Pokémon Go is making big headlines these days, whether you're reading the newspaper or scrolling through your Twitter or Facebook feed. But what in the world is it and why is everyone so obsessed with it?
What is Pokémon?
Pokémon, short for the Japanese title of Pocket Monsters, is an insanely popular animated franchise that has been around for a long time. In fact, it's actually the third longest animated series behind The Simpsons and Arthur. There have also been 21 Pokémon movies and a number of side-story episodes that feature Pokémon.
In the world of Pokémon, monsters are everywhere, and Pokémon trainers make it their job to find, capture, and train these monsters with the ultimate goal of becoming a Pokémon master.
For some, their first encounter with Pokémon may have been back in the days of playing games on the Nintendo Game Boy. These games have since evolved from being played on handheld game consoles to social media, hence our discussion about how Pokémon Go has become all the rage.
How did Pokémon Go evolve?
The Pokémon game has moved beyond the game console and is now a free-to-download mobile app known as Pokémon Go. The game uses your real-time GPS and augments reality by occasionally populating cool-looking Pokémon on your screen as you walk along. You create a digital version of yourself (complete with your own customized clothing), and your goal is to capture and train as many Pokémon as possible.
It's not unusual to be walking down the street and see groups of friends pull out their smartphones in search of a new Pokémon. Once you capture Pokémon, you can take them to a virtual gym inside the app and have them battle other trainers, which are other real people playing Pokémon Go.
You will also come across Pokéstops within the app, which provide players with opportunities to interact with other trainers (real people playing Pokémon Go) and get items to further their "ability" as a trainer.
How can I use Pokémon Go for my business?
At first glance, Pokémon Go may seem irrelevant to your business. However, considering that the game is geographically based, you can use the game to attract traffic to your business and ideally convert them into paying customers.
There's two basic types of fixed locations that you take advantage of in the game to attract players. One is a Pokéstop, which can be a building or destination at or near your place of business where players will go to get some extra Poké balls and other goods. The second is a "gym" where players can go to battle their Pokémons.
There's a very good chance that there is already a Pokéstop convenient to your place of business. You can use this to your advantage by purchasing a package of lure modules (only costs a few dollars of real world cash) and hosting a "Pokémon Go Lure Party." It's an inexpensive way to attract more people to your business, and pairing your lure party with some special deals can be an easy way to generate some money.
If your business is located near a Pokémon gym, you could promote that you'll be hosting a tournament and encourage participation by offering specials and discounts to gym battle winners.
Another way to involve your business in Pokémon Go is to host a Pokémon Hunt. To be most successful with drawing a big crowd for your hunt, you'll want to make sure that there are a number of Pokéstops and gyms near your place of business. To host a hunt, all you need to do is market the event ahead of time, have the players gather at your place of business, and head out together for a family-friendly Pokémon hunt. Your business can further benefit by hosting an after-party where hunters can gather and discuss their strategies.
Someone Has to Play
Unfortunately, there's no easy way to deploy lures or campaign to be a Pokéstop. If you want to take advantage of the foot traffic the game is generating for local small businesses, you have to be playing the game. Many businesses are simply encouraging their customers to use their place of business to play the game and will discount items if the visitor purchases lures for their location. Bottom line, either you or the customer needs to be playing the game within your store.
All in all, the great thing about Pokémon Go is that you don't have to really have any knowledge about the Pokémon series to get started with the game. Also, from a business perspective, finding a way to involve your business in this wildly popular game can give you great exposure for a small cost. Similar to social media, Pokémon Go has become a great way to make connections with people that you wouldn't necessarily encounter otherwise.