Slam-Dunk Strategies for Marketing Your Pop-up Shop

Get more customers — and their credit cards — in the door with these tips.
Pop-up shops are unique because there is limited time for consumers to engage with your brand and purchase your products. (Photo: Hartmut Albert/Shutterstock)

Pop-up shop marketing is all about generating drama and excitement and making an event out your short-lived shop. But how exactly do you do that?

Sam Wheeler, digital marketing specialist at Inseenv Interactive, a digital marketing agency in San Diego, suggested a mixture of boots-on-the-ground tactics and digital marketing. “And don’t forget word of mouth. Especially with pop-ups, this can be a huge marketing tool. Pop-ups are intimate by nature and lend themselves well to word-of-mouth marketing,” Wheeler said.

Melissa Gonzalez, founder of the Lion’esque Group, which has produced more than 100 pop-up retail experiences across the United States, also favors a mixture of old- and new-school marketing approaches.

Here are their top tips.

Use traditional media

Make a list of local publications and submit a story about your pop-up shop, suggested Gonzalez, who is author of “The Pop-up Paradigm.” Are your products hand crafted? Do they come from a unique part of the world, or do your sales benefit a charity? Share those details. It’s free advertising if your story is published.

“Be mindful of deadlines and be sure you have all the assets they may need prepared in advance, such as high resolution product images on a white background, a one-line description of items and pricing and an invite to your opening reception,” she said.

You may also want to buy ad space or post information about your pop-up shop in the classified section in the local paper.

According to Wheeler, if you place ads, be sure they are designed for the ages and interests of your target market. He recommended running them a few times leading up to the shop opening and again just before.

Tap social media

Use social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to build excitement about your pop-up shop. Create an events page on Facebook, tweet details and post digital invitations and coupons.

Search social media and blogs to find online influencers in your area of commerce who can help you spread the word. Influencers are people who can literally influence others to buy your products. Usually they have become influencers because of their large following on social media.

“Have a strategy to get your product in their hands and empower them to be brand ambassadors for you,” Gonzalez said.

Use your mailing lists

“Make your existing customers feel like VIPs and invite them to your opening reception to get a first look,” Gonzalez said. Send an email blast with invitations or even coupons.

Also, suggested Gonzalez, “Create postcards to distribute at local locations that have an audience relevant to your target market.” If you have a list of customer addresses, mail the postcards.

Give the illusion of exclusivity

“If you keep the shop semi-private in your advertising with something that has the illusion of exclusivity, such as an appointment system or a limited number of customers daily, it will create a sense of urgency and a VIP atmosphere that consumers, especially millennials, enjoy,” Wheeler said.


While social media marketing is important, make sure not to forget to engage customers offline. (Photo: Piotr Letecha/Shutterstock)

Take it to the streets

“Create a dedicated team of ‘guerrilla’ marketers to distribute any flyers, stickers and other literature and to be the face of your pop-up shop,” Wheeler said. Consider costumes or spinning signs, too.

Tap local businesses for help. “Have your ‘boots on the ground’ team create relationships with local shops and offer discounts if they refer their customers to your shop,” Wheeler said. Remember, the customers your shop attracts may boost their sales as well.

Ask nearby shops to post flyers in their window. If your shop is located inside a larger shop, request permission to place a sandwich board outside.

Keep the buzz going

Some pop-up shops last just a day. If yours will last a week or longer, plan marketing during the entire run.

Gonzalez recommended aiming different events and promotions at different groups so you’re not tapping into the same customer base again and again. Here are some of her ideas:

  • Hold a press preview. In larger cities, invite local media like newspaper, radio and bloggers to visit before opening night.
  • Throw an opening night party. Serve finger foods and simple drinks and make it intimate. “Be sure to create ‘Instagrammable’ or Snapchat moments and incentivize guests to share on their socials.”
  • Create opening-night coupons. For example, “Share your night at our shop and you will receive 15 percent off your first purchase.”
  • Have prizes and drawings. Customers can enter only while at your pop-up shop.
  • Give small, token gifts. Examples include reusable shopping bags, magnets, pens and coupons for discounts at nearby shops.
  • Offer samples. If appropriate, create a simple presentation for samples of your products for customers to take with them.
  • Try deal of the day or deal of the hour specials. Time-limited sales or specials help create a sense of urgency and may keep customers coming back.
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