The Guide

Managing and Marketing Your Pop-Up Shop

March 7, 2017

With so many retail brands bombarding customers from all angles, it’s integral to rise above the noise to capture your target audience’s attention (especially if you want them to walk through your doors). But how can you cut through the clutter of other brands and get shoppers excited about your shop? That’s where a marketing and management strategy comes in handy.

Promoting Your Pop-Up Shop

When it comes to creating a wide reach (and ensuring plenty of eyeballs) when promoting the details about your event, try a multi-pronged approach. From traditional mediums like advertising and PR to social media and email marketing, cast a wide net — and start your promotion efforts early.

Marketing Your Pop Up: Long-Lead Efforts

Yes, you should absolutely begin building buzz for your event well before your pop up is scheduled to launch. Starting promotion during the planning stages will help your brand get the most bang for your marketing bucks.

And while you don’t necessarily need to hit it hard on every promotion channel, the following list includes many of the major marketing touchpoints. Remember: You know your audience better than anyone else. Consider where they hang out and what sort of message will resonate most with your target customer. And to keep all your promotion efforts straight, plan out all your strategies in a communications calendar to prevent deadlines from whizzing by without noticing.

Here are some of the major channels where you can begin building buzz and awareness in the lead up to your pop-up launch.

Outreach: Media and Influencers

Shortly after setting the date and crucial details of your pop-up store, begin your outreach efforts. Begin with influencers in your retail niche. Whether that’s style bloggers for your apparel brand, lifestyle advisors for your home décor products, or beauty tutorial masters for your cosmetics, scour the depths of the Internet and social media to compile a list of influencers that closely match with your merchandise and target audience. Depending on your chosen strategy, you can solicit influencers to review your products, preview your pop-up shop, or attend your store launch and tell their many followers. Before beginning any outreach, craft a clear pitch selling them on your event or product.

To find influencers in your niche without breaking a sweat, try using tools like GroupHigh and Upfluence. From there, curate your list and begin contacting them with your pitch.

In the weeks leading up to your pop-up launch, you can also begin pitching media on your event. Target local and regional online and print media, as well as industry publications. Write up a press release informing reporters and bloggers of all the details of the pop up (and why, in particular, they should pay attention to your pop-up shop. How are you differentiating yourself?). For a little extra help polishing off a press release, check out the Higher Ed Marketing Journal’s guide to structuring your media pitch.


Sure, this is one of the more old-fashioned methods to reach an audience. Just before your pop-up shop launch, contact local and industry media publications (online and/or print) and pay for an ad to share the details about your shop kickoff.

While you can lean entirely on ads in traditional publications, also consider creating calendar listings/ads in popular local and industry blogs, and online classifieds sites like Craigslist’s events section.

Email Marketing

As an existing brand, it’s likely you have a robust list of customer emails (or a list of loyal enewsletter subscribers). Since these customers have already proven themselves to be loyal to your brand, it’s important that you let them know about your upcoming pop-up launch.

Create an email campaign that shares the details of your event with your current customers and builds buzz in your subscriber base. Not sure how? Create a sense of excitement and anticipation with something like a countdown clock embedded in your email content, similar to what Steve Madden did for an upcoming Black Friday sale:

Make use of an email marketing tool like MailChimp or CampaignMonitor to create a slick email it and deploy it to your customers.

Social Media Marketing

You’ve probably spent time and effort before setting up this pop-up shop building up your brand’s social following. If this is the case, then it’s time to leverage your branded social channels to get more shoppers through your pop up’s doors.

Prior to launching your event, create some buzz online. Create a Facebook Event Page, then invite followers from your branded Facebook Business Page (and maybe your personal friends as well). Share sneak peek photos of products you’ll feature at the pop-up, particularly any merchandise you’ll sell exclusively at the event. Post behind-the-scenes photos and videos on Instagram and Snapchat as your pop up develops to generate excitement. And make sure you use a hashtag you’ve created for your event because #hashtagsmatter.

During your event, maintain your momentum by:

  • Scheduling some content ahead of time.
  • Run a promotion that rewards visitors to your pop-up with free merchandise or swag, and share on social channels.
  • Offer regular updates, selfies, and videos of the goings-on throughout the lifecycle of your pop-up store. Aim to instill a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in those who aren’t in attendance.

Then, once your pop up ends, stay in touch with those valuable new customers. Those connections need tending, so continue to service them with exclusive promotions, news about favorite merchandise that’s back in stock, and other relevant info about your brand.

Guerrilla Marketing

While much of the aforementioned marketing strategies keep you glued to your computer screen, consider marketing IRL for your physical storefront.

Order small samples or event-related swag with details about your pop up, then take to the streets! Grab a staff member or hire brand ambassadors to hand out product samples and/or swag in high-traffic areas.

For a lower-cost marketing method, distribute flyers with all the info about the who, what, when, and where of your event.

Launching Your Pop Up: Event Marketing

Now that you’re close to launching, it’s time to celebrate! Since you’ve put in your blood, sweat, and hard-earned dollars into creating a great pop up, kick it off with an event (or two) to mark its opening.

Not only are launch events a prime opportunity to celebrate all your hard work, but it’s also a chance to further promote and build buzz for the lifecycle of your pop up. With the right hook and invitees, you can create a memorable event that will keep those in attendance talking for days to come.

Send Your Invitations

You remember that list of influencers and media you created? Whip that out and use it to jumpstart your launch party list. Grab your employees, local movers and shakers, business owners from the neighborhood, and current customers for your upcoming party.

Send out your invitations a few weeks prior to your event (whether they be digital or paper invites) in order to give people some time to line up their schedules.

And again, leverage the power of social media and email marketing to publicize this event. Share the kickoff party details on a Facebook Event Page, build buzz by sharing fun details about the event schedule or cool products, and sneak peeks of what’s to come.

Maximize the Impact of Your Launch Party

Not sure how to get customers, influencers, and media to attend your launch event? There are multiple ways, but some ideas include:

  • Exclusive promotions: Offer free swag, promotions, or discounts to those who attend your launch event.
  • Entertainment: Whether it be a live band, a DJ, a panel of industry experts, or another performer, scheduling entertainment can also help draw a crowd — and some much-wanted attention.
  • Food and drink: While it may be cliché, nothing lures in the throngs like complimentary food and beverages.

Staying in Touch

Once your guests visit your pop up and/or your launch event, don’t fall out of touch.

Consider running a social media or email marketing campaign thanking attendees for taking the time to show up. For customers who didn’t attend (and might suffer from a little remorse), email them a promo code offering a discount on merchandise from your pop up.

Managing Your Pop Up

Now your pop-up shop has the green light — it’s time to make sure everything runs smoothly. And to ensure your event is as seamless as possible, line up these few last details (you won’t regret thinking about these important issues ahead of time):

Get Your Staff in Place

During and after launch, you’ll need plenty of helping hands. Make sure you have enough employees scheduled to work at the pop-up shop throughout its lifecycle, and that they’re clear on their roles during the event. When you have many (trained) hands in place, they’ll make your workload lighter.

Take Stock (and Prep) Inventory

Stocking current inventory in your pop-up shop? Or perhaps you’re premiering exclusive products for the big event? Either way, do a full inventory check to ensure you have everything in place for the pop-up. Do counts for all the products you’ll be taking, and organize them in a way that makes it efficient to stock the shelves of your pop up (i.e. grouping all the products for your power wall together).

Depending on the availability of your venue, try to work ahead of time. Get your shelves and displays stocked up a couple of days ahead of the event, and assign someone to ensure additional inventory is organized and easily accessible.

Point of Sale and Payment Terminals

Whether you’ll have a full-fledged cash wrap or mobile point-of-sale systems, take some time to prep these systems for the big event. Reconcile on your stock in your inventory management system, make sure programs are synced with your POS, and that your payment terminals are fully functional (and have backups, just in case).

To keep queues quashed, think about using a mobile POS to process orders for customers waiting in line to check out. Having multiple employees processing transactions this way can keep customer satisfaction high via speedy and efficient payments.

The same applies for returns/exchanges. Make sure your return policy is clearly stated, and have the systems and staff in place to handle these inevitable transactions.

Maintain Momentum

While there’s plenty of technical and logistical details to worry about, don’t forget to maintain the buzz around your event online. Post live updates from your event to your branded social channels, interact with customers/guests online discussing your pop up, and monitor any feedback online about your event.

Getting Started With Your Pop-Up Launch

All the hours of hard work have come together into the event you envisioned. While pulling all the pieces together still requires some serious work, at this point, the event has gained momentum and is moving forward. And once your event comes to a close, you can conduct a thorough post-mortem to make improvements for your next event.

In the meantime, go forth and get your pop up going!

Read the next part of our pop-up series: Measuring The Success Of Your Pop-Up Shop