5 Things You Must Do Before Opening Your First Pop-Up

There are a huge range of goals in a pop-up and few correct answers. Choosing which goals to focus on is largely up to you.

woman in front of ducks

For some brands, building buzz can be just as valuable as bringing in dollars. For other more omni-channel brands, engagements in a shop are intended to drive future online purchases. Some pop-ups have the express purpose of bringing in revenue and others have no intention of a direct return on investment.

Regardless of what your goals are, you must understand and define exactly what you plan to get out of the experience before signing that lease. Your goals could be revenue, deeper customer connections, educating a wider audience, or a seasonal offer. It doesn’t matter what these are, as long as they’re written down and remembered.

And most importantly, make sure your pop-up goals are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely)! You don’t want vague goals like, “build buzz for our brand,” “increase sales,” or “talk to our customers.” You need to know if you’re successful or not!

Once you understand your goals, you need to measure and track it.

Set Up a System to Track Your Success

Whether you want more pop-up led sales, customer engagements, brand buzz, or social follows, you need to find a way to track metrics for these goals. It’s essential to have infrastructure in place to do this.

Depending on your goals, you’ll want tracking tools that can monitor in-store and online sales, customer engagements, or social following. These tools could be as simple as Google Sheets or as robust as a custom in-house solution. It’s also important that employees have a way to track metrics. This could require additional training, tools, or supervision depending on what you’re tracking.

For example, tasking one employee to use a simple counter could be enough to track the number of customer experiences delivered. If you’re tracking foot traffic, integrating door sensors or security cameras would be a more intensive option. If you’re measuring engagements, tracking how many customers offer personal information with a spreadsheet or clienteling tool could be effective.

Plan Space, but Don’t Over-do it

A store represents a physical extension of your brand. And if this is your first pop-up, the store will be the first manifestation of your brand in many customers’ eyes.

This can be a lot of pressure. If you’ve spent sweat and tears creating the perfect online experience, you may feel like you have to make your small space a perfect Anthropologie-esque world. Space is important and easier than you think in your first pop-up. While you don’t need water fixtures or intricate displays, you should think carefully about what kind of experience you want to offer for your brand.

Maybe you can educate shoppers about a single product with raw materials? Create a space for shoppers to learn about your brand story with an interactive element? Eschew aesthetics entirely and instead offer amazing customer service and personal shopping?

Your space doesn’t have to be heart-meltingly beautiful or chic, it just needs to align with the experience you intend to create. Create something intentional – it could be a blank room or filled with products – but it should feel authentic. Just treat it like how you got through middle school: take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself.

Make a Rough Cost Estimate

Estimating costs can be the most daunting task for brands. Websites can run relatively lean, but pop-ups require paying rent, hiring staff, holding inventory, and buying insurance. That doesn’t come cheap.

It’s important to get a rough estimate of your week-to-week cost of running a storefront. Before starting a pop-up, know exactly what your budget is and how long you can keep the store open.

This step is ideally done before goal setting so you can know what you need to to make the store worthwhile. Keep the budget simple at first and slowly add line items and complexity as time goes on. As you tweak your back-of-the-envelope budget, you can make necessary strategic changes over time.

Have a Base Understanding Of Your Market

Before opening your pop-up, it’s important to understand your target market. Of course, you’ll learn a lot of about your audience from store interactions, but you need to start with a core persona to make initial decisions. While it can be tempting to rely on guesses about your customers, the more you learn about your audience before starting the more successful your pop-up will be.

The easiest way to learn is to ask. Continuously talking and asking questions to your current customers is the easiest way to build a pop-up store that they would like. If possible, ask your customers for feedback on the pop-up store to help you create something more valuable and successful. It also gives current customers a feeling of ownership on the success of the brand.

Make a List and Check it Twice

Although these five items are important, there are host of other items that you should also pay attention to before opening your doors. We compiled them in this free checklist. If you want to be sure that you’re not missing anything, give it a read!