How to use Pokémon Go for business
True to its tagline, “Gotta catch ‘em all”, virtual critter-catching app Pokémon Go is seizing more than its fair share of the market, with a higher average user time than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp. Now hailed as the most engaged app on the planet, the augmented mobile reality game presents opportunities for business owners across the globe to cash in on the finger-flicking fun.
What is it and how does it work?
Pokémon GO is a free hide-and-seek style app for iOS and Android that exploded to number one on the download charts in under 5 hours after launching in the US on July 6. The app, building on the original ’90s Game Boy and TV series, has been described as the portmanteau of pocket monsters.
Using GPS on mobile devices, players (a.k.a Pokémon Trainers) hunt Pokémon (short for “pocket monsters”) in real-life locations by virtually pitching red and white PokéBalls at them. If caught, the Pokemon is encapsulated and stored in the PokéBall which the player carries around in his or her virtual bag. Players earn points by catching Pokémon (the rarer the Pokémon, the more points), evolving their Pokémon and winning battles at PokéGyms.
Learning the PokéLingo
Ok, so PokéLingo isn’t a real word, but the four most important terms to remember are PokéStops, PokéBalls, PokéGyms and Lure Module.
PokéStops are real-life locations like parks, forests, art installations, public libraries, museums and monuments that players can physically go to and collect free accessories like PokéBalls.
These are the coloured balls players use to catch all of the 151 critters by virtually pitching the balls at them.
PokéGyms are also real-life locations that are used by Trainers to train their Pokémon, challenge rival teams in a Pokémon battle to claim a gym for itself, or defend a gym the winning player or team has taken over.
Pokémon Go has a Lure Module that brick-and-mortar business use to drive foot traffic to their store, particularly if their store or business is located near a PokéStop. A Lure Module can be acquired simply by leveling up in the game or through an in-app purchase. Activating a Lure Module increases the rate of Pokémon generation in the area for 30 minutes and can only be done so near or around a PokéStop. When a lure is activated, more Pokémon appear around the PokéStop, thereby drawing nearby Trainers (a.k.a. potential customers) to the location.
Why should you consider participating?
According to a global report by Forbes, women play significantly more than men, accounting for 63% participation compared to 37% men. Further, the report showed the average player is aged between 18-29 and that, overall, the average Pokémon Go Trainer is a 25 year-old university educated woman making US$90,000 a year.
For a wedding business, this could be a new way to reach your target audience in a fun, light-hearted context. Having a basic understanding of how the game works offers two benefits:
- It shows you keep up with modern trends and pop-culture
- It gives you an opportunity to connect immediately with your target audience and establish common ground in a non-salesy way
BUT, before you get excited…
With the game’s popularity, some of your potential customers are likely casual players who are curious enough to download the game and give it a go simply because everyone is talking about it. But before launching a Poké-themed marketing campaign, however, it’s important to have a strategic approach:
1. Do your research
Find out if your social media followers and potential customers are actually playing the game, and what might they perceive of the game. You can do this by:
- Posting a question on your social media
- Sending your customer database a super-quick survey via email
- Collecting anecdotal evidence by asking couples during your dealings with them
2. Focus on your target market
When you’ve determined it’s a worthwhile marketing activity, ensure that whatever you do, your marketing activity is targeted at potential customers. Stick to the following principles:
- Devise a campaign that attracts couples who happen to play Pokemon Go, rather than every random Pokemon Trainer.
- Use your existing marketing channels (Facebook, Instagram, website, email list) to announce the campaign so it’s focused on your target audience.
- Be clear on what you’re trying to achieve: do you want more leads or do you want to close existing enquiries?
- Match your call-to-action to your goal. If you’re after more leads, product sampling either through a free consultation, giveaways or trials may work better. If you’re closing existing enquiries, offering a limited-time discount or adding more value into a package may prove more effective.
3. Aim to create more conversations
Riding on the Pokémon Go wave will not guarantee success. Use this opportunity as another avenue to make a connection or spark conversations with potential and current customers; and reactivate leads that may still have potential.
Marketing ideas for a wedding business
So, you’ve done your research and know this is good for business. What next?
Since the game is no longer taking applications to create a new PokéStop or Gym at your business location (likely due to a huge backlog and the potential for the app to make money from sponsored locations), we’ve pulled together a list of other marketing opportunities for wedding businesses to cash in on the Poké-fever.
Brick-and-mortar stores (eg florists, accessories and jewellery stores, wedding dress shops, restaurant/venues):
Because the game is designed to get people visiting real-life locations to hunt Pokémon, brick-and-mortar stores have greater advantage. Below are marketing ideas you could explore, some more useful to a certain type of business than others. The point is to get creative without being distracted on your business goal.
Remember: focus your promotion on couples and brides. If you’re giving anything away (discount, product samples, branded items or any of the ideas below) as part of your promotion, make sure to collect customer details like their name, email address, phone number and wedding date. Then, follow up with an email or an offer.
- If your store is near a Poké Stop, you’re in luck.
- Draw Pokémon Go Trainers to your store or restaurant by activating a Lure Module. This strategy works better for restaurants and bars where people have an incentive to stay longer and order another round of drinks/food while they continue to catch Pokémon. Players in the vicinity, who are choosing between one restaurant/bar over another, are more likely to choose yours.
- Provide supplies like water, lollies or biscuits and announce across your social media that couples can drop into your store, stock up (if they’re hunting), plus, get some expert wedding planning tips.
- Provide in-store phone chargers, sunscreen, hats or branded items that would be useful to couples who play. It helps you stand out and make the experience that much more memorable.
- If your shop’s internet plan provides unlimited download, offering free wifi to couples can be a great incentive, with the free-roaming nature of the app chewing through users’ data.
- Get “in-house” experts to help customers catch Pokémon (possibly a staff member who plays the game) who can offer some tips, tricks and hacks to help Trainers level up.
- Post screenshots of Pokémon appearing in, or, near your store, street or mall to your social media accounts to let couples know. Use this rarity chart to identify the hard-to-find and highly sought Pokémon.
- Make sure to create promotions or limited-time deals available in your store that are specifically for couples. For those who happen to play the game, you could offer discounts relating to the 40 Pokémon GO Trainer Levels; the higher the level, the greater the discount.
Wedding cars and transport services:
Run a competition offering a Pokémon hunting / shopping day chauffeur services to a bride-to-be and her friends. To make this effective, require brides-to-be to register on your website with their contact and wedding details. Announce it on your social media and email your prospects. This helps to generate new leads as well as reactivate any potential leads you’re still sitting on. The prize could involve collecting the winner (and her friends) from one location, driving them to the first stop where they can commence their Poké-themed shopping day, then collecting them again at the end of their adventure. She and her friends (who could also be potential customers) get to experience the vehicle and service doing something fun, while you get to build rapport and trust, increasing the chance of them booking thanks to the rule of reciprocity. Remember to follow up and close the deal.
As for the brides-to-be who didn’t win, you now have a list of prospects you can market to. Use a special offer, add more value into their package or give them something special so you can close these deals, too.
Wedding celebrants, stylists, planners, makeup artists and other service providers:
Why go solo when you can run a wedding-themed Pokémon hunting event with other suppliers? Plan the route in advance and get non-competitive wedding businesses on board in a cross-promotion which has them feature at different Poké Stops or Gyms along the way, offering discounts, popup displays, portfolios or free samples.
Ready, set, play!
Whatever type of wedding business you have, think outside the box for creative ways to engage potential customers while Pokémon Go is hot. Take the first step today – download the app, start playing and familiarise yourself with the all the features and creatures, then experiment with ways to increase foot traffic to your shop, or get your customers involved online via social media.
As Inc. rightly points out, “even if Pokémon Go isn’t as powerful a tool for driving sales six months or a year from now, the customers that you delight today are going to remember you tomorrow.”
Have you used Pokémon Go for your business? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!