What Pokemon Go Means For Small Business Marketing

The speed at which Pokemon Go has spread is unprecedented. Less than a week after it’s July launch, this augmented reality, mobile-exploration app has seen double the engagement of Snapchat and more active daily users than the social media giant, Twitter.

What’s even better is that many small businesses are finding inexpensive ways to use Pokemon Go as an effective marketing tool.

What Is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is a newly released app that incorporates augmented reality, meaning you stay in your current environment and experience things that aren’t really there, such as Pokemon popping up in your kitchen.  This is, of course, different from virtual reality, which transports you to another place entirely (via a headset).

What makes Pokemon Go different from many other video games is that it doesn’t really allow players to be sedentary. Players’ avatars explore with them as they catch Pokemon, collect rewards from PokeStops, hatch mystery eggs, battle other users at Gyms, and team up to defend their own Gyms. In fact, the game is quite difficult to play without getting outside and walking around.

PokeStops, Gyms.. What Does It Have To Do With Marketing?

Figuring out whether your business is a PokeStop or Gym is a very important first step in establishing your Pokemon Go marketing strategy. This is because PokeStops and Gyms attract foot traffic without any effort. Players will flock to them for rewards and to battle other players–so leveraging them to increase sales is a simple task. You just have to know how.

First, for definitions. A PokeStop is a location in the game where players can stock up on supplies. They get PokeBalls, Eggs and Potions from these stops and can place lures to attract nearby Pokemon (which we’ll get to later). A Gym is a place that teams (Red, Blue and Yellow) will battle to control. Gyms take time to attack, and if your business has a nearby gym, you will see players sitting in certain spots for long periods of time either attacking or defending it.

There is no official map that lists all the PokeStop and Gym locations yet. But, you can download the app and look for yourself or ask your regular patrons if you’re either one. What we’ve realized is that many PokeStops are landmarks, but they can also be random businesses or restaurants. As for gyms, they seem to be randomly scattered in busier areas of the community. For example, they could be at schools, universities, restaurants, cemeteries, gas stations or street corners. Literally, anywhere!

Capitalize On Your Business Being Near a PokeStop

Pokemon Go offers a range of in-app purchases, one of which is an item called a Lure Module. When placed on a PokeStop, lures increase the rate of Pokemon generation in the area for half an hour. That may not sound very powerful, but Pokemon are more rare than you think.

Luring is an insanely powerful tool that you really have to see to believe. Here’s a sample of the comments from some recent Reddit threads on the subject:

If a business spends $100 for 14,500 pokecoins, they can buy lures for $0.59/lure. $100 gets you 170 lures and 85 hours worth of increased traffic. If you’re a bar in a college town/city, this is the greatest investment you can make right now.

I own a pizzeria that’s a Pokestop and I literally did this all day. I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out.

I own a guitar shop located inside a Pokestop, and we’re running a product discount for anyone that uses a Lure Module here. Keeps people in to look around longer, might generate a little word of mouth.

Me and 3 others are sitting in a restaurant right now and we just realized we only came in here because it had a lure and we wanted to chill.

What’s even more incredible is just how affordable luring is. With $100, you can get 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costs 680 Pokecoins:

14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour

For a little more than a dollar an hour, you can bring virtually guaranteed crowds to your business. The ROI here is ridiculous, so if your business is anywhere near a PokeStop and you rely on foot traffic for sales, this is something you absolutely have to try. All you have to do is:

  • Login/Signup and create a character
  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of the app
  • Tap “Shop”
  • Scroll down and tap the purple, box-shaped Lures to purchase. You’ll re-direct to your app store’s payment system
  • Once back in-app, select the PokeStop you wish to place a lure on
  • Tap the small, white, pill-shaped Lure Module slot that sits just above the circular disc and just below the name of the PokeStop
  • Tap the PokeStop Module at the bottom of the screen
  • Tap on the Lure Module

You’ll know it worked when pink, heart-shaped petals begin floating around it.

Capitalize On Your Business Being Near a Gym

To see if your business is near a gym, just open Pokemon Go on your phone and look for the tall structures with little Pokemon near the top. They’re the biggest structures in the game, so they’re somewhat easy to spot.

Pokemon Go gyms take slightly more effort to capitalize on because marketing gyms is more about engaging the droves of people who are already standing or sitting near your business with their eyes glued to their phones. Some ideas include:

  • Giveaways: Order Pokemon Gym badges or team t-shirts from a supplier that can customize them for your business. At the end of each week (or month), host a giveaway party where the controlling team gets small prizes and the gym leader gets the big prize. This could also be done with small-value ($5) Google Play or Apple iTunes Gift Cards.
  • Keep score: Put up a board announcing which team is currently in control of your Gym, and then offer a discount to members of that team! Don’t worry about staying updated on which team is winning-just ask those who are participating in the promotion to inform you when the gym has changed hands.
  • Get social: Take in-game screenshots and post them on the social-media platforms where you’re active. Use hashtags like #pokemongo and #pokemon to get the message out to your potential new customers. For example, if you see the gym is a high level (max level: 10), you can share a screenshot of it, daring others to try and take back control.

If you’re nowhere near either a PokeStop or a Gym, that just means you have to get a little more creative. One way to get people excited about visiting your business is to get on social media and show off the rare Pokemon popping up in your area. Promote the fact that you’re rewarding users who find rare Pokemon at your business and you could turn your store into a Pokemon Go destination spot.

Naysayers will, of course, say that Pokemon Go is a fad, which could be entirely true. No marketing channel is evergreen, but businesses need to recognize that Pokemon Go carries an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money.

More importantly, the customers that you please today are going to remember you tomorrow. It’ll be fun to watch how businesses continue to capitalize on this market shift and hopefully it will inspire new marketing ideas in the months and years to come.

Have you found success marketing with Pokemon Go? Let us know in the comments below!

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