Top 5 Recommendations for Better Kids and School Dances
Eric was not just a DJ but an entertainer….With 14 and 15 year old kids a mixture of entertainment is essential to keep them engaged. Eric did that so well. Eric’s skills at marketing and design proved to be the biggest help in our event as far as saving us money. We could not have been as financially successful without his contribution to the design of our tickets and invitations.
-Susanne Van Roessel. Feedback survey from Blessed Cardinal Newman Grade 9 Farewell Party Organizer. June 15, 2014
Over the past 2 years, I’ve begun noticing a pattern among kids and school dances in Calgary. That both the kids and the parent organizers are not satisfied with the results. Kids are not receiving a fun enough experience for them to be excited about attending a dance. Parents are burnt out from organizing them and often subsidizing the dances out of pocket. If you are a community centre, school, teacher, part of a parent committee or an active community event volunteer, these next 5 recommendations should help you bust your problems.
My Kids Dance Expertise
I really enjoy performing for kids. They are some of the most imaginative and fun audiences to perform for. Every year I perform as a DJ at around 15 kids focused Jelly Bean Dances, School Dances, and School Proms for youth aged 5-16 years old. My background before working as a Disc Jockey includes working as a magician. Yes…I have done magic shows at birthday parties.
I’m also the uncle to 8 kids (and counting…). My nieces and nephews are often “Uncle Eric’s” first test subjects for wacky game and dance ideas. So you could say I am around kids a lot!
I also hold a degree in business (Small Business and Entrepreneurship to be precise), which is my secret sauce in making children dances more profitable and better for everyone!
Top 5 Recommendations
- Create an Experience with Value
I often refer to my show as the “Eric Electric Experience.” I do this because I know my audiences don’t want just a DJ with music. They want an experience to share and remember. And I deliver this through various means including short magic performances, video elements, contests, games, and dance motivators (who help me teach and lead dances).
Why do people pay $800 just for admission to visit Disney World for a week? It’s because they will undergo an experience that would not be possible by staying home or going to the mall. Its a lifetime experience.
So why would an 8 year old spend their ENTIRE weekly allowance of $5, $10, $15 or $20 to attend your dance? Why would a 15 year old spend $50 to attend their Grade 9 Farewell? What will they receive in return that they wouldn’t experience by staying at home?
If your answer is “music and candy”, they can get that with their iPod and a trip to the convenience store.
If your answer is to “create a destination social event for kids to share with their friends”, you are on the right track.
Kids are consumers too. With their own tastes and likes that need to be catered to for a successful dance. Many of them love attending dances. But they also know when they are being ripped off, and will tell you so straight to your face! Think EXPERIENCE, and what it will take to create a one-of-a-kind experience. An experience focus will bring you success much quicker.
- Start Thinking “Top Line”. Not Bottom Line.
A cost-cutting mindset is the most common and quickest way to failure for a Kids Dance or series of Jelly Bean Dances. Think instead about maximizing your CAPACITY and consequently you will maximize your revenues.
Hosting a dance often has more fixed costs, than it does variable costs. This means that often once you meet your Break-Even Point, everything else is profit.
For a Community Hall or Jelly Bean Dance in Calgary I have found that fixed cost to be around $500-600 for my clients. This could also be known as your break-even point. This break even point in tickets sales is equivalent to 50-60 kids at a $10 ticket price. This cost doesn’t increase much for every ticket you sell after the 60 ticket mark.
Where is the opportunity in this??? If you focus your energy on selling every ticket possible up to your room’s capacity, your profit will rise quickly with it!!! For example if you sell 120 tickets at $10 each, your revenues are $1200 with $600 of that being pure profit. If you sell 150 tickets, your profit will still lie somewhere close to $900. And that is only door sales.
If you capture another $5 (with 150 kids attending) in food and candy sales from every child in attendance, you have earned $2250 in revenues, with an estimated profit of $1275.00 (before paying out your DJ).
A cost-cutting mindset leads to such things as the “iPod Jelly Bean Dance”, Mr. Retired DJ Dad with no music more recent than 1995, Mr. Free Volunteer DJ who can’t get his speakers to work and is playing the hotel’s satellite radio instead. All of these stories are true and have been told to me by kids. They will never let you forget these transgressions.
If you are continually bringing in 60 kids an event, changes need to be made. At that capacity you are going to always break even or lose money.
- Hire Quality Entertainment. Hire a Kids Orientated DJ.
Over the past year I have heard from kids, “The last DJ we had sucked!” more times than I can count. Performing for kids takes a certain skill and finesse that is far different from adults. And even performing for 7 year olds is far different than performing for 16 year olds!
Hiring a quality entertainer DJ with a recognizable name is the surest way to PACK THE HOUSE! This will make everything easier. And I hope you will consider me as this person 🙂
The best kids DJs are also often highly trained Bar & Bat Mitzvah DJs or Quinceanera DJs. The caliber required to be a DJ for one of these functions is very high. These DJs also often already have somewhat of a following with kids. Kids have seen them perform and would pay good money to see them again. These DJs are often more “Performance Focused” and not “Production Focused.” Meaning they run games, contests, and lots of other things to involve the audience.
Just this week I was performing at a Stampede Party. A 12 year old girl approached me and asked, “Are you Eric Electric from the Abbeydale Jelly Bean Dances?”. I responded that yes I was. She responded, “AWESOME!!! I thought it was you. You are always so much fun.”.
That is the kind of DJ you want to hire. One with existing street cred not a rookie! Because you stand a far better chance at selling out of tickets!
Also on a far out note, see if your DJ will do a profit sharing agreement. Make him invested in the success of your function by paying him a % of revenue or door sales
- Make Your Marketing Exciting and Face to Face
On your ads for your own sake, PLEASE DO NOT put “Dance and DJ” on your advertising. Why the heck would anyone pay good money to see a “generic DJ”?! Whoever you hire, you should feel confident enough with to put their name on the advertising. “Halloween Jelly Bean Dance with DJ Rockin’ Rob” is certain to entice the kids to buy a ticket a ton more.
DJs are the Rock Stars of the 21st century. Kids buy into the brand names of DJs. Get your “Rockin’ Rob” involved with your marketing. Ask him to make short appearances to advertise the dance at a major community event, classroom visits, church gatherings, etc. The more pre-event face time your DJ has with the kids, the more hyped up the kids will be. 1-3 well placed appearances will be more effective than thousands of posters and newsletters.
I carried out this exact strategy for the Blessed Cardinal Newman Grade 9 Farewell Celebration. Just doing this took ticket sales from 80 to 121. We sold EVERY SINGLE ticket available at a $50 ticket price!!!
And ditch those black and white newsletter ads. Kids don’t read them.
- Expand Your Revenue Streams
If your only source of revenue is tickets sales you are missing out. As you grow your dance, ask for feedback from kids on what else they would like to see merchandise wise. The Abbeydale Community Association does a great job of this. They rotate a large menu of food items including chicken finger, french fries, pizza, chicken burgers, ice cream, candy, etc. They also have a candy store and sell glow sticks.
This allows them to capture more revenue from the same group of kids. It also helps keep their hands and minds busy 🙂 Which hopefully means they will spend less time figure out how to hang off the cubicle stall walls, chase each other around the room, etc.
I wish you great success!