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Thinking About Hosting a Pop-Up Event? 12 Ways to Ensure It Succeeds

Photos of the featured members.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

If you’re a new business trying to drum up awareness or an established business just trying to expand your reach, pop-up events are a great way to get your brand in front of more potential customers. Because of their temporary nature, they’re perfect for creating a sense of urgency and mystique that will draw in curious minds.

But how can businesses best capitalize on these events? To help answer that question, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council experts weigh in with their best tips on how to run a successful pop-up event and generate buzz for your business.

Collaborate with a Complementary Business

Collaborate with a business partner who sells goods that complement your products. This will bring together customers from both companies, as people would be interested to see how the two brands are working together. This not only lowers the cost that would have incurred while planning alone, but it also eases the challenges associated with it. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

Pair the Right Location with the Right Value

Find the location where your target customers are most likely to be, and give them something valuable for their time. An example would be handing out water bottles near a sports event on a hot day in exchange for downloading your app, or gift cards outside a coffee shop. If you can give them a sample of your product at a time when they need it most, you have the perfect situation. – Danny Gold, ZolTrain

Bring Your Friendliest, Most Outgoing Employees

Have your friendliest and most outgoing employees run the event. They will be the face of your company, and you want to leave a lasting impression. Also, hand out strategic freebies or goodies so that your reach will last long after your event. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery

Make It a True Experience

People love science museums because of the multi-sensory nature of the exhibits. So, in addition to decor and customer flow, focus on something to do for those visiting — something for them to smell, touch, hear (that isn’t your product). Teach them something new. Regardless of whether or not they buy that day, they will remember you when they get home. – Amanda Reiman, Personal Plants

Solve a Problem

Understand the mindset of your audience in that particular moment and tailor your execution and message to enhance their overall experience. No one wants to fill out a questionnaire in the middle of a festival. They probably want to charge their phone, sit down and cool off. The brand should solve a problem for them in that moment, not be the problem. – Brad Canario, Auxly

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Start Locally

I would start with local pop-up events and expand from there. The first pop-up is the most crucial, as you’re learning what’s expected. If your local pop-up is extraordinary, then duplicate that process in nearby cities, then nearby states and then globally. – Jenny Ta, GalaxE by HODL Assets, Inc.

Build Up the ‘Hype’

The key to a successful pop-up is to build hype and excitement in the weeks leading up to the event. Building a guest list to gauge your expected amount of attendees is crucial. You’ll also want to send three vital event reminders to your guest list — seven days before the event, 24 hours before the event and, finally, on the day of. This will ensure a strong turnout, leading to a successful pop-up. – King Holder, PROCUSSION

Plan for Things to Go Wrong

Plan ahead for every situation because something unexpected always happens and you’re there to put your best foot forward. Who is your backup coordinator if your primary gets sick? Where will you relocate an outdoor event if it rains? Who are your keynote speakers, how much time will they speak and on what topics? You can’t hide behind a screen if something goes wrong; you’re there in real time. – Victoria Kennedy, Marisa Johnson

Consider Foot Traffic

The location is the most important aspect of running a pop-up shop. Make sure you take the time to find a good location where there will be enough foot traffic to potentially achieve the type of reach you are hoping for. – Christian Anderson (Trust’N), Lost Boy Entertainment LLC

Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes! How would they want to interact with you? What makes them feel comfortable? What would be fun and engaging? Pop-ups are face-to-face interaction and can be really exciting for both the company and the customers if done right. Don’t be afraid to be playful and creative and create a fun experience they will remember. Make a positive memory they’ll never forget! – Lisa Buffo, Cannabis Marketing Association

Have Meaningful Client Conversations

Pop-ups aren’t really about showing your company’s products, but about using the time to have meaningful conversations with your clients. They will remember the honesty and trust created from the conversation and associate this with your brand or product. The opposite is also true, so use the rare opportunity of being out in the wild to your advantage! – Skip Meador, marQaha

Determine a Clear Goal, Theme and Message

People don’t remember events; they remember experiences. Your event should create an environment that’s exclusive, interesting and memorable. You need a clear goal with a theme, as well as a message. The experience should encompass both brand engagement and product awareness. Be sure to share recap footage on your social channels to be seen by both existing and potential customers. – David Castain, David Castain & Associates