Pokemon Go has spread at an unprecedented speed. Less than a week after launch, this augmented reality mobile game has been installed on twice as many phones as Tinder, it has double the engagement of Snapchat, and it is eclipsing Twitter in percentage of daily active users. In fact, people are spending so much time wandering around in search of Pokemon that getting sore legs from playing for hours on end has become a meme.
Smart businesses have already caught on. As Pokemon Go users traverse their cities and towns in search of Pokemon, local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses are capitalizing on this massive opportunity, driving huge amounts of foot traffic and conversions both with simple in-app purchases and creative marketing campaigns.
If you want to turn the traipsing gamers around you into new customers, all you need is to know how to play the game. Here’s how:
1. See if Your Business Is a Gym or PokeStop
What makes Pokemon Go unique is that it doesn’t keep people shut up in their rooms. The game runs off an augmented reality HUD, or heads-up display, of the real world. Players’ avatars explore with them as they catch Pokemon, collect rewards from PokeStops, battle other users at Gyms, and team up to defend their territory.
Figuring out whether your business is a PokeStop or Gym is the first thing you should do. PokeStops and Gyms attract foot traffic without any effort-players flock to them for rewards and to battle other players-and they can be leveraged for massive sales.
There is no official Niantic map out that lists all the PokeStop and Gym locations yet. So simply download the game and see if your business is nearby or at a point of interest in-game.
2. Sit Back, Throw Down a Lure, and Enjoy the Show
Pokemon Go offers a range of in-app purchases – gotta make money somehow! The one that is most important for your small business is Lures.
Lures increase the rate of Pokemon generation in the area around the PokeStop where they’re placed for thirty minutes. That may not sound that great, but Pokemon are more rare than you think. Luring is a powerful tool that you have to see to believe. Here’s a sample of the comments from some recent Reddit threads on the subject:
“We did this last night (college town), and within minutes of dropping the lure, 30 people walked in. Hoooly s#&@.”
“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.”
What’s even more incredible is just how affordable luring is. Let’s do the math. With $100 netting you 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokecoins:
14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures | (21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours | $100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour
All you have to do is:
- Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of your HUD
- 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, tap the red Pokeball again, then tap “Items”
- Tap the purple Lure to activate!
For a tad more than a dollar an hour, you can bring practically guaranteed crowds to your business. The ROI potential is ridiculous, so if your business is near a PokeStop, this is something you absolutely must try.
Capitalize on Your Business Being Near a Pokemon Gym
Gyms are a separate kind of animal entirely from PokeStops. You can’t put down Lures, but you don’t have to since users are converging on Gyms to face off with other users and “take control” of the 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 not hard to spot – they’re the biggest structures on the in-game map.
Capitalizing on your proximity to a gym is more about creative marketing than anything else. Here are some simple ideas for ways to engage with the people standing near your business:
- Keeping Score: Put up a board with the team currently in control of your Gym, and offer a small discount to members of that team!
- Get Social: Take in-game screenshots and post them on the social-media platforms where you’re active. Use the hashtags #PokemonGO and #Pokemon to get the message out to your potential new customers.
If you’re nowhere near either a PokeStop or a Gym, that just means you have to get a little more creative.
3. Go Where the Pokemon Roam
Once you know the basics of how Pokemon Go works, you don’t really need to be near a PokeStop or a Gym to capitalize on the traffic they can create.
Take Your Business on the Road
One way to make your business a part of the Pokemon Go phenomenon is to get mobile and find a spot from which to orchestrate the Lure or Gym strategies. If you’re a fashion retailer, maybe try loading up a van with some of your latest items. If you’re a restaurant, maybe this means going to the park and setting up a stand. It’s summertime, get creative.
Since Pokemon are everywhere, you want to go where you have the best chance of finding success. Take advantage of places where you have clusters of PokeStops. If there are three PokeStops on the same block, as is happening fairly often in larger cities, then park yourself in the middle and lay down three Lures at the same time.
It’s the same effect as if you were laying down one-just multiplied by three. Before you know it, you’ll have a serious crowd on your hands.
Promote Your Local Pokemon on Social Media
Even if your business is nowhere near a PokeStop or a Gym, you’re still going to have Pokemon.
One way to get people excited about visiting your business is to get on social media and show off the valuable or rare Pokemon popping up in your area. A better option, though, might be to incentivize play on the part of your customers.
Consider it like a referral program:
- Tell users you’ll pay for their Incense in return for some screenshots of any rare Pokemon that pop up in your shop.
- Have them upload the picture and tag you on social media, so that their followers know about you too.
- Promote the fact that you’re rewarding users who find rare Pokemon at your business.
Do this right, and you could turn your store into a viral Pokemon GO destination.
(Pokemon) GO and Start Marketing Your Local Business Right Now
The naysayers will say the same things people say whenever there’s a big paradigm shift. “This is a fad,” they’ll say. While that is probably somewhat true. People, of course, said the same thing about the original Pokemon game.
No marketing channel is evergreen, but businesses that want to win have to keep one eye open for these big shifts-and they have to capitalize on them when it’s time. With Pokemon Go, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money.
And when it comes down to it, if Pokemon Go isn’t as powerful a tool for driving sales six months or a year from now, the customers that you delight today are going to remember you tomorrow.