Posted: Fri 19th Apr 2013
Back in February, Cherrypick Introductions was one of the first three businesses to take up residency in PopUp Britain's first pop-up shop outside London, in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. As a service business, the matchmaking agency was an unusual addition to the regular roster of retailers - but it proved a worthwhile venture, as founder Lynette Berry explains.
As a service business, I was unsure whether I would attract much interest in a pop-up shop, writes Lynette (left). I could see the benefit of the PopUp Britain initiative to businesses selling a product - but an introductions agency? I've previously toyed with the idea of a high street office for Cherrypick Introductions and the Moreton pop-up gave me a chance to try a bit of market research. The big question was: would people come in off the street and talk about their private lives in a public space?
As it happened, Valentine's Day was approaching and this is the busiest time of year for my industry. I put my head together with the two other tenants - Penny Menato of RosaBlue and Julia Lucas of Objets d'AmourÂ - and we came up with a Valentine's theme for our pop-up, where you could buy gifts and cards and you might even find a date for Valentine's Day. We nicknamed it the 'one-stop love shop'. We had the shop for two weeks at a very reasonable rent of Â£100 all-in. This was a 'no brainer' reallyÂ - I couldn't place an advert in a glossy magazine for that sum, and with all the press coverage promised, I knew the publicity and marketing opportunity was something I couldn't afford to miss out on.
Popping up in the press
George Davis the fashion guru (Per Una, Asda, Next, etc) came to open the shop and lots of press covered the event. We also had a launch party for family, friends and other retailers from Moreton-in-Marsh, who came along to give us their support and encouragement. BBC Radio Gloucester interviewed us on the first day and came back for a follow-up towards the end of our stint. The interview proved an invaluable piece of publicity. I told the interviewer how I hoped people would drop in for a chat and how I hoped to help them find love. The very next day a lovely gentleman who had heard the interview came into the shop, sat down at my desk and asked how I could help him.
"The increase in profile for my business was considerable. Twitter, in particular, has been hugely successful for me."
I have to say I was quite surprised - a man, coming in to talk about his love life surrounded by women in a shop full of flowers and love hearts! I signed him up as a private client and he had his first date within just a few weeks. I also had three other enquires during my stay and saw a considerable increase of hits to my website and other social media platforms I use.
The PR impact of pop-ups
Although I received only a handful of face-to-face enquiries, the increase in profile for my business was considerable. Twitter, in particular, has been hugely successful for me and I gained many new followers. In fact, social media has transformed the way clients engage in my industry: I've foudn that potential clients like to get to know the person behind the business; they want my back-story and want to form a relationship with me before they go ahead and sign up to the service. I've found that Facebook and even Pinterest have opened up beneficial avenues of communication, too, that give people the confidence to go ahead and make an enquiry.
Popping up in the future?
"Pop-ups are a low-cost commitment that enables independent businesses to take our wares to potential customers and not wait for them to come to us."
I'd definitely do a pop-up again, given the chance - and probably the same time next year in the run-up to Valentine's Day. Along with Christmas and New Year, this is the busiest time for the dating industry. My fellow tenants Penny and Julia felt similarly and said they'd be interested in trying out different locations around the UK in the summer and also in the build-up to Christmas. For small independent businesses like ours, I can see the pop-up model becoming very popular because it's a low-cost, short-term commitment that enables us to take our wares to potential customers and not wait for them to come to us.Â It also offers a big marketing boost by giving us something to talk to the press and our social media followers about. The resulting increase in profile creates a spike in website hits and really helps 'drive' people to the shop itself. I'd say ignore pop-ups shops at your peril. My feeling that they're here to stay! Lynette Berry is the director of Cherrypick Introductions, a Gloucestershire-based matchmaking agency aimed at busy company owners and executives.
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