Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about the latest viral craze : Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go is close to topping the number of daily users on Twitter and average time spent on the Facebook app. If you run a local business, you should be taking advantage of this phenomenon to get foot traffic and new customers.
Let me start by saying this isn’t my idea – I don’t personally play this game (Pokemon Go draws an overwhelmingly millennial crowd, with 83% aged 18 to 34). But my son plays, and he was telling me about how you can turn this into a huge money-maker for your company, especially if you have a storefront. Pokémon Go now has over 20 million active daily users, and that number is still rapidly growing. And the players have money to spend – According to Forbes, 63% of users in the U.S. are female, while the average user persona is a 25-year-old, white woman with a college degree making about $90,000 a year. Pokémon Go can get more people to come into your small business than you know what to do with and help significantly boost sales. Here’s how:
Pokémon Go users find Pokémon by walking around busy areas such as cities and towns, and they even explore new places on their hunt to catch more Pokémon. Of course, as a business owner, you want them to come into your store and buy your products. You can attract them into your store by creating a PokéStops or Gym. PokéStops are locations in Pokémon Go where you can pick up Pokéballs for catching Pokémon. A PokéStop will show up on the Pokémon Go player’s map as a place to congregate for special Pokémon, eggs, and other treats. Pokémon Gyms are places where Pokémon users can battle their Pokémon. These are usually reserved for parks, malls, and larger areas where people can congregate. Small businesses are more likely to get a PokéStop.
You can’t just say you are a PokéStop or Gym – you have to apply to become one. Pokémon Go may have already created PokéStops and Gyms in your area. Check the area around your business to see if there’s already a stop or gym near you. If your business is a PokéStop or Pokémon Gym – awesome! If not, you can request your business to become a Pokéstop or Gym on Pokémon’s support page. Pokémon Go is looking for more ways to profit from the Pokémon phenomenon, which is why they’re going to start offering sponsored locations. Businesses will be able to purchase PokéStops and Gyms from Niantic, the company that developed Pokémon Go.
If your request gets rejected (apparently they are not currently accepting any more applications), you can still use these locations for your business’s advantage. Your map on Pokémon Go will show you places that are PokéStops and Gyms, which means you can target your marketing towards these locations – put up a sign at those places offering an incentive to come into your store. Use your social channels to invite people to come play at your location. Better yet, turn it into a contest! To make sure your business gets some social exposure, ask players to share their favorite Pokémon photos taken at your business and tag your business when they do. Encourage players to check in while playing. Ask players to aim Pokémon on products they want to buy, and each photo they share with a product tagged with your business name will get them a special discount! Have an event at your store and do a Facebook Live video of players trying to catch Pokémon.
Here are some more ideas:
- Put up a sign outside your store if you’re a PokéStop or Gym
- Offer a discount to users who are “Level x” on Pokémon Go
- Give customers a small gift with their purchase if they have a specific Pokémon
- Hold a contest outside your business to see who can catch the most Pokémon in an hour and promote the event on Facebook
- Hand out coupons to players on a specific team (There are three teams: Team Mystic, Team Valor, and Team Instinct)
You can use Pokémon lures to attract people into your business. Just like in fishing, lures are used in Pokémon Go to attract people to an area that has Pokémon. Lures increase the amount of Pokémon in your area for 30 minutes, and they can only be used at PokéStops. If you want to test this marketing channel for gaining customers, start small. Buy 1 lure for $0.99 or 5 lures for $4.99 (550 Pokécoins) to see if you gain traffic from Pokémon Go. Throw out the lures, sit back, and watch the customers come in! 30 minutes of increased traffic for only 99 cents yields a tremendous return on investment for your business.
There are a number of ways that your local store front can cash in of the Pokémon craze. Come up with some creative ideas of how you are doing this and share your results with us.