BY CAROL MILANO
Let's face it: Nobody wants to work harder than you really need to. When it comes to your mobile DJ business, the key is your time and money in order to net the greatest rewards. Simply put, the best technique to generate more business is to spread the word about your company in new, exciting ways.
In order to help you work smarter (not harder), here are 10 innovative ideas for promoting your DJ service. Some of these are already in your mix; others are designed to stretch the marketer's imagination inside of you.
SEND A USEFUL OFFICE PRODUCT
K.C. KoKoruz of Spinnin' Discs in Chicago likes to give useful, unusual office products to his referral base. "Make [computer] mouse pads with your company name on them and drop them off at caterers as a holiday gift," he says. "Or get a coffee cup warmer for their desk -- every caterer uses one. People already have coffee mugs, but a Spinnin' Discs warmer gets used because no one has one of those. Or get. a nice desk blotter with your name on it. Whenever they're asked for a DJ, your number is right there. These are fairly inexpensive for most DJs to create," KoKoruz claims.
"Nothing beats having your name in front of a customer all day long," agrees Ed Hepner, a national promotions consultant. "If you can get your company name before a prospect, amidst all the clutter of their desk, then your advertising keeps the same hours as that decision- maker." To order an item, see Advertising Specialties in your Yellow Pages.
GET A SPECIAL PHONE NUMBER
To call Musictrax in Chicago, dial 296-4DJS. "The number is very prominent on our vans," says company president Frank Torres. "People see it, and if they are thinking about hiring a DJ, they're able to remember it." Torres reports that a significant number of gigs have been generated because of the easily memorized number. People also see 2964DJS when they pass by the Musitrax storefront. "We have a big banner (10-by-4) outside our office. People have only 10 seconds to see that sign from a car or a train -- it helps if the number they're looking at is easy."
Sweet Music Entertainment in Brooklyn, NY, has HEY-DJ80 as their number. Your local phone company can work with you to create a memorable phone number related to your specialty.
PINPOINT YOUR ADVERTISING
Louisville's An Entertaining Idea is constantly booking bar/bat mitzvahs. Owner John Hughes' clever strategy includes advertising in Jewish newspapers, newsletters of Jewish organizations and publications produced by Louisville synagogues.
"Learn how to do a bar mitzvah before you try one!" Hughes warns. "Remember, you have to entertain a roomful of 13-year-olds. It's a high-priced market, with a lot of upsells. You can offer more glitz and glamour, as parents compete for the biggest fight show or the biggest sound system."
PRODUCE A NEWSLETTER
Every month, Prime Time DJs in Cleveland sends 125 copies of its newsletter, "Prime Time News," to a selected list of local bars and nightclubs. "Prime Time News" has four columns of varied articles that explain company products and services. Written by owner Lee Andrassy, the year-old newsletter features monthly specials, with featured prices printed in red. "One issue, we had Giveaway Month, where all our hosts would give away prizes," says Andrassy. "The newsletter works great. Sooner or later people read it. In February, it brought us more calls than we could handle. "
Sylvester Samuels serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Professional Disc Jockey Association and volunteered to edit their monthly newsletter. Samuels, owner of Atmosphere Productions in West Hartford, feels his editorial role helps him stay "well-known throughout the area as a DJ. It keeps my name out there in our circle of vendors."
The newsletter's 1,200-person mailing list includes wedding consultants, banquet managers, and other suppliers of party planning and wedding services. It is also on the Internet (http://www.tiac.net/ users/markr/).
DONATE SERVICES TO CHARITY
"Get involved in your community," advises Brian Forbes, president of Big Fun's Dancin' Machine in Gurnee, Ill. "Donate your services to charitable events. It shows you have a heart -- and every time you're exposed to the public, you have a chance to advertise your services. Every year, we do UNICEF and 'Scoop The Loop' [a big event for the YMCA]. We get top billing for the entertainment, and lots of press coverage. Then people call us and say, 'Hey, weren't you guys at Scoop The Loop?' "
California Music Express in San Ramon holds a toy drive during the Christmas season. "If we're doing a corporate party," says owner Paul Binder, "and [participants] bring us five toys, we'll offer a bonus at their party. Last year, we donated 375 toys to a church that had been robbed two days before. It made the DJs get into it more, too."
You can blow your own horn when you contribute to your community. "Send press releases," says Forbes. "Call editors from your local papers to find out their format. They need to fill space, and these charity events are a natural peg." Big Fun's Dancin' Machine uses its publicity as a marketing tool, to show corporate prospects the level of recognition they've attained.
UTILIZE REFERRAL SERVICES
Often, professional and business associations provide a referral service, which can be a real benefit to members. The Connecticut Professional Disc jockey Association, for example, "prequalifies members for experience, quality, and other important factors," explains Samuels, who serves on its Board of Directors. "Callers to the office will receive three recommendations of members who fit their requirements. If someone calls me and I'm not available for the date they need, I tell them to call the association. I have certainly gotten jobs through the referral service of the Connecticut Professional DJ Association!"
Samuels' association promotes its referral service by sending brochures to mailing lists of brides and by advertising in wedding books. Check with the Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and a DJ association in your area to see if they recommend qualified members to the public.
THROW YOUR OWN PARTY
In late winter and spring, California Music Express proposes a special event to area high schools. "We do a 'Pre-Prom Show,' like a wedding fair," says Binder. "We have the kids model tuxedoes and dresses from local shops at lunch time." In addition to helping the kids locate their outfits, the events are great showcases for California Music Express' entertainment flair.
During the slow season, Spinnin' Discs of Chicago throws a weeknight Open House at a country club, with a cash bar and complementary appetizers. They invite prospects and clients via mailings, and ads in local papers. "We give away a free party," explains KoKoruz. "We get the banquet facility to donate their space -- they're showing off their wares, too. We invite all sorts of party suppliers to take part. A centerpiece company makes all the table arrangements. A linen company gets to show off their craziest linens. A sweets caterer presents a 24-foot table of phenomenal desserts.
"We perform, set up our giant lighting system, and show off Excalibur -- our $4,000 package of seven dancers, a DJ and an MC. Our only cost is labor and promotion." KoKoruz says that the 1996 event, held this past February, yielded 18 bar mitzvah contracts.
OPEN A SHOWROOM
Most mobile DJ businesses operate out of a home office. Musitrax president Torres believes customers are more confident when they see an actual office, especially in a central location. In January, 1995, Musitrax opened a showroom in their storefront space. "It has two different light shows and four different sound systems. Since we installed the showroom, nine out of 10 customers who come to the office book with us," he says.
"Seeing the vertical lights in person has quite an effect. The set-ups you see in our showroom are just what you'll see at your event. People feel good about that. The 20-by-17 showroom is our best selling tool."
JOIN A NETWORKING GROUP
Early in 1996, Spinnin' Discs' KoKoruz joined a Bridal Networking Group. Every other week, he meets with a photographer, videographer, balloon vendor, silk florist, floral designer, and other non-competing providers of wedding services. Gatherings are held in the conference room of a hotel where one of the group members serves as banquet manager.
"I give every bride I meet a checklist asking her what else she needs for her wedding," says KoKoruz. "I bring my sheets to our next meeting, and share all the leads. I get four or five qualified leads at every session."
Check the business pages of your local newspaper or the calendar of a metropolitan business weekly for news about meetings of networking groups. Also known as Leads Groups, some charge annual or monthly membership fees; others are free. Whether weekly, biweekly or monthly, meetings tend to start between 7:30 and 8:30 am.
USE A FLYING BILLBOARD
What? In the New York area, several DJs have chosen aerial advertising. "People instinctively gaze up at an airplane flying over them with a giant message streaming behind it," observes Keith Mazzarella, owner/ operator of Sky Sign, New York's largest aerial ad agency. Sky Sign planes fly year-round, over football games in winter, beaches and outdoor concerts in warm weather.
Sky Sign makes up the banner for its clients, in five- foot high letters. Messages can have a maximum of 50 letters. "It helps to have a catchy phone number," Mazzarella notes. Aerial advertising, priced by the hour, costs $275 an hour at Sky Sign. To launch a flying billboard in your area, look under Advertising, Aerial, in your Yellow Pages.
Whatever marketing method you choose for your own mobile DJ business, make sure the image matches the way you want your company perceived by the public. If you're the high-end DJ service in your area, keep your events and activities sophisticated and upscale. If you want to be known as the affordable service, make your materials and promotions very accessible. Whatever your image, keep spreading the word about what you have to offer in new ways -- to bring in new business!
Carol Milano, a jazz and blues fanatic living in New York City, writes attention getting brochures, ads and sales literature for mobile DJs and other small businesses.