A Minimalist Marketer’s Guide To Pokémon Go For Local Business

The unprecedented rate at which this augmented reality mobile exploration game has spread like wildfire hasn’t gone unnoticed by opportunist marketers.

You are probably acquainted with Pokémon Go, unless you are hiding obliviously under a Pokeball. The Niantic Labs creation has surpassed Twitter for active usage and is the most downloaded iOS game in history.

The unprecedented rate at which this augmented reality mobile exploration game has spread like wildfire hasn’t gone unnoticed by opportunist marketers. Less than a week after its launch, Pokémon Go doubled the engagement of Snapchat, has been installed on more phones than Tinder, and is eclipsing Twitter in its hoard of active daily users.

People are so enamored with journeying around town looking for Pokémons that sore legs and escalating gas bills have become a norm.

In fact, it could be the first virtual reality app to go mainstream for marketers, as Pokémon Go could prove to be a bonanza for local businesses over the world, much more than obnoxious Google Ads.

Smart businesses and marketers have caught on fast.


Pokémon Go guide for marketers

As Pokémon Go aficionados traverse their cities seeking to catch their favorite Pokémons, movie theatres, restaurants, local stores, and other businesses are fast leveraging this massive opportunity to drive a barrage of foot traffic their way and ensure conversions both with creative marketing campaigns and simple in-app purchases.

Here’s how businesses can turn local gamers into new customers:


1. Find out if your business is a Pokestop or gym

Pokémon Go is vastly different from other games, since it doesn’t keep gamers locked up behind closed doors. The game operates on a heads-up display, or augmented reality HUD, of the real world. Player’s avatars team up to defend their territories, battle other users at gym, collect rewards from Pokestops, and explore with the world as they catch Pokémons. The first thing that businesses should do is ascertain whether their businesses are a Gym or a Pokestop.


Photo Credit: Helsinki Finland

Gyms and Pokestops attract foot traffic effortlessly; avid Pokémon seekers flock to them to battle average players and to collect rewards. If you know how, these can be capitalized on to boost sales. As of yet, there is no official Niantic map enlisting all Gym and Pokestops locations.

A workaround can be to consult the online map of portals which were created for the game “Ingress,” over the last three years, also developed by Niantic, virtually mapping 1:1 with Pokémon Go’s gyms and Pokestops. Check if a Gym or Pokestop is accessible from within your business. If so, you have a massive sales opportunity to entertain excited players, many of whom would welcome a sit-down.


2. Throw down a lure and watch the show

A plethora of in-app purchases are offered by Pokémon Go. Lures is one such offer which can prove to be invaluable for your business. Lures enhance the chance of Pokémon generation in the vicinity of the Pokestop where they can be thrown for half an hour.

Pokémons are rarer than you can believe and this is often a necessity. This insanely potent tool can turn the tables over for your business. All you have to do is:


  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of your heads-up display

  • Tap “Shop”

  • Tap the box shaped, purple Lures below to purchase. This will re-direct you to your app store’s payment system

  • Tap the red Pokeball again once you are back in the app, and tap “Items”

  • Finally tap the purple Lure to activate your bait!


For a mere dollar an hour, you can actually entice throngs of customers to your business. If your business is anywhere in the proximity of a Pokestop, the return on investments can be ridiculous.


3. Capitalize on your proximity to a Pokémon Gym

Gyms tell an entirely different story than Pokestops. “A Gym is a place where Pokémon Trainers go to train their Pokémon. Just like real-life gymnasiums, where one can go to work out and build physical strength, Pokémon Gyms are places where Trainers can go to sharpen their battling skills and where their Pokémon can go to gain experience.”

While you can throw out lures, users box in on gyms regularly, and face off with other players and teams to “take control” of the gym for either team Instinct, Valor, or Mystic.

Simply open the Pokémon Go app on your phone and scour out structures with little Pokémons decking out the tops, to see if there is one nearby your business. Since they are the most imposing institutions on the in-game map, they are hard to miss.

Capitalizing on your propinquity to a gym relates to creative marketing in real life more than you can imagine. If you want to engage with the droves of players swarming near your business, with their eyes too riveted to the screens to take notice of the world around, here are some ideas to help you command attention:


  • Create giveaways

    Seek out a supplier who can customize Pokémon Gym badges for your business. This should keep the players intrigued for a visit.


  • Keep score

    Set up a sandwich board to celebrate the team currently in control of the nearby Gym and offer discounts and deals for the members of the team, you can also use websites like Groupon.com and Couponbend.com for online deal outreach. Stay abreast of when the gym has changed hands or ask those participating in the promotion for updates.


  • Get social

    Post in-game screenshots on the social-media platforms where you have an active presence. Use hashtags to get the message across to potential new customers and players.



Charge points

    If you have power outlets in your business, be sure to advertise it to players, whose phone batteries are likely to be drained in the midst of a Pokémon hunt. Store for their phones to get charged, try to unleash the full charms of your marketing techniques.


4. Go where the Pokémons roam

If your business is nowhere in the vicinity of a Gym or a Pokestop to capitalize on the traffic they can generate, it’s time to go where the Pokémons linger


  • Take your business on the road

    If you want your business to blend into the Pokémon Go phenomenon, get moving and find a tactical place from which you can orchestrate the Gym or Lure strategies. For fashion retailers, a great idea is to launch a popup shop or a mobile retail store with some of your best sellers. Restaurants can rent and set up a food truck at parks or operate street carts, and make their food on the go from Poke stops and gyms.

    Since Pokémons are scattered far and wide, it’s pertinent to go where you can find the best chances of success. Capitalize on places where you have a plethora of Pokestops. For instance, if there are 3-4 Pokestops on the same block, place yourself somewhere in between and throw our multiple lures simultaneously. Before you know it, you’ll be enveloped by a serious crowd.


  • Promote your Local Pokémons on social media

    Even if your business is far away from Gyms or Pokestops you are still going to have Pokémons popping up from time to time. If you want to generate hype around your business, a great way is to flaunt rare or popular Pokémons popping up in your area on social media.

    Ideally, you can keep one of your social media interns glued to Pokémon Go all day and laying down Incense, and capture screen shots of the Pokémons they manage to capture. Always incorporate the hashtag #PokemonGO when tweeting about your Poke updates.


  • Consider a referral program

    Trade customer captured shots of their bagged Pokémons in the vicinity of your shop for Incense (a valuable tool in any Pokemon GO trainer’s arsenal). Ask them to post the shot on social media and tag you, so that other followers can know about the Pokémons that like to hang out in your area. Promote the fact that customers who find rare Pokémons at your business are amply rewarded.



Advertise your Pokémons on Facebook

    If you’re looking to ensure foot traffic to your business, or if you haven’t garnered a decent social media following, Facebook advertising can be your new BFF. By capitalizing on Facebook advertising, you can create an AD targeted only within the geographical ambit of your liking, and pass the word around about your local Pokémon to people who are likely to step inside your business.


What Pokémon Go means for local Google ads

With a marvelous game like Pokémon Go, the integration of geo-location offers a host of wonderful possibilities for Google. In rare cases where Google was unable to identify a consumer’s mobile device and location specific information beforehand, it now has the ability to do so.

The acquired data, in fact, renders other Google advertising products, such as Google Ads, much more effective and effortless. Advertisers themselves can leverage the foot-traffic driven from the app with discounts and special offers displayed on in-store signage.

Since Google is a major shareholder in Niantic and that in turn is a spinout from Google Maps, Pokémon Go has adapted and embodied the Google advertising model to perfection, and has the ability to scale revenues very quickly.

While Nintendo sees this as a gaming phenomenon, it is no secret that Google views it as a marketing stroke of genius! According to Niantic CEO John Hanke, Niantic wants to allow companies and other retailers in the near future to sponsor locations on Pokémon Go’s virtual maps. These so called sponsored locations” could potentially provide a supplementary revenue model to the app.

Advertisers could be charged per visit, just like they pay per click on Google’s local ads. With over 15 million people actively participating in Pokémon Go, sometimes even more than they check their Twitter accounts, Google has once again stepped up and revolutionized the advertising game, with a speculation the size of a Pichu!


This article has been edited and condensed.

Charles Crawford is a high-level entrepreneur and co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Charles has been studying internet marketing, web design, and tech start-ups for years, and he has been successful with multiple business ventures such as affiliate marketing (where 98%+ of people never make money). Connect with @crawfordobrien on Twitter.


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