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By Gregg Hollmann

Today’s DJ business owner operates in a fast-paced and changing world. One of the best ways to stay sharp is to attend the seminars at DJ Expo, presented by DJ Times each August in Atlantic City, N.J.

To that end, I attended as many seminars as possible, not only collecting “nuggets” of information, but also searching for a breakthrough idea capable of catapulting my business to the next level. Hopefully, you’ll find something in these seminar takeaways to take your business to the same place.

Steve Moody’s All-Star MC Secrets Revealed: A great opening speech by the MC is critical: it sets the tone for the event, it establishes likeability early on, and makes it easier to be forgiven by guests later. One interesting idea is to construct an “elegant pep rally”—congratulating guests on being among the chosen few at the reception, and asking if they are as excited as you are to be celebrating with the bride and groom. Use personal stories to establish that you are “much more than a DJ.”

Another topic regarding bridal party introductions was how to “make grand entrances grand.” Video footage from actual weddings demonstrated the difference between “announcements” and a personalized “grand entrance.” In the first video clip used to illustrate “announcements,” an MC accurately and energetically announced a bridal party into the room. For a “grand entrance,” names were announced and the MC also provided an interesting fact or humorous story about each bridal party member. The benefits of doing a grand entrance in this fashion are: 1) it establishes audience connection; 2) it excites the audience; and 3) it puts guests “in the mood.”

Another takeaway bucked tradition: have the bride’s parents sit on the groom’s side of the aisle. Seated this way, a parent can observe their child’s facial expressions during the ceremony. A fun “What’s in Your Wallet?” game was next. Using it to pick the next table to visit the buffet, the MC calls for an item (e.g., “a picture of Ben Franklin”); the first person from a table to produce the item gets to eat.

Get Down to Business with Joe Molineaux: This fast-paced seminar helped attendees set business goals. Writing a business plan is a worthwhile exercise as it provides a road map for the future and makes it easier to be approved for a loan. Seek out advice from well-regarded peers or business experts. Take advantage of the wealth of information on the website ( Perfect your 30-second “elevator speech” used to describe your services upon an initial meeting; and in sales, “treat people like people, not prospects.”

Know Your Video—The Future of Mobile Entertainment: Key tips include: (1) steady your shots—use a tripod and don’t be dancing around while filming; (2) lighting is important, either get a small LED light for the camera, or take advantage of bright dancefloor lighting effects like washes; (3) Keep your videos mysterious by avoiding generic effects and text used in popular software packages; and (4) for transitions, use clean cuts or dissolves. The camera on the iPhone4S compares very favorably to the Canon 5D.

Ideas for Growth—Making a Multi-Op Work: Some takeaways from Mike Walter’s seminar: (1) Price is important, but clients will pay more if they perceive you as unique; (2) As an MC, your choice of words can make all the difference in the emotional impact delivered (“Change your words, change your world”); (3) As a business owner with a staff, stay humble and share the spotlight with others; and (4) Be accountable for results and don’t blame others.

The Top 10 Things DJs Should Know About Copyright Law: Coe Ramsey told us that DJs who perform recorded music in events to the public (such as restaurants and bowling centers) should be aware that venue or the DJ must have an ASCAP or BMI license. Also, the trade in illegal hard copies on websites like Craigslist and eBay is being monitored by the music industry, with these illegal drives being seized.

Weddings 2013—Creating Memorable Moments: The boldest idea from Mark Brenneisen was an alternative to the “dollar dance”: a fundraising contest between the bride and groom coordinated by the DJ. Of course, guests will want the bride to win and will bid enthusiastically on her behalf. This contest can quickly raise between $300 and $1,100 per event. These cashed-up brides and grooms are more likely to tip their DJ!

Another technique: open a wedding reception with a dance set and packed dancefloor for the grand entrance of the bride and groom. Finally, another “signature moment” possibility is recording the Best Man’s toast, and later in the night, overdubbing these words on top of a slow dance.

Solutions from the Sales Coach: Among the tips dispensed by Carolyn Herfurth were “stop convincing and start having conversations,” profile and cater to your perfect customer (“perfect peep”), replace lame stock questions with well-crafted questions, and “own your price.”

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