If you haven’t seen the players yourself — people of all ages wandering around in public areas, their eyes glued to smartphones and tablets — certainly you’ve seen news stories or articles about “Pokémon Go.”
You might be wondering what all the hype is about. I’m not into gaming and didn’t really care — until I realized the value playing along might have, especially for businesses wanting to reach millennials. Wait, that’s just about everyone!
So, read on to learn more about “Pokémon Go” and how you can capture some of the people out looking for fictional characters and turn them into customers.
Pokémon characters — Pikachu is the most familiar — have been around since the mid-1990s in the form of trading cards, video games, comic books, toys and cartoons. Pokémon Go is an augmented reality app for Apple and Android devices.
What does that mean, “augmented reality?” Well, you probably understand the term virtual reality — something that seems real even though it’s not. Augmented reality is a similar technology that more or less projects a computer-generated image onto your view of your real surroundings.
In the case of the Pokémon Go app, this results in users being able to see images of Pikachu or other Pokémon characters on the sidewalk, in the park or even in your business. Players are able to “capture” these characters to get points. Basically, the app creates a real-world scavenger hunt with participants looking for and finding characters that the rest of us can’t see.
Here are some tactics you can use to take advantage of the Pokémon Go craze:
Find out how close you are to a “Pokéstop” or “Gym”
Players visit PokéStops to collect free virtual articles for the game, such as Pokéballs or potions. They hold battles in Pokémon Gyms. The Pokéstops and Gyms can be at landmarks in your community, public places such as parks, maybe even at your business!
You can download the app to see how close you might be to an existing Pokéstop or Gym. Then try some of the tactics below to make the most of people’s interest in catching Pokémon.
Turn on the ‘lure’
Pokémon Go allows anyone — including businesses such as retailers or restaurants — to purchase “Lure Modules” for $1.19 per hour. These draw game users to a Pokémon location.
Doing this can create traffic, but how do you turn that traffic into business?
A pizza place that sells by the slice reported a dramatic increase in business by purchasing lures to a nearby location. That brought a lot of people into the area and many bought pizza. But other types of businesses — or those further from Poké locations — will have to be more creative to capitalize on the phenomenon.
Host a hangout
You can use a purchased “Lure Module” to offer incentives or discounts to players.
Plan your event for a slow time or to coincide with some other activity you want to promote. Offer a discount or other incentive to players who show you they’re using the app.
You can advertise with something as simple as a sign on the door or a sandwich board outside, but I’d advise doing more (ideas below).
Host a Battle Tournament
If you are lucky enough to be close to a Gym, get the word out that your business is hosting a tournament and offer discounts to players who become Gym Leaders.
Don’t worry, Pokémon battles are not violent! But players are competitive and will appreciate that you’ve reached out to them through something they enjoy.
In the game, Pokémon Go players join a team. There are three — Team Valor, Team Instinct and Team Mystic.
Use signage at your business, your website and Facebook page or other social channels to get the word out that you’re offering a benefit — perhaps a discount or free product — to anyone on the team you’ve decided to support.
You probably already know the value of having customers share your messages in social media — they’re helping you build your brand.
When players find a Pokémon, their device will show the image of the creature they’ve encountered. Let your customers know that if they find one at your place of business, take a screenshot, tag the location and share it to their Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or other social app, you will reward them with a deal of some kind.
Pull it together!
By now I’m sure you can see the opportunities of promotions related to Pokémon Go in reaching the valuable 18 to 34-year-old market. To make the most of this you need to use every channel available to you — your website and other internet marketing tactics.
Do you have a blog? Put up a post describing your Pokémon Go events and link to a targeted Facebook ad. For this you will want to filter your Facebook ad to reach people in your ZIP Code only. Depending on the size of your market and the nature of your business, you can fine-tune to reach only those who have “liked” the Pokémon Go app or just the age group that best matches the group you want to reach.
Players generally will be under age 35. But if your business is a bar, obviously you won’t want to target anyone under age 21. So set the filter to those in your ZIP Code between ages 21 to 35.
Make sure your offer is clear and optimize your headline. Set your ad to run 24 hours before the event and to end about the time the event ends. And don’t forget to do an email blast to your list!
How long will the Pokémon Go craze last? No one knows. But in the meantime, it provides relatively low cost local marketing opportunities and you can win the game by putting some of these tactics into play.
Therese Moten works as marketing manager of web strategy for an internet marketing consulting agency in Chicago. In his spare time, he loves keeping up-to-date with all the latest trends in web design, usability and digital marketing, and sharing his knowledge through blogging.