By Andrew McLoughlin
Pokémon GO isn’t the first augmented reality experience, nor is it the most immersive, but it’s absolutely the most prolific. It has an astonishing user base, with around 20 million daily active users in the United States alone. By most estimates, the app has been downloaded more than 100 million times. It’s such a juggernaut that Niantic, the developer, has had to work overtime just to keep the servers up and running in the face of overwhelming and unprecedented demand. Pokémon GO, according to the Apple App Store, holds the record for most first-week downloads (which means it was more popular at launch than Flappy Bird!).
By now, you’ll have seen dozens of articles explaining the app, discussing the reasons why it’s so compelling to play, or wondering what it portends for augmented reality in general. You’ll have seen it described as a movement, an experience, a subculture, or a sign of the times, but it’s also helpful to think of it as a tool. As a service, it links people from all over the world into a shared mode of activity, and it opens up a number of conduits for interaction with your customers. Consider the following Pokémon GO marketing tips and tricks to leverage Pokémon GO’s infrastructure to help grow your business.
Pokémon GO Marketing
1. Offer Charging Stations
This here’s the first and most obvious tip. Pokémon GO is a massive battery-hog, and many phones will be completely drained after just a few hours of play. The magic of Pokémon GO comes from the immersive experience and there’s nothing quite so jarring when playing the game as a low-battery warning. Keeping a few outlets free, or offering common USB charging cables to customers, can be a great way to bring customers in and to make your business stand out.
2. Drop Lures
While this may not be a perfect option for every business, depending on location, try checking your area for Poké-Stops (in-game access points with real-world correlates). In most urban areas, Poké-Stops are abundant. You, and your employees, can try dropping lures onto local Poké-Stops to attract Pokémon and trainers alike. (And if nothing else, you might as well catch a few Pokémon while you’re working!) Take this Pokémon GO marketing idea a step further, and put up signs and posters advertising when you’ll be dropping lures, and have some special offers to reward eager trainers.
3. Keep a List of Sightings
This Pokémon GO marketing tip is great for malls, promenades, or any business that hope for a lot of foot traffic. Keep a list, like a poster, of which Pokémon have been commonly sighted inside, and encourage trainers to keep a lookout for rarer Pokémon while they shop.
4. Encourage a Friendly Rivalry
Pokémon GO has three distinct teams for players to join: Instinct, Valor, or Mystic. Consider setting out three tip jars, each with a different sigil. Or keep a running tally of how many customers from each team have patronized your business on a blackboard behind the counter. You can even treat your business like an ad-hoc gym, offering discounts or promotional items to players from the team which is leading the numbers.
5. Host a Charity Drive
As in the previous tip, capitalize on the competitive nature of Pokémon GO, and host an event or fundraiser. Put up signs, make an open Facebook event, Tweet the date, and so on, and get customers in the door. Keep a running tally during the event of how much each of the three teams has donated, and offer some sort of prize for the winning team.
6. Entice Customers to Engage with Your Social Media Presence
One fan-favorite feature of Pokémon GO is the built-in camera during Pokémon encounters. This lets trainers take pictures of the Pokémon they find, superimposed over whatever real-world location they’re in. Some very clever juxtapositions and amusing coincidences have been making the rounds recently, but there’s still a lot of potential. Encourage customers to post screenshots of Pokémon near your storefront or inside your business to your Facebook or Twitter, incentivizing their participation with a reward for cleverest image or for rarest Pokémon.
7. Have a Sidewalk Sale
Since Trainers are already milling about looking for Poké-Stops, a sidewalk sale can be the perfect way to engage with them directly. It encourages people to walk, rather than drive, so you’re going to be helping the environment, and by aligning yourself with Poké-Stops, you can predict the flow of customer traffic and design your booths accordingly. If a number of local businesses participate together, everyone benefits!
8. Offer Rewards to Champion Trainers
Sure, different teams can dominate gyms, but there aren’t many ways for individual trainers to make a name for themselves. Your business can capitalize on this by offering rewards (say, a free dinner for two and a picture on the wall) to whomever can bring in the most powerful Pokémon, or to whomever is the highest level trainer each month. It’ll bring trainers in, and the word-of-mouth publicity will be invaluable.
9. Maintain a Daily Social Media Contest
We’ve talked a lot about Poké-Stops, gyms, teams, and so on, but we haven’t really touched on the heart of Pokémon GO: filling out the Pokédex by catching ‘em all. The core mechanic of the game depends on finding a diverse cast of Pokémon and trainers take a lot of pride in their Pokédicis. You can encourage customers to follow your social media feeds each day by posting daily contests. For instance, you might offer a $10 gift certificate to the first Pokémon Trainer who can show you a rare Pokémon (Raichu, for instance). You can encourage customers to keep a close eye on your feed by changing the winning Pokémon each day (you have 151 to choose from, so far).
Pokémon GO Marketing Your Business in an Augmented World
What all the tips above have in common is that they engage customers in a way that depends on a shared, non-physical experience. The nature of augmented reality is such that it shifts perception of the real, concrete, physical world to include a sort of penumbral overlay which each participant can see and interact with, but which is completely unknown to someone who isn’t subscribing to it. That kind of hybrid space lends a special sense of camaraderie to the cognoscenti, and it encourages a feeling of implicit connection based on shared experience, invisible yet completely out in the open.
As the ubiquity of invisible technology increases, these kinds of experiential and perceptual overlays will become more common and more fluid. Pokémon GO still depends on a screen, and its augmented reality functionality is limited to cameras and geo-tagging, but this is where the world is going. It will only evolve from here.
Interested in more digital marketing strategies for your business? Sign up for a free digital strategy session!