Small Business Center
By Stephen Brooks, The Pop Up Retail Expert
Using a pop-up strategy works, but here is the thing: It doesn’t work just for retailers. It also works for services businesses, online brands and community engagement. It even works if you’re going out of business. Companies have used the format for fast-track growth, and I have seen it transform businesses within a few weeks.
There are many aspects of business for which a pop-up format can have a real, positive impact. Testing before you invest is a great way to find out if a location is right for you. Have a new product or want to A/B test? Taking a pop-up location is a great way to connect with your audience. Want to expand your business but want to keep the costs down? A pop-up is the perfect vehicle for expansion. If your business is service oriented like lawn care, solar energy or home improvement, a pop-up is just perfect to meet and acquire customers.
Pop-ups can be in stores, promotional spaces or even the car park and can take the form of retail merchandise units, kiosks and more. I’ve even used empty offices and hospital and university campuses to great effect. The most popular and possibly the most impactful, of course, are those within malls. These not only provide you a ready-made audience but also come with many additional benefits, including support marketing, security and parking for customers. Pop-ups also can follow different time formats from a micro-activation of a few hours to a single day, a weekend, weeks or several months. Much depends on the location and availability.
I’ve been busting this myth for year and years. The reality is: Opening a pop-up is not nearly as expensive as people think it is. It’s true to say prices vary from location to location and, of course, depending on the format you are using. In our experience supporting pop-up brands, on average, a pop-up costs around $5,000. There are some seasonal variations, of course, and you can expect to pay more during holiday season. Micro-activations enable you to find hourly rates, as well, but these are location dependent. One way of keeping costs down is by forming a joint venture with other brands in your niche or allied to your own product. By sharing the cost of the environment, you can save money and possibly have more space than if you had gone it alone. This has become very popular in recent months.
There are many people competing for customers’ disposable income, and just like any other other business, marketing is one of the key components to the success of your pop-up. Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to create marketing impact. Pre-promoting your location and opening hours is a must. Regular updates on how the store is preparing for opening and meet-the-team and watch-us-get-ready posts help engage with your followers and brand advocates. Most malls will place you on their own websites and post on their own social media channels.
Don’t stop at opening. Keep the online momentum going, posting as much relevant content as you can. Encourage your customers to do the same. If you can do live posts, talk to staff or customers, do product reviews and talk about your offers or what will be new in store next week. If you are an online brand, maximize the opportunity with those who have already purchased from you. Once your pop-up is over, keep the engagement going. Let everyone know where you will be next, and keep them engaged with VIP offers. If it’s at all possible, collaborate with other retailers, too, and combine your efforts. I’ve seen this be really effective and increase sales for all who participate. Marketing should not be just online but also in store. Well-trained staff who engage and don’t hard-sell and a well-merchandised store are so important. Make the best use of the space you have. I’ve seen many creative ideas over the years, most recently a selfie area where customers can make videos or take photos to post them on their own social media feeds in support of the pop-up brand. The key is: Keep being creative.