The Post-COVID World: DJ Recovery

In my previous article (“Post-Pandemic Rebuilding”), our beloved DJ industry is in recovery mode.  Many have chosen to retire; many were forced to close.  It’s been tough for the economy overall, with some 100,000 businesses shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is estimated that more than 60% will remain closed.  If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a survivor.  You’ve managed to hang on, maybe even found creative ways to earn a bit of cash via virtual performances, etc., but as we DJs and the world at large re-emerge from our quarantine and the economic gears slowly begin to turn, all of us may find that we have a whole lot of work to do and a lot less resources (a.k.a. “cashflow”) with which to get the job done.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

My last piece focused on rebuilding your business and how our post-pandemic world might change the way we do things.  I’m going to assume that you are either ready or close to being ready to once again enter the fray of public performance, but after more than a year of being inactive, referrals – usually the most effective promotion we have – aren’t what they used to be.  Reviews have gotten stale.  Even social media isn’t garnering the interest that it once did.  (For most of us, it’s less a client-building platform and more of a self-entertainment, idea sharing pursuit.)  What’s needed is a jumpstart for the promising season ahead of us.

New clients are going to have to be generated the “old-fashioned way,” via ad campaigns.  We’ve all been here before and, like me, you may have thought that we were done with buying ads.  Your next thought may be, “How in the heck, after months of little-to-no income can I afford a new campaign”?  The simplest answer should be the most obvious: EVERYONE is hurting.  This means we all need each other, now more than ever.  We can take a tip from our radio brethren and turn this seemingly dire situation into an opportunity.  It’s called…..

THE CO-OP

Co-op advertising is old… to the point of ancient.  The big companies do it constantly.  Simply put, businesses who offer different things to the same pool of buyers can combine their advertising budgets to push both (or more) businesses forward for less money.  Who can ever forget that McDonald’s serves Coca-Cola?  These two juggernauts have been leveraging the power of co-op advertising long before it was a necessity for them!  In fact, when your business co-ops with another, you can also benefit from any public perception of quality that they have cultivated (and vice-versa).

Wedding DJs may already have an extensive referral list, which may include photographers, videographers, photo booth suppliers (if you don’t do this yourself), caterers, venues and on and on.  Remember: these businesses have also been mostly shut down!  An offer to co-op is likely to be welcomed as a lifeline.  The first thing to do, then, is to make a list of what type of campaign you’d like to mount; which bridal shows, guides, public events, direct mail, online, podcasts/broadcasts and other advertising areas you’ve always wanted to see your business represented.  It also couldn’t hurt to get some quotes, just to have hard numbers at the ready.

Next, approach your potential partner(s) and pitch the idea of a unified ad campaign featuring both (or all three…. four?) of your businesses.  Maybe you’re great at ad layouts and copywriting.  If not, perhaps these partners are!  Maybe they have access to professionals they’ve used in the past.  In any case, propose that you combine your budgets and your reach to mutually maximize your sales.

This type of partnership can also maximize a resource you both already have: your mailing lists.  The email and snail mail lists of all partners, sending the same ads, multiply your reach exponentially.  All parties are spending less and getting more.  Not only is this good for getting the word out, but you’ll build on your relationship with the vendor(s) within your co-op that could last a lifetime!

JUST ONE MORE THING….

There have been countless articles and online arguments about DJs featuring their gear when clients don’t know or care what you use.  And this is true… normally.  But things have changed here just a bit, too.  The brands and dealers of equipment and music production software have also taken a big hit and want all of the exposure they can get!  If you have a line of gear you use that you love to rave about, why not get paid for it?  Like the Coke/McDonald’s union, a photo of you using your [fill in the blank] gear might just be enough for them to sponsor you… in cash.  If you’re a high-profile DJ who also gives seminars, coaches or is an author (ahem!), use those credentials to “sell” the idea; let them know that your industry colleagues will see their logo whenever they see your face.

So what are you waiting for?  Get those contracts together and get in touch before your competition does.  If we all pull together, we can all rise from the ashes of COVID even stronger than before.  Until next time, safe spinnin’!

Stu Chisholm
Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe. He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well. Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine. To contact him, email DJStuCrew@gmail.com. You can grab Stu’s book at TheCompleteDiscJockey.com.

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