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Pokémon GO – Preparing Your Business for the New Reality

Lynette Rambo | July 23, 2016 

Pokémon GO has the potential to drive a large amount of new foot traffic to your business with little or no effort from you. Even those who are skeptics where augmented reality is concerned should use this opportunity to capitalize on the frenzy and get in the game!

GOTCHA! Gotta catch ‘em all! These are phrases you’re probably hearing a lot this month — especially if you have kids or work with younger colleagues. Pokémon GO, the augmented reality (AR) mobile game from Nintendo and developer Niantic Labs, was released for both iOS and Android phones on July 7th. It took just 13 hours to become the highest-grossing app — ever. Five days after launch, the game had increased Nintendo’s market value by $9 billion.

The Pokémon franchise began in 1995 and is centered on fictional creatures called “Pokémon — Pikachu probably being the most recognizable. Humans, the Pokémon Trainers, catch and train them to battle each other for sport. Pokémon GO takes the game to the AR level with players actually taking their phones for a walk through neighborhoods, parks, shopping centers, and local landmarks. The game uses GPS to track the player’s location, creating a digital map for them to follow in their search for cartoon creatures that surface at random. People look through their smart phone cameras to find Pokémon. When an animated creature appears, they toss Poké Balls at it until it is subdued. Once caught, a Pokémon can be trained to do battle with other creatures. Trainers can also collect eggs to incubate and hatch.

A 70% Revisit Rate

Something I find very interesting — especially from a digital marketing perspective — is that 7 out of 10 people who downloaded the app returned to it the next day. And, players are reportedly spending 43 minutes in the app daily. I think it’s safe to say we would all like a 70% revisit rate from those to whom we market, not to mention have 43 minutes per day of their undivided attention.

While achieving those figures in most marketing campaigns is not very likely, there are things businesses can do to join this new world of augmented reality and capitalize on the Pokémon GO phenomenon. First of all, let’s look at some interesting statistics provided by Slice Intelligence, a digital commerce direct measurement company.

  • In-app spending by Millennials account for the majority of Pokémon GO’s in-game revenue, with 52% of buyers between the ages of 18-34.
  • Many of these individuals were part of the prime target audience when the Pokémon frenzy first hit the United States in the mid-’90s.
  • Nearly three-quarters of paying Pokémon players are men.

So, what we have here is basically a customer journey that has spanned close to 20 years due to excellent brand recognition, a brilliant bit of marketing, and fulfilling the need for fun, challenge, and connecting to the larger world — especially among Millennials. As a Gen X-er with kids, even I was captured by the anticipation generated by the initial trailer, which you can watch here.

Here are some ways your company can participate in this gaming frenzy, connect with Pokémon GO players, and introduce yourself to a whole new audience.

UNDERSTAND THE GAME

First, understand the game. For starters, watch this short trailer to get the gist of it. Then, visit the official website here. Next, set up a Gmail account for your business and use it to download the free app to your mobile phone. Check if your business or other businesses near you have been tagged as a “PokéStop” (where players can earn power ups and experience points) or a “Gym” (where participants can train their Pokémon and battle other players). Getting a feel for what’s going on in your local “Poké World” will help you anticipate paths of increased foot traffic and how your business can capitalize on it.

MAKE YOUR BUSINESS VISIBLE

Let people know you’re on the map. If you have a storefront, players may pass it on their way to capturing the next Pokémon. Put out signs that welcome players and highlight your establishment as Pokémon friendly. Consider promoting your business as a “juice bar” — a place players can stop to recharge their phone batteries (as the game uses a lot of power).

If you’re in a local Pokémon hot spot, set up a station where players can get a grab bag with free snacks and water — and, of course, promotional materials or coupons for your business. Or, if you’re a restaurant, offer a free sample or beverage to players. Even better, create a space where players can meet up and linger.

BE VIRTUALLY VISIBLE, TOO

If your business has been designated a PokéStop or Gym, be sure and update your website, Facebook business pages, Google Maps, and other online descriptions to reflect it. Even though the app only shows options that are nearest the player, players may have to pass by your business to get there. Even if you aren’t near a Pokémon hub, you can still create a guide of stops in your area and offer it for free.

Use social media to start conversations with customers and prospects who are playing the game. Tweet and Snapchat about which Pokémon are hanging out nearby. Encourage players to share photos, characters, and their latest Pokémon exploits. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow users to include your business’s geographic location, so provide an incentive for visitors to do so!

The Muncie Animal Shelter in Muncie, IN did just this. Phil Peckinpaugh, superintendent of Muncie Animal Shelter, noticed an increase of people walking by as they played the game and thought it would be great if each player had a dog to walk. So, he created a quick ad and posted it on the shelter’s Facebook page. In just 5 days, the shelter attracted 250 people who wanted to walk adoptable dogs. The post was shared tens of thousands of times with players uploading photos of themselves with their dog while they hunted for Pokémon.

LURE PEOPLE IN

Consider placing a “lure module” on your PokéStop. This can be especially helpful during off-peak hours. A Lure Module lasts for 30 minutes and is used to attract more creatures to that stop. It can benefit players near the stop by providing extra creatures to catch. And, it benefits your business by potentially drawing a crowd. This would be a great time to offer a two-for-one deal or hand out coupons. Or, create a mobile wallet offer to make purchases faster.

Retailers can also use a beacon to deliver targeted messages or mobile coupons that are triggered when a shopper is in range of promoted items. This article on Forbes gives a good introduction to beacon technology.

IT’S ALL ABOUT CONNECTION

Just as the Muncie Animal Shelter connected people with dogs, your business can think of a way to connect players with other people. Consider organizing a pub crawl, day in the park, or scenic walk. Even if your business is B2B, you can still gain benefit by meeting the social need we have as humans. Here are some other ideas:

  • During the egg hatching aspect of the game, players need time to hatch their eggs. Give them a reason to come to your establishment.
  • Set up a Pokémon GO meet-up at your location.
  • Create a special promotion around the game.
  • Take this excellent opportunity to get to know and connect with the Millennial market during this craze.

Millennial blogger Hurst Williamson writes, “Connection is a powerful tool. And when you are able to connect with a generation that is quick-acting, mobile, and socially connected, results can spread like wildfire. Millennials are eager, driven, and more than a little self-focused. We are a large generation with far reaching potential, but if you want us to bring you success, take a lesson from Pokémon GO and Connect (with) ‘Em All!”

DON’T BE AFRAID TO AUGMENT YOUR REALITY

It’s a changing world, and businesses need to keep up with that reality and the technology behind it. Augmented Reality is here to stay. Pokémon GO represents digital disruption at its best and gives us an excellent example of how AR and the real world can intersect. But, there are others.

Microsoft’s HoloLens seamlessly blends high-definition holograms with the real world through a headset with transparent lenses.
And, the company INDE has been launching AR systems for multiple big-name clients since 2011. To see some of their amazing work, click here.

This game — and others to follow, I’m sure — has the potential to drive a large amount of new foot traffic to your business with little or no effort from you. So, even if you’re one of the skeptics where AR is concerned, use this opportunity to capitalize on that traffic, meet new people, and bring folks together.

In other words, go catch ‘em all!

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Lynette Rambo

Lynette Rambo | Marketing Consultant

Lynette Rambo is a Certified Email Marketing Specialist and a Marketing Consultant for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She has over 20 years of marketing, communications, design, and public relations experience for both small businesses and larger corporations. As a Marketing Consultant for ListEngage, Lynette consults clients on email marketing best practices, strategic planning, content creation, campaign management, and provides training and demos on the Marketing Cloud. She also works with the Salesforce CRM and connecting Sales and Marketing initiatives. You can contact Lynette at lrambo@listengage.com.