Marketing Challenges with Pop-Up Shops

Marketing Challenges with Pop-Up Shops

Pop-up shops or marketplaces are those one-time mini-art fairs or art markets you find in untraditional spaces. They have been the latest retail craze for the past few years and are all over the place around the fall and holiday time.

But, there are some major issues with pop-up shops which can be frustrating for the artists and creators who are trying to grow their business and make a profit. This blog post talks about those challenges and then provides steps to help you overcome them.

Challenge 1: Poor Venue Marketing: Pop-ups can sometimes be organized at a location, but the venue or business it’s housed in doesn’t put forth the effort to promote it.

  • Do not expect the venue to do the work or to do any marketing for that matter. Some venues simply want to be a space for you to use. This will be a bit different when it comes to art fairs because these oftentimes have longtime and annual audience members who attend these. 
  • Stunt Pop-ups don’t work. Doing a surprise pop-up shop at a venue doesn’t work. It means you’re only selling to the people who would already be at that venue regardless of the pop-up marketplace
  • Urge venues to promote. While it may not be your job to get the venues on board with promoting the event, bringing in new people into their space can also generate business for them. Talk about the mutual benefits of cross-promoting when a venue or space is hosting a pop-up shop.

Challenge 2: Lack of Pop-Up Branding: Marketplaces that are new or just beginning oftentimes don’t have any formal branding or logos. It can be difficult for artists to push and promote through their networks when there isn’t much to work with or if it is of poor quality.

  • Note which pop-ups and art fairs you see marketed in your community. What ones are popular and well-marketed? Note where you see the ads and which ones have a logo. While we all want to root for the underdog, participate in the pop-ups that are visible, marketed, and attended by the community.
  • Spread the word and quit participating in events that are flops. Stop supporting events and pop-ups that take money from artists, or charge high entry fees that leave little to no return for the artists participating…(ahem, RAW). Also, don’t participate in marketplaces that are poorly curated or disorganized, its lack of coordination and professionalism will reflect on your business. Let other artists and makers in your community know if something was poorly done so you can save them time, money, energy, and disappointment.

Challenge 3: Vendor Marketing: The luxury of participating in a pop-up marketplace or art fair is shared marketing. When one vendor shares the event with their audience, they bring in new potential buyers for the other vendors. When vendors rely on other vendors to provide the audience or fail to properly market, this can be troubling. 

  • Marketing the week or days before doesn’t cut it. Plan out marketing weeks in advance to slowly build your content and excitement around the marketplace event.
  • Use a variety of content to market the event. Repeatedly posting the event logo or digital postcard will wear out your audience. Find creative ways to post and share the event without being redundant.
  • Marketing falls into the hands of artists and vendors but this job role is always communicated to those participating. If you have done some previous pop-ups, you have learned that group marketing efforts are key to success, but not all early small businesses or emerging artists know this when they first start out. 
  • Go above and beyond when it comes to marketing. The organizers will probably ask you to share the Facebook event and promote it but find ways to REALLY connect with your audience if you want them to come. 

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