Anyone in event marketing can tell you it’s challenging to attract a crowd to an event. Not only do you have to coordinate with vendors, organize to the smallest detail, manage logistics, create an outreach campaign and market to attendees if you’re not lucky enough to have a contact list. Even then, you have to work to attract participants, confirm reservations, answer endless questions and diplomatically tread between various parties involved.

On the other side of spectrum, unless your event is incredibly fabulous and features a great line-up, attendees tend to view events with begrudging enthusiasm. This is probably why both marketers and attendees respond favorably to an increased demand for pop up marketing.

Why Pop Up Events Work

Pop up marketing brings the event to the attendees. While this method may not work with esteemed speakers or a guest list, it works brilliantly for outreach campaigns looking to increase exposure, engagement and buzz. Pop up events are also more effective, quicker to produce and host, and more budget friendly. The events take place in public spaces where marketers set up temporary shops, installations, lounges, art galleries and more – all aptly falling under ambient advertising. You may see either a portion of a space re-imagined by a brand, or you may see an interactive set up inviting passersby to get involved, even if it’s just to use the space or stroll through it.

Infusing a static landscape with imagination, pop up events appeal to our sense of wonder and discovery by introducing possibility where it otherwise wasn’t found. It’s also easier to get local PR coverage for pop up events than it is for a traditional event; bloggers, editors and reporters are always seeking for local happenings. And to seal the deal, pop up events get us talking, offering marketers a guaranteed traction through social buzz and word of mouth.

Getting Started with Your Pop Up Event

  1. Space – Consider your demographic and choose a space based on that. For example, try negotiating a space with South Coast Plaza if you’re reaching for a higher-earning luxury clientele. The mall is a hot spot for Southern California’s affluent and your own city probably has a similar watering hole. You can either work to partner with a store or with the mall. Think of the yearly Easter and Santa set-ups every mall has and ask yourself why there can’t be a space as centralized and accommodating to draw in an audience.On the other hand, if you’re reaching out to moms and families, target populated kid-friendly areas on weekend afternoons when most families are out. Suburban downtowns work best for this type of outreach.
  2. Timing – Timing is everything. Too long and you’re boring; too short and you haven’t given people a chance to know you’re even there. Never shoot for less than two days and usually no more than two weeks. You can also consider serial pop up events, especially if you’re constricted to one day. Letting people know you’re around the first Sunday of every month (even if just for the summer) will keep the event manageable, affordable and rewarding.
  3. Strategy – The best thing about pop up marketing is that it can be done on any budget by any number of people. In addition to or aside from a full exhibition, you can create more targeted and creative outreach campaigns.

For extreme low budget needs, you can even tap into wild postings. You may have seen wild postings with posters or graphics showcased repeatedly (see Kony 2012). The block posting approach is outdated and overlooked. Rather, consider strategic clustered postings in target areas.