Getting Your PhDJ: Tactics for DJ Business Growth

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The contributions that Mike Walter and Joe Bunn have made to the DJ industry are well known to attendees of DJ Expo, DJ Times’ annual confab and exhibition in Atlantic City, N.J.

Walter, owner of Tinton Falls, N.J.-based Elite Entertainment, has produced the Expo’s DJ of the Year competition and he’s contributed with various mobile-operator tutorials. Meanwhile, Bunn, owner of Raleigh, N.C.-based Joe Bunn DJ Company, has frequently appeared as a moderator for various business-related seminars.

Aiming to parlay their experience and expertise, the pair will produce PhDJ, an intensive two-day workshop March 10-11, in Raleigh, N.C., at the Hampton Inn.

“We both thought there was a glaring hole for this type of advanced workshop for the business owner,” says Walter. “There are a number of guys doing one- or two-day workshops for DJs, but they are mainly performance focused. We are talking about performance, but the main emphasis is running a more effective and profitable company that leaves the business owner a little more quality time in his life.”

Originally, Bunn had been planning The Unconventional DJ Convention in Raleigh in November 2013. “I had several speakers lined up and was even going to do a couple of panels—one with wedding planners and the other with venue owners.”

Coordination of the events was hindered by a busy fall season, and Bunn scrapped the idea for something smaller and more impactful.

“That’s how the PhDJ Workshop was born,” he says. “Even though I have spoken at all of the major wedding and DJ conferences, I still felt like I needed to bring in a bigger name in the DJ community and only thought of one name, Mike Walter. I actually hired him years ago when Joe Bunn DJ Company was going through growing pains. We had a few phone conversations, and this idea began to take shape.”

We asked the pair to unpack some of the workshop’s takeaways.

DJ Times: Can you give us an overview of the PhDJ program?
Bunn: Strategies to build better relationships with the banquet people who can refer you better; How to put videos together of your staff that will help you sell them when clients call in; Unique ways to incentivize your key staff members that will keep them loyal and working for you exclusively. These are just some of the things we’ll touch on.
Walter: We’re focusing a lot on marketing and selling to the millennial client. This generation has different expectations, different forms of communication and different ways of judging talent. We’ll discuss all that.

DJ Times: Can you unpack that a bit? DJs today are dealing with clients who have done a lot of research on the Internet before they’ve reached the DJ. What are some things they can do to get ahead of that?
Bunn: Having as much on your website is important. It’s true, many clients nowadays have done tons of due diligence before they call, and not just on DJ sites, but they’ve scoured the review sites, too. Having as much out there as possible, so they can find you and study you is key.

DJ Times: Every DJ has received a complaint. Should they tell the client that they’re sorry and try to allow them to vent? What if they’re simply wrong?
Walter: I don’t believe that the client is always right, but they’re always the client. In the rare situation of a complaint, it’s vital the client be listened to and understood, and communicated with on time. They may or may not deserve a refund—that’s obviously case-by-case—but they have to be heeded.

DJ Times: If a prospect is coming to me from the Internet vs. old-school way (referral), do I do anything differently?
Bunn: You communicate the way she wants to communicate. Old-school selling called for mirroring—i.e., if she spoke softly, you spoke softly, etc. It’s the same today with different forms of communication. I hear DJs say, “I insist on meeting with my prospects in person!” Well, what if they don’t want that? If a client wants to shop from home, let her. If she prefers text message only, text her.

DJ Times: Are there any sure-fire ways to increase my odds of generating referrals via performance?
Walter: Yes. Be dynamic. Break the third wall. Get out into the crowd. Interact. Be different than the last four DJs they saw. Let your personality shine.

DJ Times: As a DJ, I recognize I need to be where the crowd is (social media), but what are strategies I can employ that won’t be a waste of time?
Bunn: Build a following first. Get clients to “like” you or “follow” you, so that when you do throw out the occasional “sales pitch” it’s not a tree falling in a forest. Also, learn the algorithms of Facebook. Know that pictures get more play than straight text and links to outside of Facebook are favored right now.

DJ Times: Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest?
Walter: For brides, Pinterest and Instagram. But, of course, you can’t ignore Facebook. Because other than teens, everyone’s on Facebook.

DJ Times: What’s the goal of PhDJs?
Walter: In many of my seminars, I use stories that I hear about DJs from wedding vendors. It actually hurts my soul to hear some of these insane stories because bad mobile DJs bring the entire DJ industry down, not just themselves. My goal over the past few years has been to help DJs “raise the bar” professionally.

DJ Times: Doing something like this further positions you as thought leaders. Can you speak to the importance of thought leadership to a DJ business?
Bunn: I’ve been called a lot of things, but never a “thought leader.” I think that Mike and I share similar ideologies and policies for our companies and operate at an extremely high level of customer service. As thought leaders, we are going to teach people how we have built our businesses.
For more information on the PhDJ Workshop, please visit