Words are powerful things. I’ve heard it said that a person is only as good as their word, and that one should choose their words wisely.
A few months ago I was at a venue, setting up for an event. It just so happens that the DJ setting up in the next room over was from a local company that… well, let’s just say they haven’t been very kind with their words.
Just as we were finishing our sound and lighting setup, the DJ from the next room came over and asked if we had an extra extension cord he could borrow. I looked at the guy, then I looked at the case of cords by the wall, and I thought to myself “Huh. How do you like that?”
Recently I’ve been spending some time talking with some of my local competitors and other industry professionals. I am happy to have good relations with most of my area competitors, the type of relationship where we can call one another on the phone and “talk shop” so to speak. Sadly though, there are some with whom I do not have that sort of relationship. But that’s because some of my competitors don’t understand the term “friendly competition.”
Competition is a funny word. Pepsi has Coca Cola and McDonalds has Burger King, and each of these companies “competes” for market share. Each product or service has it’s merits, and each has it’s loyal customer base. Competition is good, because it keeps us on our toes, always striving to be better, and to find new and better ways to obtain and please our customers… or at least that’s how I’ve always seen it.
The hot topic of discussion lately between myself and my colleagues and competitors has been how some companies use “bad mouthing” as a marketing strategy. I, as well as the owners of several other reputable DJ entertainment companies in the Philadelphia area have been encountering more and more clients that will come right out and tell us “We met with so and so and they said bad things about your service”. Now in most cases this only makes us look good, because it isn’t a practice that we engage in. Customers aren’t fools, and have often done their research coming to us already familiar with our services, and the caliber of our product.
But not every time.
Unfortunately, some customers buy into the propaganda and the slander. Slander, by definition, is “malicious, false and defamatory statements”. I am more saddened that some potential clients would believe such statements than I am about the organizations, companies and their agents who make them. I would hope that the educated consumer would see through the “scare tactic” marketing technique for what it really is… the only way that company can earn your business.
That’s the key phrase… “Earn your business.”
If a company, any company, cannot “earn your business” based on their own merits, and all of the amazing things they have to offer you, but instead need to concern themselves with slanderous rhetoric, then that speaks volumes about the way they conduct business.
So what about that DJ from my unfriendly competitor who was in need of a spare extension cord…?
I looked at the guy, and I looked at the case of wires. I smiled, reached into my wires case and handed him the wire he needed.
Did the thought cross my mind about how I had the wire he needed, and without it he might be in a pickle, and how ironic that would be? Yeah, it crossed my mind, but with one small act of goodwill I saved a bride’s special day. To me, that was all the affirmation I needed. I’m a professional, and I can say with assured certainty that my employees would all do the same in that situation.
But you know what they say about karma. Perhaps on another day, at another event, another person wouldn’t have lent them that much needed wire in spite of the slanderous words that had been previously spoken by the company in question.
Cutting Edge Entertainment
DJ Brain illustration by Sean Gallo
First off, I feel this is a risky article to put out there, but I am glad you did it. For those who read this and think that perhaps you are on a high horse, so to speak, or are being a “rat”, I will say otherwise. Being around for the amount of time I have, I have found that this is an all too common practice in the industry. It can be outright insulting in fact. I can only hope that customers are educated and talk to other consumers for opinions, not other companies. I have great relationships with alot of people in the field and have made wonderful friends doing this job. If asked my opinion, I will give rave reviews because I respect their work. We all have our own techniques and ways of doing things. That is why we are entertainers and what makes us unique. Slandering is childish and disrespectful. I have learned much from other entertainers, and if we all respect each other, it will allow all of us to grow. I prefer to focus my energy on my clients, not those who try to bring me down. At the end of the day, if we all have customers to please, then we all win.
Any business that chooses to promote itself by making negative, slanderous and even engaging in scare tactics about its competitors only reveals its own weakness.
I agree with everything you have put here. I also agree it’s a bit risky to have out there. Others might see it as “tooting your own horn”. I know that you are the easiest and best DJ to work with…and tell friends just this..we also know there are not such nice business owners out there to work with….and we won’t work with them or tell friends about them after a bad experience. You keep being who you are and people will sing your praises…who cares about the ones who are not so nice!
From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. The strong man advances boldly to meet opposition head on, while the weak man grows agitated. The superior man stands up to fate and endures resolutely in his inner certainty. “White House” that dude…
To “White House” someone means to win with your own integrity and ingenuity, not in a public street fight…
I am glad you wrote this article. I love that you said you have to “earn” business. It is a very true statement, and customers truly appreciate it. Bad mouthing competitors is extremely distasteful, and exposes companies that partake in that behavior for what they are, frauds. You only have a very small time frame to impress a potential client. If they are using that time to slander their competitors they obviously don’t have enough valuable services or any competitive edge to offer their clients.
As far as giving the DJ the cord I am glad you did. Every action we make has exponential effect and unless you really stop to think or the possible repercussions you would not realize it. Besides the fact that the other DJ could have lost his job for such a mistake, which could have eventually led to other issues (family etc.) it could have affected the DJ industry as a whole. It could have left the bride and groom with a bad taste in their mouth which could have led to them choosing to hire a band instead of a DJ at their next event, or even forgo entertainment all together for a small home party. BRAVO for taking the high road, it really always is the best option 🙂
I don’t necessarily believe in Karma, however, I treat each individual as I would want to be treated. I know that sounds cliche’, but it has merit.
Since 1980, my experience with some of the newcomers getting into the business, is that they sell with scare tactics and even worse, make up rumors that puts doubt in peoples minds. You would hope the customer will see through the smoke screen, which most do, but you have to wonder why the bad mouthing company don’t think it won’t get back to us. It always does!
I have seen theses companies come and go, they usually go full circle and leave the industry like a puff of smoke with no fire.
I believe that just doing your thing, the best you can, will keep you in the industry long term. Looking for a shortcut that is unethical will create enemies throughout the industry and only lead to the demise of their business.
I will be celebrating 30 years in business this November and I play well with the others in the sandbox:)
I think it takes courage to post about companies in our beloved industry that don’t adhere to best business practices. We don’t want to mention who they are specifically but eventually it becomes common knowledge. Once in a while we actually have to work on our industry, to bring attention to how we can make it better. Strategically mentioning one sided negative information or worse manufacturing falsehoods is to practice “conquer and divide in the worst possible way.” A reputable company extols its virtues, only offers fair and comprehensive comparisons then allows prospective clients and partners to choose who they want to do business with. Rigging the conversation to marginalize the competition to the point of sabotage is a slippery slope. Blogs hold out a promise that we can establish ourselves as experts in our category, but their threading “Propaganda” about competitors business models and offering damaging advice about business people in other categories, ie. Photographers and Videographers is incendiary all round. Sometimes, I am frustrated or embarrassed by the inappropriate use of blogs and other strategies in our marketplace; the seemly desperate methods some deploy to gain a client or relationship are indeed, disappointing. Lately, a technique of spreading untrue rumors, manufactured to destroy a relationship may have been deployed. I certainly hope that it is not true. In any industry there will be those in the marketplace who are less than honest and balanced in their sales and marketing. Then, there are those who worse, will stop at virtually nothing to destroy the competition to win at all costs. As my friend and associate Bob Palio says in his comments here on Craig’s post, “One day they will be gone in a puff of smoke.” I second that viewpoint because when you have 400 of the best members of our beloved industry networking under one roof (as we all were last night), seeking partners and exchanging notes, once the news gets out, its only a matter of time.
Great article, Craig. As a planner who works with ALL kinds of entertainment, I’ll share a secret with you.
DJ’s are by far, the worst of all the vendors that speak ill of each other. I hear it all. They run each other down. Does EVERY DJ do that? No of course not. But if I had to look on an average, that industry is at the top.
The next one? You’ll be surprised…. Chef’s. HUGE ego’s. 🙂
Kudos to you, Craig for publishing this post and to those who have responded so thoughtfully. It’s a shame that some people have stooped so low as to practice such tactics. As others have mentioned, typically those who hold the high ground and run respectable businesses will prevail, especially in a challening economy such as this.
There is more than enough work in this industry for everyone without talking negatively about your competition or undercutting them at all costs just to get a job. As Paul mentioned, it is a small world and negative news and gossip travels fast. I have strived hard to run a well respected business by both my peers as well as our clients and I am glad that i can count most of our “competition” as friends, whom I know would bend over backwards to help us if a situation ever warranted itself, as we would do for them.
Keep up the great work Craig and karma will always catch up to you…
Sorry folks, comment links aren’t working currently. Will fix it up a.s.a.p.
Can’t we all just get along? Great read Craig.
What a great post! Craig, I continue to learn so much from you!