Back to Basics – How Talking to Customers is Making a Comeback

It may sound obvious, but talking directly to a potential customer is one of the most effective ways to promote what you do. By talking directly, I don’t mean crafting a personalised email to a carefully curated mailing list. I’m talking about having a conversation face to face.

Pop up shop

photo credit: Jon Crel / Flickr

That’s where pop-up marketing comes in. You may have seen the pop up in its various, often trendy, guises – an unused shop front temporarily taken over by a restaurant, a corner of a public space dedicated to an art installation. It’s a promotional format that’s easily translatable to any and every type of business.

All you need is a space

Say you’re the owner of a driving school. You need to find people who want to learn. Get out there and promote in a busy public place full of local people. They’ll either stop to find out more, or at least notice your sign, see you interacting with the community and maybe remember you in future. Already you’ve raised your profile and created some leads for new business. Right people, right time, right place.

Where do I start looking?

Whereas you only used to be able to set up promotions like these by filling out a ton of paperwork, you can now book physical marketing space online. So it’s more convenient for small businesses to rent unused space from larger ones, such as shopping centres, in areas where their potential customers live. They can book for the day, a week or longer and benefit from the high footfall of a thriving venue. Business owners and their staff get the chance to talk directly to the public, presenting the personal face of the business and connecting with the community more effectively than they might do through other advertising formats. With this sort of marketing you can target relevant, interested parties who are likely to take up your services.

It’s also an affordable way to promote. Your costs are fixed per promotion, the footfall is high and the positive publicity and boost to your sales can be surprising. It’s a winning formula for retailers too: they earn extra income from unused floor space and improve their reputations by demonstrating their support of small businesses.

Why not just concentrate on digital advertising?

We’ve all experienced the fleeting, often slightly irritating marketing contact of a digital ad – often a virtual fly to be swatted away so we can carry on with a more important task. That’s why we shouldn’t underrate the power of face to face marketing. When it’s done well it matches or outperforms other marketing channels, building solid relationships with a client base at the same time.

Is anyone else doing it?

They sure are. And it’s not just for driving instructors. Amazon are in on it, popping up in our high streets to show communities a personal side to an otherwise faceless online monolith.

Pop-up marketing is cost effective, personal, targeted and creative – no wonder it’s becoming so popular for big brands, small brands and next-big-thing brands. Go where the people are. They’re still shopping in supermarkets, browsing garden centres for pot plants and strolling in town centres. Online selling can be powerful, but it’s rarely personal.

Got a small business?

Don’t be afraid to talk face to face. If you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll communicate that effectively to potential customers. And they won’t swat you away with a click of their mouse.


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