For small businesses, Pokémon Go could be the best app since FourSquare. That may sound unlikely, since we’re talking about a game where people run around trying to catch imaginary pets & then going to Gyms that have nothing to do with working out. But stay with me! I promise it’ll make more sense in a minute.
What Pokémon Go Is
Pokémon Go is a scavenger hunt, but easier. Instead of deciphering clues, all players have to do is walk around & the game alerts them to Pokémon nearby. Players try to catch all approximately 3 majillion species of Pokémon.
Then things get a little more complicated. Players take the Pokémon they’ve captured to Gyms (really more like Battle Arenas) that are scattered around & have their Pokémon fight other Pokémon. Sound morally suspect? It is! But lots of beloved kids’ shows have objectively awful premises.*
Along the way, there are PokéStops. They’re like first aid stations for people running a 5k; except instead of Gatorade & PowerBars, Pokéstops have PokéBalls (the things players catch Pokémon with) & eggs.
There’s also some stuff with evolution & prestige & candy, but that’s not really relevant here. I do, however, highly recommend watching the first episode of the Pokémon cartoon to truly grasp the PokéGestalt.
Why Pokémon Go Can Be Good For Business
Since Pokémon Go launched, lots of businesses have seen people coming in to catch the Pokémon that pop up in their store or take advantage of a PokéStop in their location.
Some businesses near Gyms may see an even bigger uptick, since battling Pokémon requires players to hang around for a while. Great if you’re a bar, café, or bookstore — not as good if you’re a CPA, probably.
Being near a PokéStop or Gym can be beneficial even if people aren’t necessarily buying anything, though. Wider consumer awareness, community goodwill, & lots of positive Yelp reviews are extremely valuable! Most people play Pokémon Go in their own neighborhoods, so if your business makes a good impression, you’re likely to see them again.
How To Get Started With Pokémon Go As A Business Tool
The first thing you’ll need to do is sign up for the game (remember to use your business’s name as your character handle) & find out if you’re close to a PokéStop or Gym.
If there’s one nearby but just out of range, consider putting a few chairs & tables outside to create an area that’s within reach of the Stop/Gym but still ‘yours’.
What To Do If You Aren’t Near A PokéStop Or Gym
If you aren’t near a PokéStop or Gym, unfortunately right now there’s no way to apply to become one — but that may be a future option. Luckily, there’s another way to use the game to bring in customers!
You can create your own popular Pokémon hotspot using a simple in-game item called a Lure Module. I wrote this handy guide to Pokémon Lure Modules & their advertising uses for anyone who’s interested. It’s a simple, nice way to get in on the excitement!
Fun Ideas For Using Pokémon Go To Advertise & Make Customers Happy
If you’re near a PokéStop or Gym, optimize that windfall by creating spaces for players to hang out, advertising that you’re a Stop/Gym outside, & try a Poké-themed special or two.
Mix up a Pikachu Punch, run Team-themed giveaways, have a Pokémon Go discount for people who check in with you, or do a Gym Battle/Pokémon Trivia Night. The options are endless, but people love Pokémon & getting in the spirit of the game is fun for everyone!
Talking Pokémon Go Online
On social networks, it’s important to post when it makes sense & fits. For example, if you’re a trainer at a CrossFit box, this is a great time to come up with gifs of Pokémon working out! Just make sure that whatever you come up with works for you & isn’t just a way to hop on the bandwagon.
Giveaways are a nice gift to your community that also helps expand your mailing list & social following. For Pokémon Go, the best item to give away would be the Pokémon Go Plus bracelet. It’s an accessory that helps players capture Pokémon, & it’s very geek chic right now. The price point isn’t super high, which makes this a small investment that can pay big dividends.
This is just a starter guide, & I know there’s a lot more out there! So if you have any questions about the game or how to troubleshoot it, tell me in the comments & I’ll do my best to get you an answer!
*Dave Chapelle’s Sesame Street joke (which is hilarious, but NSFW because of cuss words) is a great examination of this phenomena. See also: Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.