How to host a successful small business event

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Last week we had the pleasure of attending the launch of a new Trevor Sorbie hairdressers on Queens Road in Bristol. We had a great time getting to know the staff, rethinking our hairstyles, chatting with employees, and Instagramming. I left with a very strong impression of the store as a luxurious, relaxing, and stylish brand, having not known about it prior to the event, and keen to return to have my hair styled by professionals.

Why was the event was so successful? Or: what aspects of the event organisation meant that I felt so positively towards Trevor Sorbie (the brand, not the man- he wasn’t able to attend), and how can they be simplified into an easy-to-follow listicle?

I’m pleased to present you with 4 tips (and maybe a bonus one at the end) summarising what I think makes a successful brand event for creative small businesses. The lovely Olivia, founder of Weekend:IN, invited us along to the event she hosted and has also shared her words of wisdom with us.

Tip 1: Choose an amazing party location

The venue is so important for an event. I always start with the location before I do anything else, it can change everything! – Olivia, Weekend:IN

Location, location, location. As one of the first things you should do when planning an event is secure a location, the pressure is on to select the right venue. If you have a lacklustre, dingy, or bare venue, you are setting yourself for failure. Your aim is to wow the attendees, whether the venue is already gorgeous (à la The Florist, or Bristol Museum and Art Gallery), or you decorate. Trevor Sorbie was most definitely a stunning venue and one that needed no excess decorations given the excellent design.

Trevor Sorbie on Queens Road is gorgeous; feature walls of exposed brick, expansive mirrors, and a living wall. While I was chatting with a member of staff, I learned how much effort and thought they put into the design to get such a cohesive aesthetic.

The brand have hairdressers around the world, and they aim to reflect the aesthetic and heart of each city. The combination of industrial and natural is unique to the Bristol location and a beautiful part of the design. With the event being held in such a beautifully designed store, the organisers had already ticked off the first box.

Tip 2: Make your event guests feel so darn special

I love to make guests feel special with surprise touches and personalisation for each of them. – Olivia

Securing an awesome location is not the only ingredient in cooking up a successful event. Another key element is ensuring that the attendees feel special. Make them feel like they’re being pampered, and enjoying their time with you rather than another responsibility they have to check off their to-do list for the day.

After crossing the threshold of Trevor Sorbie, free drinks were thrust into our hands and the employees were so friendly and keen to tour us around the luxurious store. Nothing shows that a brand is trying to make you feel special more than offering unlimited free drinks (of prosecco, no less!).

We didn’t leave empty-handed either! Our empty glasses were swapped with a goodie-filled tote bag. This was both an extremely kind gesture and effective marketing strategy as “61% of consumers in the West who have a logoed bag say they are more likely to do business with the advertiser.”  I will definitely be reusing my bag for the weekly shop, a definite upgrade from the branded club totes I scored at Fresher’s Fair. Receiving goodie-filled bags was the cherry on the cake of the event, showing the effort they were investing to make us feel special (and also encouraging us to return to buy the full-sized versions of samples, and make use of the vouchers).

Tip 3: Show off your creative expertise

It’s very different to see a product online than to hear about it first-hand from the brand themselves. I love to get the founders of brands involved in my events, or staff who are just as passionate. – Olivia

If you’ve got it: flaunt it. With the attendees feeling comfortable, pampered, and in awe of the store, you can now send your brand’s message. When your brand revolves around selling skill, you want to showcase your expertise to all the wide-eyed attendees.

In the case of Trevor Sorbie Bristol, their specialty lies closer to home. Well, closer to your head. The friendly employees were offering haircut and colour consultations throughout the evening, showcasing their skill. I walked in with what I would describe as adequate hair and left with a much clearer idea of how to attain the hair goals of my dreams. Stylist Georgie provided me with some amazing advice, making me feel confident that she could create a masterpiece on my head if I allowed her.

Tip 4: Make it memorable

The best thing about an event is hearing happy guests feedback at the end of the night! If they love it, they’re going to remember it (and tell their friends)! – Olivia

By following these tips, you will be fulfilling the overall aim of creating a memorable experience for all attendees. Wowing them with the effort invested in decoration and location, making them feel special with freebies, and showcasing your expertise all work towards creating an experience they will feel compelled to share on their social media, to rave about the brand to friends, and return to spend their money. In ensuring that attendees have the best time possible, and making the most of their open ears, the brand can increase their sphere of influence beyond just those with tickets.

 Bonus tip: Be social

It’s great to make your attendees feel like royalty for the evening, however, there is a secret way to increase the number of people who experience the event, without writing any more invitations. Every attendee has a device in their pocket or hand which means they can instantly broadcast their location and what they see and hear to hundreds and thousands… (of people, not sprinkles) in similar demographics.

Whenever I’m in a beautiful location or having a great time, I feel compelled to pull out my phone and share what I see with other people. Utilising this almost natural response that people (who spend lots of time on social media) have developed by having personalised hashtags would be an excellent way to increase your SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!!

Eventbrite has a handy blog post all about event hashtags- suggesting photo booths, or displaying the hashtag on screens and handouts. By spreading the word of your hashtag and brand social media profiles, attendees can easily attach your name to their photos of the experience. Followers will be able to easily find and follow your brand and associate the amazing event they have seen with the brand’s potential.

I have to say a huge thank you again to Olivia: the woman to go to for influencer bad-assery. Thanks for inviting us and putting on such a memorable event!

The Author

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