Lessons From DJ Expo ’16 Part 2

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At the DJ Expo in Atlantic City this past August, dozens of seminars designed to educate and inspire attendees did just that. Here’s Part 2 of my Expo wrap-up:

“How to Win More Business at Bridal Shows.” Angel Vendrell and Christopher Atwood from New Jersey’s Absolute Celebrations spoke about how they built a seven-figure business by properly working the bridal-show process.


Atwood stated that while all companies are created equal, some work harder pre- and post-showcase. Regarding the pre-showcase preparation, the presenters encourage DJ companies to make the investment into professionally created marketing materials, and to also consider the power of the re-brand or logo tweak. These costs can be substantial, but should be considered a long-term investment in success.

At a show, DJs should consider collecting a prospect’s data on tablets using the iCapture app, which seamlessly integrates data into an Excel spreadsheet or into your favorite CRM. It can even send out automated emails to prospects who visited your booth.

One important tip for following up with prospects is to use the power of the text message. Ninety-eight-percent of text messages are opened by their end user, as opposed to only 20-percent for emails. Response rates are 45-percent for text messages versus just 6-percent for emails.

A systematic and technology-heavy follow-up is required to move prospects further through the sales funnel, whether that be into a booking, in-person consultation or an invitation to a private showcase.  DJ companies are advised to invite their preferred vendors to private showcases to further cement these relationships.

“Mitzvah Massive.” The focus of this annual seminar moderated by Sean “Big Daddy” McKee was on mitzvah dancers. Tips dispensed by the panelists included:

Dancers should never turn their backs on guests. Instead, dancers should face the guests and mirror their movements.

Dancers are not there to show off for guests, but rather to dance with the guests and motivate them to join the fun. To this point, panelist Shani Barnett described dancers as “MCs without microphones.”

Dancers must realize that they are always on camera, and need to look like they are thrilled to be at the party throughout. Dancers should show the same level of enthusiasm whether performing to a new hip-hop track or to a Motown throwback.

Dancers with great personalities can be cross-trained to work in other areas of the company (e.g., Photo Booth attendant, Social Media Manager). A common theme of the seminar was that business owners can benefit by utilizing their existing pool of human resources more intensively as opposed to hiring new employees.

Dancers can be great lead-generation sources for bar/bat mitzvah bookings. DJ company owners should consider financially compensating dancers for providing bookings.

“Dare to Be Different” with Randy Bartlett. California’s Bartlett, the developer of the “1% Solution” instructional series, recommends that DJs think way outside the box to achieve memorable parties and cement premium pricing.

For example, when a bride needed an emotionally powerful Father-Stepfather song, the existing off-the-shelf options fell short. Bartlett arranged for the composition and recording of an original song with the perfect lyrics.

Lately, he’s been experimenting with the addition of sound bites in his photo booth. He continues to recommend the use of overdubbing the grand finale song at a reception with audio highlights from the wedding day (e.g., vows, toasts) to create incredible moments for couples.

As Randy says, “Dare to be different!”

“Party Games with Jake.” New Jersey mobile operator Darryl “Jake” Jacobsen organized another great games seminar this year. As usual, the presenters were extremely creative, inventing new games or putting twists on old favorites.

For example, North Carolina DJ Fox Feltman instructed a new version of musical chairs that is much like the original. However, when the music stops, players must retrieve an item called out by the MC – for example, a belt – and then hurry back to claim their seat.

New York’s Mike Alevras showed a new relay-race game where one team member runs across the room to pick up a soft corn tortilla and then brings it back to home base. Waiting there is a teammate wearing a swim fin and large sombrero. The tortilla is placed on the swim fin, and must be flipped successfully into the sombrero on their head. The team with the most tortilla baskets wins.

Finally, I instructed a new game called “Pandora’s Box.” In it, two teams have four minutes to hide a key inside a large decorative box that comes stuffed with packaging materials. Then, the teams switch boxes and it’s a race to see who can find the hidden key the fastest.

“How to Network, Book Gigs & Launch a DJ Career.” Philadelphia’s Linda Leigh, a former rave DJ and current nightclub/radio DJ, moderated a panel comprised of mobile and club DJs, and a public relations professional.

On the mobile side, Dre Ovalle stated emphatically the importance of having a professional website. “Prospective clients judge your business in a millisecond when viewing your website,” the New Jersey jock said. “Your homepage needs to have a professional look and properly communicate your brand attributes.”

Another panelist, South Carolina’s Michael Taylor, recommended that DJs ask bartenders and servers during setup, “So what type of music do you like?” Then spin some of these tunes. This expert continued, “Take the time to learn the venue and its musical format, and don’t come on too strong.”

Touring DJ Dani Lehman reminded DJs to stay humble and keep their egos in check, as this problem has been the downfall of many. Ovalle recommended making social media more personal by showing yourself speaking on video. This, he said, makes a DJ more real and trustworthy to customers than simply posting still photos.