Pop-Up Retail and Guerrilla Marketing - Medallion Retail
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Pop-Up Retail and Guerrilla Marketing

POSTED ON: 04/14/16 Guerrilla Marketing

Great retail pop-up – that emotionally engaging, destabilizing, awe-inspiring, out-of-nowhere brand event – is totally guerrilla.

It makes sense, then, that its marketing be guerrilla as well.

Guerrilla means creating a surprising experience where there once was nothing. It’s bold and clever, mysterious and covert. It’s ephemeral, but with attitude and a little grit.

To be considered guerrilla, a marketing tactic must be innovative, unconventional and resource efficient. Guerrilla marketing is high-concept yet utilitarian, and takes place at street level. It is about using existing resources – and a lot of nerve – to inspire mass awareness and participation.

By doing something unexpected in an unexpected place at an unexpected time using unexpected tools, a retail brand can titillate, shock, raise an eyebrow and elicit a gasp. The trick is to invest more creative energy than money.

Although guerrilla-like concepts have been deployed since the beginning of trade and commerce, Jay Conrad Levinson coined the term “guerrilla marketing” in his classic book of the same name. Written to inspire cash-strapped business owners with the idea that it doesn’t take big bucks to capture the imagination and dollars of target audiences, he offered several essential guerrilla marketing tenets:

  • Understand the way target shoppers think and behave
  • Be fearlessly creative (and brave)
  • Develop strategic partnerships to achieve shared goals
  • Leverage free media
  • Decide things quickly, and use agility to outflank competitors

And while major retail pop-up is not a small business, the same rules apply. In fact, due to the stealthy nature of the pop-up, guerrilla marketing tactics are ideal for building excitement and visits.

Look at elements in the area surrounding the pop-up store with an eye not towards what they are, but what they can be. Lamp posts, benches, crosswalks, manhole covers, sidewalk imperfections, stoops, bus shelters, fountains, fences, doorways – all are opportunities to go guerrilla and wow a shopper.

Here are 26 examples of marketing “street propaganda”:

  1. Curate a block-long mural by neighborhood graffiti artists
  2. Treat your storefront as a billboard
  3. House a community art installation
  4. Populate store windows with human mannequins
  5. Paint the windows to look smashed
  6. Rejuvenate the block with sponsored plantings and seating areas
  7. Create urban art from found materials
  8. Stencil a sidewalk
  9. Facilitate reverse graffiti; use soap to “reveal” a message
  10. Transform a public bench into a branded selfie station
  11. Paint a faux entrance on the back of the building
  12. Repurpose a manhole cover into a steaming bowl of soup
  13. Turn a bus stop into a movie theater
  14. Yarn bomb the trees
  15. Project light shows on the building
  16. Message using human billboards covered in body art or temporary tattoos
  17. Facilitate product hacks; establish a hacker’s space
  18. Provide a stage for local performers
  19. Host an urban picnic
  20. Offer sneak peeks via neighborhood scavenger hunt
  21. Stage acts of kindness (free hugs?) outside the doors
  22. Display product on the outside of the window;
  23. Activate social media; product giveaways, VIP events, reviews
  24. Mount a fashion show with unexpected models
  25. Post a provocative image/video online
  26. Activate celebrities via surprise, unannounced shop visits
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