Customers – You Gotta Catch ‘Em All
Since the launch of Pokémon GO on July 6, the real world and the Pokémon world have fused into one synonymous place for fun. In Niantic Labs‘ augmented reality mobile game, players explore their surroundings to discover PokéStops – monuments, public art pieces, heritage buildings, and various places of interest – in order to capture creatures, replenish supplies, and battle it out at gyms.
Where are They Playing?
Pokémon GO is officially available in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and Germany – but players around the world have downloaded the app through some creative workarounds. On Android devices, that means installing an Android application package (APK). On iOS, you need to use an iTunes account with a billing address in the above countries. These alternative methods have resulted in over 7.5 million downloads of the app worldwide, in just one week.
Local Marketing for Small Businesses
The viral phenomenon has sent players in droves to local businesses as they search for the elusive virtual monsters. This increased foot traffic means a lot of new potential customers. While Pokémon GO does not offer any sponsorships yet – though it’s only a matter of time – there are ample opportunities for brick and mortar stores to get involved. Many hotels, bars, and retailers are already capitalizing on the overwhelming hype surrounding the game. Here are some insights to help local businesses take advantage of the buzz around Pokémon GO.
1. Offer Pokémon-exclusive promotions
Restaurants and retailers can welcome users who are walking by with a special deal, such as a discount or a small freebie if they show employees their Pokémon GO profile, or if they check in online with a Facebook status update, Tweet, or Instagram post. The retailer below is savvy in promoting their Pokémon-friendly storefront while also offering promotions.
2. Host Pokémon GO meet-ups
Currently, players can only battle each other at PokéGyms – typically, historical sites or landmarks. If your business is near one, you’re in luck. Here is an ideal opportunity to give away branded swag, or provide phone charging stations since the game uses a ton of battery life (it is constantly transmitting your location via GPS, as well as using the camera). People in your area could be more likely to return in the future once they are familiar with your business and know that you are accommodating to Pokémon GO players.
3. Purchase Lure Modules
For a mere $10, this in-game item attracts a slew of Pokémon to your area for 30 minutes. This could result in more foot traffic as well. A pizzeria in New York reported a 75% increase in business from a single Lure.
Invite players congregating around your store to come back at a certain time when you use one of the modules. Put the announcement on promotional flyers at the PokéStop or gym, so those walking by will know when to return. You could also use it as part of a big event – buy a Lure Module for a sale or special promotion. The It’s a Grind Coffee House in California ran the following promotion:
Source: Facebook / Eric Chu
4. Hold giveaways for free Pokémon gifts
As you have players become more comfortable visiting your store, have them enter draws for Pokémon-themed prizes. These could be in-game credits, trading cards, or a Pokémon Go Plus (a device that alerts players to events in the game and new Pokémon to catch). If people fill out an entry form to register, you can collect email addresses to follow up at a later date.
5. Spread the word on social media
Of course, #PokemonGO is trending on Twitter. Get in on the action by tweeting from your business account about the Pokémon in or around your location.
— Art Institute (@artinstitutechi) July 11, 2016
Crystal Bridges, an art gallery in Arkansas, took photos of Pokémon near different exhibits and wrote a blog post about it. People who may never have thought about visiting may show up based on the allure of Pokémon alone.
Source: Crystal Bridges
How Small Businesses Can Stay in the Game
How did Pokémon GO determine which buildings become PokéStops? Players of Niantic’s other augmented reality game, Ingress, helped create a huge data pool of over 5 million portal locations around the globe. According to Forbes, the developers are inundated with requests from businesses to get on the map, but sponsored locations are in the pipeline — and it looks like McDonald’s could be the first sponsor.
For now, your business can send in a request to become a PokéStop on the developers’ website. Until then, it’s all about leaving a positive impression in potential customers’ minds as they pass by your local business — and giving them Pokémon-based incentives to keep coming back.