Embrace the Pokémon Go Craze! It’s Still Great for Business!
“Sometimes what you want is right in front of you. All you have to do is open your eyes and see it.” – Meg Cabot
During the nicer weather, have you noticed dozens or hundreds of people outside your business, all looking down at their smartphones, smiling, and enjoying something? They aren’t your customers, they are clogging up the sidewalk, and you are tempted to go outside and yell at them all to “Go away and earn a paycheckisaur and start a careerachu!” It’s that darn Pokemon Go thing. Oh wait, there’s a little mark above the “e” so it’s officially that “Pokémon Go” thing. Whoever thought of this dumb game doesn’t understand how the world works! …or do they?
Let’s say that again. Some business owners complain about the crowds hanging around their businesses! Crowds! Potential customers! Additional revenue! #AreYouKiddingMe
As Niantic’s Pokémon GO hit record downloads upon release in the Apple Store and Google Play, the people who don’t understand the game are left scratching their heads and hurling sarcastic insults at the game players. Businesses who are near some of the game PokeStops or Gyms, sometimes gripe and complain about the sudden crowds of players that are hanging around outside their stores, or even inside their stores.
Who are these Pokemon players? They are mostly teens but there are also a ton of collegiate students, parents playing with their children, and adults of all ages. For most businesses, that’s a wide variety of their potential target customers.
Without this game, where would these players be? Many would be at home, probably playing some other video game. Instead, they are out of the house, walking all over your city and interacting with each other and the community.
Many parents are finding a renewed bond with their child as they play the game together while exploring areas of their city they’ve never seen before. In fact, the game travels all around the world so it’s an activity that keeps on providing discovery to the players. The biggest drawback is potential accidents while walking around with their heads down, or worse, riding a bike or driving a car while trying to glance at the game. With that aside, you are witnessing a miracle. Nothing else in the last decade has caused more people to leave the confines of their home to go explore their community!
Take the Poke Chill Pill
First of all, you need to take a chill pill, educate yourself, and realize that you are seeing something amazing and revolutionary. What these close-minded businesses owners are really saying is that they don’t understand the game and they don’t know how to take advantage of these crowds. Let’s explain some basics first.
Pokemon GO is big. It’s more than big, it’s huge. No other smartphone app game has been downloaded as frequently. The game is free to play, but because of optional in-app purchases, Apple estimates the game’s revenue between $1 million to $2.3 million A DAY. It’s estimated that out of every $1 earned at the Apple App Store, 30% would go to Apple (it’s standard cut from app sales), 30% to Niantic, 30% to Pokemon, and 10% to Nintendo. The game has double the engagement of Snapchat and is approaching Twitter in its percentage of daily active users.
Niantic raked in almost a BILLION dollars in the first year of Poke game operation! Even today, it’s on more cell phones than almost any other downloaded app. It launched in the summer of 2016 and was a world-wide phenomenon. Like all great games, it started on a slow decline and lost about 1/3 of its players over the first winter season. However, it is still one of the strongest players in the market…and it’s setup to possibly bring you extra business!
Niantic has updated the game with a few enhancements but has mostly worked on bugs, but they are expected to use some of their new wealth to come out with some huge enhancements that draw more players.
The game concept is brilliant and it has done something that no other game has been able to do on such a mass level: It is getting players off their rear ends and out into the community as they journey around looking for Pokemon. It’s a geocaching game that players spend hours on end walking, driving, skateboarding, and biking to various locations.
The game runs off an augmented reality HUD (Heads-up Display) of the real world around them. It shows streets and building structures, but intertwines it with Pokemon stuff here and there. Throughout the map, there are fixed PokeStops and Gyms. If your business is lucky enough to be near one of these, you’ll notice crowds of players hanging out, sometimes around the clock.
A PokeStop is a place where players can get free items that they use in game play. A Gym is a battle arena where they fight Pokemon to gain control of the Gym.
Every player ends up joining one of three teams: Mystic, Valor, or Instinct. Whichever team wins the battles, controls the Gym. You’ll find that Gyms change owners frequently so teams of players constantly battle at the Gyms to regain control of the Gym.
As players roam their cities, they will occasionally find Pokemon, little creatures that they can capture and use in battles. There are many common Pokemon but players really want to find and capture rare Pokemon, that have the novelty of being rare, but also have the potential of being more powerful.
So what? Why should you care? If your business happens to be in the path of these explorers or if you have been blessed by the gods to have a business that is the destination of these explorers, you may be standing at the end of a rainbow and don’t realize the pot of gold is right in front of you!
Do you realize how much expensive advertising it would take to get these people to come near your business? Yet here they are. Many have the ability to purchase too!
Your Game Plan
Now that you’ve got the basics, you need to find out if your business is near a PokeStop or a Gym. You can load the game onto your phone and check it out yourself. If you’d like to find an official map of all PokeStops and Gym locations, you are not alone. There currently is no map for Pokémon GO. However, there is a pretty cool workaround. Niantic developed a game called “Ingress” which has an online map of portals. These portals map almost perfectly to PokeStops and Gyms!
So how do you get Pokémon GO players to interact with your business? Below we explore several creative ideas, but these are far from an exhaustive list. You are only limited by your creativity.
The first thing you need to understand is that these players like the following: Being around PokeStops and Gyms, finding rare Pokemon, having a relaxing place to sit and play near other players, having a place to recharge their smartphones, food/snacks, drinks, air conditioning or heating depending on the weather. If you can provide some of these amenities, you’re on your way to being considered a fun business to hang out at. Let’s go through these in more detail.
Is your business near a PokeStop or Gym? If so, you’re in luck. Really, you are lucky. Players will come to you.
If you are not near such a location, all is not lost yet. Niantic’s CEO, John Hanke, says they offer “sponsored locations” which provide a new revenue stream for the game. These sponsored locations allow businesses to get Pokemon players to patronize their brick-and-mortar facilities. They also allow brands to be incorporated into the game. These location businesses pay a “cost per visit” charge, similar to a cost-per-click concept of Google and Facebook.
Finding Rare Pokemon. Pokemon are scarce to start with. You can walk for miles before you find one. When one does appear, it just randomly pops up nearby and you have to go catch it. Players want to catch all kinds of different Pokemon to fill out their PokeDeck. Collecting them is part of the fun. The more Pokemon you catch, the better chance you have of capturing a rare one. There is a very cool feature of Pokemon GO that significantly increases the number of Pokemon that appear in a certain location. It’s an in-app purchase called a Lure. When you drop a Lure inside your business, players will start showing up in droves. Prices can change but at one point, $100 bought 14,500 Pokecoins. An eight-pack of Lures cost 680 PokeCoins. That’s 84 hours of Lure time which is $1.19 per hour. If you drop the Lures during business hours, or slow periods, you’re making wonderful things happen.
Hopefully your mind is racing with new ideas. By the way, you might want to consider going back and re-reading the top of this section. Having a comfortable place to play and being invited into your business to recharge phones and relax, can make you a real magnet. Now that you’ve got the players at your business, can you figure out how to sell them stuff?
If you’re not a retail outlet, do you have a service you can impress them with when they need it later? How about starting a contest and rewarding someone for promoting your business in some way. For example, take a photo by your sign and post it with a hashtag of #YourBusinessName
Like mentioned above, your success is only limited by your creativity. Put those business marketing skills to work and earn some Pikacash from those players!
Products to Consider
Bamboo Charging Station $39.99 on sale.
If you have questions or suggested topics you’d like to see in this column, please contact me at Author@HireSelf.com
Copyright © 2016-2017, R. Scott Alvord
R. Scott Alvord, MBA-MCA, BSCS. is an award-winning, multi-business owner, and CEO of Advanced Development Concepts, LLC. He can be reached at www.HireSelf.com or (916) 782-4272