The pedestrians meandering about while studying their phones may not be checking the time or their fitness app step count; instead, they’re likely playing Niantic Inc.’s augmented-reality sensation Pokemon Go. Released on July 6, 2016, it rapidly amassed more users than Twitter and more engagement time than Facebook.
In addition to being the newest innovation to capture the imaginations of technophiles everywhere, it’s also become a trending marketing tool for businesses.
How The Game Works
Pokémon Go is a game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game.
The popularity behind the game stems from when Pokemon exploded in popularity in the late 1990s with the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64.
To play the game, simply download the app on your mobile phone, which is free for both Android and Apple, and set up your profile. Once you’re ready, you’ll see your avatar on a map of your location within the game. Swipe around to rotate the map and scan your area for gyms that host Pokemon battles and Pokestops where you can acquire free game items. These locations are crucial for business as they will be the primary locations for foot traffic.
The objective of Pokemon Go is to capture as many Pokemon as you can find. Pokemon are usually located throughout busy neighborhoods, popular locations, businesses, landmarks, and much more. As you walk around with the game open on your screen, your phone will vibrate and a Pokemon will pop up when one is close enough to capture.
How to Bring Pokemon Players to Your Location
Now that you’ve played, you’re inside the head of the Pokemon Go enthusiast and can leverage this knowledge to benefit your business by encouraging foot traffic to your location. You can do this by using wild Pokemon as lures and offering discounts and give-aways for Pokemon Go players.
1. Set Up a Lure Party
Lures draw both Pokemon and players to a specific location, making Pokemon easier to find and capture. Lures can be purchased as an add-on to the game and are cost-effective lasting up to 30 minutes at a time. They can only be used at Pokestops, but if your business is located near one, there is likely more foot traffic today since the game’s release as players congregate to these key locations. Lures aren’t user-specific, so anyone at the Pokestop can catch the Pokemon who are drawn there.
2. Set Up Your Own Pokestop or Gym
Pokestops are usually monuments, schools, museums, murals, post offices, fire departments and other historical buildings. Niantic, is not currently accepting requests for new Pokestops and Gyms through its site, but in the near future, we are hoping for an update where businesses can purchase a Pokestop or Gym to promote.
3. Promote Through Social Media
Offer a reward in exchange for advertising! Ask customers to take a screen shot of a Pokemon caught at or near your location and have them upload the photo onto any social media platform with a tag, hashtag, check in (or whichever form you are promoting), to your business. In return, offer a discount or free item with their purchase.
You can also create Facebook ads targeted only inside the geographical radius of your choice. You could spread the word about your local Pokemon only to those people liable to actually stop into your store.
4. Provide Charging Stations
Many Pokemon Go users have reported that the app quickly drains their phone’s battery. If your business is one where customers will remain for a period of time, such as a restaurant, coffee shop, or a hair salon, offer players charging options for their phones, and they’ll likely choose you over a competitor.
It remains to be seen how this new gaming phenomenon will grow and develop, as well as what kind of new promotional opportunities will arise. Meanwhile, the sooner you involve your business in Pokemon Go, the more you can benefit.