Experience vs. Expertise By Dean Carlson


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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM APRIL 2010
A few months ago I wrote an article that contained a story from a wedding planner I work with often. She told me she was tired of vendors trying to describe how good they are by saying they have XX years of experience. To be quite honest I would have to admit that I have probably said something along those lines a time or two myself.
This has gotten me thinking hard about how I convey the quality of my work to someone. After all, I have met DJs who have had a lot less “experience” who are more talented than I am. I am not sure if anyone has read his book or seen his youtube video called “The Last Lecture”, but Randy Pausch say “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted” or as Dan Stanford says http:/ /thinkexist.com/quotation/experience_is_what_you_got_by_not_having_it_when/7189.html “Experience is what you got by not having it when you needed it.”
Neither of these examples are positive. So are we saying “I have XX years of dealing with things that have gone wrong, so when they go wrong at your event I will be able to handle it!”?? Is this the hidden message the client might hear when we say that? If it is we should stop using it right now.
I am not saying that gaining experience is a bad thing. In fact, for the great DJs and MCs it’s a must. The issue lies in it’s reference to others about the quality of work we do. See, the word ‘experience’ is far too broad for anyone to know if we have had good or bad experiences. It leaves far too much open for interpretation.
I would say the average person looking to find a quality MC or DJ for his or her event either doesn’t understand the experience statement, or breezes right over it not even considering it as a sales point. So how do we convey how good we are without using that word?
As luck would have it I am reading a book right now called “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port. He spoke a few years ago at the Northern Disc Jockey Convention. When I went to the Mobile Beat Convention this year I also attended a side function called “The Think Tank” which is a mastermind group of DJs who, by sharing, stretch our thinking and come up with great solutions to issues that face us all. After Las Vegas we continued this group and met weekly, reviewing Mr. Port’s book.
So the last chapter we covered was “Who Knows What You Know And Do They Like You.” The main concept of this chapter is about becoming a category authority. So what are you a Category Authority on? For me, I concentrate on weddings as my primary source of business, and I have become a Category Authority on weddings. What really shocks me is how many DJs and MCs who claim to specialize in weddings actually have no idea about the “why” of what we do. Why do the groomsmen stand on the right of the groom? What does the Bouquet mean? Where did the money dance originate and why do we do it? Why is it called a toast? What is the meaning of the cake at a wedding?
DJs and MCs who have just experience probably don’t have the answers to any of those questions. They might not even care. For me, my pocket book cares. Because for every DJ and MC who doesn’t care, I will find their potential client and show them that I care and I will be making that sale. Just my knowledge and sharing of the knowledge of the cake cutting ceremony, for example, changes my client’s perception of me; I no longer have experience, I have expertise…or as Mr. Port says, I have become a Category Authority to those who need our services.
Most brides and grooms are first-time/only-time buyers, and they just don’t know the “whys” of a wedding. In today’s society they are bombarded with knowledge from magazines to TV to the internet. When you can take the load of wading through all of that information by themselves off their list and make their job lighter, they are willing to pay a premium for that expertise.
So right now let’s do a test. Go to your book shelf and DVD rack and count the number of books and DVDs you have that are helping make you an expert. Maybe your expertise is going to be different than mine, maybe its games and interaction and ice breakers. But if you have less than 15 on your shelf right now, you have work to do. When is the last time you read or watched those products? Have you done it more than once? Has it been over 2 years since you did? I have close to 75 myself and I always have one open. I just ordered 5 more books yesterday.
So I asked earlier how we can show clients the difference between experience and expertise. I think this begins with every ‘touch’ we have with a potential client or referral source. What do your cards say about you and your company? How about your website? Answering machine? Facebook page? Do you blog, and what are you blogging about? If you use snail mail, what is the content of that package, words and materials? Then the real rubber hits the road when you meet face to face and start building that relationship.
I’ll finish by saying, stop bragging about the experience and start showing your potential client what you are an expert at. Your bottom line will thank you as much as all the happy clients you will be performing for. Abraham Lincoln once said, “ I don’t think much of a man who isn’t wiser today than he was yesterday.” This is also in line with something JM Clark wrote, “knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns.”
Good Luck and Great Shows.
Dean Carlson can be reached at deancarlson@discjockeynews.com.


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