5 lessons pop-up events can teach startups

Published · 3 min read

Figuring out how to make a name for your startup can be a minefield. Thankfully, experiential marketing offers a tried and tested toolbox for ambitious entrepreneurs.

Whether you’re a B2C retailer wondering how to penetrate a lucrative market or a B2B business on the hunt for some exciting new contracts, the ‘formula for success’ is elusive to say the least. Between brand design, product launches, marketing campaigns and relationship building, there are more than a few plates to spin – but the good news is that certain marketing platforms can create a solid foundation for all efforts that follow.

Experiential marketing has enjoyed a stratospheric rise in popularity over recent years – having now secured what looks to be a permanent spot in today’s holistic sales and marketing toolbox. While most effective when combined with a suite of traditional and online promotional channels, this marketing multi-tool is nonetheless single-handedly capable of driving product sales, generating brand awareness, providing invaluable market research and helping brands to accumulate a loyal and engaged follower base.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most crucial lessons to be learned from the success of event marketing – particularly pop-up events. That way, your brand can create its own blueprint for success through the art of experiences.

Customers like to get hands-on

We’re a tactile species – and when it comes to parting with our money, we like having a chance to get our hands on a product before we buy it, or trial a service before we make the decision to opt in. In the world of pop-up events, opportunities for allowing attendees to give products a ‘test drive’ are practically endless.

From demonstrating the functionality of a tangible, consumer-focused product to giving audiences a sneak peek at the beta version of your latest B2B software, as long as you make sure your exhibition trailer or event stall is locked and loaded with the facilities you need to put on a show, you’re good to go. According to EventTrack, 80% of marketing event attendees say their buying decisions are actually defined by free samples and live demonstrations – so the numbers speak for themselves.

Market research matters

From focus groups to online surveys, market research is a staple of the product creation process – and pop-up events can deliver a breadth of insightful and actionable feedback on whatever it is you’re looking to launch next. By incorporating the live demo element and choosing your pop-up’s location with care, you can gather the intelligence that will inform not only how you refine your upcoming product range or service offering, but also the marketing messages you use to communicate with prospective customers.

Relatable brands make real connections

74% of event attendees say engaging through branded event experiences makes them more likely to pay for the product or service in question – and it all comes down to creating a sense of familiarity and relatability that will stick with attendees after the event’s over. For bonus points, consider how you may be able to align your brand with a concept, cultural phenomenon or public figure your audience supports – if A-list celebrity endorsements are a little out of reach, partnering with a known brand or social influencer for a product launch could just do the trick.

Exposure breeds exposure

In the early stages of growing your startup, building brand awareness can often feel like a thankless and frustrating uphill battle – but many successful business owners will tell you that growth has a habit of being exponential. Simply spreading the word about your brand through word of mouth may seem a little less sophisticated alongside detailed SEO plans and long-term print media campaigns, but the proof is in the pudding. Pop-up events in high-traffic locations serve as a simple and effective tool for exposing more people to your offering, kick-starting the ripple effect that may someday make your brand a household name.

The mountain won’t come to Muhammad

If your customers won’t come to you, you must go to your customers. Before you’ve reached a self-perpetuating level of brand awareness, the ball is very much in your court when it comes to initiating and solidifying relationships with the right people – and this is where pop-up events come in. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or operate entirely online, you may be waiting a while if you expect customers to find you through pure serendipity – so take your brand to their door, as it were. Identify a prime public location or, if you’re selling to the millennial market, pitch up on a college or university campus to take dumb luck out of the equation.

From tenacious independent retailers hoping to take on high-street giants to innovative tech startups selling software as a service, enterprises of all shapes and sizes have a lot to gain from perfecting the art of the pop-up.

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