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Marketing with Pokémon Go to Catch ‘Em All

In case you haven’t heard, Pokémon have taken over America. But of course you’ve heard, because the news is everywhere. Some of it’s funny, some seems a little bizarre, and some is downright terrifying. The explosive popularity of the app Pokémon Go has given Nintendo an impressive boost to its valuation as more than 15 million users downloaded the app in just a number of days.

While there are plenty of haters out there, there are also plenty of people who are deeply invested. That investment might be the perfect opportunity for you. In case you don’t know how Pokémon Go works, unlike previous smash hits like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and Words with Friends, sitting down to play isn’t going to get a player very far in the game. Instead, the game uses augmented reality to get users to explore the real world to catch their prized Pokémon.

Rather than demeaning users or turning them away for showing up to your business in an attempt to catch their desired creature, perhaps a more lucrative strategy would be to embrace the trend and do your best to “catch ‘em all”—that is, all the potential customers. Here are a few quick tips on how you can make the most of Pokémon Go craze.

Crawl Don’t Run

A quick Google search for Pokémon crawl turned up events and news from all over the country about these mass gatherings. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people get together to scour a neighborhood, district, or city on their hunt. Due to the fact that any given Pokémon isn’t limited to a single capture, the app creates an opportunity for users to become a closely knit community that can play together out in the real world.

Look for a crawl near you. If there is one, a Facebook event likely exists. Use the opportunity to either reach out to the event organizer or post directly onto the event about welcoming the Pokémon trainers (yes, that’s what they’re called) to your location. Catch those Pokémon fans by offering a discount, sale, or other promotion specifically during the event. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s right for your business and relevant to the audience.

Lure Them In

One main feature of Pokémon Go is a location known as a Poké Stop—the place where various Pokémon show up and where trainers can collect items that will help them throughout the game. Most commonly, these stops are located around some sort of landmark or point of interest. If your business is lucky enough to be close to one of these stops, there’s a great likelihood that organic traffic is going to find its way to you. However, you can use these Poké Stops to your advantage to really catch more customers.

Poké Stops can be upgraded using a Lure Module—an item that promises to draw Pokémon to a stop for 30 minute periods when activated. The best part for trainers is that once a lure module is activated, anyone nearby can reap the benefits. As a business owner, diving into the app to purchase some Lure Modules might really draw some traffic if you activate them at the right time.

For about $12, you can buy enough Lure Modules to activate a Poké Stop for 8 hours. Depending on what kind of business you run, even a slight uptick in customers will cover the cost of this effort. If you’re running a retail establishment, activating Lure Modules all day on a Saturday might be best, while quick service restaurants might gain more from boosting around lunch and dinner peaks. Just remember that you can’t pre-activate Lure Modules, so keep an eye on them so they don’t fizzle out before you want them to.

A Gym Routine

Aside from Poké Stops, the other key element of the game is the Gym. Despite all the press about what people do to catch various beasts, the game actually has another purpose. Once they’ve caught Pokémon, trainers can battle their army against others. True to the rest of the experience, this can only be done in specific locations—designated on the map as a Gym.

Gyms get a lot of traffic as the three teams—Team Mystic (blue), Team Valor (red), and Team Instinct (yellow)—battle to control them. Before a trainer is able to battle, they’re forced to pick a team that they are permanently committed to. While this element doesn’t allow for much manipulation, you can still benefit by engaging the community through healthy competition.

Whether it’s a physical sign or a social media post, encourage your customers to take over the closest Gym, regardless of team. Once they’ve earned a spot defending the gym, incentivize them to take a screenshot and show you for a discount, a free upgrade, or a coupon for next time. Better yet, have them post the screenshot to social media and tag your business with the special offer they just unlocked there. This is a great way to earn some word of mouth without too much friction as your customers probably already have these. (Believe me, those of us who have played have plenty of screenshots stored of the Gyms we’ve taken over…)

Keep it on Your Radar
A supplemental app called Poké Radar, which maps out spotted Pokémon—including potentially hard to find ones, popped up a few days after the original app. If you’re lucky enough to have a rare Pokémon roosting nearby, then by all means capitalize on that traffic. This app too is location based, so a quick launch can show you what’s been spotted nearby. Take the opportunity to post a screenshot to your social media channels with a special offer for the next handful of customers that can prove they caught that elusive Pokémon.

Whatever you do, have fun with it. The community is large, and if you play the game right, you really might be able to catch them all.

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