Canadians have gone Pokémon crazy. Even when Pokémon Go wasn’t officially available in this country, that didn’t prevent intrepid players from figuring out how to join the fun. Now that the app is available here, you can expect even more inexplicable (at least to the uninitiated) references to lures, gyms and PokéStops.
If you haven’t played, the mechanics can be a bit complicated (read explainers here, here and here). But at its most basic level, the goal is to capture and “train” Pokémon — which pop up on players’ mobile phones alongside the “real world.” (The app uses your phone’s GPS and camera to integrate your real-life surroundings into the game, which is where it gets its “augmented reality” classification.)
The good news is the game’s landmarks (spots where you can train Pokémon or grab free items) are often local businesses — which creates an opportunity for you to bring in more foot traffic. Unfortunately, these landmarks are predetermined by the game’s developers, but if you’d like your business to become one, you can submit a request on the official Pokémon Go support page. There’s also no official map of the landmarks (though Forbes does have a good workaround).
Whether your business is a Pokémon landmark or not, you can get in on the craze with some strategic marketing. Here are a few ways to use the game’s popularity to help drive sales:
Place a “Lure.”
The game offers a variety of in-app purchases, one of which is something called a “Lure.” Lures can be placed at landmarks for 30 minutes, and they increase the percentage of Pokémon generated there. Purchasing one (via the app’s currency, Pokecoins) is an insanely powerful way to, well, lure people onto your block — and into your store.
Let passersby know you’re a Pokémon landmark with some good old-fashioned sidewalk signage. But make sure to tie it into your business. Try something like, “Come in to catch a Pokémon, stay for a latte.”
Send a marketing email.
Another way to let people know you’re a game hotspot is to send out a marketing email. It may encourage people to veer from their normal walking route to swing by your shop.
Your brick-and-mortar business doesn’t need to be an official game hot spot to get in on the action. Find out where Pokémon are hanging out in your area, and set up a pop-up shop nearby. Try selling your coffee or pastries on a street corner, for example. And, again, remember to use signage that lets people know you’re there because Pokémon are lurking in the air.
If ever there was a time to take to social media, this is it. If you’re lucky enough to have a rare Pokémon in your business, post photos of it to all your accounts. You could also use this as an opportunity to leverage some user-generated content. Consider throwing a contest asking followers to post pictures of the elusive Pokémon they’ve caught in your store, tagging you in the post. Then offer a prize reward (perhaps a free cup of coffee) for the best photo.
This game is exploding. So embrace it, have some fun, be safe and use it to attract new business.