By now, you’ve probably heard of Pokemon Go, the latest craze in mobile gaming. The augmented reality game allows players to roam around real neighborhoods catching Pokemon, getting helpful items at Pokestops, and battling to take control of gyms. Because it requires players to walk around outside as they play, it’s not hard to see how popular the game has become since its launch last week.
Take a look around your neighborhood or just about any public place and you’re likely to see hordes of young people walking around with their phones, sometimes held high as if taking a picture. It’s a safe bet to assume they’re all playing Pokemon Go. So how can you use Pokemon Go for your business?
Anytime something comes out that is this popular, it’s our job as a marketing agency to see how brands might be able to use it. The key for these things to work is to figure out how you can both add value to and get value from the new platform. You don’t want to be seen as an annoying advertiser and you don’t want to waste your time or money on something that won’t generate return. The good news with Pokemon Go is that it’s pretty easy to help yourself and your customers, all with little or no investment at all. These methods will work best for retail businesses targeting younger customers (most of the people playing will be roughly 13-30 years old).
There are three easy ways you can use Pokemon Go for your business:
- Add a Lure Module to a nearby Pokestop
- Take advantage of a nearby gym
- Join in on the fun
If half of that sounded like a foreign language, don’t worry, we offer detailed explanations below. All three of the above methods are cheap, easy, and effective ways to market your business, get more traffic, and increase sales.
To understand how to make money for your retail business with Pokemon Go, you first have to have an understanding of three aspects of the game:
- The game is played on a map that mirrors the Google Map of your area. This means that the places where people are going to play in the game are real places.
- Throughout the map are Pokestops where users can go to get items that help them play the game. These Pokestops are found at places with some sort of public significance. So far, I’ve seen them at the plaques that mark historical buildings, art installations, monuments, local businesses that have some significance (one is at our town’s only comic store for example), and even a man-hole cover that has a unique design stamped into it.
- Also placed throughout the map, though slightly less frequently, are gyms. Basically, all players are on one of three teams and work together to battle to control a gym for their team. While catching Pokemon is fun, controlling a gym is really what people are after.
Now let’s get into a little more detail about how to use the game to drive traffic and generate revenue for your business. Before we get started though, it’s important to note that the game developers are not adding new Pokestops or gyms at this time. So, we’re stuck with what is already in the game.
Add a Lure Module To a Nearby Pokestop
One of the best ways your business can benefit from the people playing the game is if you have a Pokestop very close to your business. To find out, download the game (it’s free to download and play) and go through the simple first steps of creating your character and choosing your first Pokemon. Then, while you’re at your business, open the game and look to see if a Pokestop is next to your business. If there’s one close, it will look like the image below with the circle icon. If there’s one close but not close enough, the icon will have a cube. If you don’t have one close enough, skip down to the next step. If there is one close enough, keep reading to learn what to do to drive traffic into your store.
What you want to do is activate that Pokestop with an item in the game called a “lure”. This will attract Pokemon to that spot and show everyone within a few blocks that it’s a good spot to go to catch Pokemon. To put a lure on your Pokestop, you’ll first need to buy one or more lures. Keep in mind that they each last for 30 minutes. To buy them, open the game and click on the red and white Pokeball that’s in the bottom center of your screen. Then click on the “shop” icon. At the top of the screen you’ll see your balance of Pokecoins (probably at zero). If you scroll down, you’ll see purple “Lure Modules” that can be purchased individually or as an 8-pack for 100 or 680 Pokecoins respectively. To buy Pokecoins, scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see the available options ranging from 100 Pokecoins for $0.99 all the way up to 14,500 Pokecoins for $99.99. We recommend springing for the $20 option and you’ll have enough Pokecoins to buy three 8-packs of lures, enough to keep a lure activated at your Pokestop for a total of 12 hours.
Once you’ve purchased your Pokecoins and used them to buy Lure Modules, you’ll be able to activate them at your Pokestop. To do that, you’ll need to have the game open and be next to your Pokestop. Then, click on the Pokestop. Next, click on the white pill-shaped button just above the image. Finally, click on the Pokestop Module at the bottom of the screen. You’ll know it worked if you look at the map and there are pink heart-shapes floating around the Pokestop.
You can do this at any time and you’ll be likely to attract players. However, to get the biggest bang for your buck, use your social media channels to attract people. Get creative! For example, if you own a bar or restaurant, turn your happy hour into a Poke-hour. Don’t underestimate the potential from this, I was at a bar’s outside patio area last night that happened to be next to three Pokestops and the place was packed.
Take Advantage of a Nearby Gym
If your business is next to a gym, you’re even luckier. Players will come to and hang around gyms to battle for control of it without any need to modify it with something like a lure. If you’re around a gym, you should be aware of this. You know a gym is close enough if it has spotlights spinning around it while you’re standing in your business. If you’re lucky enough to have one that close, you can advertise it on social media and even hold events. If there’s a night during the week when you’re slower, offer all Pokemon Go players a discount and encourage them to battle it out while they’re sitting in your business. We’re located in Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the Huskers and even they are getting into it. Since our football stadium is also a gym, they’re holding a special event and opening the gates so the public can come battle while sitting in the stands. Again, get creative and you’ll be sure to attract customers, maybe even some who have never visited you before.
Join In On The Fun
Okay, so what if you’re not lucky enough to be next to a Pokestop or gym? You can still connect with the people playing by joining the conversation. Create Pokemon-inspired cocktails or menu items, talk about the game on social media, encourage people to share a screenshot of Pokemon they found at your business, whatever you can think of to join in on the fun without detracting from the experience. At the very least, this should help generate more engagement on social media, increase the number of people talking about your business, and help you maintain a brand image that’s fun, modern, and approachable.
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There you have it, now go catch yourself some customers! If you have other ideas for how to use Pokemon Go for your business, please drop them in the comments below. Also, if you’d like to get tips like this sent to you via email, scroll down to the bottom of the site and drop in your email under “Get Marketing Tips” and we’ll hook you up!