Pokemon GO is everywhere right now.
As a gamer, you are likely cashing in on Pokestops, trying to find the location of the nearest Rhyhorn and taking down Team Instinct at your local gym.
As a business owner or marketer, you may be scratching your head wondering where Pokemon GO came from and how you can capitalize on its success. If you are, I’ve got good news for you — you can definitely get in on the fun even if you aren’t a gamer or have never downloaded the app.
What IS Pokemon GO?
First up, here’s a quick rundown on what Pokemon GO is and how people are playing it (this is important info to understand how you can use this in your marketing):
- Pokemon GO is an augmented reality game that uses real-time location to create an in-world experience that is immersive and fun
- The game is set on top of a real-world map with Pokestops at landmarks, locations and other important areas
- Players have a primary character that they play with called a Pokemon Trainer
- You level your trainer up by collecting experience – the higher the level, the more experience is needed
- You can gain experience by catching Pokemon – characters that range in rarity and CP (combat power)
- You can also gain experience by fighting other teams (and your own team) at Pokemon Gyms
- Speaking of teams, at level 5 you also get to decide which team to join and there are three: yellow (Instinct), blue (Mystic) and red (Valor)
- Pokestops are an important piece of the game as you collect items at Pokestops (Pokeballs, potions, etc.) that make playing the game possible and more enjoyable
- You can also place a “lure” down on a Pokestop, which brings Pokemon to you instead of you having to search for them on the map
- Players, in real-life, usually congregate around popular hot spots, such as an area with a lot of Pokestops, particularly if people put lures down on them often
- The game brings people out into the real world to play and THIS is why it’s such a great game for businesses and marketers to leverage
I am an avid player of Pokemon GO (a level 20 Team Valor player) and I’ve been a player of video games from the time I was small (started on a Commodore 64!)
Here’s what I know to be true: I have never, in all of those years, seen a video game bring people out of their homes and together in-person like this one has and trust me, my dad used to hold some pretty sweet LAN parties at our house for my friends and I.
How Big is Pokemon GO?
Pokemon GO is breaking records everywhere… To put it into perspective, it took them just 7 days to get to 10 million downloads. This chart from SensorTower illustrates just how brain-breaking that is.
It’s not just that people are downloading the app and then forgetting about it (we all know how many copies of COD: Advanced Warfare became coasters…), the people that are downloading Pokemon GO are active, engaged users. These are people who are putting some SERIOUS time into the game and I’d know because I have over 50 kilometres walked with the app on… Yep, working my legs out big time!
To show you how much time people are spending on this game, here’s a chart from a recent study done by SensorTower.
While 35 minutes a day, on average, may not seem like a lot, you need to remember this: these people are walking about in the real world while they play these games.
Players are heading to popular areas of the cities they live in, picking up Pokestops, choosing their restaurants based on the proximity of a Pokestop… they are having a real impact on the local businesses of the places they live simply because they are spending that entertainment time OUT instead of in their homes, attached to a console.
Is My Business Positioned to Benefit?
Before we get into the tactics, you’ll need to check to see if your business is lucky enough to be near a Pokestop or a Pokemon Gym. How can you tell? Download the app (it’s free), load it up and then look at the map. Or, ask a nearby player to check for you.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
Now, the Pokestop with the square on top of it is a Pokestop that is out of reach. You can’t lure it and you can’t collect items from it.
The Pokestop with the circle over it is one that is close enough to collect from AND lure (which is actually sideways in the screenshot above so it looks more like a curved line… the stop my trainer is standing on.) If your location has one of these within reach, you’re in luck.
The other item in the screen above is a Pokemon Gym. The gym is where trainers battle each other for experience and for glory. The gym might appear in three different colours, which represent the three teams in Pokemon – yellow, blue and red. Whatever colour the gym is, that represents the team who controls the gym at that moment.
A player’s team can be identified by the ring around their player’s avatar. Mine, in the screen above, is blue because I haven’t hit level 5 yet (as of the time of that screenshot…) and you can’t pick a team or fight gyms until then. I tell you this because it will come up later in the marketing tactics section (and I personally want you to become a Pokemon GO guru!)
Not near a gym or a Pokestop? Well, wipe those tears away because I still have a few ideas for you.
So, How Can Your Business Get In on the Fun?
While most of the business marketing benefits with Pokemon GO are for local businesses, there are rumours that Niantic (the game developer) has plans to introduce virtual and online ways to incorporate marketing, too. For now though, local wins out.
If you are fortunate enough to be a local retailer and you’re within reach of a Pokestop or a Gym, you are basically on top of the Pokemon game. Here are some ways that you can get in on the fun and attract Pokemon GO players to your place of business.
#1 – Lure Your Nearby Pokestop
Lures bring people to Pokestops.
Why? The Pokemon come to you when you’re at a lure and since it’s on a Pokestop, which you can collect items from every five minutes, it creates a fantastic place to park yourself to play the game.
Lures can also be purchased in the app for gold coins and gold coins can be purchased with real money.
In Canada, 100 Pokecoins costs $1.39 to purchase. For 100 Pokecoins, you can purchase 1 lure. A lure, when placed on a Pokestop, lasts 30-minutes. 30 glorious minutes where nearby players will rush to the lure for the chance at better (and more frequent) Pokemon.
If you’re following the math here, you can lure your nearby Pokestop for a 2-3 hour window for less than $10. That means more foot traffic to your location for a 2-3 hour window with the opportunity to attract those people in.
Now, it’s not enough to just lure it and hope people show up. Instead, leverage your other means of marketing to let people know when you’re going to be luring your location. Here’s a fantastic example of a pub who does just that.
The Highlander Pub, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, posts a sandwich board out front and tells their fans on Facebook when they’ll be adding a lure to their Pokestop. It brings people out and now, players can sit and have a meal or a drink while collecting from the Pokestop every five minutes as well as snagging more Pokemon.
So, lure your location and let people know!
#2 – Host an Event or a “Lure Party”
While at first glance the idea of a “lure party” might sound creepy, bear with me!
The Canadian Museum of Nature recently posted, across all of their social channels, that they were going to open up the museum for a few hours, free of charge, and lure their Pokestops to attract more foot traffic into the museum. Talk about leveraging a situation!
By hosting a Pokemon-themed event, especially when you have Pokestops and gyms nearby, you can guarantee that people will come out in droves. These events aren’t just skewed to a younger audience, either. A San Francisco Pokemon-themed pub crawl, had 8,000 people sign-up to attend and Bell’s Eccentric Cafe held a Pokemon GO beer garden night and leveraged their nearby Pokestops AND their gyms.
If you can bring people out for a good time, some Pokemon catching and tie your business into it somehow, you’re going to do a-okay!
#3 – Leverage the Gyms for Some Friendly Competition
When one company used their nearby gym to challenge their customers to some friendly competition, it resulted in a whole lot of fun and a popular Reddit post to boot! Their first sign was playful and friendly while their second sign stoked the fire. Turns out, they had a staff member who would go and take the gym over only to have another team beat them out of it again.
Not near a Pokestop or a gym? No worries! Grab some samples and head down to the closest Pokestop or gym to meet people and introduce yourself.
#4 – Build on Your Existing Brand to Get in on the Fun
This one is easy and you can take part even if you’re nowhere near a gym or a Pokestop.
Get in on the fun by writing messages to Pokemon players, offering them unique discounts (maybe 10% off a particular item if they’ve caught a Pikachu, for example) and encouraging them to come in off the street and into your retail location to spend money.
Here are some fun examples. This first one is from an Imgur post:
And, here’s an example of Sam’s Club, a US-based business, getting in on the action:
People also LOVE showing off their Pokemon collection or pledging allegiance to their chosen team so invite people to participate in exchange for something and you’ll be much more apt to get action from the people playing. Here’s an example from CitySen Lounge that pulls on the rivalry between teams:
Finally, Readings Books got in on the craze via social media, simply by fusing their brand with the Pokemon GO brand. Here’s what they shared:
So, you don’t necessarily need to be near a Pokestop or gym to partake in the fun — you simply need to make yourself a part of the conversation because everyone is talking about Pokemon GO right now. And, because I think donuts are delicious, here’s another great example:
So, what can you (and your business) do to integrate the Pokemon GO conversation into your marketing?
#5 – Get People Out for a Good Cause
You don’t need to be a retailer to cash in on the Pokemon GO popularity.
Organizations and charities alike can also have some fun with this. For example, the Muncie Animal Shelter asked Pokemon GO players to consider coming by to help walk their dogs while they played the game. Since a component of the game is walking, particularly to hatch your collected eggs, this made sense for their organization and for players.
I’m sure you’re seeing that there are many, many ways to get in on the Pokemon GO fun, right?
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
So, now that you know what Pokemon GO is and how you can integrate it into your marketing, are you going to try to catch ’em all? If yes, AWESOME. Be sure to tag me on Facebook, Twitter or send me an e-mail with your business’ efforts. I’d love to share them with my audience as examples of how this can be done in the real world.
If you’re still left with questions or you want someone who can look at your business to see the opportunities for you, that’s exactly what I do! Book a time to chat with me and we can schedule a strategy session to go over ways in which you can leverage the Pokemon GO craze for your business. Remember, I’m not just a marketer but also an AVID player so I get this game at a deep, deep love-filled level.
Now, I need to go and level up so see you in the real world!
Pokemon logo is a public domain image as noted on Wikipedia. I hold no copyright to that image and am not affiliated, in any way, with the Pokemon brand or with Niantic, the Pokemon GO developers. I am a marketer, digital strategist and lover of the game.