I haven’t stopped talking about Pokémon Go since I downloaded the game. I was the biggest Pokémon geek as a kid, and now (like the 15 million other people who downloaded the app) I’m ready to be a Pokémon master yet again.
But nowadays, I’m not only a Pokémon trainer -- I’m also a marketer. After countless hours laboring over dozens of Rattata and Pidgey, I’ve seen some genius marketing moves along the way.
Don’t think your marketing can benefit from Pokémon Go? Think again. Here are just a few super easy (and super free) ways you can drive Pokémon masters into your business.
1. Pick a team.
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In Pokémon Go, trainers are allowed to join one of three teams: Team Valor (red), Team Mystic (blue) and Team Instinct (yellow). These teams compete to take over “Pokémon gyms”, and things can get pretty competitive between them.
How can you spark a bit of business? Pick a team.
Even better, CitySen Lounge in Grand Rapids, Michigan offers those on their team a discount.
If you’re lucky enough to have a gym around your business, take advantage of it. Have your staff join the same team to defend it and challenge customers to come take it over. The friendly competition will have them coming back for more.
And if you don’t want to be too polarizing, you can simply offer discounts to any trainer that walks in your store.
2. Share your conquests.
Pokémon Go is all the rage right now. It shot to the #1 spot in every app directory almost immediately, and rakes in more than $1.6 million every day. As many brands struggle to relate to their customers ( Millennials especially), it would be foolish not to get in on the Pokémon Go action.
Even the President of Israel is jumping on board the bandwagon. He recently shared a photo on Facebook of him catching the popular cat Pokémon Meowth in his office. Within the first few hours of posting this picture, it has over 15,000 reactions -- mostly likes, laughs and hearts.
While Twitter and Facebook are amazing places to publicize your newfound love for the mobile game, outlets like BuzzFeed and Reddit are booming with Pokémon Go content, getting massive share counts. Pokémon Go related subreddits are among the fastest growing subreddits on the site, with posts often hitting the front of Reddit’s homepage.
Actually playing the game is a great way to relate to your customers, and cash-in on some valuable exposure on social media.
3. Take advantage of local landmarks.
I already touched on gyms -- precious spots where Pokémon trainers battle with their teams to lay claim to the location. But Pokémon Go also has a large number of Pokéstops planted around local landmarks.
These Pokéstops are usually around monuments, churches, prominent buildings, or works of art in your area. And they’re invaluable to players, since they’re one of the few places trainers can replenish their stock of in-game items.
Pokémon Go also has one item -- a Lure Module -- that can be used to bring new Pokémon to a specific Pokéstop. These lures help everyone in the area, and drive large crowds around that stop. NBC Los Angeles covered a particularly huge one in the LA area.
Believe it or not, these people are flocking to one location to play Pokémon Go.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Pokéstop around your business, let people know. Even better, as you’re playing the game, invest in a few Lure Modules yourself to drive large crowds to your stop, much like this micro-brewery.
Bell’s is lucky enough to have Beer Garden locations around Pokéstops. They also have a gym located around them.
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to be located near any landmarks, make use of ones you do find. If there’s a Pokéstop down the road that’s attracting large crowds, stop by to hand out some prizes or samples of your product. Or maybe host a local event nearby, planting more Lure Modules to bring in more trainers.
Bonus: Hatch trainers’ eggs.
If you’re just skimming the subheaders, I hope I got your attention now. Because this is something I haven’t quite seen yet from a local business. In addition to capturing Pokémon, Pokémon Go also gives you eggs that must be walked to hatch. These eggs are super valuable to trainers, as they can potentially hatch into a rare or exotic Pokémon not available in their area.
But these eggs must be walked to hatch. Some require 2 km of walking, some 5 km, and others 10 km. And to make matters more frustrating for trainers, the app knows when you’re driving and doesn’t count that distance toward your egg hatching.
For us lazy players, we’re desperate to find a way around this. Some strap their phone onto their pets, others to remote-control cars. Some unfortunate trainers taped their phones to ceiling fans, resulting in flying phones and cracked screens.
If you’re a service-based business like a restaurant, this is the perfect opportunity to drive in more customers. While people come into your business, offer to walk around their phones for them to rack up steps. Before they know it, their eggs will have hatched, and they’ll leave your business with a few more Pokémon.
Think I’m crazy? There are already “ Professional Pokémon Go Trainers” who are offering to train Pokémon at a price -- full time. And this should only be the beginning.
As Pokémon Go prepares to offer sponsored locations and other forms of paid exposure, there are already a myriad of ways local businesses can take advantage now. Try these out, or draw some inspiration from social media. If you don’t capitalize, you could be missing out.