DJs Are Employing a New Set of Tools to Market to Brides at Wedding Shows. But Sometimes, the Best Techniques Are the Tried & True
By Jeff Stiles
The annual events are held in nearly every market, typically in the springtime:
Bridal shows sponsored by local radio stations, bridal vendors and reception halls, designed to draw in young ladies anticipating the Big Question being popped very soon—along with those having already been asked.
Wisconsin’s Jake Riniker last year met a mother with two daughters who were both getting married. He introduced himself to them at a bridal show in The Badger State, and soon thereafter ended up signing up both sisters for receptions in 2012.
Two for the price of one, you might say.
“I think the main tactic that sets me apart is that I don’t pressure-sell,” says
the owner of Riniker Rhythm. “My take is that when mobile DJs offer big discounts if brides sign up right away, that just makes their service look gimmicky.
“I usually don’t get actual bookings until the following week or even at the next show. In this case, the mother and daughters had time to ‘shop around’ and then find me at the next show. I liked that, because I knew they had made an intelligent decision instead of just making an impulse buy.”
There’s a wide variety of opinions within the mobile-DJ industry today about the importance or even relevance of spending the marketing dollars necessary to appear at a bridal show. The more experienced jocks seem to depend solely on referrals, while multi-system owners and the relatively younger guys like to use these expos to further their name recognition.
In 2012, as brides become savvier via social networks, how can a DJ maximize one’s presence at a bridal show?
The Platteville, Wis.-based Riniker asserts that bridal shows really work for him. Not only does he get some face-to-face interaction with brides-to-be, but he boasts that he also gets to strut his stuff in front of his competition—and to show off his awards.
“I get a lot out of bridal shows,” he says. “I find it as a great branding tool, because I don’t have a storefront and this is an opportunity to meet clients face to face. I also have a huge competitive spirit, and I love the fact that half my competition is in the room. This is my time to separate Riniker Rhythm from the others.”
Riniker says he likes to change his booth display every year to keep everything fresh and trendy. This past year he had a 32-inch TV on a stand behind a six-foot table, with a retractable banner on each side.
“I also have two cocktail tables with everything draped in either silver or orange,” he says.
“I also set the display up so people will step in past the cocktail tables to view the photos and scrapbooks. I never merely sit or stand in the walkway handing out postcards.
“I also never bring my sound equipment and dancefloor lighting, because I really don’t think a bride cares. It makes it look cluttered and I want to look different from other DJs.”
Something new for 2012 was Jake’s Blackberry Playbook, which this year he ran in presentation-mode on a TV monitor. “This way,” he says, “I was able to either show someone a photo or take them to my website—all while it’s running the slideshow.”
Another jock who believes bridal shows can be an important part of the overall picture when it comes to marketing their business is Adam Tiegs in Seattle. First and foremost, Tiegs says, is the opportunity to meet with potential clients face-to-face—and before the competition gets the chance.
“From your booth, you have a day or two to meet 50-500 brides, depending on the show,” says the owner of Adam’s DJ Service. “There are many experts out there who talk about trade show strategy, and we’ve taken a lot of advice from people like Brad Buckles [Wedding Expo Magazine and bridesclub.com], Chris Evans from Evans Sales Solutions [ http://www.evanssalessolutions.com ] and even Alan Berg [ http://alanberg.com ], former VP of Marketing for The Knot. “Booking appointments at tradeshows is key, so we can really get to know our clients one on one instead of selling them quick at the show.”
Of course, Tiegs reminds everyone that preliminary information about pricing and overall breadth of service can also be given to the brides who stop by a company’s booth. “In the past, we’ve given away free trips as incentives to sign up for meeting us, and that’s worked well,” he says. “We’ve parked billboard trucks out in front of the show, so the brides see we’re a player before even entering the show, and so they can be reminded of us again when they leave [multiple impressions]. We’ve also partnered up with other professionals we trust to share booth space. “After all, you look bigger with a 40-foot booth than a 10-foot booth!”
Tiegs says his company also utilizes social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to alert their friends, fans, clients and families that Adam’s DJ Service will be at the show—and then make an extra effort to put their best foot forward during any expo. “Dressing up your booth is almost the most important thing you can do to make a first impression,” he says.
“You can’t rely on the table, chairs and the sign they provide to you. We have themed booths and even booths showing our capabilities. Granted, we don’t use moving head lights at a lot of events, but having a couple on trusses one year did make a big splash; no matter where we were located on the expo floor, clients could see these lights and gobos moving all over the room—so people were naturally attracted to our booth space.
“Showing videos or slideshows, showing off your lighting [with no cables showing], and having a unique, clean booth can help separate you from your competitors. Having a nice backdrop, a different color pipe and drape or carpet from other booths, with appropriate signage—all are key.”
Another gimmick Tiegs says he’s used in the past has been to offer to print labels for brides—so they don’t get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome signing up for 100 drawings at the show.
“As for interacting with the competition, it’s always good to introduce clients at a show to other vendors they might still need for their event,” he adds. “If they need a venue, photographer, dress alterations, etc., simply take them to the people you know and introduce them. This can also go a long way in ensuring your credibility as a professional.”
Of course, most of us are utilizing slideshows and videos in our presentations, and Tiegs says he uses a Toshiba Thrive 10-inch, tablet computer to show potential brides visually and audibly what his company can provide.
“When I meet clients in person, I use our tablet computer to share who we are with brides and grooms,” he explains. “Not only is it good for the environment not to print a presentation at every meeting, but I can show clients how to properly navigate our website when necessary. It’s definitely a tool I wish I had long ago.”
Another Pacific Northwest mobile, JD Fields of Catch the Beat Entertainment in Snohomish, Wash., says he’s prepared for both techsavvy and traditional clients whenever he appears at bridal shows. “Some clients prefer hard paper versus emails and online forms,” says “JD the DJ,” as he’s known to some. “While we often rely too much on gadgets, sometimes I prefer having the wedding planner hard copy with me when I am at a show rather than just looking it up on my phone/iPad. Some of the older clients get intimidated with fancy presentations, and in a few cases I have to go into elaborate detail if I show any clips—to assure them that their wedding is going to be different, because it’s hard to duplicate what’s going to happen.”
“I’ve heard occasionally from clients that they didn’t dance like that at their wedding [compared to the video], with the variables of number of guests, weather, etc. One said that he was at a wedding in December that snowed like crazy and only 30 people showed up, and we were comparing a video clip of 200 people dancing. “In my opinion, with social marketing, media and the internet, people are more demanding and not using their imagination. Compare online dating—do the people always look exactly like their picture?”
The most important aspect of appearing at bridal shows, according to Fields, is the opportunity to actually meet his clients one-on-one. “Giving a presentation, I love to get people to use their imagination so they can use their words to express what they want—not look at video clips and pictures and then say, ‘I want that!’
“I do know times are changing when I get out of a client meeting, notice I missed a call, call them back in 10 minutes and they’ve already booked a DJ. My question for them is, ‘Did you meet your DJ, and do you know what you’re getting?’”
Granted, however, Fields admits that we nowadays live in an A.D.D. society, with everyone demanding instant gratification. “I definitely notice at bridal shows bigger trends in going all-out with uplighting, monograms and now photo booths,” he says. “I do believe our society is quicker to book on the spot because of time, so jocks definitely need to ‘wow’ them. Presentations are quick, to the point and offer less personalization sometimes, simply because people are in such a rush.”
Meanwhile, Philadelphia-area jock Scott Goldoor says he quit appearing at bridal shows altogether around four years ago. But today, he has found a nice alternative in performing at open houses (or tastings). “We appear with a caterer or venue that recommends us,” explains the owner of East Norriton, Pa.-based Signature DJs. “Again, this is not a bridal show, but it’s for couples who have already booked this caterer or venue. So, in essence, these are more qualified customers for us who are looking for our services, along with other vendors. “These open-house tastings also do not cost us anything, except our time and of course DJ set-up and performance. I’ve found this to be very beneficial. We’ve booked numerous events from them, and most importantly we’ve maintained a very good rapport and status with the venue and caterer.”
Goldoor says they sometimes show a video montage or sample on their iPad, and sometimes also bring their old bridal show display, which showcases their work via pictures on a Siegel Display foam-core board. “Several times a year, there are a few venues or caterers that will contact my company to basically provide background music and ambiance,” Goldoor says. “Sometimes we’ll also bring some basic lighting, depending on the site and hours for their booked customers or potential customers.
“Again, each open house or tasting is a bit different. Some provide it as a courtesy to their existing clients, offering a tasting for a group rather than an individual. Others also invite potential clients, and it gives them an opportunity to showcase their venue or facility and also allow vendors, such as DJs, photographers, videographers, florists or event planners to attend. “It’s much like a bridal show, but more scaled-down and, again, the clientele I’ve found to be a bit more qualified. They’re looking for us as fellow vendors, more so than my experience at bridal shows over the years.”
Adam Tiegs P r o f e s s i o n a l D i s c J o c k e y 253-952-2156 Office 425-652-6690 Cell