There are times in every generation where something just reaches out and grabs the public’s attention in such a way that everyone can’t help but take notice. We currently live in such a time. And our current time has monsters in it.
There’s this little app out there called Pokemon GO, maybe you’ve heard of it? Well Pokemon GO has enveloped the country (and soon the world) over the last week. So much so, that Nintendo, the company that owns Pokemon, has seen it’s net value increase 50 percent since the US release of the game.
This meteoric rise in market value has delighted shareholders and brought Nintendo a much needed “win” after the commercial flop that was the Wii U.There’s also other companies like T-Mobile getting in on the craze by offering no data charge when playing the app, incentivizing players to use their network to play.
However, it’s not just a mega company like Nintendo that is benefiting from the craze; small businesses are getting in on the action too. These businesses were lucky enough to have their locations selected as “Pokestops”, locations where players can go to receive free items for the game as opposed to buying them. The locations can also be “Gyms”, locations where players can battle for control.
Business are embracing their status as a place of interest in the game and working to draw players to their establishments, which increase foot traffic and sales.
From a marketing perspective, there’s a few interesting things that businesses can do to bring players to their doorsteps and increase their revenue because of it:
1. Lure in Players Looking For Pokemon
The biggest driving point for players is the Pokestop. Not only do Pokestops give items, but they also possess a secondary feature: you can lay a Lure Module on them. Lure Modules in the game allow for Pokestops to become homing beacons for nearby Pokemon, drawing them to the Pokestop by giving off a pink confetti looking animation. The interesting thing though is that other players can also see this effect and benefit from the Lure Module as well. By placing a Lure Module, players flock to the Pokestop for their items and higher chance of catching a large amount of Pokemon.
Businesses can take advantage of this in a number of ways. For starters, if their business has Pokestops near it, they can offer to keep the Lure Modules on it going during their business hours, making it so players don’t have to use the rare items themselves. As Lure Modules are hard to come by unless you buy them with real money at the in-app shop, businesses can provide free Lure opportunities for players.
Additionally, businesses can expand on this concept by promoting on their social media channels that they are going to have nonstop Lures going at their business, alerting potential players. This works wonders for bars and restaurants, as players come there for the Lures and end up staying for food and drinks.
One excellent example of this is Moontower Saloon in Austin, TX. Moontower has two Pokestops that when Lured overlap each other. During the first week of the game there was 30-40 people sitting in this area, drinking, eating, and catching Pokemon.
There are other ways to market your business with Lures though, as it just takes a little creativity and a willingness to embrace the game…
2. Embrace The Pokemon Social Experience
The most interesting part of Pokemon GO is the social experience that it is. If you want out to a park in any major city, you’ll no doubt see players sitting together, playing, and discussing the game. Never before has a game brought so many people together in a real world setting like this. Businesses can get behind social wave and market themselves with it by having events
Local businesses can promote via their social media channels that they are having an event for Pokemon GO, inviting players for a giant meet up at their establishment, offering food and drinks, discounts on products or services, happy hour prices for players, etc. All around the country there are community groups popping up on Facebook and Reddit for people to discuss the game with other local players, so finding these groups and placing your announcements within them is a good way to promote the event.
By promoting a giant meet-up for players, businesses leverage the social element of the game to draw in crowds. Couple this discounts during the meet up time with the above mentioned Lure Modules, and businesses can stack the deck heavy with incentives for players. Additionally, if this event proves popular, a business might make it a regular event but develop other sources of revenue for them such as having t-shirts made with the business name and Pokemon GO meet-up printed on them. The possibilities are endless.
3. Little Promotions Go A Long Way
Something else businesses can do is use more self-contained options. Sidewalk chalk boards and window art are one such option. When walking down the street, many business have little prop chalk boards that they can write messages on, well these boards can be sued to promote your affinity for the game and offers for players who might not have caught your messages on social media.
Using these boards and window art, you can reach these players (often with humorous messages) and entice them to stop in the store. One promotion might be “Stop in and show us a Pokemon with a CP value greater than 500 and get 10% off your purchase.” This catches the eye of the Pokemon GO player and gives them incentive for buying your goods or services.
The Future or a Fading Fad?
Trying to determine the future of a mobile app, especially a game, is a truly difficult endeavor. Many game apps have rose to prominence only to fizzle out soon after. You might remember Draw Something or Words With Friends had a great following and, almost overnight, disappeared. Others such as Candy Crush and Angry birds have leveled off but still enjoy popularity and users, with the latter recently having it’s own movie.
Now whether Pokemon GO will continue to grow or slowly die is anyone’s guess, although if I were a betting man i’d say odds are it’s going to stay around, as developer Niantic has discussed releasing trading and battling features for the game, as well as the inevitable release of the next batch of Pokemon (there are 729 different species as of this writing) which will reinvigorate the playerbase.
So for now, it would seem that businesses would do well to create strategies for reaching players and strike while the iron is hot. You can market a business using Pokemon GO, you just have to be a little creative, accept the craze, and have fun with it.