How One LinkedIn Marketer Hits the Right Notes

Moonlighting as a DJ helped a marketer get in tune with his audience

June 7, 2018

DJ and large crowd

The mission of a DJ is to engage an audience and provide fresh spins on content we might already be familiar with. A marketer can often have similar objectives. So it perhaps shouldn’t be all that shocking that one of LinkedIn’s very own marketers moonlights as a popular local DJ around San Francisco, and believes working each of these jobs makes him better at the other.

Get to Know DJ Ishh

Since 2014, Ish Verduzco (short for Ismael) has been working with LinkedIn in various roles — today, he is Global Social Media Marketing Lead for LinkedIn Talent Solutions. But his passion for music, and handling the turntables, dates back further

“One of my friends, he’s been deejaying since he was like, 12 years old,” Verduzco recalls. “It wasn’t until 2008 or 2009 when I started asking him like, hey, this is pretty cool stuff, do you mind teaching me? And he taught me little by little every day after school, just taught me new tricks.”

“I practiced until the point where I had enough money raised for myself where I could buy my own equipment, and eventually I started building my way up.”

These days, Verduzco keeps a busy schedule, managing several social media platforms for LinkedIn by day and juggling his duties as alter ego DJ Ishh by night. He spends a majority of his weeknights practicing and promoting, then works as many as two or three gigs each weekend. He describes his sound as a mix of Latin (owing to his Mexican heritage), electronic, and hip-hop.

Where the Marketer and DJ Hit Similar Notes

Hobby. Side job. Personal calling. Whatever you want to call it, Verduzco feels the DJ avocation blends perfectly with his main profession.

For me personally, I like to constantly be learning and growing. I get that through social media at LinkedIn because it’s a pretty big challenge at a huge global company. But I also like entertaining people and bringing people together which I get through deejaying. So, in a weird sense they support each other because without one, I would feel like there’s something missing. — Verduzco

Not only do these dual roles make him feel more complete, they also complement each other in terms of applicable skills and goals.

Getting in Tune with Your Audience

Musician Boy George once said, “Seeing bored looking fans staring at you while you DJ is about as horrible as it gets.” And to flip that into marketing terms, there are few things worse than creating content that falls flat and completely fails to resonate.

When he’s manning the turntables and controlling the room, DJ Ishh must understand his audience and find ways engage and captivate them. Sometimes that means offering a fresh take on recognizable tunes through scratching, mixing, and rearranging.

“If I’m doing an event I want to know exactly what type of audience it’s going to be so that I can prepare ahead of time,” Verduzco says. “For example, if I have a Biggie Smalls a capella, maybe I’ll speed it up to 128 BPMs (beats per minute) and then throw it over like a house beat. So now it’s Biggie Smalls rapping over a house beat. So, it’s kind of like, on-the-spot producing different songs that nobody has ever heard it in their entire lives.”

As marketers know, today’s web users are increasingly resistant to the same old message in the same old format. When you can keep your audience guessing through the element of surprise, you’re more likely to break through and gain their attention.

Testing Different Sounds

DJ Ishh, much like Boy George, can pretty easily get a read on his crowd. If they’re not vibing from the music, their expressions and body language will tell the story. At that point, he can adjust and try to strike the right chord to get them back in the groove.

Digital marketers don’t have the luxury of receiving physical cues from people they’re trying to reach, but a user’s actions are plenty informative. Our audiences tell us what they like by what they choose to interact with, and what causes them to stop scrolling through a feed.

Being attentive to these signals and letting them guide us is how we optimize our approach and deliver people what they want, whether we’re marketing or deejaying. Playing two slightly different versions of the same song, and gauging the room’s reaction to both, could be viewed as the DJ’s equivalent to A/B testing social media ads.

Looking at the Big Picture

No matter what type of marketing you’re in, staying in line with an overarching strategy is always important. Verduzco says this mentality drives him as both a marketer and DJ:

Two or three years ago, I heard someone say, ‘Think globally but act locally.’ And that forever has stuck with me everywhere I go and in everything I do, because back then when I was a DJ my only mindset was this event right now or my next event that I had coming up. But I never really thought of it as like, if I market and brand myself properly, I can hit a global audience but still focus on the weekend event that is coming up. — Verduzco

That is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Every social media post or ad, every marketing activity, and every campaign should fit as part of the larger strategic goal of an organization.

Merge Your Passions and Level Up

Chances are, everyone reading this has his or her own passions that extend beyond the day job. In light of Verduzco’s example, it’s worth thinking about how your personal hobby might augment — rather than conflict with — your career.

And as long as you’re able to strike that balance and fully commit yourself to both, don’t be shy about opening up to those around you and sharing your enthusiasm. You just might find kinship.

“I thought that it was so farfetched for me to be able to manage both when I’m trying to be taken seriously,” Verduzco explains. But then he started meeting other colleagues and peers who DJ on the side while maintaining their day-to-day professionalism.

I feel like that point in time is when I really started thriving in my role because I was open with everything that I could do and just, be at my full capacity I guess. — Verduzco

A version of this interview appeared in our Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly: The magazine by B2B marketers, for B2B marketers. Get your free print copy of our latest issue or click here to read now.