A step-by-step guide on running a popup event
Are you starting to explore different ways to market your product? Well you and thousands of others in your industry, right? it’s hard not to feel demotivated competing against bigger budgets or bigger marketing teams but we heard you have decided to host a pop-up event – fantastic! We’ll see you there!
In all seriousness though, what in the flip is it?
As a bit of background, businesses have begun to take note that forceful sales tactics are a thing of the past. Today, consumers want the personal, genuine sales pitches. Enter experiential marketing – AKA event marketing or engagement marketing. A type of strategy which focuses on the experience that’s created for an audience. It’s this personal, one-on-one experience with a business usually through an event or other physical setting like a store which brings to life the practical approach. So, what’s the practical approach? It’s giving consumers or clients an opportunity to get all handsy (ooh!) with your product in an environment that you have created and ultimately can control.
It’s very likely you have engaged with this form of marketing without even realising it. Remember that pop up shop you passed on usual coffee run, or the interactive corner of your local Microsoft store with comfy bean bags and headphones? Yep, these are all designed to draw in a crowd, engage the audience and most importantly to resonate with that consumer or client and have them remember you!
Oh, remember me?
It’s a key focus in business isn’t it – loyalty to your brand or business. If you’re building real relationships as a result of one-on-one interactions, you are going to have a higher chance of staying on a consumer or client’s mind, more so than your competition and thus securing a return customer. It’s these loyal connections that pay off in the long-term, recommending your business – and when you’re going for a pop event again, these relations can even earn you some free promotion across social media – one of the biggest wins in today’s world for sure.
Back to your pop-up event! We’re just as excited as you are so let’s get to the basics of the how.
Put plainly, the overall goal of most marketing campaigns is to increase the dollars hitting your business account – and this is definitely the same for experiential marketing campaigns like pop-up events however there are so many more benefits to your business as well. As we briefly touched on above the most obvious and beneficial is loyalty. Guaranteeing that customers or clients come back to you is the sign of a successfully engaging campaign. Secondly, pop-up event marketing can create a brand recognition and popularity – increasing the size of your customer base over time and, ultimately, making your business a more profitable one.
By using brand ambassadors who can entice and maintain relationships between your business and its audience, you have power over how your brand is seen by others. Unique, unforgettable hashtags associated with your business, in conjunction with engagement-focused social activity, allow your business to mould a reputation and the relationship with your audience. Whether you are confident in marketing or just getting started, it is crucial to comprehend the reasoning behind a multichannel approach. If you can understand these key principles of pop-up event marketing, you will be able to host and lead a successful event. So let’s jump in and take a look at how you can put these principles into practice for your next pop-up event.
Let’s get social…
If you are part of a more saturated industry, you may find it tough to stand out amongst so many others. The vast number of competing marketing campaigns from industry-leading businesses can leave smaller businesses in a challenging spot when it comes to connecting with their audience. But more now than ever, determined businesses are singing praise to the exclusive wins that come with event marketing each day. What are the wins, you ask? Aside from an unobstructed outlet where you can reach your audience in an authentic way, pop up events specifically deliver an engaging and real answer to cutting your competition and having a one-on-one interaction with your prospective customers or clients. So, what’s the catch? The difficult issue is obtaining the numbers that will see you gain a return on the investment you put into the event.
Okay, let’s discuss how we try and eliminate this issue – enter social media.
Including over 300 million monthly active users, Twitter offers one of the most powerful publicity tools for businesses looking to reach audiences who may not have been discovered by those within your industry. Known for short-form content or as Twitter is best known, their 140-character limit, airing your marketing message and hoping to translate engagement into sales can prove difficult. Luckily, all is not lost. By understanding audience targeting and creating a unique hashtag for the greatest reach, you can steer your way through irrelevant audiences to probable consumers ready to be visible to your business.
If you’re going to promote your pop-up event within the Twitter sphere, you will need to create your hashtag. As mentioned above, you need a unique tag that your content won’t get lost or confused under. As Twitter has its character limit, you want to make sure your hashtag isn’t too long, memorable and is created well in advance to the actual pop-up event. This will allow you to connect to users, influencers, and possible partners who can add to your event’s hype and budget. Like all campaigns, your Twitter needs to target an audience that would convert with you regularly, without crossing into your competitor’s audience – the danger zone! How can you directly target these users? Twitter has a promoted tweets function – boom! This allows you to narrow your audience based on their location, language, gender and so much more.
Once you have created your great hashtag, you need to start engaging with your audience. From creating competitions to offering exclusive sales discounts to users who tweet about the pop-up event, you will soon understand why Twitter is the perfect platform for chit chatter. By offering this type of incentive before your pop-up event, you will ensure that after it is complete, your followers will still be around- and talking about it. If you decide to run a competition to promote your pop-up event, then you can announce it as far out as you wish and the conditions of entry vary vastly. Some ideas we had were getting entrants to retweet your event content or asking entrants to create their own content for the event and posting it on their own feed. We find during this process, it’s important to secure your audiences attendance to the pop-up event. You can use the competition as a way to do that by announcing the winner at the event.
So now your event is in full swing. It’s live – it’s happening! You will need to make sure you have enough people who are part of your business present on the day and throughout the event. Why? Because this is your moment to engage with this audience one-on-one. Your staff can interact with attendees, encouraging them to tweet throughout the event, get some video or photo content of it or ask you questions that might be great lessons learnt for your business. Once your event is complete, make sure to keep everyone who attended as well as those who missed out engaged after. You can do this by posting about how it went, showing those who couldn’t make it the crowd who did and most importantly, thanking everyone for their participation. By charming your audience in a significant way after the pop-up event is complete, your business will remain at the forefront of their minds and potentially convert them into a customer.
Twitter not your thing? We find a lot of people are one or the other – there is just too much choice in the digital world. Dependent on your business, Instagram can pose an entirely different audience to target. Saturated with celebrity and influencer backings, an everchanging plethora of trending hashtags and the simple benefits of just having an Instagram presence, the platform is an easy tool for social media marketing. Instagram actually outnumbers Twitter and many other social platforms with over 400 million monthly active users. Part of Instagram’s charm is the tremendously curated visual layout that sets it apart from rivals like Twitter.
So, if you’ve got a pop-up event in the works, being present on multiple social platforms is always better than one. However, it is Instagram that allows your business to create, upload, edit and share images of unequivocally whatever your business wants to – and in social media marketing, this is powerful for a pop-up promotion. Whether you plan to share curated images of your event space or your audience the behind the scenes of the product being prepared, there’s no limit to who can view it, engage with it and then virtually or physically attend your pop-up via a shared experience on the Instagram app. What’s even more special about the platform, is that users are encouraged to “check in” or “tag their location”. By doing this, people may discover your pop-up event by simply perusing the area that was tagged.
A good tip for Instagram is to always remember for your own business page to check in to your pop-up event – you will be surprised how many brand owners forget to do this whilst encouraging others to do so! Similarly, to Twitter, but add more visuals and pretty – your pop-up event can be live streamed, snapped and papped while it is happening. This is especially beneficial to those users who are not able to attend but still want to feel involved and interact with your pop-up event. Make sure you and your team are briefed to capture key moments and as always- don’t forget the hashtag! Forgetting to include a hashtag for everyone attending and your own business is a big no-no! It’s a sure-fire way for users to find, engage and attend your pop-up event.
Dependent on your audience, Instagram or Twitter might be a little too casual? Is that a thing – we hope not! But if it is, then LinkedIn is another great platform to advertise your pop-up event, particularly to professionals. The first thing you will need to get started is a group page for your pop-up event! It’s within this group that you will be able to post information, updates and start conversations with prospective attendees. Is your event a seminar or panel?
Chances are you will have speakers or guests appearing and taking part. If this is the case, ask them to get involved on the group page. How can they do this? Asking them to post a snippet of what they will be discussing or their own excitement to be involved and meet everyone will create a bit of noise before it has begun!
Ah the old original, Facebook! Don’t let this (To some) grandparent fool you – Facebook is still the most widely used social media site in the whole, entire world – yep, hello big, power, promotion tool coming atcha’! So many businesses are still using Facebook to advertise and in order to make your event stand out amongst the pack it’s worth considering creating a Facebook event. Within the event, you are prompted to add all the relevant information such as the time, location and agenda.
Again, a hashtag is a no brainer here – and best part – it can be the same as your Instagram tag! Yes, Facebook and Instagram allow cross-platform hashtags so that your audience can engage regardless of which platform they are using when they discover your event. One of the most beneficial features within Facebook events, is the RSVP invitation tools. Unlike other social platforms, you can actually get a ‘call to action’ or put simply, a visual of who is planning on attending your pop-up event and give you an idea of what you should be investing to cater for this number. If you are planning on putting some dollars behind your event advertising, Facebook is a great platform to do this. You are able to “boost” your event and target by factors such as location, age, language to name a few.
In addition to using various social media platforms, your email marketing is one of the most effectual ways of directly pursuing an audience that will attend your pop-up event. Plus! Email marketing allows for you to track how successful your campaign was with the data it can capture such as open and click through rates.
If you know the audience you are trying to reach, your content and event information can be tailored to suit their interests. By directly focusing on what you can offer at your pop-up event to resolve your customers issues (or maybe just wants!), you can set out appropriate copy, a reason for them to attend and a call to action within the email to prompt that attendance. It’s important to note when advertising your pop-up event, the location – try add some information for those who won’t be in the area about how they too can tune in (social media) and also why they should be attending. Since email has become such a competitive sphere for businesses, it’s important you take advantage of your own data and note when to send your emails so that there is maximum opportunity for your campaign to be viewed. Check out our “When is the best time to send an email” for more tips. (link to the other article).
Closer to the event, and after looking at your email marketing results, you should take advantage of the geolocation services within your email marketing provider. There will be opportunity for you to segment your audience so that those who are in the same area as your pop-up event are receiving more updates than those who are not. You would be surprised by how many businesses often do blanket emails, targeting entirely different countries for localised pop-up events!
Advertising your event is done – but hold up – where are you going to have it and how do you know what is the right event space for your pop-up?
Hosting a pop-up event requires a few key factors to consider in order to have a success. From making sure you have enough space, not too little and not too big, or staying on top of your budget with a few luxuries, you will want to make sure your pop-up event space is suitable.
A great start, and sometimes overlooked is the capacity of your event space. It’s here where your RSVP call to action plays an important role in knowing who and how many you are to expect. Planning well in advance and remaining proactive with how many people you have engaged your pop-up event with is fundamental when it comes to picking the right space. Pretty obviously, if you invest too much into a larger space this will leave you with only a small remaining amount of your budget to spend on other aspects – imagine getting everyone there for a disappointing experience! The fine line to this however is under spending and opting for a smaller space when you know the expected capacity exceeds this space, leaving some attendees uncomfortable and not enough room to fully interact with your pop-up.
Your choices of event space size will be heavily reduced once you can narrow in on the location of the pop-up event. Having knowledge of who you want to target with the event will help dictate this. For example, if your audience are in a particular age bracket and live in metro areas, you would not host the event further out of the city – the travel would be a deterrent. From accessibility to realistic features, your location will play an integral part in the success of your pop-up event. If you are hosting a kid friendly event, then a bar would not be suitable and vice versa – these are all scenarios to consider and we would recommend spending a lot of your planning time here. A great tip is to always do site visits of the spaces prior to booking and making a list of what you want the space to achieve prior – a lot of spaces will have some built in features like projectors or speakers that could be of use on your big day and save you on hiring costs.
For most pop-up events, the businesses are usually online based. The events are a great, but sometimes one-off opportunities to engage with their audience face to face – in the flesh!
Because of this, the way you and your staff present and participate on the day is key. In most cases, your audience are looking to the business for guidance. Brief your staff working the pop-up event to know exactly who they should expect and the correct language and approachability to take. Your staff should also be fully aware and tried the activations within the event. The aim of the event (educate your audience about your brand or perhaps convert on the spot) and most importantly how they can achieve their targets are also important. Prior to your pop-up event, your staff will have been briefed (we hope!) on what their end goal is for the event. By setting goals to achieve, your staff will be more likely to get involved and run your event with you, not for you. If it is quite a big event or a volunteer opportunity, a little incentive always helps to nudge a team member on the day. Don’t forget – your staff should want to promote the pop-up event too! Get them to share the event leading up to and on the day of – you might have a social media guru who can’t wait to go live at the pop-up on Instagram so let them do it!
Now that you have everyone at your carefully, thought out space and your staff are equipped to bring to life the pop-up event, how can you make sure your audience is feeling engaged?
Although screen-based technology dominates our world today, consumers still admit that face-to-face activations with interactive experiences were more likely to make them commit to a purchase. From endorsing a specific service in a sales push or asking an audience to get on board with your business, the art of marketing with event activations and pop-ups can change the success of a business dramatically. Whether you are showing your creations at a space or hosting a pop-up clothing store, striking designs, signs or even an unconventional window display will unquestionably contribute to the success of your pop-up. Conveying what your business is about in a split second of someone’s vision is vital to your pop-up – especially if it’s a longer activation like a pop-up store (or bar!). Your business logo and usual brand colours will mean your business is remembered, but more importantly adding a sensory approach will mean the event translate back to online long after the event has concluded. A great start to sensory events, is touch. Enticing guests to step into your product or have a play will mean they can get comfortable with it in their very own way. Sound is extremely important, just like the use of space, you don’t want to make your guests uncomfortable so that they leave. Using music to command attention to a zone in your pop-up event is a great tool to use as well as changing the audio levels throughout the space- your event space owners may be able to assist with this cool idea. Seemingly obvious is sight, however it’s important you aren’t adding too much so that a key interaction is missed but also being aware of what might distract others say if your pop-up is next to a popular, well established store.
If you are hosting an event to showcase a product in particular, having timed and planned out live demonstrations are a fantastic engagement tool. Educating a customer face-to-face is powerful and will take your business from the manufacturing phase of its life to the point of sale. While a demo is happening at your pop-up, you can ask the audience to engage with questions or get your team members to communicate their skills in your company to boost conversions. If you have a smaller team, and would prefer guests “play” a little more with your product or service, then drawing attention to a type of interactive display, even as simple as an iPad is an ingenious idea. It’s also a great way to show the audience how forward thinking and up to date with technology your business is. Alternatively, if your business has a more organic and laid-back approach, then incorporating casual entertainment in your pop-up event can also strike a chord with your audience. For example; a kid friendly event might include some live music where kids can relax and jump around to the music, allowing parents to spend more time at your pop-up event.
We’re now hoping your pop-up event has been a huge success but it’s far from over.
There is no denying the power of face-to-face interaction for business exposure. From creating a new relationship to take into your online business or to explaining how your brand could benefit a customer, a happy opening interaction can be the start of a prosperous business relationship – but it’s the follow-up that will create the lasting impression. All aspects of business are about making smart decisions, which is why it is imperative to take advantage of the interactions that occur during your pop-up event. Impress your new audience with a quick follow-up and your hands-on approach keep you at the top of their minds. Great ways to do a follow up are most obviously, social media. Yes, we’re back to the start but with so many potential opportunities across all platforms, it would be a mistake not to. Responding and re-sharing content that guests posted from your pop-up, and in particular thanking them for their support is a great tactic to keep up the conversation. If you are able to financially do so, offering a thank you discount is also a great tool to nurture the relationship with your new audience in its early days. Just as you alerted your audience to your pop-up event through your email marketing platform, you should also communicate the results of it and your gratitude in the same way. A tailored approach is best, so ensuring you take advantage of segmenting your list to only those who physically attended and then also a list to those who couldn’t but would love to see how it went is a strong engagement approach, as opposed to a blanket email.
After these initial follow up methods, it’s important to keep up the relationship with these audiences. Not only for when you have another pop-up event but also to regularly update these customers on your business’s movements, growth and new services or products
We are hoping you are now feeling confident with the in and out of hosting a pop-up event and continuing to nurture your relationship with the audience you gain from them. It’s now time for you to get out there and organise your own. Try to focus on a good brainstorming session with other members of your business and remember to identify the purpose of the pop-up. A great way to approach most events is to imagine a consumer or your audience ideal opportunity to get up close and experience how your business works and what it can offer them. Pop-up events offer this experience in an immersive location. Since pop-up events don’t last forever, they can be low-cost and a great way for a business to not commit to something they may not be ready for, for example, a permanent retail space or creative pottery studio. In addition to this, pop-up events are one of the best ways for a business to take a risk, get creative, get people talking and gain an entirely new audience. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.