How Your Local Business Can Benefit From the Pokemon Go Craze
- Wes McDowell
- July 20, 2016
Unless you’ve been quarantined for the past week, you’ve likely been bombarded with articles and news stories about the latest app craze known as “Pokémon Go.” As a staunch non-gamer, I was getting annoyed at the ever-mounting coverage it was getting in the media — that is, until I found out about the marketing implications it holds. Suddenly, I was interested.
In case you are unfamiliar with the premise, Pokémon Go is an Apple and Android augmented reality app that acts as a real-world scavenger hunt of sorts. It has reached record-breaking popularity levels, as kids and adults alike have been taking it to the streets, crowding public places in order to find and capture Pokémon characters for points.
Because this game gets people moving in public places, local businesses can benefit in several unique ways. By using the app, as well as more traditional internet marketing channels in tandem, you can capture something even better and more sought-after than a Pokémon — the millennial consumer.
Could Your Business Benefit?
Because of the nature and demographics inherent to Pokémon Go, we are mostly talking about one main customer segment. Millennials are the ones playing, so if your local business caters to this group in any significant way, you can most likely take advantage of this craze using any combination of the tactics I’m going to cover in this article.
Check Your Proximity to an Established “PokéStop” or “Gym”
There are two types of pre-determined locations within the app — “PokéStops” and “Gyms.”
A PokéStop is a place where players can drop in to collect free in-game provisions, and a Gym is where players hold their battles in order to get a stronghold on the location for their team. In either case, these locations can be parks, landmarks, and yes, even businesses like yours. Each of these locations attracts players regularly, which could be great news for your business.
So the first step to leveraging Pokémon Go, is to download it for yourself and see where your nearest PokéStop or Gym is located. If you’re in a populated area, chances are pretty good that you are very close to a pre-designated location. If you’re really lucky, your business might actually be one of those stops. Either way, let’s talk about what you can do to maximize its impact and convert some of that foot traffic into paying customers.
Luring Them In
Perhaps the most powerful way to use Pokémon Go to your advantage is by buying what are known as “Lure Modules” to entice players to your nearest PokéStop or Gym.
Anybody — including local businesses, like restaurants, or retail stores— is able to purchase “lures” from the app to draw users to their nearest Pokémon location for $1.19 per hour. So let’s say you’ve done that, and a throng of Pokémon players smack-dab in your neighborhood. How do you turn them into customers?
In some cases, Pokémon players being in your vicinity alone could increase the foot traffic of your business. For instance, one by-the-slice pizza parlor reported to have increased his numbers dramatically by dropping lures, one after another, and calling it a day. This makes sense — people have to eat, and if they are hanging out nearby, logic follows.
But this simple strategy may not work for every business. Maybe you’re just not quite close enough to a stop, or maybe the business model itself doesn’t mesh in quite the same way as the pizza place. This just means you’ll have to be a little smarter, and bring in extra tactics.
Host (& Advertise) a Lure Hangout
One such tactic would work like this:
You drop a lure at your closest PokéStop or Gym at a specified time. It could be a time that you know is typically slow, or anytime you’d like. During the event, you would offer incentives or discounts to players who show you the app.
But in addition, you’ll need to get the word out. You can do this using a simple sandwich board outside, but I would bring in some bigger guns: targeted Facebook ads. More on that later.
Host a Gym Battle Tournament
This would work very similarly to the previous tactic, but it works even better if you happen to be close to a Gym location. Get the word out early that you’ll be hosting a tournament, and offer discounts to any players who manage to become gym leaders. You can capitalize on the natural rivalries that bring players out in the first place, and while you offer a discount to the winners, there are many more players who will likely be paying full price. And it’s much less violent in practice than the name would suggest.
Pick a Side
Another clever way to offer incentives to Pokémon Go players is to pick one of the 3 teams, and offer a special deal to all members of your team. Players are asked to join either Team Valor, Team Instinct, or Team Mystic. Through signage, your website, or your social channels, get the word out that anyone on your team has something waiting for them if they come through your doors.
Encourage Social Sharing
In addition to enticing real-world customers to your physical location, you can use a clever tactic to increase social shares as well. Which, should lead to even more customers in the long run.
Here’s how it works:
When Pokémon chasing, players’ smartphones will show a rendering of one of the creatures when they have an encounter. Make sure all your customers know that if they find a Pokémon in your location, if they take a screenshot and share it to their Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or any other social app, (and tag the location,) they will get a deal of some kind. This increases your brand awareness, and it might actually entice other players to come, if they see that your business is a hot-bed of Pokémon activity.
Tying it in With Your Website & Internet Marketing
So how does all of this work with your existing website and internet marketing efforts? In short, you will want to use every channel available to you to get the word out early and often that you are participating in the Pokémon Go craze.
Does your website have a blog? Toss up a short post describing the event and exactly what you’re offering. Then, you can run a targeted Facebook ad linking to the post.
Your Facebook ad should be highly targeted to maximize your ad spend for efficiency. Filter it to people in your zipcode only, and you can either choose to target users who have “liked” the Pokémon Go app, or if you’d like to broaden your reach a bit, you can just target the age group that best overlaps Pokémon Go players with your customer base.
For instance, Pokémon Go players tend to be under the age of 35. But if you’re running a bar, you obviously don’t want to target anybody under 21. So you would simply filter to Facebook users in your own zipcode between the ages of 21-35.
Make sure your headline is optimized and the offer is clear. Then set the ad to run 24 hours before the actual event, and make sure it is set to end about the time your event does.
If you have an email list, now is the time to call on it’s power. Send out a blast letting everybody know what’s happening, and when. Be sure to call special attention to the incentives you’re offering.
The Future of Pokémon Go
I’d love to tell you this will be a local marketer’s dream come true, but it is simply too early to tell. We may have already seen the peak of its success, but it might continue to grow, or at least hold steady for months, or years.
If its popularity stays, there is already talk of “sponsored stops,” in which businesses like yours can pay to have PokéStop or Gym right at your location. This could have amazing effects on local businesses, until it inevitably reaches oversaturation.
Either way, this is a tactic almost any business with a physical location can employ today with relatively little effort and almost no cost. Even if the fad fizzles, you’re still getting new customers right now.
Once you’ve captured them, it’s up to you to make sure they have a good enough experience to come back again and again.
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