Pokemon Go exploded in popularity last week as the biggest mobile game in U.S. history captured the attention of gamers and created new opportunities for small business owners. Up to 21 million daily active users now have their eyes glued to their smartphone screens as they wander through communities trying to catch virtual Pokemon characters—and walk into very real businesses like yours.
“Embrace that this is a hot thing right now,” said Matt Lovell of Table 211 Restaurant Consulting. “Don’t shy away from it. It’s not just kids playing the game. Millions of adults, who have real spending power, are wandering all over cities looking to catch Pokemon.”
What is Pokemon Go?
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game that lets players explore their cities while trying to capture the titular characters. The GPS on a player’s smartphone guides the person to where the characters might be. Along the way, players are prompted to drop by either a “Pokestop” or a “Pokemon Gym” in order to find supplies or compete with other game players.
For small business owners, these Pokestops and Pokemon Gyms are also prime marketing opportunities. Since the game destinations are actual landmarks and businesses in real life, owners like Jonathan Tavarez of PRO Housekeepers have benefited from the sudden bump in traffic from Pokemon players.
“With the Pokemon Go craze, our walk-ins have quadrupled ever since we implemented Incense and Lures within the game,” Tavarez said. “This attracts Pokemon characters to our location as well as players looking to ‘catch them all.’”
How Can Pokemon Boost Your Business?
Of course, these Pokemon players are also potential customers, so luring the game’s characters to your business could bring sales with them. Here are five ways your business could benefit from the popularity Pokemon Go.
- Play the Game: Incense and Lure modules are elements within the game that attract Pokemon characters to particular Pokestops. Since Lures are sharable, any player in the area who can see your Pokestop on the map will likely come to your business in search of the characters. Business owners can buy Lures within the app, which are good for 30 minutes. “If the business advertises what time every day it’s going to place the lure, this will lead to a flock of people coming in to catch the Pokemon,” said Michael Pomposello, co-founder and managing partner of Blue Polo Interactive. “Depending on the demographic, this can be a great investment to drive foot traffic as Lures only cost $0.59 each when purchased in bulk.”
- Reward Players: Beef Jerky Outlet has taken advantage of Pokemon Go foot traffic with a reward for players. “Any customer who can show that they’ve achieved level five in Pokemon Go will receive 10% percent off their Beef Jerky Outlet purchase,” said Malena Cahall, marketing assistant at 919 Marketing. Coupons or discounts for game players give these first-time visitors a reason to stay and support your business.
- Ask for Social Shares: You can also reward players not just for stopping in, but for spreading the word about your business through social media. “Offer a promotion such as a free soft drink if a player catches a Pokemon in your location and shares it on social media while checking into that location,” suggested Lovell.
- Stay on Message: You don’t have to play the game to associate your business with its popularity. The collision repair center Service King is using outdoor billboards and the hashtag #DontCatchAndDrive to remind Pokemon players to keep their eyes on the road. “We feel the campaign successfully connects the nature of the business with current events, while still aligning with the brand’s consistent messaging surrounding safe driving,” said Karina Welch, associate corporate marketing specialist with Blue Fountain Media.
- Shun the Game: As with any skyrocketing digital trend, Pokemon Go may have as many detractors as supporters. You can appeal to the former by advertising your business as a Pokemon-free zone. “By proudly being a non-Pokemon entity, a business can attract customers who are not interested in this fad,” said Anthony Curren of Rick Curren Auto Sales. He does warn, however, that business owners who take this route need to make sure they target the proper audience so as not to alienate potential customers who are Pokemon fans.
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