As a small business owner, each day is an adventure filled with the excitement of introducing unique products to the world and the challenge of making them stand out in an ever-crowded marketplace.
Pop-up shops are a great way to showcase your products in a fresh, creative environment while driving buzz, awareness, and sales. But without a good pop-up shop marketing strategy you could spend a lot of time and money on the event without much success. That’s why it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of pop-up shop marketing.
Whether you’re a seasoned retailer or a passionate entrepreneur dipping your toes into the retail space for the first time, use this article as your guide to learn what pop-up shop marketing is, why it’s important, and ideas and strategies that you can use to increase foot traffic and sales at your next event.
What is pop-up shop marketing?
Pop-up shop marketing is a strategy that involves the temporary setup of a retail space. This isn’t your traditional brick-and-mortar store that’s open year-round. Instead, think of a pop-up shop as a unique, short-term event, designed to make a big splash in a short period of time. It’s about creating a memorable, one-of-a-kind shopping experience that people will want to be part of.
Why is marketing your pop-up shop important?
Pop-up shop marketing, as a strategic tool, helps small retail business owners like you extend your brand’s reach, tap into new markets, and offer an exclusive, urgency-driven shopping experience to your potential and existing customers.
A pop-up shop is more than just a sales platform; it’s a brand-building channel that fosters customer loyalty and enhances brand visibility, leading to long-term sales growth. That’s why using the right pop-up shop marketing strategy is crucial to ensuring that your unique ideas reach the right audience.
In order to maximize the impact of your pop-up shop, it’s important to develop a strategy that builds anticipation, creates buzz, and amplifies brand awareness.
8 pop-up shop marketing ideas
Now that you know what pop-up shop marketing is and why it’s an important growth strategy, let’s look at some ideas and tips to help you spread the word about your next event:
- Involve the media and influencers
- Create buzz for your pop-up shop with social media
- Don’t forget visual signage and cues
- Create a Facebook event
- List your pop-up shop on Google Maps
- Have wayfinding assistants
- Employ local marketing and geo-targeting
- Keep information consistent
1. Involve the media and influencers
- Create a list of the key influencers, bloggers, and digital creators that best represent your vertical and reach out to them, highlighting different incentives for them to get involved. Set aside some budget to offer free products in advance of your pop-up launch if they’re not already familiar with your brand, and/or offer them an exclusive discount code to share with their audience.
- Understand who you’re pitching and what their needs are. There’s nothing wrong with using a template, but you’ll still have to customize it to elicit a good response rate.
- Give the media enough advance warning about your event to leave them time to do a story. Aim for two to three months before launch for local print, and two weeks for online media.
- Keep your media pitch short and simple. Be considerate, and make sure all of the important information about your event is prominent and easy to find.
- Open your pop-up shop on a high note. Consider throwing a launch party and inviting an exclusive list of who’s who in your local region. For example, when apparel brand Kith opened a pop-up in Paris, it had a fantastic turnout and received great coverage from influential local blogs read by its target demographic.
2. Create buzz for your pop-up shop with social media
Social media is a great tool for increasing awareness of your pop-up shop (and your brand). Let’s look at how you can leverage this pop-up shop marketing tactic before, during, and after the event:
- Keep any buzz you established with your initial outreach going. Include a branded hashtag in your press materials and other collateral to help you find and curate content posted about your event online.
- Look for co-marketing opportunities. Ask local businesses near your pop-up shop to mention you on their social media feeds and in their email newsletters (and offer to do the same for them).
- Post behind-the-scenes content on your own social channels showing your pop-up being built and set up. Give users a sneak preview of the products they can expect to see. Host an online contest and announce the winner at your pop-up.
- Send influencers, bloggers, and creators your products and ask them to post about them. The more products they can touch and feel, the more likely they are to connect with one of the products and post about them. Note: Make sure to schedule this beforehand and get in contact with them three to four weeks before your launch.
At the pop-up
- Music for the mood. What kind of mood are you trying to create in your pop-up shop? Make sure your playlist matches that. If you’re a streetwear fashion brand, orchestra music may not be the right fit.
- Encourage user-generated content. You have to create moments around your store that make customers want to take a picture or a video. In other words, you have to make your store Instagrammable. This could mean a selfie wall, a personalization of the product, or funny signage that people want to share and remember. You want customers taking pictures around the store and posting them online—you benefit from the free advertising and positive word of mouth. You can even gamify it to incentivize sharing with contests.
- Encourage influencers to create content. Taking it a step further, encourage Instagram influencers and TikTok creators to create and share content while at your pop-up. This will help you build a community around your brand—and bring their entire fanbase to your pop-up and/or website as well.
At one of its pop-up shops, florist brand Misflorism did a flower wall installation for couples to take photos in front of—a concept quite literally born out of people’s commitment to getting the perfect Instagram shot.
- Don’t let the conversation stop once your pop-up is over. Keep up the buzz you worked so hard to build and continue engaging with people talking about your brand and the pop-up experience.
- Leverage user-generated content on your website, social feeds, product pages, and other online channels. Bazaarvoice found that more than two-thirds of shoppers prefer real customer photos of brands, not just on display or professional shots. Interesting product page photos can increase conversions by as much as 24%.
- Use your point-of-sale to collect email addresses and run targeted social media ads to drive shoppers to your online store. The lessons you learn from your pop-up can inform future digital campaigns.
💡 PRO TIP: Sending digital receipts via email is a great way to organically collect customer contact information at checkout and build an email list to fuel your retention marketing. Just make sure they’ve opted in to hearing from you before sending them anything.
3. Don’t forget visual signage and cues
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure there are ample visual cues at your actual pop-up. This includes your storefront, window displays, signage, and sandwich boards. You can also create temporary chalk art leading pedestrians to your pop-up with messages and directional signage written in chalk (just make sure this is OK at your location from a legal perspective first).
Pop-up shop marketing can—and should—get more creative than traditional brick-and-mortar store strategies. Remember, a pop-up is an event, not a typical retail experience. It should be presented as such, particularly if it is a holiday pop-up shop.
“Though at first blush it seems counter-intuitive, a pop-up should look exactly like a pop-up. It should feel temporary,” says Christian Gilbert, senior account executive at brand experience agency MC2. “Passersby should know instantly that it’s different from other shops—that it will go away, and they’d better check it out now.”
Inflatable signage, cubes, marquees, and even logos can help shoppers spot your pop-up from afar.
“Brands with a healthy budget could take inspiration from Samsung at Americana in LA,” Christian says. “Every car entering the parking garage was presented with a gigantic wall mural advertising the [pop-up].” This spread awareness about the event for individuals who parked at the garage for other reasons.
💡Looking for more ideas? Check out these two articles:
- A Foolproof Guide to Creating Window Displays That Turn Heads and Drive Foot Traffic
- 12 Unique Window Displays To Inspire Retailers To Build Their Own Eye-Catching Design
4. Create a Facebook event
Facebook events are a great way to not only keep the pop-up top of mind but also to share important updates and—you guessed it—the location of the pop-up.
When you create an event on Facebook, you can list the location of the event. If your pop-up is at an established business, landmark, or other location, you’ll often be able to simply type that in as the location.
You can also enable the Message Host feature, if you’re able to keep up with it. This way you can be available to help people find their way in case they’re lost.
Not holding your pop-up at an established or well-known location? Or maybe the location is very large, making it hard to pinpoint where your pop-up shop is. With the coordinates, users can tap on the address and be taken to navigation assistance.
5. List your pop-up shop on Google Maps
Speaking of maps, these are crucial for helping people find your pop-up location. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make, according to Christian, is “not including the address and ZIP code of the pop-up so shoppers can get smartphone directions.”
You can list the pop-up address on your site, as well as embed a Google Map with a pin denoting the location.
- Go to Google Maps.
- Type in the address.
- Click the Share icon.
- Click the Embed a map tab.
- Click COPY HTML.
- Paste it into the HTML of your website or blog.
💡 PRO TIP: Use Shopify’s Google channel to manage your Google Merchant Center, Google Business Profile, and Google Ads accounts from Shopify’s back office. Get all the perks of marketing your business on Google without jumping between accounts.
You can create your own Google Map and embed it on your site, as well as offer a direct link for users to navigate. Google has a guide to help walk you through this process.
You can also create your own map that has helpful landmarks and visual cues, similar to how tourist destinations often have free maps of the area to help visitors get around.
FURTHER READING: Increase your online and offline store traffic with Google’s “Near Me” results.
6. Have wayfinding assistants
Sometimes, maps and signs just aren’t enough and it’s time to call in human reinforcements. Assigning employees, or even hiring temporary staff, to stand near the location of your pop-up to direct people where to go can help increase foot traffic. (Bonus if they can offer samples to lure in passersby!)
Roody Originals, which sells ugly Christmas sweaters, has used this very tactic. The brand has successfully opened eight seasonal pop-up shops, timed for when its products are in demand. Promotional staff donning ugly sweaters stand outside and give away chocolates.
“While we didn’t ask passersby for anything or even mention the shop unless they asked, we always got an uplift in customers when out on the street,” says CEO and founder Ross Culliton.
One of Roody Originals’ pop-ups was at an upstairs space, which had the potential to deter foot traffic. As a solution, Ross hired a band to play out the window.
“Crowds gathered on the street to look, and passersby came up to check out what was happening,” he says. The band indirectly helped shoppers identify where the action was at.
7. Employ local marketing and geo-targeting
This next pop-up shop marketing idea is a bit more advanced, but it can yield great results when done well. Because your pop-up shop will be in a specific location and you’ll ideally target a specific customer profile, you’ll have extremely targeted advertising options.
Christian stresses the importance of knowing who you’re selling to at your pop-up.
“Closely identify the target audience,” he says. “This not only ties into the physical location of the pop-up, but also how to reach them. Use the medium your target demo uses.”
Run geo-targeted paid social and display ad campaigns (again, depending on where your audience hangs out) to get the word out about your pop-up to a local audience.
“Be very specific about what is happening at the pop-up to heighten curiosity,” advises Christian. “For St. Ives in Manhattan, a social media campaign to young women pushed a particular aspect of the pop-up experience: mixing your own cosmetics.”
💡Check out these guides to get started with your own local marketing campaigns:
- Online Banner Ads
- Facebook Ad Types for Your Ecommerce Store
- Advertise on Facebook
- The Beginner’s Guide to Advertising on Instagram
- What is Local SEO? (+ How to Improve Yours)
8. Keep information consistent
While there are many different pop-up shop marketing tactics to employ to help shoppers find your pop-up, it’s even more imperative to keep the information consistent. It could be helpful to create a list of where you’ve advertised or published the location of your pop-up, so you can easily refer to it should the location change or you need to update it to something more specific.
Get started: pop-up shop marketing
Now that you know pop-up shop marketing offers a versatile and dynamic approach to retail that can help take your business to the next level, it’s time to introduce your brand to a wider audience, test new markets, and create an unforgettable shopping experience for your customers.
Make sure you have a point of sale (like Shopify POS) equipped with useful features to accept in-person payments wherever you sell, track inventory across channels, and keep in touch with customers well after the pop-up shop has closed its doors.
Which tactics have you employed to increase awareness and attendance to your pop-up? How do you make sure shoppers don’t get lost on the way?
Additional research and content from Alexis Damen.