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5 Steps to Running A Successful Pop-Up

Posted in Ideas & Themes, Promotion & Planning, Word to the Wise on February 3, 2016
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Pop-Ups have become a huge sensation during the past couple years and it's easy to see why. They open and close all within a matter of a few days, speaking to the changing tastes of new generations. Pop-Ups are also a lot like events. They have definite start and end times, require renting out space, and bring people together. Let's first look at what makes Pop-Ups so great.

First off, Pop-Ups help you discover if your idea or concept has legs to stand on with a small investment. If you opened a typical store, you'd have to rent out a building, worry about zoning requirements, get full-time staff, and incur long term expenses. With a Pop-Up, your commitment is still high but for a short amount of time. And if your Pop-Up is successful? Then you can do it again later!

As I mentioned earlier, commitment required to open a Pop-up is a lot less and speaks to the nature of the millennial generation. I hate that term but it's stuck, so let's go with it. Millennials, as I'm sure you all know by now, prefer experiences over "things". They're more likely to Uber/Lyft than own a car. So with this in mind, commitment to owning things is low and a pop-up is a perfect way for them to make money and have a great time doing it.

The third great thing about Pop-Ups is their exclusive, ephemeral nature. I've written about the subject of exclusivity when it comes to ticket sales here , and the same concepts apply. People fall for flash sales all the time - we can't help it, it's human nature to desire something that is difficult to get.

With all these benefits of Pop-Ups in mind, let's look at 5 ways to ensure that your Pop-Up concept, whether it be a retail store or restaurant, is successful.

1. Choose Your Theme and Brand

This is the beginning of your entire concept and will determine everything else that you do. If you already know your theme, feel free to go onto number 2 where I discuss getting your venue.

A few things to keep in mind with any theme:

-Does it resonate with what you want to sell?
-Colors are important.
-For more information about branding, check this post out. Theme and brand go hand in hand.

2. Find the Right Venue.

This step is critical as your venue will make or break your Pop-Up. There are a variety of factors that influence whether your concept will be successful.

Among them are:

-Does it fit within your theme and objective?

-Is there foot traffic or is it off the beaten path? You’re not likely to get many interested patrons to visit your Pop-Up if you’re off the beaten path, so to speak.

As a subset of getting your venue, make sure that you have all the proper tools at your disposal such as licenses if you’re selling alcohol or food.

3. Market your Pop-Up

There are a ton of ways to market your pop-up. This is where you should design your Value Proposition, aka why people should go to your Pop-Up versus going anywhere else. Once you have your value proposition in place, the fun begins. You can create all different kinds of marketing materials. One of the benefits of marketing a Pop-Up are the time constraints. Since Pop-Ups only run for a limited of time, you get to lean on urgency and exclusivity all in one go. For convenience, I’ll split up marketing into online and offline.

For offline marketing, look into things such as posters and signs to post on local posting areas. Be sure to tell friends and family to spread the word - there’s nothing like a referral. Even passing out discount coupons, along with an address and opening (and closing) dates can go a long way. The great thing about offline marketing is that you can also help build your local community. Offering to donate money to a local charity or Boy/Girl Scouts group will do wonders.

For online marketing, you have a ton of options available to you. The first and most obvious is social media so I won’t go too much more into that. I’m sure you already have your social media accounts firing on all cylinders. To save time, check out using a service like Hootsuite or Buffer to make scheduled posts across your social media platforms.

If the city you’re posting in has a subreddit, you could try posting about your pop-up there too.

I’ll talk a little more about this in #4, but an event registration page could also get you a lot more eyeballs. These pages rank well on search engines for their city, and you can also collect RSVPs or sell tickets.

4. Get Ready To Sell Spots and Stuff!

If you’re doing a restaurant or any other pop-up that would require spots or RSVP, you can use a site to sell tickets online. Event registration sites can also provide you with hard tickets, which you’ll also want to use just in case you’re expecting more people to buy a spot at the door.

A great thing about online registration sites is that you’ll be able to post your address, time of opening/closing, and other important info. You'll get more online exposure in conjunction with your marketing that I mentioned in the last spot. They’ll also give you analytics data which allows you to see how popular your Pop-Up was with certain demographics.  Another advantage is that you’ll be able to get access to their emails. It’ll give you a good idea of how many people are showing up so that you can have your supplies set up beforehand.

If you’re selling physical items, get a mobile POS like Square to accept any credit or debit cards. With your POS, you’ll need to make sure that you have steady and reliable WiFi, or at the least access to a 3G/LTE network. In a pinch you can use an iPad or iPhone as a mobile hotspot.

5. Follow Up

Your Pop-Up is a success due to your hard work on the previous four steps, awesome! You may think you’re done as you savor the revenue, but the truth is that you’re not. You need to follow up with customers after. During your Pop-Up’s operational hours, you can offer discounts in exchange for a user’s email address so that you can get a customer list going. That way, you can contact them after the Pop-Up ends to notify them of the next time you’ll be around. If you created an event page and sold tickets, you already have an email list so you don’t need to worry about getting customer’s emails. Also, be sure to send a thank-you to everyone that came. Including pictures of the Pop-Up will be great to help solidify the experience. Feedback from clientele is important, not only to improve for next time but also to get ideas for new product lines and future events.

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