All-too-common statements that hold us back from achieving SUCCESS

Peter Merry

Are Wedding DJs Feeling Micro-Managed?

This weekend I delivered a Grand Entrance for one of my largest Wedding Parties…EVER! In addition to welcoming the out of town guests by calling out their home states and spotlighting the parents at their tables, I was going to be introducing 2 Guestbook Attendants, 2 Ushers, 1 Flower Girl & 1 Ring Bearer, 10 Bridesmaids escorted by 10 Groomsmen (including a Matron of Honor and a Maid of Honor escorted by 2 Best Men), and of course, the Bride & Groom.

The setting had its own set of challenges as we were on the 2nd floor of a barn with 180 guests seated upstairs, another 90 seated on the first floor, and the Wedding Party’s loved ones were waiting for them on the 3rd floor loft/balcony. The long tables on the 2nd floor gave no easy pathway for the Wedding party to enter from the wider set of stairs at the front of the barn, which were under the loft. Luckily, there was a narrower set of stairs at the back of the barn right next to the Cake Table and the Sweetheart Table and there was plenty of space behind the Sweetheart Table in front of the barn’s back doors. I was also set up in that corner right behind the narrower staircase.

So, to help this large group’s entrance go as quickly as possible while still giving them all a fun, personalized biographical introduction, we decided to line them up single file on the staircase (it was a very narrow staircase) and just have them step out in front of the Sweetheart Table one “couple” at a time for their scripted intros. Then, when they were done, they were instructed to step back to the barn doors and group up between my BOSE® L1 speakers until the Bride & Groom were introduced.

Now for the really fun part…

I met with the Bride & Groom 2 weeks prior at the barn (and this barn is located almost 2.5 hours from my house) to work out these logistical challenges, but more importantly, to go over the info that they had provided on their Wedding Party members so we could brainstorm about how to introduce each one of them in the most personalized and humorous way possible. They had also selected music beds for each couple, so including my opening music, I had music beds for the parents and each “couple” in our lineup finishing with an introduction for the Bride & Groom. I had to format 16 different music beds to start at just the right spot in each song along with 35 sound clips that would add punch lines to some of our intros. And I also had to pick up 2 props (matching his and hers booster seats) for one “couple” who just happened to be the shortest of our Wedding Party members.

All told, I probably invested 2 hours of the final meeting in solving the logistical challenges and reviewing the introduction content for each Wedding Party member. Another 8 hours were spent writing (and re-writing and re-writing) the biographical introductions to keep them brief while still connecting who each person was to the Bride & Groom and finding some humorous things we could share about each of them…and then seeking out and creating 6 new special sound clips. And of course, I spent about an hour rehearsing the script several times, with and without the music beds and sound clips.

The entire production took 18 minutes to deliver. They were 18 minutes filled with cheering and laughter that set the tone for what would later prove to be a fantastic celebration that had such strong dancing, the Bride and I were both getting concerned that our 2nd level dance floor might give way because it was bouncing so much (Thank God I wasn’t spinning vinyl). Thankfully, the floor held. 😉

I share all this as a precursor that appears to have no connection to my headline because I wanted you to feel the amount of time, effort, and energy that was given to create this uniquely personalized kick-off to an amazing celebration…because the very next day I ran across a rather striking post in a private Facebook forum where “professional” Wedding DJs share their best ideas and advice.

Here is what I saw…

The names of the people posting do not matter. What matters is a mindset that is actually far too prevalent among way too many “professional” Wedding DJs, in my opinion. This DJ was expressing his angst at having to format 14 songs to their best starting points for the parents and each individual member of the Wedding Party and his relief that his DJ software had a comments field he could use to make it easy to introduce the correct person with their correct music track.

Of course, it should go without saying by now that anyone who calls these “intros” is misinforming their clients (probably because they are either uninformed or have been misinformed themselves) on what constitutes Wedding Party introductions. Introductions given by an MC (Master of Ceremonies) requires some tidbit of personal information being conveyed to help the guests begin to feel acquainted with that person. (Introduce: “to present a person to another so as to make acquainted.”) No one begins to feel acquainted with anyone just by hearing their name announced. And that’s what the vast majority of “professional” Wedding DJ/MCs do regularly at weddings under the guise of “introducing” the Wedding Party…they merely announce them by only saying their names.

But, putting that rant aside for now, the thing that stood out the most was his hashtag, #micromanaged. Clearly, he was feeling that giving his client this level of personalized production was asking too much of him, probably compared to his easier clients who are just fine with 1 song for the “intros” and 1 song for the Bride & Groom’s entrance. It gave the distinct impression that he was giving the client what they want somewhat begrudgingly. And what made that impression eve more apparent where the comments that followed from many of his peers.

That response above was his. But the comments only got worse…

Why does the couple have to narrow their intros down to 1 minute and less than 5 songs? Who made that rule? I thought we were there to make these events amazing and unforgettable? I thought our job was to give the couple something that exceeded their expectations?

Labeling the client as a “Bridezilla” because she wants personalized music for the intros shows a lack of willingness to work just a little harder to make our clients feel like rock stars instead of just seeing them as annoying customers. Reminds me of the movie “Clerks.”

 

“100% sounds like poo”

Just sad…

At least this one offered a glimmer of hope for a better attitude…But the last one below takes the cake…

“It’s Going To Sound Like Mental Illness”

Let that sink in for a moment. Clearly these opinions show a lack of understanding for the overall purpose of doing “introductions” for the Wedding Party. The purpose they are familiar with is using the Grand Entrance to build energy to kick off the Reception with a “BANG!” But the primary purpose (in my personal opinion) is to help the guests understand the connections between the Wedding Party members and the Bride & Groom.

A vast majority of the time, most of the guests at a wedding will know a few or even some of the Wedding Party members, but most of them do not know who most of the Wedding Party members are or how they are related to/connected to the newlyweds. When that personal connection is revealed in even the most subdued manner, the guests immediately recognize this reception (and the MC) as being dramatically different than most of the weddings they have attended…and that informs whether or not they will start looking at their watches while wondering how soon until they can leave without looking rude. Adding fun information about the Wedding Party members, giving them their own theme song to dance into, or even giving them a lighthearted roasting, are all layers that can be added to make those introductions not only more meaningful but also much more memorable and enjoyable.

The best part is, doing real introductions (instead of just announcing the Wedding Party’s names) and adding personalized touches to the production will not only put the guests into a better frame of mind to dance and celebrate, but it will also earn the Wedding DJs/MCs who deliver them more word of mouth referrals which leads to increased demand for their unique talents and services, and that leads to being able to command higher and higher performance fees. And best of all, your couples will love it

But, then again, that does require doing more work…and for some “professional” Wedding DJ/MCs, that’s just a bridge too far.

So, are some Wedding DJs starting to feel Micro-Managed? I hope they are…I really do.

But Can He Mix?

I ran into a fellow wedding professional from Austin, Texas at the Wedding MBA last month and when she saw me, her eyes lit up as she said, “Have I got a story to tell you!”

She then began to share how a few days before they left for Las Vegas, she was sharing with a local DJ friend at a party that she was looking forward to seeing me at the Wedding MBA in a few days. Not knowing who I was, this DJ immediately began googling me and watching some of my YouTube videos to assess why she was impressed with me. After doing his quick bit of online research, he turned to her and said, “But can he mix? That’s what I really want to know. Can he mix?”

Her initial response to him was, “Who cares? He creates amazingly fun weddings!”

It always amazes me how many of my peers get tunnel vision on the components that they think really matter and, more often than not, they are completely oblivious about the components that truly matter to our brides and grooms.

Some DJs bar their entire opinions of themselves (and other DJs) on how packed they can keep that dance floor during the open dancing at a wedding…while completely overlooking the vital role their MC skills (or the lack thereof) play in connecting the guests early and often to the purpose of the celebration.

Some of the best weddings I’ve done had very little dancing and a few actually featured no dancing at all. But the guests (and the bride and groom) enjoyed countless moments of laughter and celebration. And when their receptions were over, the clients were raving about how much they had enjoyed themselves and their gratitude kept pouring out in components and hugs. THAT is the best and truest measure of a successful Wedding DJ/MC. And if you asked them in that moment, “but can he mix?” They respond, “Who cares? He gave us The Best Wedding Reception…EVER!”

But the real truth is, I can mix and I love to mix. As a DJ friend of mine once said, “It’s really not that hard to count to 4!” Can I compete with Tiesto or Daft Punk or even Austin Beaver? Hell no! But can I keep a dance floor hopping and the energy building while changing up the genres to involve the varied generations at a wedding in a highly effective manner. Of course I can.

Could I learn to mix better? Abso-freaking-lutely! And just like I continue to stretch and grow my music knowledge and MC skills, I will always be learning how to mix better. We never “arrive” in the entertainment business. You either keep growing and learning or you get left behind.

Announcing Vs. Introducing

A friend just forwarded me an article about Wedding Introductions written for Brides & Grooms in the Buffalo, NY region by the “Mysterious DJ X” who I’m guessing is remaining mysterious because, after reading his article, I don’t know why any bride would want to hire him. You can read the article for yourselves here…

“The Do’s & Dont’s of Wedding Introductions” by the Mysterious DJ X

His entire focus is on what he needs to make his life easier and not once is he even aware that he is really promoting the typical DJ practice of “announcing” the Wedding Party…because he most certainly is not “introducing” them. This is what it means to announce someone…

ANNOUNCE

-verb

“to state the approach or presence of”

When the Mysterious DJ X just wants to get the names pronounced correctly, then all he is doing is ANNOUNCING the Wedding Party into the room. This is what means to introduce someone…

INTRODUCE

-verb

“to present a person to another so as to make acquainted”

Just “yelling names” is not INTRODUCING the members of the Wedding Party. Most of the guests at a wedding DO NOT know all of the members of the Wedding Party and an M.C. who just says their names has done NOTHING to make them feel acquainted to these people who are so important to the bride and groom, they were requested to stand up with them as they exchanged their vows.

Tonight (April 12th, 2014), Michael Buffer will probably be the one announcing the boxers to the ring for the Pacquiao/Bradley fight in Las Vegas, NV. He doesn’t need to introduce them…EVERYONE there already knows who they are and have no need to become acquainted with them. And the same is usually true for the Bride & Groom at their own wedding celebrations (save the occasional +1 who has yet to meet them). But, simply announcing the Wedding Party members (who are not as widely known) does a disservice to the guests and to the Bride & Groom. And calling those announcements “introductions” does even greater harm to the general perceptions people have of wedding DJs and the importance of properly fulfilling our roles as the M.C.

I have a few of my own “Do’s & Don’ts” for the Mysterious DJ X.

DO

Take some formal M.C. training and learn how to do your job as a professional performer.

DON’T

Write any more crappy articles that make you (and the rest of as a result) look bad until you do.

Certify, Certified, or Certifiable?

I was recently invited to an “off the grid” page on facebook for a new, very public DJ listing site called Certified Disc Jockey Network. After reviewing the site, I found several things about it very troubling. First the home page starts with this greeting…

Educate and Empower! Professional Disc Jockeys that have CERTIFIED their standards in writing! View – Print – Sign – and Attach to your contract.

Professional Disc Jockeys with Certified Standards

Guaranteed in Writing

Sounds promising at first blush. It gives a pretty strong impression that the DJs listed on this page have ALREADY BEEN certified based on a written list of agreed upon standards. But digging a little deeper reveals something truly bizarre. On their FAQ page in the fine print below their top 10 list of professional standards is the following wording…

Please note, we are NOT an association and we do not pay any fees to be Certified Disc Jockeys. We are independent Disc Jockey businesses that set professional standards for OURSELVES, with the goal of helping you find a pro. We are ‘certified’ by you, our client and your certification matters most to us. … Liability is limited to amounts received for contracted products aor services.

While exploring this further, it was explained to me that the group will provide their members and their clients with a document called “Appendix A” that will be a legally binding addition to any DJ contract to enforce their top 10 list of standards. When a client actually follows up on this idea and books a DJ with this “Appendix A” attached that the contract…their DJ will THEN be certified by them, the client, not by any governing thrid party group.

When I pointed out that such a group would be more appropriately titled “Certify Your Disc Jockey” as that is what they are truly recommending and endorsing, instead of “Certified Disc Jockey Network” which misleadingly infers that their members have already been vetted by a third party, I was promptly booted from the facebook group. The funny part was, when I challenged their use of the word “Certified”, I was told it was appropriate based on the dictionary definition of the word “Certify.”

Why does this feel like a shell game to me? Has our industry become so ignorant that we no longer understand why using the past tense of a word in its adjective form dramatically changes the meaning from the present tense of a word in its verb form? If you want brides to use your standards to CERTIFY their chosen DJ then you can’t promote a list of DJs as already CERTIFIED. Anyone who doesn’t see the difference between those two approaches is probably CERTIFIABLE.

Altough I believe the intentions behind this “certification” are very noble, I also believe they are dangerously short-sighted. When asked what would happen if a bride hired a DJ from the Certified Disc Jockey Network who lived up to their top 10 list of standards, but still SUCKED as a DJ and ruined their event….the founder only the final disclaimer to point to…

Liability is limited to amounts received for contracted products aor services.

And yet their home home page boldly uses the word GUARANTEED while they offer NO information for helping the bride verify the talent and skill level of said Certified DJ. Uncut video footage doesn’t lie. Brides need to be told what to look for and how to tell the difference between an untrained and unqualified DJ and one who truly delivers a professional performance. If this group opts to change their title to “Certify Your DJ” and offers strong advice about how to tell a talented and skilled entertainer from one who is not, I might actually consider signing up. Does that make me CERTIFIABLE too? You tell me.

“I Want To Hold Your Hand”

The first time I heard the song “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles (at about age 14) was when I was first getting exposed to Rock & Roll on a golden oldies station. I had been pretty sheltered from “secular” music up ’til that point…so that first golden oldies station really expanded my understanding of what was considered great music. A few weeks later, I discovered my first top 40 station (KNBQ) and found my understanding of what was good music expanded even further.

In the DJ industry, there are quite a few in our ranks who refuse to have their understanding expanded when it comes to the value or our services and the roles we should fulfill both as the DJ and the Master of Ceremonies. Instead of opening themselves up to this expanded understanding, they opt instead to minimize the services that are being offered by others in ways that are both ignorant and demeaning.

A clear example of this was put on display on a not-so-popular DJ forum where I just happened to become the subject of discussion. A DJ was upset because he had given a friend/co-worker a “great deal” for their upcoming wedding…but then they wound up in the wedding party at one of my recent receptions. After experiencing my personalized introductions along with several other ideas my bride and groom had requested to make their reception more fun, this DJ’s clients now wanted him to incorporate those ideas into their upcoming reception. He was pining that this was going to take a lot more prep work to pull off and that was not what they had originally negotiated in their contract…so rightly…he was questioning if and how much more he should charge them to pull those ideas together in time for their reception.

The most common advice parroted by many of his cohorts sounded like this…

“Peter Merry gets $5,000 plus for doing all that. If you have the money, I can do it for you; otherwise, you will get what I can give you for what you paid. If you don’t like it, here’s everything but the booking fee back and go hire Peter.”

One would think they might want to see if I were even available on the client’s date before telling the client to go hire me. But the best example of “down-playing” the services we should be providing was summed up in this post…

“Peter Merry does a lot of hand-holding, and people pay him for that. Before you try to attach a price to your own hand – decide if letting people hold on to it is something you even care to do.”

So what this person is asserting is that I get paid my premium pricing because I offer “hand-holding” services. He then challenges the other “pros” in this particular forum to weigh whether or not they want offer “hand-holding” services themselves.

Is giving our clients as much control over their music selections as they desire…hand-holding?

Is helping our clients design a smooth-flowing agenda that will be consistently entertaining…hand-holding?

Is brain-storming personalized ways to help our clients get their guests involved in their celebration…hand-holding?

Is double-checking the behind-the-scenes details that need to be managed for our clients so the reception will flow as flawlessly as possible…hand-holding?

Is conferring in advance with the rest of our client’s vendors about the timeline of events prior to and at the reception…hand-holding?

Is scripting out personalized introductions and announcements to make them as uniquely fitting for our clients as possible…hand-holding?

Is rehearsing our announcements and training ourselves in the arts of public speaking and voice-over so we can give our clients the most polished MC presentation possible..hand-holding?

Is mixing music from a variety of genres and eras in an effort to involve as many of our client’s guests as possible during the open dancing…hand-holding?

Is wearing the right clothing and dressing our equipment in the most atheistically pleasing way possible…hand-holding?

Is bringing the very best in audio PA equipment (in my case…BOSE) to make sure our client’s guests can hear everything they need to clearly without going deaf…hand-holding?

I’m hard-pressed to think of any other services I offer my clients beyond the ones listed above. So am I truly offering “hand-holding” services? Or could it be possible that the services I am offering are the full services EVERY wedding entertainer SHOULD be offering…but isn’t…because they are:

A. Ignorant (They are simply unaware of the full services that should be offered when providing entertainment at a wedding reception.)

B. Arrogant (They believe the guests at their weddings who tell them “You Rock!” and have opted to close their minds to any outside info that might challenge them to do better, give better, be better.)

C. Indolent (They are content just being “the music” and really don’t want to be expected to put in the time and effort needed to help their clients have a truly fun, memorable, and personalized wedding celebration.)

Call it “hand-holding” all you want…if my clients want to know how passionate I am about helping them create a fantastic reception…my response will proudly be…

“I Want To Hold Your Hand!”

Viral Video “Truthers”

People who still to this day espouse the incredibly convoluted idea that Geroge W. Bush fired a missle at the Pentagon and had a special ops team plant explosives in the Twin Towers to ensure their destruction on 9/11 are now often referred to as “9/11 Truthers” because they are convinced that they and they alone know the “real” truth about the events that occured on 9/11.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that some in my own industry have been going over the Worst Wedding DJ EVER! viral YouTube video footage as if it were the Zapruder film in an attempt to uncover evidence of a conspriacy of some kind.

One DJs observations showed a severe lack of attention being paid to the details when he said…

“I saw this footage, and was especially disturbed by the odd transition, that led to the weird ‘breast drumming.’ That’s what happens when you let the laptop do all the work and you stand there apparently drunk.”

The transition he is referring to is when the music changes suddenly from “Conga” by Gloria Estefan to “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins leading to the DJ’s “boob bongo” routine which is timed perfectly with the drum solo segue…which occurs at 3:40 seconds into the original song.

Obviously the song was started at a set cue point to hit the drum solo for comedic effect…and the fact that the backround noise of the crowd drops out at the transition and the DJ begins to move in slo-mo while still clapping to the original beat of “Conga”…combined with the replay of the his “boob bongo” in even slower slo-mo…should all be clear indicators to anyone watching that this song was mixed in by the person who posted the video and was not actually played live at the event.

It makes one wonder how well a wedding DJ who could miss these details would be able to manage the finer details at an actual wedding.

But the next comment by a DJ was even more astounding…

“After watching this, I honestly believe it was staged.”

REALLY? This person has got to be kidding…right? I even saw one response where the person was suggesting that the “boob bongo” segment itself was actually put into the clip using CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

I am painfully aware that our industry has had a serious image problem in the public’s perception of us long before this viral video became all the rage. So what purpose would be gained by documenting EXACTLY what can happen when an unqualified and uncouth “entetainer” is given the reigns at a wedding reception? Look at all of the people in that video. How much effort would it have taken to get them all together to “film” this fake event…and then NONE of them have come forward to admit their scam after 2,000,000 views? Seems about as unlikely as a missle being fired into the Pentagon while a plane filled with people is somehow “disappeared” with no wreckage or living survivors. Ever seen Capicorn One?

Instead of looking for the hand of “Dr. Evil” behind this latest viral video…maybe we should be looking at what we can do to help this industry grow up and truly become a profession?

Finally…to put this issue to bed once and for all…here is the highlight reel from the same (not-so-staged) wedding with the “boob bongo” routine understandably left out.

It is interesting to note how fun and beautiful this wedding looked with only one person’s performance edited out.

Raven, Duck, or Chicken?

In my last article, I shared about a DJ who stated the following…

“all these self help gurus and people who make instructional videos and write books on any business do it for one reason…ti fill their pockets. if you doubt what i say, then name me ONE author, dvd producer, or instructional guru who did all the work and didnt fill their pockets.”

He decided to identify himself as DJ Raven in the comments section and when I asked him about the DJ Business Consulting services he offers…he responded with the following…

“dj’s get paid by their clients…dj 101…I give the knowledge I share with other dj’s for FREE!!! Maybe I should start charging? Thanks for the free business advice!!! No wonder you’re so successful! ~ hugs and kisses!”

 But when I pointed out that his web site shows those services come with a price tag…he responded once again…

“I do not charge any member of our association, I do not charge any dj who wants to exchange ideas, I do not charge any member of any other association, and I wouldn’t even charge you!…If i spend one on one time exclusively with one individual in a learning that has been scheduled to last more than one hour for the sole purpose of education, and they are not a member of any association, I DO CHARGE! since we’re on the subject, send me your book for free, as well as any other material you sell…for free. If I can do it, I’m sure YOU CAN TOO! Maybe free information for all adja members? all snap members? all name members? If I can share mine, why can’t you?” (emphasis added)

So I had to follow up with a very simple but direct question…which Raven then proceeded to repeatedly…Duck.

The question was…

“Why?

Why are you charging to help “other” DJs?

Don’t you care about helping them too?”

Instead of answering…he challenged me to give away my book for free or offer refunds to DJs in the ADJA who had bought my book all the while acting more and more like another form of fowl.

I found myself wondering what could possibly be so hard about such a simple question that it would cause a Raven to Duck and run like a Chicken?

This double standard in our indsutry that says if you truly “care” about helping the industry then your information and time should be given away for FREE (but he can charge for his information if they are not a part of his local association) has become a stumbling block for progress in our midst.

How long will information that costs money to produce and has value that can be measured in increased demand and profits for those that utilize it be mocked by our own brethren as “kool aid” that “won’t work in my market”  while those that are sincerely making huge efforts to help our indsutry move onward and upward are cut down publicly because “they ONLY care about lining their own pockets”?

When will Ravens quit Ducking and running like Chickens and instead stand up straight and bold and say “I charge DJs for my educational services because my time and information is worth it!” with no fear of reprisal for doing so?

I hope it will be sooner rather than later.

Don’t Drink The KOOL-AID!

In a recent facebook wall-post conversation I was having with a DJ who shall remain nameless, I was challenged to lay out 5 things every DJ can do right now to “better” their business. Here was my list.

1. Take at least one performance based workshop this year (and dare-I-say every year). (Love Story, Acting, Stand-Up Comedy, Improv, Hosting, Voice-Over, Public Speaking, Etc.)

2. Videotape yourself at a wedding and watch it with a hyper-critical eye. Make a list of the things you notice and write a plan for changing them ASAP.

3. Seek out someone you respect and ask them to review your video (or watch you live at a wedding) for the purpose of giving you a solid critique. Take note of the things they noticed that you were unaware of. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…and only an outside set of eyes will help you identify those things so you can improve.

4. Buy Mark Ferrell’s “Getting What You’re Worth” CD’s and listen to them with a pad and pen. Then listen to them 9 more times on your way to meet your clients.

5. Survey your clients about the value you provided at their receptions. If they say you gave them more than they paid for…BELIEVE THEM and RAISE YOUR RATES. If they don’t say you gave them more than paid for…repeat the first 4 actions steps until your ratings change for the better.

His response?

“ahhh yes…drink the kool aid… those are the same exact things ive heard for years…in fact, i kind of expected those and knew you would go there lol…look where they have gotten us… to the point we are at now… i think its safe to assume we actually agree on one thing, the industry is in need of change, however i disagree with the “kool aid technique” entirely.”

He then responded again with a long diatribe using the phrase “kool aid” 8 more times. So I thought I’d share a few of his more “interesting” views along with my thoughts here.

“the steps i used are the same steps that have built major corporations, are you saying that company with popular brands are doing it wrong?
no wonder we have all heard of mcdonalds and coca cola. hmmm, i dont see the peter merry method building a brand that is nationally recognized.
the old time tested ways are still the foundations that build good business.”

The “steps” he is referring to were his top 5 things every DJ can do to “better” themselves which he listed before asking for my top 5. They are…

“1. be more conscious of how we are perceived, and how you in particular are perceived, and don’t lose sight of your focus in the eyes of your clients.

2. remember that we are all under the microscope at one time or another. you never know when you are being watched…hence booby bongo boy.

3. be open to the ideas of other industry professionals and do not assume you know everything about the industry, but remember, advice is only advice…not the gospel

4. Dj’s need to stop worrying about business outside their own markets, focus on your yard, not the neighbors yard. different neighborhoods have different property values. the dj markets are the same. never presume that your market is just like every other market. what works here in New England is different than what may work in CA or anywhere else.

5. remember that you are a “brand” when you are in business. how your brand is received is entirely up to you.
perception is reality… how do you think people perceive you and your business/service? ask…and take criticism and compliments equally.“

It should be noted that steps 1, 2 & 5 are pretty much making the same point. It should also be noted that none of his steps are measurable actions steps.

So apparently he claims to have used these “steps” gleaned from major corporations like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to build his successful business but then he poses this challenge…

“i dont see the peter merry method building a brand that is nationally recognized”

How many DJs out there are really looking to build a national brand? Most DJs I know are looking to build a regional brand. But once again…if he used these “old time tested ways” himself…why wasn’t he able to build a nationally recognized brand himself? Clearly he is setting a higher standard for my suggestions than he is for own.

His next statement was a blatant example of the narrow thinking that has been holding our industry back to far too long.

“all these self help gurus and people who make instructional videos and write books on any business do it for one reason…ti fill their pockets. if you doubt what i say, then name me ONE author, dvd producer, or instructional guru who did all the work and didnt fill their pockets.”

Most of the people in our industry who have offered workshops, produced instructional DVD’s, or written books…have also given away more of their time, knowledge, ideas, and consulting for FREE than this DJ could ever allow himself to imagine. Narrowly defining the motives of those who offer such materials and training became especially ironic when someone sent me a link to this (retired) DJ’s web site where he offers DJ Business Consulting Services…for a fee. I wonder…is he also guilty of only being concerned with filling his pockets? He even went so far as to say…

“remember, if all these books, dvd’s and cd’s were here to truly help the industry, then they would be available for free to all dj’s.”

Try that one at a college campus bookstore sometime. Go on iTunes and tell them you want to download all of the business marketing, and self-help books that are now available in the iBook format…because after all…if they were written to help people build a stronger business…they should be free…right?

Seriously…this idea has been infecting our industry for far too long. It harkens back to the day when people were told not to go to school because being book-smart might be seen as a bad thing. If I buy a book, a DVD, or attend a workshop that helps me make my business more successful…and increases my earning potential by thousands to even tens of thousands of dollars in the coming years…why should I have any concern about how much the author, DVD producer, or workshop instructor is making for their products and services? If their ideas have merit…I’d expect to see demand increase for whatever they have to offer. If their ideas lack any merit at all…demand for what they have to offer will dry up. But expecting them to give all of their best ideas away for FREE to simply help their fellow DJ has to be one of the most un-american ideas as I have ever heard.

Taking advanced performance training, learning to self-critique, seeking a mentor to offer additional critique, listening to positive messages about the real value we provide for our clients, and surveying our clients to better understand just how much value they see in us…are proven methods for improving the results our clients receive, which also helps to improve the way the public perceives us, and results in increasing demand for our services, and finally leads to better earning potential. If that’s kool aid…I’ll take a pitcher.

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend

So I posted an article here about the latest viral YouTube video titled “The Worst Wedding DJ EVER!” (1,200,000 views in 4 days!) and a friend of mine “shared it” with her facebook friends.

It just so happens that one of her “friends” is a DJ who has been removed from a popular online DJ forum for obsessively posting negative comments about me and a few others in our industry.

So…imagine my surprise (or the complete lackthereof) when he responded by criticizing me for calling out my industry’s latest poster-boy of unprofessionalism. And then he said the following…

“There is a DJ for everyone. This guy evidently found his niche and market and is welcome to it. Someone has to service the $300 wedding DJ market. There is more to this wedding I’m sure. Could be a bikers wedding, could be a friends wedding, who knows. Who cares. I’d have to hear from the clients first before passing to much judgement. Some people just jump the gun and use videos like this for their own marketing benefit.” (emphasis added)

When I responded by simply asking “Really?” he countered with even more…

“We know nothing about this video other than the short few moments of humor we’ve seen. There’s always two sides to every story.(empahsis added)

So…I decided to try and explore what the other side of the story might be.

My wife suggesed that maybe the lady was the client and the DJ was trying to get a tip.

My buddy Randy proposed that maybe the lady had recently undergone a low-budget breast enlargment surgery and her doctor had insisted that she had to keep them “moving” on a regular basis to prevent the cheap silicone substitute from hardening up.

But then I remembered the old proverb “The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend” and suddenly the “balanced” and “cautious” response by this particular DJ had nothing to do with him at all. And then it hit me…I suddenly realized what would cause him to throw caution to the wind and condemn this clown faster than a firefighter can untangle his hose.

If I were the DJ featured in the video. 😉

I Always Feel Like…Somebody’s Watching Us!

We live in a new world these days. Gone are the days of the Pony Express…reading breaking stories on the front page of a morning paper…or even looking for an update on the cable news scroll on the bottom of the screen. We now live in a YouTube world. What you do today can become news…and the latest viral video craze…mere moments after the events occur. I have been convinced that once brides can see…I mean really see…what most DJs offer as a “good” performance…their expectations…and their fears…about what they don’t want happening at their wedding…will cause a dramatic shift in the way they perceive us as professionals (or un-professionals for that matter) which could lead to one of two possible outcomes.

1. They will start looking for an alternative to hiring a “DJ” like a Band, an iPod, or dare-I-say maybe even a Wedding Entertainment Director™ .

2. They will start actively seeking verification via uncut video and iron-clad referrences to confirm the true level of skill, talent, and polish an entertainer possesses before hiring them…and they will gladly pay MORE for the best qualified candidate as well.

We need to start recognizing that everything we say and DO at a wedding will most likely be captured on someone’s flip video recorder and could very easily wind up on YouTube…like the following shocking example.

His DJ sign is proudly displayed. I wonder how much longer he and his…ahem…lady friend…will be in business?

If you have been feeling like someone has been watching you lately…just remember what Kurt Cobain said…

“Just because you’re paranoid…don’t mean they’re not after you.”