Brand Matters: Marketing With a Pop
Here’s a pop quiz.
Answer: They all have used the latest brand marketing tool to both connect with their existing customers and find new customers: pop-up stores!
Christina Norsig, CEO of New York-based Pop-Up Insider, describes pop-up stores as, “temporary retail space used for generating sales and marketing brands; a solution to the economic challenges facing both landlords
In an interview on American Public Media, Norsig stated: “It’s what I call bricks, clicks and quicks. We have our brick-and-mortar stores, we have our Internet business, and now we have quicks, meaning temporary real estate.”
Pop-up stores have reignited the retail world because of several factors. These stores:
- create buzz and excitement;
- build anticipation and provoke attention in cluttered environments;
- provide a fast and extremely convenient call to action;
- build brand loyalty by providing interactive and novel customer experiences; and
- inspire long-lasting customer conversations.
I do believe in the power of the pop-up effect, but I believe the idea may have far wider-reaching implications. I’ve used the marketing concept of pop-ups as a tool to help companies in all sorts of industries—not just retail—think about how their brands can learn from these experiences and simulate the effects of these pop-upesque opportunities.
Create Your Own Pop-Up Brand Storybook
I often compare the work of creating or recreating a brand to writing a compelling book with many chapters, themes and pages—all unified to tell one story. An integrated brand story is a must these days to capture both your customers’ fleeting attention spans and their share of wallet and heart in your category.
Brand stories provide the basis for that integration and a strategic and defining narrative for both your internal and external audiences.
Without a brand story as a true north compass for all your strategic business activities, your brand can lose its soul. Without making that story clear to your customers in all that you do, your brand can lose its competitive edge. Hopefully your brand story is rich and engaging, a virtual page turner for your customers bursting with a mix of old and new, grounded by a solid heritage but open to your customers’ changing lives and needs.
Why not pretend that your brand is a storybook and lay out its central themes and stories? What pops? What stories need greater depth? What themes need more development? What is unclear to your readers (a.k.a. customers)? Create a visual of some type—a storyboard, a diorama, a scrapbook, an actual pop-up book—to show where you’d like to take your brand next.
Think Pop-Up Size
Pretend your brand needs to be condensed in some way—into a one-page website, an oversized postcard, a kiosk or a vending machine, or a trade show booth. How would you use this compact space?
In this concentrated environment, what would be your three main messages? The power of the pop-up experience is in its tightly edited presentation. In our attention-deficit world, brands that present the most succinct, relevant and compelling stories are the brands that endear themselves to their customers.
As a culture, we’ve moved from novels to short stories to short-shorts to 140 character tweets, from 60-second commercials to 30-seconds to 15-seconds to sound bytes to Tivo-ing right past it all. Brands must constantly hone their essence in tighter and smaller venues.
Pop-Up Talking Points
An additional benefit of these intense pop-up experiences is the ability for brands to be front and center with their customers and their products. To hear feedback firsthand from customers—both positive and negative. To provide an arena for customer concerns to “pop up.”
Dr. Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University wrote, “Entrepreneurs need to spend much less time at their computers imagining their new businesses and more time out engaging with real, live customers.” I couldn’t agree more.
What kind of novel experience could you create that would allow both your employees and your customers time and space to let brand-related things occur to them?
Too often our transactions with customers are rushed, or they are non-existent with self-serve computerized checkouts. Gone are the days of lingering in a general store where both the owner and the customer spent a few unhurried minutes getting to know each other a bit better, getting to find out what makes the other tick and find out what products would make life better for the customer. Brands need to intentionally create listening and sharing opportunities for their employees and their customers. These pop-up talking points can be brand fuel.
So, why not play this little game of pop-up pretend and see what real-life lessons are in store for your brand?
Andrea Syverson, author of “BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants,” is president of Black Forest, Col.-based IER Partners, a strategic consulting company specializing in innovative brand and merchandising directions. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org