The Pop-up Paradigm: The Profitable Cure for Brick and Mortar Business


The Pop-up Paradigm offers examples and recommendations for businesses considering pop-ups for profits & engagement.

The Pop-up Paradigm

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

A few years ago, getting your favorite sneakers involved driving to your favorite shoe store and browsing through its inventory. Now, that same experience can be done in just a few seconds with the click of a mouse.

Same customer, different experience for the store owner and the customer.

Most business owners have adapted to this new world of technology and customer interaction by creating websites (sometimes very interactive websites), engaging in social media, and tailoring their marketing efforts for a tech-savvy, always connected, and (often) impatient consumer.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the brick-and-mortar store is doomed, as some naysayers predict. Customers, for a variety of reasons, still enjoy the experience of browsing in a physical store and engaging with a real people in their favorite places.

This puts business owners who own a business in a physical location in a unique situation. How do you cater to those customers who like the experience of visiting your business while also reaching out to online customers? The predominant wisdom is to utilize location-based social media sites such as FourSquare or improving your SEO by getting listed on sites like Google+ and Google. But does this reach everyone?

While those sites may provide some engagement between your business and customers, the level of interaction doesn’t provide the qualitative data or customer engagement that a business could have. In her book, The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age, Melissa Gonzalez believes that the answer to engaging both your online and offline customers in a meaningful way is the “pop-up”, or retail spaces used for sales or engagement that exist for a short time.

Your Business Might Need a Pop-up

This setup allows a business to interact directly with its customers without the expensive overhead fees as well as gather crucial feedback, more than you can get from a Google Analytics report. Pop-up stores are also good for the customer, too. Customers can interact directly with the brand’s ambassadors and sometimes staff in a more engaging way than a web chat or phone call. The trend has become so popular, that even the big businesses (like Amazon) are jumping into the fray with pop-ups of its own.

So, should you get involved in a pop-up? The answer depends.

Melissa Gonzalez takes the time to explore how pop-ups have worked for other businesses along with guidance on whether a pop-up is for you in The Pop-up Paradigm.

The Pop-up Paradigm Shows Why Your Business Should Pop-up

The Pop-up Paradigm is definitely a quick read with only 117 pages. Gonzalez begins by exploring the evolving relationship between customers, technology, and businesses. That evolution includes the pop-up, which provides a profitable opportunity for businesses and customers if done correctly. She concludes by again exploring how retail is transforming and the ways that evolution might look in the future.

Gonzalez provides examples of various businesses which have effectively used pop-ups for selling everything from jewelry to luxury brand items with great success. Gonzalez emphasizes that the pop-up is more than just a temporary selling space. It is creating an experience that can grow your sales in the short-term and your customer base in the long-term.

The trick is creating the right experience. For mature brands, this means creating a pop-up experience exceeding customer’s expectations while staying consistent to your brand’s core identity. For new brands, this means creating a pop-up experience that will intrigue customers and establish your brand. For either new or mature brands, The Pop-up Paradigm provides suggestions on how to create that pop-up experience.

Great for Inspiration & Initial Exploration of the Pop-up Idea

The Pop-up Paradigm provides an entertaining, short overview of the potential benefits of a pop-up brand for the reader who may have heard of a pop-up, but needs more information to consider a pop-up as a worthwhile investment. Gonzalez uses enthusiastic language and engaging case studies (i.e. Sarah Jessica Parker in a pop-up helping sell shoes) to demonstrate the possibilities and potential benefits of a pop-up. If you are looking for anecdotal evidence to justify a pop-up or just need a cool idea, this book might be for you.

The Pop-up Paradigm, however, may not be the best option for two groups:

  • Small businesses with marketing budgets under $15,000.
  • People who don’t have a clue about pop-ups or their marketing audience.

For the first group, Gonzalez is very upfront and honest about the estimated costs of a good pop-up. She admits that it does cost some money to do well. That being said, any business (big or small) can use Gonzalez’ insights about customer engagement and presentation for customer retention.

For the second group, The Pop-up Paradigm already considers that the reader knows what a pop-up is and who its target market is. If you don’t have that, this book is helpful, but won’t provide all of the details you need.

About the Author

Melissa Gonzalez is an author, consultant, and founder of The Lion’esque Group, a marketing and strategy firm specializing in pop-ups. She can be found at her website or on Twitter @melsstyles. The Pop-up Paradigm can be found on Amazon. This review was based on a purchased copy of the electronic version of the book.

Get discounts and special offers on new and classic business books with an Audible Premium Plus membership. Learn more and sign up for an account today.

Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.