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For the Mom & Pop Shop Near a PokéStop

The dream of catching Pokémon in the real world is now reality—augmented reality. Pokémon GO is the latest trending mobile application sweeping the nation. And while users attempt to catch ‘em all in terms of creatures, many touched by this phenomenon are trying the catch ‘em all in terms of best business applications.

When widespread trends such as these take hold, savvy professionals will ask, “How can we capitalize on this for our local business?” In Pokémon GO, there is a myriad of different strategies and tactics one can pursue, each with its own set of benefits and downsides. Here are some important elements to consider when navigating the labyrinth that is Pokémon GO and its best business applications.


So What Is Pokémon GO?

Pokémon GO is a mobile game/app based loosely off the 1990s hit Gameboy game Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow. In the Gameboy game, you are a young child exploring the exciting Pokémon world, catching a variety of monster pets (Pokémon) to assist you on your quest to beat elite Pokémon trainers and catch all 150 existing species of Pokémon. Where the app differs from the 1990s game is that it takes this imaginary land of Pokémon and overlays it on top of real world places using Google Maps. By using augmented reality, you can see Pokémon in real life places through the screen on your smartphone. So you could be in the park and get a notification that a certain Pokémon is nearby, and catch your very own Pokémon.

How Does This Relate To My Business?

There are 150 Pokémon currently available, and catching them all is no easy feat. Certain Pokémon only appear in certain areas (an important factor because your business will probably have a group of Pokémon unique to your area that players won’t be able to catch elsewhere). Additionally, there are special designated areas called PokéStops, where players can claim valuable items to help them in the game.

Under specific circumstances, Pokémon can occur in greater frequency near PokéStops, so it’s not uncommon for players to congregate around these areas. There is also another type of in-game location called a Gym, where players that belong to the game’s three designated teams (Red, Blue, or Yellow) can battle for control of that location to gain in-game rewards. Taking all this into account, it becomes clear that if you happen to be near a PokéStop or Gym, there are huge opportunities for increased foot traffic to your business!

How Can I find Out If My Business Is A PokéStop/Gym? & How Can My Business Become A PokéStop/Gym?

The short answer is you aren’t a PokéStop or Gym…. yet* (see footnote at the bottom for more details). While your business can be located NEAR a PokéStop or Gym, it won’t actually be a Stop or Gym itself. The reason for this is Niantic (Pokémon GO’s developer) wanted PokéStops and Gyms to be landmarks of sorts that would not go away in the near future. So churches, parks, buildings, public artworks, etc. can all be PokéStops, but the local business itself won’t be.

The way to find out if you’re near a PokéStop or Gym would be to either download the app yourself and play through the tutorial (you can let your employees know this is for business purposes only), or just ask any 11 year old with a smartphone, and they could let you know in about 30 seconds.


How Can My Business Benefit From Pokémon GO?

So now we are getting into the heart of the matter where we begin to use our business acumen to profit from this popular app. First things first, we need to begin with developing our goals and disseminating our assets: What are we looking to get out of this? And, is our business near a PokéStop or Gym?

What Are My Business Goals With Pokémon GO?

In other words, are you just looking to do some online marketing and gain traffic to your website? Gain foot traffic in the store? Drive in-store sales? All of these and more can be accomplished depending on what type of strategy you use.

We want to figure out if your business is near a PokéStop or Gym because it will be much easier to capitalize on this app’s success if you are. The reason for this is that you can promote the Stop or Gym, and drive traffic there while also letting people know what’s around them, i.e. your business!

If your business is not near a PokéStop or Gym, you can still do some basic promotions (blogging, discounts, etc.) to those playing the game, but it won’t have the same effect as a Stop or Gym since we aren’t piggybacking off the places that people are already going.

Now for some of the tactics and strategies!

Strategies For In-Store Sales:

1. Discounts

This one is kind of an easy one, but if you are near a Gym, you can easily drive traffic here by offering a small discount to the team color currently in charge of the Gym (one of the three colors mentioned above). As you offer this promotion to one-third of all players, you’ll also be incentivizing the other two-thirds of players to come to the Gym, take it over, and then swing by your shop for the discount. This strategy requires an active social media presence to let people know what color is currently in charge, and good offline promotions so that those passing by can see the discount too.

Strategies For More Foot Traffic:

1. Lures

Using an in-game feature called a lure, you can actually cause more Pokémon to congregate in higher frequency at a PokéStop. Users will then flock to these spots, as they have a higher chance of catching the ever-elusive Pokémon. The lures last for 30 minutes, and can be purchased from the in-game app in bulk. After doing some number crunching, it’s been found that the cost of lure time comes to around $1.19 per hour.


Pokémon GO Players At A Spontaneous Outdoor Gathering Near A Lure.

2. Planned Events

A lot of people are beginning to host meetups on Facebook where a group of people will meet up to catch Pokémon together with lures at a PokéStop, kind of like an open Pokémon happy hour. You could host one at your location and implement promotions such as free prizes, giveaways, and more. This will create good PR for your business by letting players know that you hosted the event, which could ultimately lead to more reviews and shoutouts to your business (with proper encouragement to participants, of course).

Strategies For Greater Web Presence:

1. Social Sharing Contests

This tactic also requires a strong social media presence. Since the game uses augmented reality, people can see Pokémon in the real world on their phones. Players can also take pictures of Pokémon they are trying to catch. This creates an opportunity to run contests where players take pictures of Pokémon in front of your business sign, tag your business in it, and share their pictures on social media. You can let the contest bloom and then choose a winner(s) periodically to get even more traffic.

Pro Tip: Discounts of next purchase are always good options as they still allow your business to gain revenue!

2. Blogging

While seemingly basic, good content can travel fast. A lot of people are asking what types of Pokémon can be found in certain areas, so crowdsourcing this information to let users know what types can be found in your area will definitely help them on their quest to catch them all. When writing the blog, be sure to do some branding and tie the blog back to your business. Let users know who gave them this hot tip, and see if you can find a way to tie it back to your business or service.

3. Yelp Information

It is always important to have the proper NAP (name, address, and phone number) on your digital business listings, and if you haven’t claimed your Yelp page as a business owner, I would recommend getting on that YESTERDAY. This now relates to Pokémon Go because Yelp has added a new feature to their platform in which they are crowdsourcing information to find out what businesses are near PokéStops or Gyms. So if you have ownership of your own Yelp listing, you can help to add this information about your business, and this could become an added incentive to users looking for businesses around PokéStops and Gyms near them.


In Conclusion…

We’ve just barely scratched the surface on using the app to promote your business. Please keep in mind that these strategies are not for every business. Service-based businesses often have a harder time with these strategies, as people walking by might not be in need of your service at that time and increased foot traffic may only cause extra congestion. That said, this could still be an opportunity to increase brand awareness and create great PR for your business in the community you serve.

*Footnote: While businesses aren’t PokéStops and Gyms as of right now, Niantic CEO John Hanke has stated the potential for “sponsored locations” in the near future of this app. This means local businesses will be able to pay to have their storefront become a PokéStop. Niantic will then charge businesses who have users check-in to their sponsored stop on a cost-per-click basis.


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