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Pokemon Go: One Pikachu away from new business

July 25, 2016

By Kelly Rogers, JetCo Solutions

The Pokemon Go craze has created joy and consternation in equal measure across the globe. There is a common occurrence, though, which should fall into the joy category for small business: increased traffic around your establishments and locations.

You’ve seen them. They are people of all ages with gleeful faces walking up down the streets, through parks, and around campuses holding up their phones and spouting made up Japanese words and talking about places called Pokestops and gyms. In the simplest of explanations, Pokemon Go is a virtual reality game where players catch Pokemons out in the real world (images imposed through GPS over a player’s current location), evolve them, and wage battle with evolved characters in gyms, also virtual places in very specific locations. Once a player reaches the magic level of 5 as a player, they can claim allegiance with the Red, Yellow, or Blue team and enter a world of collaborative battles to dominate gyms. This collaboration, strategy and downright fun in participating in a virtual world layered over the real one presents a huge potential market for additional games played in this manner, and more traffic around small businesses.

So how do businesses convert this traffic into revenue? As a Pokemon Go player participating with my family on the Red Team, known as Valor, I can’t remember the last time we have walked around downtown areas and other community destinations so frequently. We are also using it a weight loss program for our French Bulldog despite his disdain for these long walks. In one Pokemon Go outing, I took care of dry cleaning, buying a dress, buying used vinyl, eating at a restaurant with my daughter, and grabbing a coffee to recharge. As a game built around passion for the characters, if your business builds some promotions around this passion and participates in the related social media fervor, you could see a delightful increase to your bottom line. Some specific examples are provided below:

  • Promote the fact you welcome Pokemon Go traffic visibly at your locations and on social media. You can name items after the characters or teams and offer special discounts for player achievements such as reaching a new level. These achievements are easily shown on a player’s device for confirmation.
  • Sign up for the game and get to know the mechanics so you can demonstrate interest to your customers. Figure out where the gyms and Pokestops are relevant to your location. If you have commercial associations, use this information to promote as a group your welcoming attitude towards players. 
  • Encourage players to share photos and tag your company when characters are caught in your location across social media channels, or do the same in return and tag them to recognize their accomplishment. There are hashtags across social media channels which can be leveraged by businesses.
  • This idea is slightly on the wackier side. I’m a little whacky as Pokemon Go player. There are many stops and gyms located around business offices. If you are trying to recruit employees, players tend to be strategic and passionate people. Could there be an opportunity to welcome players at certain times in your office and find your next great team member?

I am not going to deny as a player some distracted and dangerous behavior on the part of other players. This is a key reason for some of the consternation the game is receiving. Be sure your engagement of players does not contribute to increased danger. Business that cares about safety while leveraging a popular culture boom in the world around it is good business. By embracing the Pokemon Go craze and welcoming Pikachu hunters, it could be “Business Go!” for your company.

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