Luring Customers with PokémonGo: Marketing Opportunities for Small Businesses

PokémonGo is sweeping the globe, capturing the attention and dedication of smartphone users EVERYWHERE. I, somewhat embarrassingly, am one such crazed player…

I was a huge fan of Pokémon as a kid. I had the cards, watched the anime cartoon and was obsessed with the Nintendo® videogames. Since moving into the iPhone era, I’ve been counting down the days until an official Pokémon game was released – I knew it was only a matter of time. So, as you can imagine, I was beyond excited when I saw the first game teaser posted online.

Now that the game is live, I play constantly: at home, out running errands, and at work. Yes, at work. The infamous Shepard Fairey mural on the side of our building at JWC is an official Poké Stop – meaning I get Pokéballs, potions and raspberries every time I leave or enter the office. Technically, I could do this from my desk every five minutes – if I really wanted to kill my phone battery and annoy my boss, but I’m rather fond of my job.

PokémonGo has given me an excuse to leave my desk at lunch (something I rarely do) and wander around South Park for an hour. I go test my luck at local Gyms (where you can battle other players and build prestige for your team), catch Pokémon, obviously, and hit up other local Poké Stops along the way. It’s fun, addicting and a great way to get a little fresh air during the work week.

How can small businesses take advantage? First step: find out if your location is a Poké Stop or Gym, and spread the word – through social media, blog posts, e-blasts, on-site signage, etc.

To entice new customers and players, many small businesses are also using “lure modules,” in-game devices that any player can purchase to attract more Pokémon to a specific Poké Stop for 30 minutes. Other users can see in the app that a lure has been placed and will often head to that particular Poké Stop to see what they catch before time runs out.

This spells a huge sales opportunity for independently owned restaurants, cafés, etc., that are Poké Stops themselves, or have one nearby – new foot traffic that is likely to make a purchase and stay put for the entire 30 minutes. In our neighborhood, several businesses are dropping lures multiple times a day, and watching the crowds (and extra sales!) roll in.

How much are lures? $1.19 an hour, according to one contributor – a very small investment for potentially large rewards.

Other shops and restaurants are getting in on the trend by marketing discounts to players who catch Pokémon while at their location, or to members of a particular team. This works well if your business is or is near a Gym – by offering discounts to members of whichever team holds the Gym at that given moment (ownership rotates frequently, based on users who battle and win).

As marketers and business owners, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest trends, and act quickly when opportunities arise to put your brand in front of your target audiences. PokémonGo has become a world-wide phenomenon – how will you catch the attention of those who “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”?