If you’ve been anywhere on the Internet in recent weeks you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot of talk about Pokémon. You may have also noticed a considerable uptick in folks wandering streets, parks, and cities with the blue glow of their smartphone screens illuminating their paths. This of course, is all thanks to the newest mobile phenomenon, Pokémon GO.
Poke-what, you say? Well, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that utilizes your phones camera to project these pocket monsters onto the real world around you. Pokémon ‘trainers,’ as they’re called, then have the opportunity to catch, collect, evolve, and battle these quirky little creatures in an attempt to (and I’m quoting the 1990’s theme song) “be the very best.”
Utilizing the Google Maps engine and your smartphone GPS, players must actively travel around to find new Pokémon and restock on essential items at locations known as PokeStops. There are even landmarks known as ‘gyms’ where players can take their trainees to battle and claim the spot for their respective team.
So what does this mean for the business world? For brick and mortar institutions, the potential is just blossoming, though the opportunities are certainly not limited to them.
Here are a few ways your business can get in on the game:
Scout Your Stops
First and foremost, download the app and look for pre-existing PokeStops in your business’ area. Generally PokeStops are densely populated in cities and areas with a large amount of landmarks. These stops are crucial to the game, as users must visit them to restock on items crucial to capturing and battling Pokémon. As of right now there is no true way to add your own PokeStops, but this is a feature we should be on the lookout for in future paid business models.
Be Sure to Lure
One of the games most popular items is a piece called a “Lure.” These nifty little beacons are additions that can be placed on a PokeStop to attract Pokémon to that area for a half hour at a time. Lures are handed out to players for level upgrades and other game achievements, but can also be purchased in the game’s shop for an alluring $0.99 (see what I did there?). If your business is near a PokeStop, you can attract game players by purchasing a few of these fellas and notifying your social media community when they will be activated. Nearby players on the map will also see your PokeStop illuminated, indicating an active lure. Just set it up and watch your local poke-hunters come looking for their next catch.
Tailor Your Offerings
With a lure in place, there will undoubtedly be foot traffic. While they are there to catch Pokémon, you must remember it’s your intent to capture their attention. The best way to convert those new walk-in leads is to tailor product and promotion offerings to those players. Running a cocktail bar? Offer a featured drink for all incoming Pokémon trainers during your Lure period. Is your business near an active Pokémon gym? Offer a discount for all team members of the gym’s current controlling team! Business like GameStop have even tailored their product offerings to game players by placing iTunes gift cards (which can be used for purchasing items in the game’s shop) and Pokémon apparel at the front of the store.
A Wild Sponsored Feature Appeared!
While a business platform has not yet been released, there is official chatter surrounding features to be made available. Amongst the first that will change the way businesses can attract customers is a pay-per-visit model of sponsoring their location. While that’s a great start, here’s one Pokémon Trainer and digital marketer’s wish list business features:
- Pay to populate: One of the main things that keeps players traveling is the pursuit of rare Pokémon. One feature that would further your businesses hotspot status would be the ability to be able to pay for a certain rare monsters to spawn at your spot for limited amounts of time.
- Stock the shop: With the ability to make your business a PokeStop should come the ability to choose what items your shop can offer. What better way to lure in nearby trainers that happen to be short on Poké Balls than a stop that abundantly gives out five new ones per visitor?
- Team hideouts: It’s not uncommon for large groups of complete strangers to run into each other, discover they fly the same flag, and join forces. A great feature for storefronts would be the ability to fly a flag of your own for limited times with in-game incentives for spending time under a friendly banner. This way you can build rotating loyalty to different teams in the game, while having them spend time as potential new customer.
As with all new app phenomena in the digital age, much is likely to change in a very short amount of time. While Pokémon GO as we’ve come to know it will likely wax and wane in popularity, one thing is for certain: the app has unlocked a whole new sector of potential with mobile-centric, augmented reality games. On that front, I’m willing to bet this is not the last we see of ways the above ideas can be adapted.
So go forth, be creative, capture your new customers and, most importantly, show your fun side!
Ryan is an Account Executive at RDW Group. Living his career on the digital frontier since ‘poking’ was social currency, he is ever on the pulse of the integrated mindset. Outside the office he can be found running silly distances to the beats of electronic music, capturing life through a camera lens, and soaking in the hop cologne at RI’s bountiful local breweries.