If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, there is a new mobile gaming king and mega popular app that has taken the world by storm: Pokemon Go.

In this post, we’ll discuss Pokemon Go from a marketing perspective, with an aim to show how small businesses can capitalize on this game.

Some of the topics covered in this post include:

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokemon Go is a freemium mobile video game that uses both location based technology and virtual reality.

The game is available on Android and iOS.

In the game, players are tasked with finding, capturing, training, and battling opponents with Pokemon.

To find Pokemon, players need to explore the real world. Pokemon appear throughout the real world using virtual reality.

The game also places locations like Pokestops and Gyms in the real world.

A Pokestop is a location where players can get more eggs and Pokeballs. Once a player reaches Level 5, they may also receive items like Potions and Revives.

A gym is a location that is held by one team. Yes, every Pokemon Go player has to choose one of three teams to be on. At a gym, players can battle or train Pokemon, as well as help to defend or overthrow a gym for their team.

Some crazy Pokémon Go stats

There is absolutely no doubt that Pokemon Go is huge right now.

Below you’ll find some of the crazy stats for the game:

  1. Pokémon Go is already the most popular mobile game of all time, surpassing Candy Crush.
  2. Brandwatch counted more than 4.5 million mentions of Pokémon Go across social media between the 4th and 10th of July, and 5,982,616,734 impressions.
  3. The game has added more than $7 billion to parent company Nintendo’s market value.
  4. Pokémon Go has more users than popular dating app Tinder
  5. Pokémon Go has more active users than Twitter on Android devices.
  6. There have been 20 million Pokemon Go related tweets.
  7. Pokémon Go also ranked ahead of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in Google Play.
  8. The average Pokemon Go user spends 33 minutes per day on the app, making them the most active app users ahead of 22 minutes per day for Facebook users.
  9. Over 60% of those who have downloaded the app in the US are using it daily.

Ways to use Pokemon Go for increased local foot traffic

There are quite a few ways to use Pokémon Go to increase your local foot traffic to your business.

Don’t worry, most of these are pretty simple, although you will need to download the game to use some of these tactics.

After downloading the game, find out if your business is a gym or Pokéstop.

Two Pokestops At Work

Via Reddit User Nerkho

How to find out if your business is a gym or Pokéstop

One way to find out if your business is a gym or Pokestop before delving into the game is to use the Ingress map.

Ingress is a game by Niantic, the makers of Pokemon Go, and it uses a map with portal markers that are used in Pokemon Go as Pokestops and Gyms.

To use the Ingress map, you need to download the game and set it up, which only takes a minute. Then go here and login to the map.

You can also see if you are a Gym or Pokestop just by playing the game.

If you are a gym or Pokéstop, BINGO you hit the jackpot!

Now you need to capitalize on your good fortune. Below are a few ways to do just that.

Advertise that you are a Pokestop

1. Advertise that you are a gym or Pokéstop IRL.

As players are already coming to your business as it is a Gym or Pokestop, why not make it as easy as possible for them to find you? Put up some signage directing them to your business that advertises the fact that you are a gym or Pokestop. This could possibly have other offers on it as well.

If you are a gym, you also could put up signage marking which team controls the gym.

Consider giving the team that holds the gym a special discount or reward. You probably want to offer a discount for all Pokemon Go players, but give the team that holds the gym a slightly better one.

All these different ways of bringing the virtual game into the real world just gives your customers a special experience that they may well remember long after this game fades into history.

2. Advertise that you are a gym or Pokéstop online.

While a lot of locals will just stumble upon your business by wandering around playing Pokemon Go, you should advertise that you are a gym or Pokestop. This might bring in those people that live or work just a little out of your area.

A lot of those people probably see your little marker on their map everyday, but they don’t know that the marker is also an awesome location that they should go visit and spend time at.

If you are a gym or Pokestop that is creating an awesome experience for players, let locals know about it. They may well decide to come on down to your business.

Looking for some examples of how you can market your small business using Pokemon Go? Then check out my Imgur gallery: 15 examples of local businesses marketing with Pokemon GO.

3. Run promotions for your Pokémon customers.

If you can, give your Pokemon Go customers some kind of special.

Some gyms have been giving out branded badges, which I think is awesome.

I’ve seen posts of business giving out buttons and stickers too.

If you sell something, I would consider giving your Pokemon Go customers a slight discount (like 5 to 10% off).

You can even get the Pokemon Go customers to work for you (in terms of advertising your business) in exchange for your promotion offer, as described in points 4-6 below.

4. Ask customers to check in to your location in return for discounts.

One way to get customers to advertise for you is to just ask them to check in to your location using various apps in return for a discount.

There friends then see that they are there and might consider doing likewise.

5. Ask customers for social mentions in return for discounts.

You could also ask customers for social mentions in return for discounts.

Same deal as above, this just helps to get the word out about your business.

6. Ask customers to share pics of the Pokémon they see in your location and share them on social media in return for discounts.

Players are always on the lookout for great Pokemon. If they see that there are some desirable Pokemon at your location, they may well come on down and check it out.

Yesterday, someone found a Raichu in Central Park. The area was soon flooded with others that wanted to do the same. I live no where near New York City, yet I know about that from the posts about it on Reddit, which just goes to show you the power of social media.

7. If you are a gym, run a gym tournament.

Players are battling for the gym anyway, why not make it a public affair?

Mark off teams and publicly announce what is going on the best you can.

Use a big board to keep an updated score.

Display which team holds the gym in a prominent way.

Pokemon Go Lures

8. If you are a Pokéstop, buy some Lures.

What’s a lure? A lure is something you can buy in Pokemon Go to lure (or attract) Pokemon.

This is kind of a big deal as it isn’t all that easy to find Pokemon in the game.

Lures cost real money, and many users don’t want to shell that out just for themselves.

For small businesses, you can simply buy some lures (and advertise it), and you should have players showing up.

Inc.com was reporting that lures are also very affordable. From their site:

What’s even more incredible is just how affordable luring is. Let’s do the math. With $100 netting you 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokecoins:

14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour

All you have to do is:

  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of your HUD
  • Tap “Shop”
  • Scroll down and tap the purple, box-shaped Lures to purchase. You’ll re-direct to your app store’s payment system
  • Once back in-app, tap the red Pokeball again, then tap “Items”
  • Tap the purple Lure to activate!

For a little more than a dollar an hour, you can bring virtually guaranteed crowds to your business. The ROI here is ridiculous, so if your business is anywhere near a PokeStop, this is something you absolutely have to try.

If you don’t want to spend the money on Lures, you might be able to use this LureSquad app to tempt users into placing lures on your location (or a nearby location) in return for some type of reward. Yup, people are already making companion apps for Pokemon Go.

If you are not a gym or Pokéstop, no worries as you can still capitalize on the game.

If you aren’t a Gym or Pokéstop, you can still get in on the Pokemon Go frenzy.

Pokemon Go Incense

1. Run a promotion using incense.

Incense is another item you can buy to attract Pokemon, but it only really works for the person that bought it. IGN is reporting that it does seem to also work if you are travelling with a team.

Either way, you can use Incense to your advantage by using it to draw in and capture Pokemon, and then taking pics of those Pokemon to use on social media and in advertising campaigns.

When users see what you got, they might come check out your business.

2. Go where the Pokémon are.

Another way to capitalize on the success of Pokemon Go is to simply go where the Pokemon are.

If you run a mobile business, like a food truck or some type of stand, especially in a largely populated area, this is a no brainer.

3. Host Pokémon Hunts.

You also might want to try to get a group of people together to go on a Pokemon Hunt with you.

This could either start or end (or both) at your business, generating foot traffic and hopefully income.

4. Make Pokemon themed products.

I’ve seen a lot of businesses capitalize on the Pokemon hype by theming their products after Pokemon.

One ice cream shop did all Pokemon themed flavors.

A doughnut shop did Pokeball doughnuts.

Lots of stores are doing Pokemon end caps and displays.

5. Give something to Pokemon Go players.

A popular tactic is just to advertise a product specifically to Pokemon Go players or just give them something.

A lot of businesses are just letting Pokemon Go players have free water. Many are even bringing in water coolers for that purpose.

Another popular tactic is advertising that Pokemon Go players can charge their devices for free or use the free WiFi.

The future of Pokémon Go for marketing

Given the success of this game, I don’t think you can ignore it in terms of marketing.

However, I bet some of you are thinking this is a fad that will fade fast.

To some degree, I agree with that. But it might not be going away as quickly as you would think.

A few new features to the game should help extend the life of the game.

Pokemon Go to add player trading

First off, there reportedly will be the ability for players to trade Pokemon coming to the game soon.

That should open up even more marketing opportunities. I actually envision a whole marketplace opening up surrounding the trade (and sale) of Pokemon. Don’t be surprised when you read that story of some kid selling a Pokemon for $1,000+.

Pokemon Go Plus

Pokemon Go Plus coming soon

Another addition to the game will be the Pokemon Go Plus.

The Pokémon GO Plus is a small device that lets you enjoy Pokémon GO while you’re on the move and not looking at your smartphone. The device connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth low energy and notifies you about events in the game—such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby—using an LED and vibration.

There have been tons of stories of how people are ignoring reality when playing the game, and getting themselves into some dangerous situations. Niantic already has made it so that you can’t find Pokemon if you are travelling above a certain speed. That was meant to crack down on people driving and playing.

There was still the issue of people just staring at their phones when walking and not paying attention to where they were going, like this news anchor:

The new Pokemon Go Plus device should help dissipate those safety qualms many have over the game, as you no longer will need to look at your phone when walking. The device notifies you when you need to stop.

The device also will be a way to identify players, making it easy for businesses to market to the Pokemon trainers that stop by. If you see someone wearing the device, chat them up about Pokemon and maybe offer them a discount of some type.

Sponsored locations coming to Pokemon Go

I’m guessing a lot of businesses are super disappointed that they weren’t chosen as Gyms or Pokéstops.

If you fall into that category, there will soon be a way to remedy the situation.

Niantic CEO John Hanke has confirmed that sponsored locations will be coming to Pokémon GO.

That means you will be able to pay to become a Pokéstop or Gym. The question is just going to be how much does it cost?

Go catch ’em all! Customers that is.

I hope this post has given you some insight into the game of Pokémon Go and how it can be used to give your business a boost.

This game likely will fade eventually, but for the time being I would highly encourage you to undertake some Pokémon Go marketing strategies as outlined in this post. That is especially true if you are in a densely populated area where there are likely thousands upon thousands of Pokémon Go players.

Looking for some examples of how you can market your small business using Pokemon Go? Then check out my Imgur gallery: 15 examples of local businesses marketing with Pokemon GO.

Header image via reddit user SinisterPyromaniac.