How to Create a Pop-Up Experience: 9 Steps

Hamilton Hamilton

A pop-up experience is a creative, engaging, and temporary event you can only encounter for a limited time. Pop-ups have a reputation for surprising and delighting audiences, often occurring in unexpected locations. If you want to take creative risks, generate buzz, and meet new fans, you've come to the right place. Here's how to create a pop-up experience. 

1. Define the Objectives

The first step in any planning process is to establish your objectives. What do you hope to achieve with a pop-up experience? Would you like to enhance your brand's visibility and recognition? Do you want to change brand perception? Are you looking to generate leads? Be sure to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) goals to understand the project’s direction and measure its effectiveness. Once you have determined your objectives using the S.M.A.R.T. framework, it will be easier to identify the additional details needed for the experience.

2. Choose a Theme

A key characteristic of a pop-up experience is a clearly defined theme. The theme can revolve around any captivating topic relevant to the brand's message. Here are clever theme ideas: 

  • Align the theme with a highly anticipated event or current trend, like a popular movie, song, or cultural phenomenon. For example, the release of "Barbie" inspired fun pop-ups with Barbie-themed food, cocktails, and photo booths.
  • Base the theme on a specific season or place to tell a story of how the product or experience is enjoyed. For example, a brand could launch a line of ski gear with a winter wonderland pop-up featuring ice sculptures and fake snow. 

3. Book a Venue

The pop-up experience's location will shape the event's tone, style, and impact. Pop-ups can happen in permanent locations or temporary venues. Make sure the setting enhances the customer experience and meets event goals. The more creative the venue, the stronger the impression. For example, a mail-order houseplant company could host a pop-up in a greenhouse outfitted with furniture made from plants. 

4. Handle the Logistics

The success of any event or experience depends upon well-organized logistics. After outlining your goals, selecting a theme, and securing a venue, guarantee all other details are in order. Although pop-ups seem spontaneous to the audience, they take careful planning and skillful execution behind the scenes. Ensure you have the proper permits and licenses, hire experienced staff, and create contingency plans for any issues.

5. Integrate Technology

The right technology can elevate a pop-up and enable a higher ROI. Here is our pop-up experience must-have: 

  • Hamilton inSIGHT® is our proprietary lead capture solution designed to capture qualifying information from every pop-up visitor on your own device, regardless of where they are engaged in the experience. It features compatibility across all mobile devices, customizable branding opportunities, lead scoring, text alerts, image capture, on-site engagement integration, custom CRM formatting, and voice-to-text notes.

6. Market the Pop-up

Pop-ups rely on robust marketing initiatives to generate attendance. With any marketing campaign, especially a pop-up experience, promoting before, during, and after the event is crucial. Cultivate a buzz of anticipation and work to sustain it long after the point-in-time event has ended. 

7. Launch the Experience

Bringing a pop-up experience to life is a monumental experience. During the event, connect with attendees and enjoy the experience. Rely upon your careful planning and skilled team to handle any last-minute challenges. 

8. Reflect and Evaluate 

After completing the pop-up experience, it's time to reflect on accomplishments and areas for growth. Evaluate the outcomes against the established metrics from the planning phase. Celebrate successes and learn from your mistakes to improve future events. 

9. Partner with an Expert

If handling this on your own while running a business seems overwhelming, help is available. At Hamilton, we take pride in bringing branded pop-up experiences to life. 

Hamilton is an event marketing agency with a 75-year legacy in creating immersive brand experiences for companies throughout North America and worldwide. We design, produce, and execute integrated experiences – events, environments, exhibits, and digital solutions – that drive meaningful connections between your brand and your audience. To craft a successful pop-up experience, contact us today!