The DIY Guide to Launching and Marketing Your First Pop-Up Shop

Launching a pop-up shop | Shopify Retail

This is a guest post from Melissa Gonzalez, Founder of The Lionesque Group.

Opening a pop-up shop is one of the best ways to build buzz for your brand, reach new audiences and generate more sales for your business. To help you get stared on your pop-up adventure, I previously covered how to go about determining goals for your pop-up shop and how identifying these goals can better inform decisions on creating an immersive retail experience.

Now, it’s time to revisit your goals and priorities, and begin crafting a pop-up marketing strategy with the assumption that you've picked your location, scouted it to the best of your abilities, negotiated a good deal with the landlord and have already dived into designing your store

But, before getting started on marketing your pop-up shop, it's important to remember that regardless of the campaign you're launching, the messages you send need to have a strong hook, create urgency and target people that write about the product or promise you're selling. There must also be a method like crafting a calendar of PR and social objectives, in order to empower you to have a more effective approach.

In this post, we will explore how you can take advantage of traditional media outlets, engage influencers, learn to craft an editorial calendar for your social strategy and finally when you should turn to guerrilla marketing.

Hone Your PR Strategy

First off, let’s dispel all rumors, “traditional media is not dead.” Also, people still love shopping at retail and pop-up shops, they will continue to watch TV and read print magazines and they still enjoy attending in-person meetups and conferences.

Now, when it comes to targeting traditional media, the key point to keep in mind is knowing what your customer reads, and targeting editors that cover the right beat. 

Sounds basic, right? But to effectively target traditional media outlets, be sure to remember two basic principals: 1) make their job easier by pitching content they can use and 2) know their publishing timelines.

Also, the time between you pitch your story and get published in print are longer than they are for online publications, so as a benchmark aim 2-3 months early for local print, and 2 weeks before pitching online media. For example, the following online local publications routinely cover pop-ups:

Time Out 

Target traditional media for pop-up shop launch | Shopify Retail



Target message to media writers, Racked | Shopify Retail

Most importantly, don't just do a generic email blast with your press release, instead, have a unique, targeted message for each writer based on what they cover and what their readers may value. For more tools and tactics to get your shop picked up by press, read this.

Get Going with Influencer Marketing

Now you're probably wondering, how do I get influencers to be my evangelists? In other words, how do you get them to visit your shop, snap a photo and post it on their Instagram and hopefully blog about your store? For starters, you have to think of them as press. They want to know what’s hot, what’s new, what’s fresh first,  just as a reporter would. And if you can deliver that message to him or her, you can capture your next “fan.” Get started by creating a list of the key target influencers and bloggers you want to see at your pop-up and reach out to them by highlighting different incentives for them to get involved.

One great way to engage influencers is to throw a launch party to open the pop-up shop on a high note and invite an exclusive list of "who's who" in your local region. For example, when KithNY did a pop-up in Paris, they had a fantastic turnout and got great coverage from influential local online blogs read by their target demographic. 

Also, be sure to look for and find bloggers who write about your price point, for example, a blogger that writes about TJMaxx finds and Target scores is probably not going to cover a new handbag launch where the price point is $700+. It’s not what their readers value, nor can afford.

You'll also want to have a budget set aside for gifting to win influencers over with samples that they can touch and feel and wear publicly. Be sure to offer them the opportunity to provide an exclusive discount code to their readers if they shop at your pop-up store. Another tactic you can try out is inviting them to co-host a night at your pop-up shop on a night of their choice and having the event center around them and their sense of style.

Build Buzz with Social Media 

Once the seeds are planted with editors and influencers, it’s time to start watering them with a sound social media strategy. Social media can feel daunting for a first time pop-up, but just like how you made an editorial calendar for press deadlines, make an editorial calendar for your social strategy with all the social platforms you plan on being active on. Regardless of whether you'll be heavily promoting on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr, this will help make it much more manageable. 

For example, to promote Popify in Toronto, the organizers put together a Facebook event page to build buzz and generate interest. 

Popify Facebook event | Shopify Retail

You can start with a key words document, a database you can refer back to with words that align with your pop-up goals, brand message, values and promise. Then, create one hashtag to help you track your campaign leading up to, during and after your pop-up store is open.

Next, make an editorial calendar that includes a countdown, new announcements throughout your pop-up campaign and have someone on your team prepared to track and engage with followers. 

Another great way to keep your audience in the loop is to engage them with the process of building your pop-up shop by posting photos showing the lead-up to the actual opening to build anticipation, something HutchLA does a fantastic job of doing anytime they open their doors for a pop-up.

Take to the Streets with Guerrilla Marketing

Lastly, just as traditional print is still alive, so is going guerrilla when in a high traffic area. Create postcards with a clear call to action and coupon code for visiting and place them at nearby outlets with a similar clientele to your target market.

Guerrilla marketing | Shopify Retail

Also, check if there's a nearby hotel with a concierge desk near your pop-up location. Tourists love to discover something unique and take the product (and story) back home with them. What about a nail salon, spa, wine shop? Think outside the box, but within the lines of your goals and your target customer’ s lifestyle.

Lastly, don't forget that the most important marketing and promotion tool you'll need to make your pop-up a success is hustle. You've really got to be willing to give it your all if you expect to make your temporary retail experiment work. The great thing about giving pop-up shops a shot is that with each pop-up experience, you'll start seeing what works and what doesn't for your brand, enabling you to potentially build out another sales channel for your business. Running successful pop-ups will give you the confidence to pursue your own boutique retail location and help turn you into a successful omni-channel retailer.

If you have any other low-cost and highly-effective tips you'd like to share on marketing a pop-up shop, be sure to let us know by commenting below. 

(Image Credits: Clarisse Coetzee and Johnny Cupcakes)

P.S. Looking to accept payments at your pop-up? Check out Shopify POS.

About The Author

Melissa Gonzalez specializes in brand activation and Pop-Up retail experiences. She is the founder of The Lionesque Group, a company that has produced over 65 pop-up retail experiences in New York, Los Angeles, and the Hamptons. Connect with her on Twitter.