Will Smith is a long-time Hire Space venue manager. After a successful career in the events and hospitality scene, he's recently partnered up with a childhood friend and created a new events venue in Hoxton, London. The Flowerpot opened with a diary full of events from day one. He shared his tips and advice on venue marketing from a venue owner's perspective.
1. What’s your background in events?
W: I started out as a club promoter when I was 16! I distinctly remember losing tens of thousands pounds when I was 18 years old when a venue in Brixton cancelled our end-of-exam party last-minute! :)
My next step in events was a four-year experience at The Hospital Club. Back then, Camden Council initiated a fantastic traineeship which enabled me to join the team at the members' club. After the two-year programme, I was fortunate enough to stay on for a further two years and put on 1000+ events worth £2MM+. The club is where I grew up and learned how to be a professional events manager.
After the club I've worked for Cafe Royal Hotel, ITA Venues, Cirque le Soir and Anomalous Space. Each place taught me different skills - I've learned how to manage high-value clients and put on high production value events at the luxurious Cafe Royal Hotel. But it was at Ampersand (ITA Venues) where I truly got out of my comfort zone and became a proactive BDM. The job also opened up the world of venue marketing to me. It was challenging at first, but the team was hugely supportive. I've learned how to work with agencies and create inbound sales opportunities from great people like Kate McIntosh.
2. Why did you name your first venue The Flowerpot?
W: My business partner, Philip, is a good friend I've known for more than a decade. We used to meet in Kentish Town a lot and would go to a pub called The Flowerpot before it closed down. Also, my dad is an avid gardener, he created an amazing garden at home! The love of flowers has perhaps rubbed off on me and it manifests in my fashion choices - I love cloths with floral patterns. (Will indeed was wearing a t-shirt with a subtle blue and red floral pattern when interviewed!) Plus, we host a lot of workshops and brainstorm meetings. The Flowerpot is where your ideas grow!
Most importantly, the name should be simple and easy to understand. So 'The Flowerpot' ticked that box.
3. You’ve had a really full event diary at FP in its first month. How did you do it?
W: A few months before the opening, I made sure The Flowerpot was listed on venue booking websites. We then had a website made but after that, we didn't invest in promoting our own website. Instead, I focused most of our marketing effort with venue booking platforms and online communities like the Delegate Wranglers Facebook group. We upgraded our listings on a number of platforms, including Hire Space. I can say that Hire Space is our strongest lead generator so far. We've had amazing clients through the door because of our Hire Space listing.
4. What convinced you to try Hire Space Prime?
W: I've used Hire Space for various short-burst marketing campaigns before, so I knew the potential it has for a new business. Unlike advertising on newspapers, marketing with Hire Space helped me reach a really targeted audience. I personally believe achieving a higher site position on Hire Space for events like conferences and meetings is the most effective approach. Blogs are great for SEO and help familiarise the Venue Experts with us, but site position is way more tangible.
5. Did you have any trouble with it at first?
W: No trouble at all. Hire Space Prime has been perfect. I've barely had any of my Prime marketing campaigns out there yet as I've been waiting on the new venue photographs. Using some old photos, Hire Space posted about our venue once. With just that one social media post, we had six leads came through - that's six opportunities! Photos are so important, and I am hopeful that with the new batch put out there, more opportunities will come through.
6. What are your goals for The Flowerpot?
W: My aim at the moment is to position the venue to host daytime events. From yoga classes to hackathons (they have 100+ Internet ports because the site used to be occupied by an Internet service provider) to workshops to conferences. It's tough running a newly established business with the business rate being so steep! I think small businesses should not be discouraged this way - I hope penalising measures like the business rate could turn into more encouraging policies for independent businesses like us.
What is Hire Space Prime?
Thanks to the tremendous growth in consumers’ appetite for digital content, marketers are blessed with many more options to promote their brands nowadays.
Whilst there has been a decline in the use of high-cost approaches such as direct mail and print, brands have turned to a myriad of new, cost-effective methods providing trackable insights. Hire Space Prime, a product offered by Hire Space, is a trackable approach venues employ to engage corporate bookers and event organisers.
In a nutshell, Hire Space Prime promotes specific venues to a preset target audience. A Hire Space Prime venue engages the target audience through a series of online and offline activities delivered by Hire Space, from digital content distributed on social media and emails to paid search to invite-only sponsored events.
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