Geoff Carlisle of JAMM Entertainment Services in Birmingham, Ala., agrees with Silva that most package DJs are not providing enough customer service for their brides. “They’re trying to book a greater number of events instead of premium events,” he says, “and the clients, unfortunately, don’t know what they need or what questions to ask.
“Sure, we can provide several things that they might be interested in [i.e., DJ/MC, uplighting, a photo-booth, drapery, monogram projections, etc.], but we don’t create an all-or-nothing package and then sell everything discounted.
“A discounted/package DJ is trying to convey his value through a cheaper price, but if a prospective client is only worried about finding the cheapest price, she is not my client and I’m not her entertainer. We just need to explain and convey the importance and value of our services, and if the bride sees or discovers something that’s important to her, she’ll pull from other items in the budget or add more money to make it happen.
“It’s not about the price—it’s about the experience.”
According to Artem Lomez of NinetyThree Entertainment in Morris County, N.J., our job as professional DJs is to educate our clients.
“As event entertainers, it truly comes down to our personality and performance when we’re showcasing quality,” he explains. “The secondary elements, such as photo-booths and lighting, are important to events—that’s not a question—but it’s ultimately up to us to educate our consumers of the differences amongst those elements, as well as the quality that they will experience within the overall performance.
“I truly feel that it ultimately comes down to us being able to educate our potential consumers, as an industry, regarding all of the elements that will play a part in their overall event entertainment experience.”
Bazata says it’s easy to overcome concerns expressed by potential clients by emphasizing three key attributes that cause his company to stand out among all the multi-ops and one-stop-buy companies: Personalization, Customization and Specialization.
“Breaking down each of these key attributes in the sales process,” he says, “enables me to easily win clients over my larger competitors.”
Specialization: “A bride is hiring a DJ to be an eloquent and well-spoken master of ceremonies, assisting with the flow of the day and paying attention to every detail so the guests are entertained and enjoying the evening,” he says. “When the bride hires me for her wedding, she wants to have trust and confidence that I will ensure the flow of the day, the room is filled with music and that my primary focus on your wedding day is delivering up to her expectations as the DJ.
“In 2014, I earned the trust of a bride and her wedding over a competitor because of the fact the owner of the company continually tried to push uplighting and photo-booth, and brushed off the fact that the DJ was the most important aspect for the bride in the sales process. In 2015, that very same situation arose not once but twice, and in both cases the brides selected my services over the competitor.”
Personalization: “I’m the owner of the company and I make all the decisions,” he says. “We all like to work with the person in charge, speak to the manager or deal with the most knowledgeable employee. If a bride needs to make changes, she wants to deal with one person, not having to go through several layers just to get assurance it will be as she expects.
“In the initial conversation with a bride I just booked for the spring of 2016, her sister used what she thought was a multi-faceted wedding vendor which included a DJ, photo-booth and photographer, but later learned that it was simply a booking company and every time she needed to make a change it took multiple phone calls.
“And in fact, her DJ changed several times throughout the process. Despite the fact my fee was actually the highest of all that she was quoted, she felt the money was well worth it to ensure that she was getting the attention and answers she needed in a timely manner—and more importantly, can talk with the owner who was also her DJ for the event.”
Customization: “And finally, with customization, this really comes down to pricing and how you present your wedding packages,” he says. “Repeatedly, clients share that they are directed to pricing package pages on the website or asked to fill out a lengthy questionnaire online before a quote can be given for services.
“I use the KISS method – Keep It Simple Stupid. For many of us, the initial inquiry is based upon price, so I respond with a simple email asking for a few details and offer them the ability to respond by email or phone. Once the information is received, which in most cases is the same day, I respond back with a generalized quote and emphasize the fact that it can be customized to their specific needs for the day.
“A standout feature of my customization is that I allow them to make changes to the contract, but not cancel it, up to a few days before the wedding. In 2014, a bride contracted me for ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, but two weeks before the wedding she had the opportunity to have a string quartet perform for the ceremony and cocktail hour.
“Without hesitation, I removed those costs from the contract and adjusted the price accordingly. The following day, the father of the groom called me and asked if I would do the rehearsal dinner the night before, to which I quickly agreed. The father stated my willingness to be flexible and a reasonable business person enticed them to contract me for the other event.
“The great thing is, I gave up $450 on the day of the wedding, but gained $750 on the rehearsal dinner.”
Bazata, who is also a banker, says that each of those three concepts is intertwined in the sales process. “Remember, you are selling yourself and not a commodity. Unfortunately, the concept of growing a business is to add more services and make it a one-stop shop. Having the benefit of being a commercial bank for over 25-plus years, I realize that businesses that lost focus of their core business and seek growth through other products and channels don’t always succeed. It ends up being the demise of some very good businesses.”
Meanwhile, Keith KoKoruz of The Keith Christopher Entertainment Group in Chicago has a little fun with brides seeking the McD’s of DJs. “May I recommend the Double Quarter Pounder,” he jokes. “It’s the most meat-like tasting burger available—similar to the laptop DJ, with the fancy facade and no skills.”