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For the past few years, local Tampa law firm Hill Ward & Henderson has hosted an event that honors businesswomen. About 6 weeks before the event they send out a pre-invite so that busy guests can hold the date in their calendar. This year’s theme was “A Toast to the Twenties – Pearls, Juleps, and Jazz”. Held at a historic bank located in downtown Tampa, the neo-classical building was constructed in 1923 as The Exchange National Bank and is now a popular event venue called The Vault.

The event was flawless; a brand-builders dream.
The old and opulent building was the ideal place for a twenties themed soiree. Every corner was filled with successful and influential businesswomen from government, non-profits, and commercial organizations. There were elegant spreads of hors d’oeuvres and desserts arranged elegantly throughout the main room. Live entertainment played Gatsby era tunes and great conversations took place everywhere among the well-represented guests.

The event did not include any selling from the law firm. In fact, the firm’s lawyers purposefully did not carry business cards on them so that business development would not get in the way of their performing as the most gracious of hosts.

I cannot remember a marketing event that I’ve attended that seemed so perfect.

Every detail of the event was thoughtful. The organizing efforts positioned the HW&H brand not only a stellar local corporate citizen, but also as an accomplished, sophisticated firm that is genuinely committed to the success of businesswomen.

Throughout the evening the firm’s lawyers all dressed in black with pearls, greeted every guest. Not only did they said hello, but they knew who you were and what you did. Every table was graced with a gorgeous fresh flower arrangement and as guests exited, they were given a beautifully wrapped silver gift.

After about an hour and fifteen minutes of relaxing, meeting many impressive businesswomen, and enjoying the fabulous event, I went to get my car from valet.

Unfortunately, this part of the experience was not so perfect. The valet process was awful and seemed to be such a disconnect from the festivities inside. It was steamy hot outside. The temperature felt like it was over one hundred degrees. The parking system was disorganized. There were two valet attendants for over 200 women and I waited 45 minutes for my car to arrive. I was late for my next function and an otherwise splendid evening ended with a miserable final guest touch point.

Party Perfect – Even When Something Falls Short 2The next day I was working in my office when around 2 O’clock I heard someone at the door. To my surprise, it was a delivery from Hill Ward & Henderson. It was a member of their staff, suited up and looking very professional, consistent with the image of the law firm. She held a beautiful box of locally handmade candy along with a handwritten note apologizing for the parking mess. The candy from Toffee to Go, a local company and client of HW&H, was amazing. It was some of the best I’ve ever had. The follow up note and kind gesture was truly a memorable moment that set this law firm apart from any other I’ve worked with. And about a week after the function, I also received a thank you note for attending that tied to the theme and was hand-signed by every female lawyer from HW&H too.

This event is a great example of how to use event marketing to brand a business and develop solid relationships.

But more importantly, the way that the matter was handled shows how even a snafu can be an opportunity to show people what your brand really stands for. When a customer experience falls short, whether the circumstances are in your control or not, taking a small action can go a very long way.

Great job Hill Ward & Henderson, your event was perfect!