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How Small Businesses can Profit From Pokemon Go

Written by on July 22, 2016

“Pokemon Go” is probably the most addictive game since the invention of the smart phone. Over 20 million players world-wide are already playing the game which got released earlier this month. All major newspapers, news websites and TV programs have extensively covered the incredible growth rate of the game’s fan-base. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you might as well live on the moon.

But how can small businesses cash in on the hype? Developers and publishers of mobile apps already started using the media coverage of the original game to create plenty of clones and copy-cats, but what can you do as a local small business owner without any knowledge on how to create mobile apps?

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go was released on July 6 in the U.S. by the mobile app developer Niantic and The Pokemon Company. The  app is currently available on the iOS and Android platforms and has a combined daily active user base of over 30 million players in about 35 countries around the world, with Japanese gamers still waiting for the release in their app stores.

The premise of the mobile game is the same as it was in the original computer games. Open the app on your smart phone and allow it to access your GPS coordinates and phone camera and you’re ready to get started.

You will see a map of your surroundings which will change in real-time while you walk with the app open at any given time. Once a Pokemon appears you can click on it and your phone will show your camera-view in real-time with the added Pokemon in the picture. You are then able to capture the Pokemon.

This process of adding virtual elements to real-life scenarios is also known as augmented reality (AR).

Pokemon Go game play
Pokemon Go game play

Pokemon players’ locations

There are two important places where Pokemon Go players go to in order to advance in the game: PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms.

PokeStops are hubs where you need to go to collect items for the game and Pokemon Gyms are “arenas” where you go to fight with your Pokemon against other players. Both kind of places are generally located in public places such as squares, libraries, train stations, lakes and fountains.

Players are exploring new spots every day

Since players need to move to unlock new items and find new Pokemon, they are constantly walking with their Pokemon Go app open and ready to play. Players often find themselves in new places which they previously haven’t visited, simply to catch a new Pokemon.

This means that locations which might have been previously seen as second class locations with reduced foot traffic are now buzzing with players (and potential customers).

Increased foot traffic, PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms

So how can you capitalise on an increase in foot traffic, PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms near you?

If you’re lucky enough to have a shop close to a Pokemon Gym or PokeStop you will definitely see an increase in foot traffic.

Some players might even want to enter your premises to catch a new Pokemon which is hiding somewhere in your shop, parking space or yard.

There are plenty of ways you can capitalise on these players.  You can either only allow paying customers to catch these Pokemon in your premises or you might want to choose to allow anyone to enter your shop, but you then advertise some of your special deals to the players while their inside.

Pokemon Go marketing strategy on Instagram
Pokemon Go marketing strategy on Instagram

You can even advertise that a specific Pokemon can be found in your shop and welcome passers-by to enter your shop and capture the Pokemon.

Provide customers with Pokemon merchandise

If you’re willing to go all-in on the Pokemon craziness and spend some more money on advertising to your customers, then give any customer who shops at your business and catches a specific Pokemon some kind of merchandise of the same Pokemon (e.g. a small action figure)

Pokemon merchandise for small business marketing
Pokemon merchandise for small business marketing

Yelp shows PokeStops nearby

Yelp has recently launched a new feature to filter their listings by “PokeStop Nearby”.

This means that if your business is located close to a PokeStop you might now get more exposure on your Yelp listing.

Firstly make sure that your business is already listed on Yelp, and if it isn’t list it as soon as possible. You can also promote special offers on your company’s Yelp page. Make use of it as much as possible.

Use Pokemon Lures to attract new business

With Lures you can attract Pokemon to a PokeStop for a limited amount of time.

You will need to download the game and start playing yourself. This trick also requires a little investment via the app’s in-app store as you need to buy the Lure module which will help you to attract the Pokemon to the PokeStop near your store.

Once other players notice the increase in Pokemon at your particular PokeStop they will rush to the place in order to catch the new Pokemon. This can be a great way to get a lot of additional foot traffic for a few bucks of in-app purchases.

Coffee shops, eateries and shops with smaller-priced items might be able to get the highest return on investment by using Pokemon Lures.

Getting started with Pokemon Go marketing

If you haven’t done so yet, now is the perfect time to download Pokemon Go and give it a try. Only by understanding the game yourself you will find new and creative ways of using it for your small business marketing.

Let us know about your Pokemon Go experience in the comments!

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  • Iris Hazel Panaligan

    what if my store is not near any poke stop, does it mean buying a lure module is useless?

    • Iris, it definitely makes more sense to use this strategy if you’re close to a PokeStop. In case you can’t find a PokeStop close-by you could still implement this strategy but it gets a bit harder/more expensive. For example, you could have an employee at the PokeStop advertising your business and “luring” Pokemon players into your store after they’ve caught all Pokemon at this particular stop.

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