From $500 to $3500. Six tips for giving you your next raise!

From $500 per wedding in 2010 to $3500 per wedding in 2015, I am often asked, HOW and WHEN did you raise your price, Dave? What motivated you to make those price increases? Were there certain signs you were watching for before raising your price? How often did you raise your prices? Once a year? Twice a year?

In five short years, I’ve moved from being a DJ with a base wedding price of $500 (basic speaker system and a very basic 4 fixture “T-bar” light system) to a DJ/MC with a starting wedding reception only price of $3500 (basic speaker system and a pair of moving heads with a couple of LED par lights for dance floor ambiance). Continue reading “From $500 to $3500. Six tips for giving you your next raise!”

You’re Responsible for the Sale, Not Them

This is lengthy… so grab a coffee, an apple, some popcorn or whatever else might make you happy for the next 10 minutes.

I’d like all of us, as a group of well respected professional mobile DJs, to accept more responsibility for the outcome of what is traditionally known as the “sales meeting”.

“In exchange for telling the truth, the prospect is disrespected.”

And so reads one of the lines in one of my all time favourite blog posts written by Seth Godin. I’ve read and re-read this post so many times and shared it with so many DJs that it’s virtually become a part of who I am. For the purpose of this post, here on, the above line will lead into why I believe you’re responsible for the sale, not the prospective client that you’re meeting with.

How many times on multiple DJ Facebook groups have we read words that insult the decision of a prospective client? That decision often being, not to hire a particular DJ (often the one writing those words). I’m not honestly sure I can count that high.

The greatest influence over whether a prospective client will be sold on your services is no one other then YOU. Of course, there are many other variables at play as well, but the single largest influence in the sale is YOU and your ability to convince them that you’ve got something of value to offer. Please understand that this a completely separate topic from whether they will actually purchase what you are offering (although the relationship between the two, being sold and actually purchasing, is imperative).

A client being sold on what you do isn’t the same thing as someone purchasing from you. I’m sold on a lot of different things that I don’t purchase. While I may realize the intrinsic value in something and go on to tell everyone I know how great it is, this is a very separate idea from actually buying it (I might not be able to afford it, might not need it or even want it).

The difference between being sold and actually purchasing: Imagine having a $5000 budget for a wedding photographer and finding two different photographers that fit within the budget. They both produce beautiful outstanding work that you sincerely appreciate. After meeting with both, you are sold on both of them, not finding any fault in the way they price themselves and recognizing they both create beautiful work. But in the end, you choose the one whose work holds more of an “art appeal” to you with wide open negative spaces popular throughout their imagery. You were sold on both, but only purchased from one.

If you take on the responsibility of ensuring the sale of what you do, it’ll dramatically increase the likelihood of someone actually deciding to purchase from you.

I was once at a local photographers home for a wedding vendor Christmas party. As I was engaged in conversation with the staff member of a local decorating company, she goes on to tell me that the single biggest regret her and her husband shared over their wedding which had taken place just a few months earlier, was that they hadn’t hired me for their wedding. I was slightly taken aback by that comment as I didn’t think we’d ever spoken before that day.

She went on to say that they’d spoken to me briefly at a wedding show the year before and decided, based on what I’d said, that I wasn’t worth the price I was asking and instead, chose to go the route of a far less expensive DJ. She wasn’t sold on what I had communicated. I felt terrible for her.

The DJ they booked had apparently showed up at the wedding in clothing that was far to casual for the occasion and was no where near as pleasant to work with as they’d hoped for. The DJ was their single biggest regret of the wedding.

I sincerely apologized. Yes, I apologized to them.

She insisted that it had been their fault for not choosing better, for not looking into their options in a more detailed fashion. I insisted that wasn’t the case. I explained that from my perspective, I had been given the opportunity to share with them why I was so valuable and obviously failed miserably in doing so. I felt responsible, at least in part, for the displeasure they experienced at their wedding with the DJ they hired. I apologized in part, for some of the discomfort she’d felt with the DJ they’d hired.

Seriously… what DJ does this? Would you do this?

I think you should.

I had been given the opportunity to sell them on my services. But the truth is, I had just started absorbing what people like Mark Ferrell, Bill Hermann, Randy Bartlett and Peter Merry were promoting about the worth and value of a DJ. The major disconnect was that I SUCKED at communicating my worth. A wedding couple can not be held to fault for a bad wedding decision if the vendor they’ve given a sales opportunity to can’t do so in an intelligent, clear and concise language that works for everyone involved. Seriously, why would we think otherwise? To borrow once again from that Seth Godin post I mentioned above,

“Given what they know and what they believe, the prospect is making exactly the right decision.”

I was the conduit through which they could have known and believed different and better things. I failed in properly accepting the mission they’d given me the moment we first said hello at that wedding show.

Since that day, I’ve been on a mission to educate myself as much as possible with methods, processes and ideas that help me communicate my worth to prospective clients, whether they actually purchase from me or not. My goal, with every couple I’m meeting with for the first time (that I truly want to work with) is to get one of two responses: 1) They want to hire me, or 2) they were sold on the value of my work, but hiring me simply isn’t the right decision for them (for any one or more of a variety of reasons). An example of what that #2 response might look like, from an actual couple I met with, may look like this email they sent me following our meeting:

“Thank you again for meeting with us. We really enjoyed it.

While we believe your services are worth every penny 🙂 we think that we cannot fit the services into our budget (We’ve debated a lot about it though!). We will definitely pass around your info though, and keep you in mind for our social (if it’s not new years eve, I think you said you were booked!).”

Mission accomplished in my books. This goes hand in hand with something I quoted from Gary Vaynerchuk recently in which he says, “make people who aren’t your customers wish they were.”

Not every couple will buy from you and no, not every couple will fully realize your value. But the number of couples that will realize your value, has far more to do with you and your ability to communicate to them. It has far less to do with the bias and previously held views they might have about a DJ because, if you’re good enough, you can shatter all of their preconceived notions about what a “DJ” is.

Within the international mobile DJ community, we are very lucky to have Mitch Taylor of Taylored Weddings who takes the time to share with us the most effective ways for communicating our value to prospective couples. I’ve learned more about selling my services as a mobile DJ from Mitch’s “Creative Consultations” seminar then any other single 1 hour segment of my life. Having listened to it over and over and over again, I’ve been able to raise myself to a level where I can comfortably say that 90%+ of the couples I meet with, understand and appreciate my value (even at 5-1/2 times the price of my “market average”). If I had to further break that down, I would estimate that of that 90%, a solid 90% of those couples commit my services for their wedding.

Who’s responsible for selling your services? You are. You’re responsible for the sale, not them.

Is that a lofty statement to make? Sure it is. But so is the phrase “reaching for the stars” and look how often that goal has helped people achieve success.

Argue against it, and without a doubt, you will be right. But argue for it, and there’s no telling where you’ll end up.

Actually, I can tell you where you’ll maybe end up… with Mitch Taylor at an all day workshop intensive designed to share with you all of the principals needed to make this a reality for you. It’s taking place on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Based on my own successes learning from Mitch, I can not endorse this workshop more strongly. I know of other DJs who have already made plans to fly to Winnipeg from the U.S. to attend which should speak volumes to you about the value that Mitch will be sharing in this one day experience. Flights to Winnipeg are cheap, relative to the increased sales you should experience as a result of learning from Mitch.

A soon-to-be wedded couple has reached out to you and basically said, share with us why working with you might really benefit us. If you place enough importance on that conversation, which I believe is an incredibly gracious opportunity given to you, then you’ll create far more believers in your worth and value then skeptics.

I invite you now, to become part of the belief that we are responsible for the sale, not them. You are the only thing standing in the way of that very concept. I can’t think of a downside, but let me tell you, I’ve experienced the upside.

I’d like all of us, as a group of well respected professional mobile DJs, to accept more responsibility for the outcome of what is traditionally known as the “sales meeting”.

How we all do that will vary greatly based on our resources (time, money, commitment to our business, etc.). Here’s a hint though and a great starting point:

For more information on the incredible opportunity Mitch has set up with his “Sales Is Solutions” workshop, click here, sign up and I’ll see you there!

~ Dave

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Experience really (only) counts when you can demonstrate it.

“I’ve been doing this for over 25 years.”

“I’ll help with putting together a timeline of events for your reception so that everything flows smoothly.”

“I’ll help you come up with unique ideas for your party so that things are more personal and exciting for not only you, but your family and friends as well.”

What does any of that really mean? Does that information truly represent anything tangible for the soon-to-be-married wedding couple sitting across the table from you? Without some demonstration of what you are saying, there may be belief or scepticism sitting across the table from you.

Unless you can find a way to demonstrate everything you say when meeting with a wedding couple for the first time, you may or may not be working with them in the end. You may not have built enough value, because really, anyone can “say” those things right? What will separate you from the DJ who can’t actually deliver on what he said he was going to, is to find ways to demonstrate, or provide real life examples, of everything you say. Everything.

There are many ways to demonstrate much of what we do these days. Video footage of ourselves at events, sample agendas from past weddings, testimonials from past wedding couples speaking about very precise details, etc.

A lot of the time, I choose to use spoken story to demonstrate my proficiency in these different areas. I love sharing examples of moments from past weddings with newly-engaged couples because it can often demonstrate many points within one neat package.

For instance, if I choose to share the story of a couple who had a really unique and fun cake cutting, I could, in that one instant, demonstrate all of the following points:

  • I help create reception timelines with a purpose (this cake cutting took place later in the evening because of the fun we anticipated that it would create)
  • Room layout is important to me and something I’m involved with (we ensured that this cake cutting would take place in close proximity to the dance floor so that the energy it created would, following the cutting, spill back to the dance floor)
  • I personalize moments based on a couples personality (they were a very outgoing couple and were open to ideas like this one)
  • I am proficient at programming music for particular situations (I suggested a song, based on her taste, that had the appropriate mood and energy for the moment they “smashed” the cake)
  • I have experience in the role of being an MC that brings importance to ceremonies, such as a cake cutting (I paraphrase the script of what I said at the actual wedding to the couple I’m speaking with)
  • I create fun moments that help to engage wedding guests (as they’re engaged in my telling of the story, I point out that, so too, were the guests at this actual wedding)
  • I get to know my wedding couples on a close and personal level (I refer to this past couple by name and wedding date and describe their personalities, even though that wedding was nearly 2 years ago)
  • Etc, etc, etc.

Story, and your own narration of it, is probably one of the most powerful tools of communication that we have at our disposal (if you’re a decent story teller). Learn it, practise it, be authentic with it, then use it.

Experience really (only) counts when you can demonstrate it.

~ Dave