Heard about the new Pokémon Go craze? Want to harness the power of Pokémon Go and social media to drive traffic and sales to your business? In this blog post, I'll show you how.
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a mobile game from Nintendo/Niantic based on the hugely popular monster-collecting franchise, available for free for Android and iOS devices. In it, players use GPS to explore the real world and catch Pokémon through augmented reality encounters.
It shot to the top of the App Store on the day of its release, and within 24 hours Pokémon GO surpassed Supercell’s Clash Royale to become the most downloaded mobile game of 2016. Less than a week after launch in July 2016, Pokémon Go had gained over 65 million users in the US - more than Twitter as a whole.
1. Advertise yourself as a "PokéStop"
PokéStops are predetermined landmarks in public places (churches, gyms, shops, cafes, etc.), that reward players for visiting with Pokéballs (small, spherical contraptions used to capture and house Pokémon), and experience points that help them to level up their character (make it stronger).
Use the app to see if your business has been marked on the map as a PokéStop - it's pure luck at the time of writing, you may be or you may not. If it has (or there is one nearby - not at a rival store, obviously - then get on social media and let people know! While they're at it, busy hunting Pokémon, be sure to tempt them in with special offers. In the above example, Whole Foods offers a discount at the salad or hot food bar for customers who present their Pokémon trainer profile.
2. Use Lure Modules to attract more customers
In Pokémon Go, Pokémon are generally found by chance as a player walks around wherever they happen to be. When they spot one in the distance, they can approach it and try to capture it. However, the Lure Module is a paid-for power-up that attracts Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes. So if your place of business is already a Pokéstop, you can make it even more attractive to players (and potential customers) by having Pokémon themselves appear there.
Some players might forego the chance to visit a PokéStop such is their abundance, but if there's a location where a Pokémon they need to capture is hiding, they're much more likely to want to visit.
At L’inizio’s Pizza Bar in Queens, food and drink sales spiked by about 30% compared with a typical weekend, according to pizzeria manager Sean Benedetti. Already marked as a PokéStop, Benedetti spent about $10 on Lure Modules, and players soon swarmed to the location. “People are coming out of the woodwork because of this game,” he said.
As lures will incur a cost (1 Lure Module = 100 Pokécoins ($0.99), 8 Lure Modules - 680 Pokécoins ($6.86)), make sure you designate it as part of your marketing budget. To make the most of the opportunity, make clear to people on social media where you are, and what times you will be dropping lures. This should help maximise traffic to your location, especially if general footfall isn't high - people may make sure that they are nearby at the time of a lure drop, rather than randomly passing by. Once your lures are down at the Pokémon have started to appear, screen grab images of them to post on social media (proof!), along with the name of the Pokémon, and the hashtag #PokemonGo.
3. "Host" Gym Battle Tournaments
Not a Pokémon Go player yet? Stick with me on this one...
Pokémon Gyms are hubs at which trainers gather to battle their Pokémon against one another. Like PokéStops, they are represented in the real world by places of interest, often where lots of people might gather. Pokémon Go players choose to join one of three teams near the start of their in-game journey, and as part of these teams, can combine forces to fight for control of local Pokémon Gyms. Gyms are protected by a leader (the trainer who has the strongest Pokémon) and multiple other trainers that must be defeated and kicked out before the leader. Each of these players leaves their strongest Pokémon at the gym to protect it, but must physically return to it to check that it isn't in danger of being taken over.
If I owned a business that was a Pokemon Gym I'd def have a "whatever team holds this gym gets a discount" deal, I'd get all the business— Flint Flossy (@JariDoubleU) July 14, 2016
If your business is a designated gym or there is one nearby, advertise on social media that you'll be hosting a gym tournament in advance, perhaps even offering discounts to gym battle winners. Then, on game day, players who successfully become gym leaders or retain their spots (with proof of gamer ID) will be entitled to a discount.
4. Encourage customers to tag you with Pokémon Go
Once you've lured customers into your establishment to visit a PokéStop or hunt for Pokémon, encourage them to let others in the vicinity know, and incentivise them for doing so. For example, you could offer a dollar or two off the bill to those who tweet about a certain Pokémon being available at your business, whilst tagging you in the process. It's a small win for them, but potentially great promotion for you.
5. Organize Pokémon Go meet-ups and expeditions
Pokémon Go is a game of discovery - a new way to explore your surroundings, -and what many players have also reported is how much of a social experience it is.
As a business (especially cafes, bars, restaurants, etc.), you can capitalise on this by organising Pokémon Go meet-ups and expeditions; a chance for Pokémon Go players to gather at your business, explore together, then return afterwards. Your staff might even join the hunters in branded shirts to make sure your business is visible through the entire event. In future, the game will allow players to battle their Pokémon against one another so why not encourage them to visit your space to do it in a fun, friendly, and safe environment... and to spend a bit of money with you at the same time.
6. Encourage people to follow your Pokémon Go exploits
In the world of gaming, watching people play their favourite games is just as popular as playing them (see sites like Twitch.tv and YouTube Gaming for popular examples). If you live in beautiful part of the world, or if you think your fans will enjoy piggybacking along on your Pokémon-hunting adventures, let them know about it. The more fun and engaging you can make the experience, the better.
Over to you
Have you downloaded Pokémon Go? Will you be experimenting with it as a marketing tool for your business? Let me know in the comments below!