Retailers wanting to reach new markets without committing to a full brick-and-mortar location are increasingly turning to pop-up stores and events -- with pop-up stores especially popular during the current holiday season. Locations? Typically, they're areas that see a great deal of foot traffic.
As the pop-up concept has caught on, multiple businesses have embraced it, applying it to a diversity of areas of customer outreach. After all, pop-up events offer various benefits: They give businesses a chance to put together a quick, temporary gathering that comes across as spontaneous and informal. And pop-up stores can be erected and dismantled in a matter of hours, giving them a flexibility not found with traditional stores.
In addition, pop-up stores and events give the appearance of having involved little planning and required only a simple design. This fools the customer -- in a good way -- because, as most businesses know, a great deal of work goes into giving off the appearance of "spontaneity." Here are a few tips to help businesses planning just such a pop-up event.
1. Make your pop-up exclusive.
Exclusivity is the key to generating excitement about your event. When Google decided to preview its virtual reality platform, the company set up a pop-up event in New York City.
Customers were drawn in by the promise of glimpsing something others wouldn’t be able to see. If you're doing a pop-up yourself, make sure the wording for your invitation gives the impression of exclusivity, whether it’s based on the people who are invited or the time frame for response. “Only 20 seats available” will drive a more immediate response than an invitation where space isn’t mentioned, for instance.
2. Plan for a short time frame.
The key to success with a pop-up event is to plan for a short turnaround time. Whether you’ve decided to hold your event in a couple of days from now or a couple of months, you should start sending invitations out just before the event.
That means carefully coordinating how you’ll promote the pop-up, both to your existing customers and the many consumers you hope to reach. During the planning period, come up with a schedule to post about the upcoming event online. The event itself should have a short time frame, as well. Instead of a multi-day conference, make it a one-day intensive or a lunchtime workshop.
3. Partner with other businesses.
If reaching new customers is your goal, one great approach is to partner with businesses that can reach out to their own networks to generate attendance. For its upcoming small business bootcamp, Salesforce has partnered with a small group of high-profile companies to provide expert advice.
Consider the benefits your respective audiences can bring to each of your companies as you choose your event partners. A graphic design firm might find, for instance, that a marketing expert has a clientele that would benefit from its services; by partnering, the design firm will get its brand in front of a new base of potential customers.
4. Cover an in-demand topic.
The subject matter of your pop-up event could make all the difference. Consider a topic you can cover as an expert that is likely to win a large audience. A law firm in London hosted a pop-up legal event where it met one-on-one with businesses, providing legal advice. This can help you generate buzz in your local community while also potentially winning over a few future clients.
You may feel as though you’re giving information away, but a client who wants to retain your services won’t get any further than the advice stage during a brief meeting.
5. Choose the right location.
Unless your event is online, you’ll need to secure a location to host it. Your office may seem like the most likely place, but, objectively, consider the most convenient spot for attendees. People will often decline to attend events if they’re too far out of the way, even if they involve interesting subject matter.
Your location should have character, fitting your own branding and the theme of your event. Even if you’re meeting in a hotel conference space, you can make it your own with a little signage and furniture rearrangement.
Overall, pop-up events may seem spontaneous, but to be successful, they have to be the focus of extra planning time. Once you’ve hosted your first one, you’ll likely come up with strategies you can implement in the future.
Just make sure you go into each event with a goal in mind and strive to reach that goal, assessing the results afterward to decide what you can do better the next time.