5 Ways To Get DJ Gigs Without Spending Any Money
In the following blog I am going to teach you 5 proactive ways how to get DJ gigs without spending any money on advertising. These marketing ideas are tried and tested by myself and were part of my secret to building a successful DJ business with over 15 sets of DJ equipment and doing 80 to 100 gigs per month. If you want to be really successful in today’s competitive mobile DJ industry you need to do more than just wait around for page 1 of Google. You need to make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen to you, this is what it means to take a proactive approach to getting DJ gigs.
1. Contact all the function rooms and party hire venues in your local area
The first thing you should do is get online and find every function room and party hire venue in your local area and contact them. I say that if you are going to contact a venue and ask for referrals, it may as well be the one around the corner from your house. If you’re lucky enough you just might be getting regular gigs less a stones throw away within a few weeks of contact. I can think of countless times over the years where this has scored me a regular stream of gigs and sometimes even relationships with venues that lasted for many years to come.
Here is a few tips, it’s best if they can meet you face to face so they can soak in your persona and trust you, but if the venue is a bit further away phone in first and find out the name of the function manager or person who you need to speak to. Make a quick introduction on the phone and let them know you that you will be in the area and would like to pop in and introduce yourself. Make it seem casual as though you were just going to be in the area anyway so they don’t feel any pressure like you are making a special visit to just see them, or if it is nearby just walk right in and make a surprise visit and ask to speak with the function manager or events organizer. The best times to ring or visit function venues are usually before or after lunch, as some venues are open during the day and things get very busy during lunch time. Therefore, I would recommend ringing or visiting before 11am or between 3 and 5pm, this is the time when the function manager will most likely have a little free time to talk. Make sure you bring along with you a hand full of cards and if possible get their direct phone or email so you can follow up in a couple weeks and see if any new leads have come through. The first gig is always the hardest gig to get until they have seen you play in person but once they finally give you that chance, make sure give it your best shot.
2. Phone up big corporations with large numbers of employees that you know are going to need a DJ for their annual Christmas party
Another marketing tactic I have used in the past is cold calling big corporations that have large numbers of employees. Take McDonalds for example, each store has 40 or 50 employees so they will most likely be having a Christmas party that needs a DJ. If it’s a smaller store they often group up with other stores to get the attendance up but nether less these type of bookings are the low hanging fruit you should be going after.
Here is what you do, sometime around June or July, start ringing these large companies and ask to speak with someone who is on the social committee or whoever is in charge of this years Christmas party, usually they have someone assigned. The good thing when you call a big company like this is the person who answers the phone has no clue who you are and hence they assume you might have already been contacted by this organization so they gladly put you through.
You should say something like this:
‘Hi this is Paul from (Your) DJ company I would like to speak with someone from the Social Committee’. If they are not sure what you mean then clarify with ‘I would like to speak with whoever is in charge of organizing this years Christmas function thank you!‘. This is normally enough to get you in touch with the right person.
Another way you might open the call is like this:
‘Hi this is Paul from (Your) DJ company and I would like to now if your organization is having a Christmas function this November / December?’. Wait for their answer and if it is yes then say, ‘Great, well could I please speak with the person who will be in charge of this years event?’ Usually they will obliged but if they ask why then say ‘I am from a local DJ company and we would like to send our information brochure for you to consider for your end of year celebration‘.
Usually people are excited to start thinking about the end of year party so they are in a good mood to chat with you and pass you on to the right person. However perhaps the person you are looking for is not available right now, just get their name and ask for the best day and time to follow up and make sure you follow up exactly at that time. Once you get the right person on the phone, get their email, send your online brochure and find out roughly when they will be having their end of your party or if possible get the exact date and follow up again 2 months prior. That’s about it, the rest is just a matter of staying on their tale until they have set a date and decided what they will be doing. There is a high chance they will book you in as you have already shown them that you are punctual with your follow ups and really want their business and people like that. If you need help with keeping track of these organizations and your follow ups, then I will highly recommend you review the Event Master Pro system as with it you can leave detailed notes about each interaction with the date and time, and then you simply set the follow up date and it will remind you on the day that you need to follow up.
3. Phone up primary and secondary schools for their school discos, formals and debutante balls
This idea is similar to the last one but of course it relates to schools. Schools however can have events throughout the year, some primary schools have a disco ever 3 or 6 months at the end of the school term and high schools can have their school formals and debutante balls anywhere from March until November. Once again as with contacting the large organizations when you ring schools you need to be finding out the right person to speak to. If it’s a school disco you might need to get in contact with one of the teachers, or if it’s a school formal sometimes they put the students in charge. Either way, initially you will be phoning the school and trying to speak with a teacher to get more information and then they will tell you if one of the students are organizing the DJ. The best time to call is at lunch time (usually between 1 and 2pm) or when school finishes (usually between 3 and 4pm).
If it’s for a primary school disco then you should ring the school and say, ‘Hi could I please speak with someone regarding the school disco’. If it’s reception and they don’t put you straight through they may ask for more information such as who you are, then say, ‘I am calling from a local DJ company and would like to send our information brochure for the upcoming school disco‘. Wait to hear their response and if they put you through to someone first find out their name and any other valuable information you can gather. I admit, schools can be a little trickier to get on board as it’s often hard to catch the right people at the right time, but once you can get a name, a date, a phone and an email then you are well on your way to turning this call into a sale. In fact, due to the unavailability of teachers an email might be your best form of communication.
4. Annual Repeat Clients – Contact last years annual events and book them in for this year!
Okay now this is not brain science but it’s one of those simple things we always forget to do. If there are any gigs that you would consider low hanging fruit this has got to be the king of all fruits. You did an excellent job at the end of year party last year (didn’t you?) so now you should follow up again this year approximately 3 – 4 months prior to the month that last years event was held. All you need is a date and so long as the organization or school is having the same event again this year you’ve got a guaranteed booking for this year. The tricky part is how do you keep track of every annual event and remember to follow up with each one. Seems like such a simple task but if you are still using excel spread sheets or phone calendars to manage your calendar it becomes hard to go back and find all the annual events so that you can book them in again this year. That’s why you need a solid CMS to enter all of your bookings and manage your enquiries, sales and customer list. That’s where Event Master Pro comes in, one of the very useful features it has is the ability to make events ‘Annual’ events in the system and then they can be added to an automatic email list that will contact the customer 3 months prior to this/next years event. You can also use advanced search filters to find all the previously done annual events in one list, for you to follow up with them one by one. This marketing tactic alone will keep you solidly booked throughout the year and increase your bookings every single year until you have so many bookings you don’t know what to do with them all. Wouldn’t that be a good problem to have?
5. Before the end of your party hand out cards to EVERYONE
They say that finding new customers cost 6 times as much as marketing to existing ones and I think this could be true. This next piece of advice will make the difference between you barely surviving and having a constant stream of word of mouth referrals until you are fully booked out and here it is, hand out cards to everyone. People rarely come up and ask for business cards unless they just happen to have a party in the near future where they happen to need one, this is why you must make a special effort to walk around the room and hand out cards to everyone, and I mean everyone. Let me tell you why, even if everyone at the party you are DJing loves your music and thinks you are the best, they are usually not thinking about the next time they need a DJ. They are probably a little intoxicated and having too much fun to be thinking about the future. So I would recommend the best time is about 15 to 30 minutes before your party ends, before anyone may happen to leave early go and hand your cards out to every person with a smile on your face and just say ‘DJ’ as you hand them the card, they will get what it’s about. Sometimes when I hand cards to people that’s the moment they remember they have an upcoming party and say, ‘oh hey I have a party coming up next month, how much are you?’, so they had a party coming up but they never said anything til I offered them my card. If people don’t know who you are or how to get in touch with you, it is literally impossible for them to find you unless they are close friends with the customer and are able to ask them where they found you. If you make sure that everyone in the room has a card, you’ve just gone from a 0% chance of getting more bookings to at least a 49% chance. Just imagine for every single party you DJ’d that you got one more DJ gig, an then from that party you got another one, and so forth. Eventually you would have so many bookings you would be left with no choice but to either A, put your price up or B, expand and hire more DJs, either of which will be making you more money.
Here is one more tip, if you are low on business cards, give them mostly to the females in the room. I notice that guys tend to throw the cards on the floor whereas girls hang onto them and put them in their handbags. I am not sure if the women are more likely to hold onto them because they have hand bags or if it is because they are a little more savvy with planning into the future and smart enough to hold onto your card, I think it might be the latter of them two things but I know for a fact that women are more likely to keep them. Don’t be obvious about it, if there is a guy standing nearby offer him one too, but just avoid the groups of males or you will find more cards left on the floor afterwards, regardless this technique works!
6. (Bonus Tip) After each time you DJ at a new venue, speak to the functions manager before you leave
So you’ve just rocked another party at a function room, the guests are begging you for one more song and the bar staff are giving you high fives and telling you they haven’t heard such good music from the DJ long time. You’ve done an amazing job and as you pack up your equipment guests are still lingering and talking about what a good time they had and the customer cannot thank you enough. Instead of trying to cold approach new venues all the time that have never seen you DJ in the flesh, now is the time you should take advantage and speak with the function manager. I make it a habit of doing this every time before I leave a venue and it works wonders. As I said, they’ve already seen you play now and you’ve just done an excellent job, the hard part is over and they can feel a lot more confident referring you to their future customers. No need to cold call venues all the time, just find out who the function manager is if you haven’t been working with them all night already, introduce yourself and leave them with a bunch of cards and while you’re at it and ask for theirs. This will surely increase your bookings over time and takes minimal effort and of course it is totally free. Make sure you follow up with them in the following week just as a little reminder and to email out your information brochure or PDF so they can pass it onto their potential customers. This is a ritual you should do every time you perform at a new venue and is one of the easiest ways to get more gigs.
Anyway thanks for reading this blog and if you found the information useful then please SHARE this on on social media and leave your comments below (all comments will be moderated, no spam please) and I will be glad to hear from you and even answer your questions.
Paul Anthony is the Managing Director of Event Master Pro and Discosource DJ’s based in Phuket, Thailand. With over 20 years experience as a Professional DJ he built a nation wide DJ service across every major city in Australia teaching over 50 DJs his craft and now developing the EMP online application for DJs.