. The certificate (enhance its value by personalizing each one with their name on your computer printer, or calligraphy) allows them to give one friend a significant discount (at least $50) off a booking.

Now here's the best part, when their friend books your company, you send the referring person a certificate for a fabulous dinner for two, department store certificate, or some other gift worth about $50. Why the gift instead of cash? Cash sounds stark and crass - like you're asking them to be your Amway sales agent -- and not as "warm" of an offer. Besides, who doesn't love a fabulous gift?

It's like the old shampoo commercial. By schmoozing those who have already done business with you, they tell two friends, who also tell two friends and so on, and so on. Build continuing relationships instead of amassing long customer lists and each gig you do will compound your investment in the long-term success of your business.



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