The Fly on the Wall By: Geoff Short

November 30, 2012 by CHAUVET DJ

Ever wonder what DJ clients are really thinking? Ever want to be a fly on the wall when they’re talking among themselves in private about the entertainment for their special events?

Working at Jerry Bruno Productions – a multi-op here in Cleveland that represents 23 different DJs – I get the opportunity to talk to lots of special event clients.  Most often, I’m selling our other DJs, not myself.  It seems like I learn so much more about what clients are really looking for when I’m selling other DJs than when I’m talking about myself as a DJ.  Like most of you, my objective is always to make sure I’m helping clients navigate the waters of booking entertainment, raising awareness of the factors that can contribute to or take away from a successful party and ultimately matching them with the DJ (or band) that will be the best fit to help them achieve their goals.  Unlike many of you, I’m not as concerned with selling myself as a DJ or specifically selling my band.  In fact, much of the time, the clients I meet with don’t even know I’m a DJ.  And because of that an interesting thing happens. They’re honest.

Clients who don’t know I’m a DJ or that I’m an option to DJ their event are free from the social conventions of being unnecessarily polite in regard to what turns them on and what turns them off about DJs.  To them I’m just an objective consultant listening to their concerns, biases and personal experiences.  i definitely notice clients opening up a bit more when they don’t think I’m “in the club”.

I’m certainly not talking about misrepresenting myself in any way to clients.  I always tell them a bit about myself by way of introduction.  Indeed I have to identify my experience to lend myself any credibility in advising them.  But when they learn that I’m a Band Leader most of the time who also DJs, they seem to view me more as a confidante from the “other side of the tracks” as opposed to someone trying to get them to book me personally.

Clients act differently when they feel someone is trying to sell them something. I know I do when someone is trying to sell me something. So I always like to start my consultations by asking them what their objectives are for this specific meeting.  After repeating what they say to make sure I understand what they hope to get out of this meeting and to assure them I will work to meet that objective, I add my own objective for the meeting.  Which isn’t to close a sale, but to give them some important things to think about when planning their reception.  Things that go beyond the entertainment but that can have a direct influence on the dance floor.  Those factors have been covered ad nauseum by many experts.  But the point is I’m positioning myself as a planner and a consultant who genuinely cares about their event whether or not they book anything from my company.

So what do they open up about? They tend to open up about what they think about DJs.  They convey their specific prejudices and perceptions about DJs.  The nearest thing I can think of to compare it to is the vibe one might get when someone thinks they’re in a “colorless” room and begins to tell a politically incorrect joke about a black guy, a Jewish guy and a Hispanic guy that walk into a bar…Like it or hate it, you usually get an honest picture of where that guy is coming from.  But put a couple black folks in that room and Jokey Jokerman ain’t so honest all of a sudden.  Of course that’s kind of a negative analogy.  In reality it’s a positive thing when clients feel free from sales pressure (either real or perceived) and tell you what they really think. Taking the “DJ” out of the DJ meeting sometimes can give the client freedom to tell you things they might not have like whether or not they hate DJs who do dance routines without worrying if you’re one of them.

Obviously, this approach is easier in a multi-op business where an “objective” consultant represents other DJs.  But what about single DJ operations?  You are THE DJ.  There’s no taking that out of the equation.  So how can you get clients to open up to you in this way?  I think the easiest way is to have the same no-pressure approach.  If you can assure them you are a consultant who is only interested in the success of their event – as THEY define success, and not necessarily signing a contract right now, you’re on your way to a more open (and, ultimately a more constructive) consultation.  Ideally, the client’s confidence in you as a knowledgeable entertainment professional will prove invaluable to them eventually and they will want to do business with you.  That’s the idea anyway.

And everyone knows that knowledgeable entertainment professionals make more money than flies on walls.
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