If you are just starting out, or if you are an established business, it can be difficult to know where to advertise and what is most cost-effective for mobile DJ’s. While there are resources like Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising allows for some handy tracking, it can be hard to calculate the ROI (return on investment) for other methods of advertising like SEO or Social Media Marketing. What works for DJ’s and what doesn’t, is something that is always evolving and at times what works for some, doesn’t work for others. We’ll break down several different methods and websites that mobile and event DJ’s are using to get work and build their business and give a bit of information about each one, so you can make a decision that is best for you.
In the way of paid advertising, one of the best ways to directly get in front of potential clients for wedding DJ’s is to purchase a booth at a wedding show or expo. These range in pricing but typically the better numbers a show has, the higher the price. These can also be tough because they are on the weekends and are generally a long day, of no payment for a DJ business and/or their DJ’s. You’ve really got to put some effort into your booth, as you will be speaking with people that have seen dozens of other DJ’s that day at the very same show. If you have done shows, and have struggled to convert some of the people you spoke with to clients, don’t be quick to blame it on the bridal show. Instead, use it as an opportunity to look at what you can do to improve. Is it the look of your equipment, or perhaps were you over eager to get some gigs? Were you scripted and giving people a boring sales pitch, or were you taking the time to have a nice conversation with everyone that came to your booth and helped to make them feel comfortable? Bridal Shows and expos do work, but like anything, the more skilled one is at communicating, the better the return on investment will be.
Thumbtack is a website designed to connect people with local professionals of many different categories. It’s a sight that promotes small business, and for that, it’s great. Thumbtack works a bit like bidding for work and with that comes some pros and cons for DJ’s. I’ve seen a lot of DJ groups on social media who have posted some very low priced offers. Thumbtack also seems to cater more to private parties, house parties and your lower end type of DJ work. With that comes a bit of lower priced bids (pay) and the type of work associated, which would be casual events, or work for non-profit organizations and things of that nature. This type of advertisement lends itself well to entry-level mobile DJ’s, those looking to gain some experience and exposure, or simply just want to get out and play some music!
Yelp has been one of the best resources for connecting people with businesses for years. Do not underestimate the power of Yelp, and the power of positive reviews. When shopping for a service, local and legitimate reviews, reviews that you cannot edit or remove, give a lot of power to potential customers. Paid use of Yelp allows for your ad to show throughout the site (for example, if you are shopping for a wedding DJ on Yelp and you select a profile, a paid ad will show on the right or top column to hopefully get users to click the paid ad). Other paid benefits allow for first-page placement in the search algorithm, share more photo and video examples on your business page and ‘edit’ the photos and video that are on your business page, and various other benefits. Yelp is a powerful tool both as a paid experience and a free profile, leveraging reviews of course.
One consideration when building reviews on Yelp is that it can be disheartening at times. When someone leaves a heartfelt and sincere review, that later gets filtered. This can make it difficult and take more time for you to build a review base on your business page, but it’s an intended part of the algorithm to ensure that users who log in and leave just one or two reviews, don’t have as much say as those who consider themselves “yelpers”. If you use the site and log into the app from time to time, your reviews will stick. As a business owner, there isn’t anything you can do when a review gets “filtered” other than hope for more reviews and some by people who use the site on a regular basis. This makes it difficult to solicit your clientele for reviews, but if you consider the numbers approach that if you get 5 positive reviews, there is a good chance at least on those users will log into Yelp enough to have their review stick.
In recent years, Wedding Wire has gained a lot of popularity and has become one of the best resources online for brides & grooms who are planning their wedding. Wedding Wire not only has paid profile opportunities for companies to get their ad guaranteed placement on the first page, but there are availability calendars, and even a booking system with contracts and e-sign, direct messaging right through the site, video and photos on your profile, and so on. The booking and customer management software included in Wedding Wire membership is a platform strong enough to handle entire businesses operations, and is nearly worth it to subscribers alone. I’ve met photographers and even a lighting company that use Wedding Wire’s customer management software solely for their business and they couldn’t be happier with it!
Out of all of the websites that are for wedding vendors, Wedding Wire is probably the strongest influence out there today. Wedding Wire World in Washington D.C. is their annual convention which shows just how many Wedding Wire vendors there are out there. They host local networking nights as well so you can get to know your local market a bit better. Pricing for Wedding Wire advertisement can be steep for unestablished businesses.
From speaking with DJ’s about advertising websites, it seems that Wedding Wire doesn’t convert a high volume of leads for many of them. Those who are lucky enough to have the highest volume of reviews, however, seem to do the best. So if you have few reviews, you’ll definitely convert fewer customers through their service. Another bit of criticism with Wedding Wire is that in the past year, they have requested that vendors put their pricing basics on the website. This gives brides & grooms the opportunity to quickly browse a category of vendors and sort through them based on their average booking price, and things of that nature. This is a huge problem not only for subscribers but the entire wedding industry. The issue with this is that pricing becomes the forefront of the conversation and really, wedding DJ’s and wedding vendors alike offer a service and not a product. It’s a luxury service at that, meaning it’s something that people want, and don’t necessarily need. Making easily categorized by “pricing” page, devalues what we do, as there is always going to be the lowballer(s) of the category, making it difficult for the established and more professional/talented bussinesses to succeed via Wedding Wire.
This is one particular method of advertising that I haven’t personally tried, but I know plenty who have. The truth is, Facebook advertising is powerful and working very well for certain types of businesses. However, for some reason, they have fallen flat when it comes to connecting local businesses with clientele. It seems that Facebook is a great way to advertise for those selling a product, or those who have a startup and want to share their message with potential customers. When it comes to services, it doesn’t tend to do well. Facebook advertising is doing incredibly well in just about every other way (not to mention their recently launched ‘marketplace’ is incredible, and making Craigslist feel ineffective and outdated) so it wouldn’t be surprising if, in time, they find a way to make it a more effective method for local business.
TheKnot.com was one of the first and definitely the largest wedding resource website on the web. They have extensive content for wedding professionals and DIY wedding planners. They have forums and a strong user community which are a great resource for a lot of people. They, like Wedding Wire, offer paid advertisements for vendors. The pricing is pretty steep, sometimes even higher than Wedding Wire. I have personally used TheKnot.com advertising space for my DJ business in the past and while I can’t say it led to a lot of conversions, I can say that the quality of those finding my website through TheKnot.com seemed to be a bit higher end than Wedding Wire. They seemed to have a bit more realistic expectations of what to spend on their event, and usually were having their event at a middle to upper range in the way of pricing.
Another great benefit of their paid advertising is that they have a large network of sites, aside from theknot.com that share your business profile. This helps to get your business profile in front of a wider variety of wedding websites, although again, my experience with TheKnot.com was quality over quantity. TheKnot.com, like Wedding Wire, also hosts networking events in different regions and has some benefits if you dive into their community.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
After the death of the phone book and the birth of “googling” anything you needed, SEO was the most powerful way to build a business. Having your organic search ranking on the first page, or better yet, the top three spots, was insanely powerful for companies. Companies went from nothing to huge players in their field, in a short amount of time with SEO. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of manipulation of the SEO and Google algorithm. I know, because I was one of them. I was fortunate enough to have some very savvy friends in the world of SEO at the time, and they helped me get my website to #1 in San Diego for many years. This was helpful for business at first, and then over time that really diminished and I’ll explain why. For a long time (prior to the panda and penguin updates by Google for example), SEO was able to be manipulated a bit via link farms (sites that sent inbound links to your site), using article websites to write original content and linking back to websites, partner links and link exchanges, title tags and original content on websites (expansive blogs with good content) and so on. The issue with that, and with people knowing how to manipulate the search engines, led to a lot of high paid SEO experts, and people who would spend a lot of time and effort to get their site to rank. This inevitably led to businesses that were untrustworthy and sometimes not even legitimate, to be in the top spots. It wasn’t trustworthy to people on a ‘local business’ level and new sites emerged, like Yelp.com for example, that fortunately led to a better way to connect people with great businesses.
For a long time (prior to the panda and penguin updates by Google for example), SEO was able to be manipulated a bit via link farms (sites that sent inbound links to your site), using article websites to write original content and linking back to websites, partner links and link exchanges, title tags and original content on websites (expansive blogs with good content) and so on. The issue with that, and with people knowing how to manipulate the search engines, led to a lot of high paid SEO experts, and people who would spend a lot of time and effort to get their site to rank. This inevitably led to businesses that were untrustworthy and sometimes not even legitimate, to be in the top spots. It wasn’t trustworthy to people on a ‘local business’ level and new sites emerged, like Yelp.com for example, that fortunately led to a better way to connect people with great businesses.
All of this said SEO is still a good thing to have if you know how to do it, or if you are lucky enough to have a site that ranks well. A lot of the aforementioned tactics still work, but nowadays SEO is simply one piece of the pie and is definitely not something that you should put all of your hope into. If you can get your site to the first page, great. If not, you can hire someone to do some SEO work for you and hopefully they are able to get it to rank. The trouble is, that not even an “SEO expert” can guarantee your ranking on Google, and any advertiser or solicitor that says otherwise should be quickly hung up on (I know you’ve all gotten those phone calls!). SEO is a constantly changing game and those who rank right now, are never safe from those changes.
This category will be short and sweet. You should most likely be very cautious of local directories. For example a URL with your city in it, and “wedding vendors” in it, and anything else that is on a smaller local level. I am not saying that they do not work, I am simply saying you should get the opinion of others who pay to be on them before deciding to invest in them. The reasoning for this (aside from personal experience) is that they don’t usually work. If a power as strong as Wedding Wire and TheKnot.com can only yield a handful of leads to each vendor who pays them, then what can a small local website with a fraction of the resources truly yield? Not to mention, if you are going to spend your money to get your name out there, then why not invest into a legitimate company like the aforementioned who have resources for customers in addition to their proven traffic? In this case, going with the small guy isn’t going to save you money, it’s going to waste it.
Putting it all together…
Again, there isn’t a secret or magic answer of whom you should advertise with, but without question, the most effective results are going to come from employing all of the above-mentioned methods. It’s about saturation. Think of it this way: if a bride goes to their venue and gets your card from a preferred vendors list, but wants to do her own research so she hits the web. On the first page of Google, she realizes that she saw your business there as well and that you were recommended by the venue. Now, the bride wants to get a second opinion so she heads on over to Wedding Wire to see who has the best reviews, and there you are again. Paid advertisement showing up near the top, with some solid reviews and she thinks “Okay, I’ve got to contact this company”. Just remember, that referral is always going to be the most powerful form of marketing. If they’ve seen you at an event before, that’s great too and there is no real way to sneak your way into being an established DJ business other than getting out there and getting some experience and paying for what advertising you can afford as you progress. Hitting all of the bases is the best way to ensure you are maximizing your leads, and getting your name in front of the most people possible in your market.