And we are live!
March 8, 2022

All Up In: Finding Your Niche, Saying No & Why the Customer Isn’t Always Right

All Up In: Finding Your Niche, Saying No & Why the Customer Isn’t Always Right

We often hear that the customer is always right…but are they actually? In this episode, Mary unpacks how to find your ideal client, why working with non-ideal clients is a bad idea, and when you should definitely just say no to potential customers. Plus, in the whole-ass moment of the week–getting high and buying tickets to a monster truck rally.

Smash that subscribe button so you never miss an episode, and come hang with us on Instagram & Twitter

Links & resources:


Music. Welcome to all up in my lady business I am your host Mary nisi on this podcast all explore the fine line between having it together I'm losing your shit here I share my journey as an entrepreneur a mom a wife a DJ and randomly a beekeeper I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram my stories of resilience a little structure and a lot of resource Wellness can show you how to take those same things and live your life with your hole. Music. On today's episode I'm going to talk about finding your Niche your target audience how to figure out your business is customer and why trying to serve everyone really serves no one including yourself. So the philosophy I was raised on was that the customer is always right but are they. It used to be a useful saying to apply to business like whatever the problem the customer comes to you with if they're not happy the business is going to find the solution. And that is the function of the business the solution might be a replacement or a refund maybe the manager comes over for someone to yell at and if the customer wasn't right all they really had was their group of friends to complain to or like a sternly worded letter to the editor of the local newspaper but now they have a much larger Forum thanks internet where they can you know take you down drag you on the internet loudly complain tweet at you my family owned a business they Under restaurant back in the day and so we have the service industry in our blood and bending over backwards for people and doing it all with a smile is my Birthright like basically taking shit and smiling and making jokes while I did it it was like my career just the name of the company on my paycheck would change. This led to my business Ark of yes serving the client but serving the right client. I was also I was like raised to like never say no to an opportunity you never know where the next paycheck is going to come from suffer through this job they need you and they rely on you they're going to reward you for your loyalty be grateful you have a place to go this was like burned into my head and. This can lead to living your life in fear in this weird sad place of lack not taking any chances never putting yourself out there doesn't know you maybe you don't ask for raises or you know changes that might make your life easier and it keeps you small and in dead-end jobs where you aren't being appreciated. So this made me stay at John's way longer past my sell-by date, and it led to me being fired for more jobs and I have quit and I usually be let go for being like a rabble-rouser but really it was because I hate being micromanaged I hate Injustice and dumb policies for no reason I was meant to be in charge but I am a woman and I am a small woman and I think that it was hard for people to see me as anything other than like spunky funny Mary I'm really taken seriously at face value and most of these jobs I did were in service which is something that I am really fucking great at because of my deep-seated desire to please people. And I love saying yes to people I love dazzling them with thinking of everything before they even know they want it when I waited tables I love you remembering orders from the last time that they came it was a gift I had like there was this one guy Chad when I worked at Wishbone this restaurant the southern restaurant here in Chicago and like. One time he ordered corn cakes and then I called him corn cakes every time he comes back a corn cakes what are we going to have today and he always got corn cakes and I think it was because. I remember that one time he had corn cakes and like. But you know it was a thing we had it was it was our thing anyway when I started DJing I was working for this pretty cool guy Barry and he showed me. That it was okay to drill down. To your target market and say there are things you don't do and make lines in the sand he didn't want to do every single wedding that came there were songs he didn't want to play Traditions he didn't want to do and it was so liberating to me the idea that the customer is not always right. That some people's terrible ideas and tastes can be someone else's problem that I can just be good at a specific type of client or at least what that client thinks they are and he was also like the least micromanaging boss I ever had he trusted me and everyone who worked with him to do the right thing and the thing is that he made us very aware that it was is his reputation that was on the line like if we mess something up that was going to mess up his his life his family's life. So I'm a music snob by my own definition and the great thing about starting your own business is that you decide. What your processes are you set the standards I took those ideas that you can Niche down to who you want to work for and then put whatever veneer you want on there I am like a fun seeking enthusiastic person who makes a lot of jokes and can be on the sassy side and my website reflects that I'm a woman who runs a company that employs mostly women dj's which already makes me stand out we have a song list on our website and it's a sample song list and it has most of your popular classic wedding fair your dancing Queens your Bruno Mars your Signed Sealed Delivered but it also has a lot of Easter eggs kind of trapped in there specifically on the cocktails and dinner suggestion which is where my real magic is tucked in among Sinatra and John Legend is like krung bin and Phoebe Bridgers and salt. Non-music dorks will see bands they know and glazed pass the stuff they don't know and the music darks will see that we got them. We also have a stylist on our website of songs that we don't want to play unless it's implicitly asked for like I will play the YMCA if your grandma's going to write you out of the will if she doesn't hear it at your wedding and I make it clear and I am power the DJ's to say that if someone they are meeting with looks at that list and are like what is a wedding without the Macarena and all the slides that maybe they should shop around and see if there is someone else out there that can do all that it is less that we are too cool to play those songs let me make that clear we are not too cool to play those songs but more that the DJ's that play that stuff are trying to facilitate line dances and show you the moves and get on the mic and ham it up and we just don't do that those DJ's are consummate performers and they literally think of themselves and are the entertainment quote unquote my issue is that once you start going down the cheesy wedding song path it is hard to get off of it like once they hear it's electric memories or jog that it's a slippery slope to the chicken dance it's best to just avoid it altogether the best thing I hear at the end of a wedding was that was amazing and I didn't even realize you were there like I seamlessly made the whole night happen announcements were made people follow them without incident and that a raging dance party happened it's not the toast and jam or even the Mary nisi show it was the clients show and I was just there to make their dream come true and make them look like baller stars for like. Pulling it all together for every business if you have one or if you do know of one like who is your client what is their. It can't be everyone and it can't be no one it needs to be nice enough to work for you. And if you are good at it and you trust the process you will never work with the wrong client again that doesn't mean you won't have assholes Castle clients are hiding in plain sight everywhere but at least you won't be doing things outside your scope of work and you will just hate the person you're doing it for I looked really hard at who is the toast and jam client and we are not the DJ for everyone we aren't a luxury brand. Well we are in so far that you don't need to hire a professional DJ for your wedding you can go to the courthouse and get married for the cost of a license but if you're going to get married and you want a big reception we are a DJ in your like mid to higher priced range. And we don't have the DJ for like a 500,000 dollar wedding and we don't really want to be we don't do kids parties or dances we've done a handful of Mitzvahs and sweet 16s but those are have been for people with like weird kids that don't want games and dancers and smokes and props. And I've had planners I have had planners who've told me that you know your reputation is such with the wedding thought side of things if you were to add like he's really like appealing to the mitzvot Circuit that I could be charging between ten and twenty thousand dollars an event. And is tantalizing is that is it just isn't what we do I mean. I could show up and I could probably do a passable job and everyone would have a pretty fun time but it wouldn't go the way that it typically goes. I just want like a 28 year old that wants to hear. Taylor Swift and Todd Rundgren during cocktails and then like during dinner they want Dua Lipa and Biggie Smalls and a rager. Lin Sue that will live in the hearts and minds of their crew for years and years like that those are my people. The early days of toast and jam I remember a Suburban wedding magazine contacted me to advertise and toast and jam and they were like if you want to have more luxury Prides more fairy tale princess brides with endless budgets need to advertise here. Well that's not our client like I don't want to do Luxury weddings luxury weddings come with like a different expectations they feel like they kind of own you whereas like I'd like to be a normally priced person so that people are hiring is because of our skills and not because they just bought us to be there. You know music minion for the next 6 hours. Anyway I don't want the luxury princess brides because that isn't my brand that's not our client so the toast and jam client is a couple that understands that for them music and a fundraising party is like the most important thing for their wedding. They wanted to sound like their wedding not oh wedding and. You know they want their vendors to work closely with them to be more like a friend or they want their wedding to be like a group effort with their team working together to make it the best night of their lives and that is what we do, a lot of people just want someone to show up the DJ to choose the songs for all their elements like the ceremony if it's on-site the introductions that cake cutting and then get through the speeches and then play whatever the DJ wants with slides or Old Time Rock and Roll as far as the eye can see and usually the DJ has been assigned a couple weeks before the wedding and as long as they show up the client will feel like they got their money's worth and this is a fine business model and I am a combo of people pleasing and like to fucking controlling to be able to do that. When you let a client hire you that isn't your ideal client that isn't your right client it comes with more strings and more responsibilities more stress and pressure and it also does a potential disservice to your business and your brand which in the end. Keeps you from your target client, if you don't know who your target client is you don't know who your target audiences you want to name them like what do they do how old are they where do they hang out did they go to college what are they spending on their wedding who's paying for their wedding how are they paying for it how do they find you. If you outline this a bit more and dig deep and really figure out what you want to do. And who you want to serve I promise that the more specific you are the more you will love working for them and the more business you will have because people work with companies that know how to talk to them. Outline this a bit dig deep and really figure out like. Who do you want to serve who do you want to hang out with who do you want to be getting your money from and do you feel comfortable with that really be specific about it, and then you know then the other thing is that if you do get a somebody who contacts you and you aren't the right client have someone to send them to like me you know be like okay I'm not the right person for you but this company has a great job with it. So how do you structure your business to fit the client I want to give some examples of what happens when you don't do this and. I hope that this is germane to both business owners and non business owners because this is something to consider like when you are. Trying to hire somebody for a service and you're pushing back on things they don't want to do or they don't like to do or they don't know how to do so yeah so it's just something to consider when you are you know for both business owners and you know the consumer that trying to force somebody to be what you want them to be. Especially right now when people are spread so thin and there's not enough workers out there doing jobs you really need to you know think about this when you are being demanding demanding Karen's. Which I could refer to somebody as but I won't because calling someone a Karen is sexist so whenever I have not stood by my rules it has come back to bite me. I am generally a hard-ass about sticking to them like. Very much so like initially I it was by necessity like not to sound braggy but like in the early days I was getting so many leads and managing so many DJs on top of my own personal clients. And I was doing all of this alone so I had to have a one-size-fit-all attitude towards pricing because there was no way I could keep track of who was charged what. Is someone negotiated a lower rate because they only needed four hours of performance or they just asked for a discount for no reason that means that we will have made less money for a night when it was highly likely that we've been contacted by someone who would pay full price. No questions asked our inventory in our business is dates and DJs and I can only do as many events on a night as DJs willing to work. And we are always on a waitlist for most Saturdays during the highway Ting season which for us. Is like April through November so it really isn't worth it to us to give discounts when I am fully confident that we will book it out at full rate. But the real reason I don't like to give discounts is because almost every time that I have given a discount I have lived to regret it it is a given engine take a mile kind of thing like if I give somebody a hundred dollars off because they only need five hours or they got me in a weak moment or they had really good manipulation skills and like they got me to give them a discount they are already devaluing your service because they have that because you've shown them but you also don't think you're worth what you charged and that guy will have no problem asking for more he's going to ask you to throw more over time he's gonna want three mics for his cousin's to do some like medley of songs from like a rented that they do at every wedding and they'll and he'll ask you to do it for free, because you've already shown them that you are already shaky and your belief in your prices and I promise you that you will not get tipped. There's absolutely no way and we have a six our minimum for our services on like for Friday through Sunday for a reason most weddings are six hours and it's usually more than less like usually we go over six hours then a wedding being less. You know so we have a six hour minimum so that, when people come in as like six hours here you go most people are six hours so it works and then not only also like the DJ's aren't mad that if they took in the luck of the draw. They get assigned a lead it's only a for our gig only charging them for four hours and they make way less money than if they got a lead for six hours plus they are angry and I get it like I have a team of DJ's that I need to keep as happy as I can and if everyone is paying the same amount and there was no keeping track of who was charged what and the details are all making the same amount of money and it's makes it easier for them to be able to anticipate people to afford things Etc but when you are also like given this person a deal and knocking this off and throwing this in it makes it much more likely that you can make a mistake when you are talking to them and you wind up having to give more discounts to cover up for your sloppiness to buy their silence. Like not just setting and sticking by your price can have unforeseen consequences and financial ramifications and you know can damage your reputation. So we have a sample song list on our website, and it is not comprehensive it just is a tool that we have to be like okay here is a list of the. Greatest hits of the last you know 50 years of music. You know it has like one song by each artist so you can assume that if we've got one Madonna song we've got all Madonna songs and it has a list of stuff that we don't really want to play like the cheesy stuff and it has a list of cocktail and dinner suggestions and, you know what we want you to do is just circle things on here. Right extra things into give us like 10 must plays and your special songs and we will come and melt your face off on the Dance Floor. And we will get people who will sometimes ask they'll be like okay I saw that list that's great can I just give you a different list of songs and you can only play songs off that list and we say sorry that is a jukebox that's not what we do you might as well just get an iPod at that point and I get it like first of all I get it like I see you you have burned by other DJ's where you've gone to weddings where they've had terrible DJ's that like other went off on like an EDM tangent Dreamscape nightmare or they played a bunch of dirty songs and made your grandma clutch your pearls then you want to control for that and I think you also think you know your family and friends better than some stranger that you are hiring for your wedding. Pin that you know exactly what's going to slam the Dancefloor but I'm here to tell you that you don't there are a lot of DJ's that would kill for the opportunity to get a list of songs from the client and play them in that order and if it doesn't work well they did exactly what the client wanted so it isn't their fault that it's. And they're also DJ's that have like a set and it's what they play and they have this formula for a dance floor and they might be able to like change out. You know songs here and there but like they do what they do and they know, what they know and if the client wants to customize it at all it's like no dice I know it works on the dance floor and you're weird LCD Soundsystem song isn't going to work because I don't know that song so let me worry about the music. And this is a set that probably does work like eighty percent of the time and if it doesn't it's it isn't their fault your friends and family are just laying and like and I get it because like I could play Uptown Funk 20 times in a row and it's going to slay and then there's that 21st time we're like nobody cares about Uptown Funk and it's like. All right I don't I don't know what I did there but for whatever reason it didn't it didn't work and I can kind of find a way to like blame the group but really it's just. Sometimes things hit and sometimes they don't but here's the thing is that both of these ways are fine like either you know just playing exact with a client thinks they want and or, I know better than you both of those ways are fine if that's how you position yourself you know it's you know we will do whatever you ask the customer is always right, or my way or the highway I'm the expert like those are both totally fine ways to operate but there's a third way which is work with the client to come up with songs that are their personal faves and reflect their taste and then live mix the whole thing and read the floor. It has a 99% success rate and you can get away with all kinds of music late in the night when everyone is drunk and happy and the older folks have probably pieced out by this point like I once did a wedding where I played GG Allin like super late in the night and everyone's like lost their minds but that was after I'd already been serving these people correctly all night long they were on the ride with me and obviously the client requested ug L and I didn't just throw that in on my own accord but I remember thinking to myself how is this going to work. Like I don't know how I'm going to work GG Allin into this like but then I did I like figure it out it get there and and it's late so all of these are examples of like. You know like my code of ethics like what's important to me and that isn't to say that I'm thoroughly inflexible I feel like my way is actually a bit more malleable than like. You know my way or the highway so we had a client once who showed up at the final meeting. Before their wedding. A book of CDs that wound up being like over 24 hours worth of music for a six-hour wedding and she had like a three-page list of do not plays but with no indication of like what within her 24 hours worth of music was like a must play or even like stuff that you preferred it was just like 24 hours worth of music and the music that you're provided was kind of obscure as a lot of remixes and but nestled in there were look enough stuff that the DJ's were able to kind of cherry pick out and play you know stuff that worked, like to give you an idea like during the wedding the mother of bright of the Bride came over to request a song that wasn't on any of the lists and they were like oh no what do we do so they went over to the client and said like asked if it was okay to play it and she was like okay but don't play this other song because she only gets one request in that was the song that you requested before the wedding and then her new husband came over and requested a song that was on the do not playlist and again they were like what are we doing so they went over to the bride and they were like your new husband just requested this song and she goes no you can't play it like denied her husband so this is like who were working with you and at the end of the wedding like she gave them a tip and they were like okay great we did it you know like this was completely different from how we normally work but we managed to pull it off and then the next day I get an email that says that you know that she was Furious they didn't play anything she wanted wasn't right and she wanted her money back like she should be off at brunch or like on a plane to her honeymoon or like in bone town with her new husband. Maybe he was holding out on her because she denied him baby got back at his wedding but anyway she instead she's firing off angry missive to the DJ because they didn't play enough like Depeche Mode 12-minute long like remixes of Maxi singles I was like. We did exactly what you asked us to do which was different than what we normally operate how we normally operate and we told you that and. She went ballistic and wrote like a million bad reviews and then filed a complaint with the BBB AKA Yelp for old people. Then I replied to it with like a Litany of evidence that we did everything right and she's just mad that her wedding is over and she's the same person that she was before it happened. They ruled actually in my favor and then they asked me to join the BB which you know. Jokes on her so the point of all of this is that we allow the client to drag us into doing things we don't do. And it was stressful before because the DJ's knew this wasn't going to go well because they were asked to operate outside of how they normally work and then I was dealing with her harassment for, after her wedding and eventually had to retain my lawyer like a basically if I just would have given her her money back this all would have died but this was like a hill I was willing to die on like I was not going to give her her money back and it was like we didn't we did nothing wrong like we did everything right in that moment and she somehow found a way to be mad at us and you know I want to pertain to my lawyer to make a new clause in our contract that basically says that other than the first dance intros and parent dances we can't be held liable for playing or not playing any song during the wedding I mean I once had a client. Email me the day after their wedding to complain that the DJ had played Beat It by Michael Jackson at their wedding because they interpreted the song as dirty. And I'm like okay that was a number one hit. And while maybe it was a secretly Dirty song as far as I know that song is about a bunch of dudes fighting with their hands tied together in a parking garage. And gave Eddie Van Halen a royalty check. So I don't really feel like that's like a dirty song but that said this was before the documentary that made it so that Michael Jackson became an artist that I will no longer play so that wasn't the reason even if it should have been. Anyway I hope that gives you a peek behind the curtain of what a service does to make sure that you are the right client and, that we can provide awesome customer service it is okay to say no it's actually better for your business and will make you more successful in the long run like your money and time is valuable. So if you are in a business and you keep having problem clients or if you are getting bad reviews or if you are find yourself doing a bunch of stuff that you don't really like or don't really want to do maybe it's your client not your business just know your client figure out who you want to work for and fuck the rest. Music. So now let's talk about the whole ass Enos of the last week. I don't know if it's just the sads the seasonal affective disorder or what but I had been down in the dumps lately there's just been a lot. Of like chaos and disorder in my world and yesterday I got out of work and I went home and. I Grabbed my secret drug box and I went on my back porch and I got really stoned I'm not going to lie I got really hides legal. I got high my friend Doug had given me this weird weed off shoot product that I think he you only get a medicinal situations and I don't I don't know what it was but it was like a ball wrapped in piece of paper inside of a jar of these that I needed to keep in the freezer anyway that's the only thing we had in the house so I was like I guess I'll just give this a go and I got very high like accidentally remarkably stoned and some of the I had told some of the moms of my group like that we we hatched this plan to go to the Monster Jam this monster truck rally this weekend I don't even know who I am anymore anyway so I was like Hey guys I'll buy tickets for everybody so I try to like. Bye I tried to go on to the monster truck rally website to buy the tickets and I'm clicking around and I didn't really it was like tickets are $25 and I clicked on this one. And I actually only bought one of them like I meant to buy eight I only bought one and I bought it in like the 30 dollar area as opposed to the 25 dollar area and so when I go and look at the receipt and I only bought one ticket it was like over 50 dollars with a fees and I'm like what is going on here so then I kind of like did some jumping jacks like clear my head and then. I found a chunk of tickets together but then I could only get eight tickets and we needed 12 it was like such a mess and I'm sitting there I'm like I tried to do some self-care try to have some married time and buy some tickets to the monster-truck rally and I kind of messed it up but you know what did I do with my whole ass. I got a little too stoned and bought some tickets to a monster truck rally and I don't know. Is it going to be fun who knows but yeah monster truck rally I will probably have to get high before I go to that too. All up in your lady business is written by me Mary nisi produced by Christina Soren Williams and a million Ruby with softer sounds it is record on the toast and jam offices and Logan Square Chicago Illinois. Thanks for listening to all up in my lady business I have been your host Mary nisi. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in my lady If you enjoyed this episode smash that subscribe button and follow us on all your socials and don't forget whatever you do this week do it with your whole ass. Music.