Why and how entrepreneurs & start-ups are getting in on the pop-up trend

By Stephanie Kidder

The pop-up store is not a new concept, but is certainly gaining momentum, and creativity, over the last few years. Temporary retail is evolving from the one-day huge sell off craze, into opportunities to create experiences and connections with your customers. However, you don’t have to have a big budget or name to create a successful pop-up.

Business owners and start-ups of all sizes are considering a pop-up store for many reasons. A pop-up can be a great way to introduce a new product or get customer feedback. A temporary retail space may give your organization access to more foot traffic in urban areas or shopping centers normally out of budget, and gain exposure to new customers. Digitally native brands are using pop-up spaces not only to test their physical strategy, but to create an experiential retail environment and physical touchpoints with customers that is not possible in the digital space.

In a recent survey from the University of South Carolina over half of participants ranked improved market visibility such as public relations, buzz, and branding as a top result of their pop-up (ranking higher than sales turnover).

Despite the payoffs, launching a pop-up can be daunting, not to mention budget crushing. Keep these 4 tips in mind if you need to penny-pinch your next pop-up.

Define your goals and budget ahead of time

To get the most out of your pop-up shop, you first need to define your goals. In other

words, ask yourself what you want to achieve by opening a pop-up shop. Once you have decided, define how you will measure the results. If you’re looking to diversify your revenue stream, evaluate your sales and any cost savings. If your goal is leads and brand awareness you may want to measure email sign ups, social media engagement or increased web traffic.

With these goals in mind, set your budget ahead of time considering your space, furnishing, marketing and collateral needs.

Pick a location that matches your goals and brand

The changing environment means there are more options than ever for temporary real estate. Even if you are on a budget, consider a high foot traffic area if sales are your main goal. If you are aiming to reach a new audience or create an experience, consider how the neighborhood vibe and demographics align with your brand. When it comes to balancing all these considerations, listing services specific to short-term leasing make it easier than ever to narrow down your space search by location, budget and other important needs. This can also be a huge help for time-strapped business owners who don’t have time to hunt down which spaces allow short-term leases.

Consider a Collaboration

One great way to reach a wider audience and save money is to split the bill. Consider a partner that aligns with your customer needs and is willing to share space. One great example is the POPSUGAR x Kohl’s pop-up store. POPSUGAR, a pop culture and lifestyle media company, and growing apparel and beauty business, recently launched a clothing line with Kohl’s. Kohl’s, a legacy retailer with years of experience, was able to expand the POPSUGAR distribution, while benefiting from their trendy millennial audience. POPSUGAR and Kohl’s share the value that uniqueness and individuality is what makes people special, the creative agency behind the store said.

In addition, if testing a new market is a goal for your pop-up, reach out to established brands and local entrepreneurs to partner up or even help spread the word. Either way be sure to consider your audience, how will you benefit from your partner’s audience and vice versa. Make sure your goals are aligned before your collaboration debut.

Get the word out

No matter what your budget, every successful pop-up needs to be supported by a marketing plan. The good news is that there are several free to cheap ways to capitalize on your existing network like social media, email and your website. Circling back to your location and collaboration strategy, think about influencers who can help expand your reach. Due to the nature of pop-up stores, they tend to come with some urgency and newness. Capitalize on this buzz by reaching out to local and trade press in your industry.

Small business owners and start-ups across many industries are growing their business with temporary spaces and pop-ups. The trend is becoming a marketing tool in itself and is no longer just for big budget brands.

Stephanie Kidder is an experienced marketing professional who oversees Storefront’s global corporate and product marketing programs. She has more than twenty years’ experience bringing growth to international tech companies. Prior to joining Storefront, Stephanie was CMO at Jabmo, a pioneering account-based marketing (ABM) provider and held senior marketing and e-commerce roles at Avid Technology.  Stephanie has a degree in finance from Michigan State University and studied languages in France and Germany.