Using Pokémon Go to Build Your Local Business

Pokemon Go on iPhoneSince its launch on July 6th, the news continues to feature the Pokémon Go craze. How long this game will be hot is anyone's guess. Pokémon has been around for decades and it appears that this app's avid players are in the 24-35 age bracket. Why? Because they most likely played Pokémon (not in the digital world) when they were kids.

This game app, available on Android and iPhone, uses augmented reality and landmarks as its backdrop. Augmented Reality is used in publications, signage, museums, buildings ... so why not use it in a game.

How does it work?

Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and camera to turn the real world into a massive hunting ground, transforming local landmarks and businesses into Pokémon Gyms and Poké Stops, where players can physically visit to stock up on accessories and items like Poké Balls. Players set-up avatars and use them to explore the area to catch Pokémon, collect rewards from Poké Stops, battle other users at Gyms teaming-up to defend their territory. Players are reporting they are getting outdoors, roaming areas looking for Pokémon, and getting much needed exercise.

Poke Stop SignPokémon Go Drives Sales at Local Businesses

As players flock to Poké Stops and Gyms (not Gold's) for rewards and to battle other players, your business can benefit from the traffic with increased sales.

Players are spending, what some may think, an excessive amount of time looking for Pokémon. In our travels around Southern Maryland, we've seen people playing in shopping centers, outside and inside a pizza restaurant, large crowds roaming all about Solomons Island and around other Southern Maryland businesses. If that pizza restaurant had had a sign out front of its location or in a window, they could have sold a few pizzas.

Smart marketers at stores, service centers, restaurants, movie theaters, churches, and other places are capitalizing on this craze and getting a huge increase in foot traffic by using Pokémon as part of their marketing campaign.

WBALTV recently aired a segment about people walking dogs while playing Pokémon Go and how the Maryland SPCA jumped on this opportunity to increase pet adoption. For two days, the Maryland SPCA's "come out, check two or three of our Poké Stops, meet an animal, and take home a "new best friend" resulted in an increase in pet adoptions. The SPCA's lure included say the word Pokémon and we'll waive adoption fees for adult cats and dogs.

Pokemon CharacterSome Pokémon Go players are making their restaurant choices based on the availability of Pokémon in the area. And savvy restaurateurs are using this social media fact to attract customers.

Here are a couple of examples of how restaurants are using Pokémon Go to increase traffic. One hosts a Pokémon Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on their patio, selling $5 margaritas and $5 tapas specials while doubling as a Pokémon gym. A Japanese restaurant offers Pokémon deals at their Pagoda Bar during happy hour. Pokémon Go players receive 20% off certain drinks. A few drinks and captures under a player's belt can also lead to a dinner at the same stop.

What do you do if your business isn't a Poké Stop?

You can use Lures at nearby Poké Stops to increase foot traffic. Keep in mind, the best Poké Stop is not always the closest to your business. You can get the attention of players you've lured nearby by handing out fliers and business cards, signs in front of or inside of your business, banners, and by creating special offers. Your marketing materials should include your logo, your offer, and the Pokémon Go logo.

Pokémon Go Ride Service

Here's an example of creating a service using Pokémon Go. Instead of getting behind the wheel and driving around Southern Maryland looking for Pokémon, there's a local service that will drive players to Southern Maryland stops and gyms for $25/hour. Using this service is safer and cheaper than the alternative ... behind-the-wheel distractions often result in an accident.

Purchasing & Setting Lures to Attract Customers

Not familiar with the game? Download Pokémon Go to your device; play it; have fun.

Steps for purchasing lures:

  • Open the Pokémon Go app

  • Catch your first Pokémon to get a red Poké Ball

  • Tap the red Poké Ball at the bottom of the screen and hit "Shop"

  • Scroll down to buy a pack of Poké Coins (the app's currency)

  • Once you have Poké Coins, use them to buy a Lure module

How to Set a Lure

Get close enough to access your target Poké Stop. If you see a square blue block, then this location is inaccessible; accessible stops resemble targets.

DHow to Deploy a Lure

To deploy a lure, click the Poké Stop, click the white oval, and select the lure module on the next screen. Once the lure is deployed, you will see pink confetti raining down from the Poké Stop attracting a Pokémon.  

Add Pokémon Go to Your Social Media

Pokemon Applebees MenuBe sure to use your social media channels to post about the best Poké Stops near you, about Pokémons you've found in the area, and any special deals you're offering to players.

Consider giving discounts to players who post screen shots of any Pokémon they find at or near your business. Screen shots could include holding the phone by a menu like this screen capture or outside of the building being sure to capture the business name or logo. (Remember it's augmented reality ... no Pokémon props needed.)

Get creative! Think about what you can offer Pokémon players to bring them into your business.

Consider using Periscope (Twitter) or Facebook to live stream your Pokémon event and offer.

Need more information? Here's the link to Pokémon Go Instructions for playing the game, purchasing and exchanging Poké Coins, account maintenance guidelines, and more.