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The “Getting What You’re Worth” Story – Part Two

Getting What You're Worth - Mark Ferrell

Continued from Part One

After that, the phone calls started coming in from DJs all over California. I was asked to speak at other association meetings and asked for advice, which I was only glad to help with. That I would encourage DJs to charge more caused quite a ruckus in the bridal chat groups. Oh, they didn’t like that one bit.

Seeing a need, I decided to help other DJs by calling them to tell them that they were worth more. I let them know what I charged so they would feel more comfortable raising their rates. But it backfired! They thought I was trying to get them to raise their rates so that I could undercut them! It never occurred to them that I didn’t need them to do anything for me to get clients at 4x what they were charging. I was just trying to help, based upon the positive feedback I was getting from the DJ groups.

In 1997 when our base price was $1500, I got a call from a guy named Robert Taylor who wanted me to speak on a panel that he was pitching to Mike Buonaccorso Mobile Beat Las Vegas – 1998. I didn’t know what Mobile Beat Las Vegas was, but I agreed. I would be sharing the stage with two other people, one of whom, as I found out later, was only trying to present in order to get a free pass to the show and a fun time in Vegas. He didn’t take it too seriously and made fun of me because I was working very hard to perfect my presentation.

I wrote the original “Getting What You’re Worth” (now in the possession of Jim Cerone, The Perfect Host) on a yellow legal pad drawing from the logic of the talk I gave at the association meeting in ’96. I re-wrote and edited much of it with the help of Rebecca on the drive from Southern California to Las Vegas. And I continued to re-write and edit after I arrived to The Tropicana hotel, which was the venue for Mobile Beat Las Vegas. I wanted to do a good job.

It was billed as “Getting Your Price – Part Two” – which prompted me to attend “Getting Your Price – Part One.” I was appalled. DJs were pridefully stating that they hadn’t raised their rates in 15 years and were still charging $50 or $200, etc. “Part One” was about how to get $200 or less. It was a joke. I shared my disappointment with one DJ from Sacramento as I left “Part One” and when I talked with him about ‘getting what you’re worth’, he actually told me that he could never get $575 in his market because it was a “cow town.” I’ve never stated who that DJ was until now. He was a bartender and DJ named David Van Enger. (I’ll bet he’s doing better than $1200 now.)

“Getting Your Price – Part Two” was presented on the last day of the show as the last seminar and started out with low attendance because the gear swap was happening concurrently. To make matters worse, quite a lot of the room emptied during the first two presenters, just before I was introduced. I began nervously. And then built momentum. As I did, the room began to fill until, when I finished, it was standing room only. Everyone sprang to their feet in thunderous applause, which took me by surprise in my sleep-deprived and nervous state. My part of the presentation took about 35 minutes, and there was about an hour of questions that followed. Things were about to change drastically for mobile DJs.

After that presentation, I expanded it and presented various versions of it to a variety of DJ groups. Soon after, a young, lost, and recently homeless DJ named Peter Merry called needing help with his floundering DJ business.

Part Three…

©2014 Mark K. Ferrell

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