The Ultimate Marketer’s Guide to Pokémon Go [5+ strategies]

Are you taking advantage of the Pokémon Go trends with your marketing?

Have you noticed that the world is becoming a pretty crazy place? Every day we are bombarded with news of presidential elections, ISIS, debt, unemployment, rising living costs, and basically all things that are bad (and that could potentially become worse).

In spite of all the negative events that surround us, believe it or not, some things are actually crazy in a good way. If you’ve watched the news lately, at any time during the last couple of weeks, then you know what I’m talking about. 

A mobile app game has just arrived on the scene and has taken the whole world by storm.  It’s literally flipping people’s lives around. It’s making lazy folks who hibernate indoors go outside. Children are now playing in parks and on the street again. Arguably, what’s even more exciting is that businesses all over the country are spicing up their marketing strategies.

All of these things are happening thanks to Pokémon Go.

Pokemon Go business Marketing tactics


Before we get into the marketing applications this app has to offer, we need to have a quick understanding of the game from the players’ perspective.

What is Pokémon?

Do you remember the old Pokémon games? You know, the one’s that came out for the Nintendo consoles, not to mention the cartoon and card games. If you’ve ever played it, chances are it took hours of your life and has given you long lasting, impactful and positive memories.  

The game concept was very simple: Basically, you are given a character. You give him a name. You choose 1 out of 3 Pokémon. Then you set out on an adventure.

There are 4 goals in Pokémon

  1. Your train your Pokémon by battling against other Pokémon across the land. (you find them in the “wild”).

  2. You battle other players across the land.

  3. You battle other Pokémon owners in gyms and gain badges.

  4. You capture as many Pokémon as you can.

Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is considered to be an augmented reality app. In simple terms, this means that the game is a cross between the “real world” and the “virtual world”.  It uses your smartphone’s GPS and camera to “create” the game in your environment.  That’s why people can see Pokémon running around on their cameras.  They appear on your phone as if they were actually present in these locations.  

So the goal of the game is to venture out into real-world locations to find, train, fight and capture these virtual creatures.  There is a map within the app that allows players to see Pokémon gyms and PokéStops. These places can help players further their progress within the game and receive rewards as well. Sounds like the old games, right? This is where it gets interesting.

It just so happens that the Pokémon gyms and PokéStops are now located in real places. You can find them throughout your city and across the country at monuments, businesses, buildings, statues, and so much more. 

So what does all of this mean?

It means that millions of people are running around, going to places that they never went before thanks to this game.  Masses of people are gathering throughout specific locations within cities, just because there is an abundance of Pokémon to be found there.  And while people are out catching Pokémon, smart and savvy business owners are now trying to catch new customers thanks to this craze.

Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go: A Marketer’s Dream

The concept of marketing is simple. Marketer’s shift their messages to where people’s attentions are.  Their job is to grab your attention and try to sell you something.

Right now, everybody is glued to their smart phones trying to catch virtual creatures in the real world.  So from a marketing standpoint, it makes sense to go where people can be found.

After Pokémon Go was released, it became the most downloaded app in New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.  A week later, it became the biggest game ever in the United States. It topped twitter's number of daily active users and had people spending more time on it than Facebook.  It literally became an overnight sensation. 

And with so much focus and attention geared towards the game, it didn’t take long for marketers to spot opportunities and develop strategic marketing campaigns to increase sales.

How Your Business Can Profit From Pokémon Go

Who’s Your Target Market?

Pokémon Go has allowed businesses to tap into a huge market (and one of the hardest ones to reach as too). Their main customer segment is composed of millennials. This is the generation that came to change everything as we know it. They are the free thinkers, connected, hungry and curious “kids” of the world. They break all the traditional rules in every aspect of society (especially in business).

So what does this mean to you, The boss, with 30 years of experience, the veteran who knows everything about his industry?  

You will have to change your way of thinking to make the most of their unique attributes and you will have to cater your marketing to match their wants and needs.

How Could My Business Benefit?

The nature of this game is to get people moving. It has the capacity to generate foot traffic in specific locations. By using this app, along with other traditional marketing methods, you will be able to capture something better than a pokémon - a millennial.

So if If your business is can provide a product or service to millennials in any way, you can take advantage of this opportunity by using a combination of the following tactics described below.

How Close Are You To The Nearest PokéStop Or Gym?



In this game, there are two highly foot-trafficked locations - PokéStops and Gyms.

PokéStops are where players can stop by to collect free in-game items (such as pokeballs).

Gyms are where players battle each other in order to increase their Pokémon’s experience and acquire virtual territory for their team.

You can usually find these two virtual locations where people get together a lot in real life. Places such as tourist attractions, landmarks, parks, malls, and businesses, are the perfect spots for a PokéStop or gym. If your business happens to be near these places, people will flock past your shop on a daily basis.

So the first step to getting the most out of Pokémon Go for your business would be to download the app and figure out where the nearest PokéStop or gym is located. If you live in a big city, there might be many of them around you. And if you're lucky enough, your business could very well be one of these places.

Once you’ve figured that out, your job as a business owner is to attract people to your shop, and convert Pokemon foot traffic into paying customers.

How To Use Lures To Increase Foot Traffic

The most powerful way to obtain customers through Pokémon go is by purchasing lure modules.

A lure module attracts wild Pokémon to your nearest PokéStop or gym for a certain amount of time.  So naturally, people who are out catching Pokémon, will flock to where the Pokémon are located.

Anybody can purchase a lure from the app for only $1.19 an hour.

Once players start heading near your vicinity to catch Pokémon, your job is now to convert them into customers.

How To Convert Foot Traffic Into Paying Customers

In some cases, activating a lure near a PokéStop or gym is enough to obtain an increase in business. However, for most people that’s not the case. By thinking outside the box, you can use an extra set of strategies to maximize your profits.

Strategy 1 - Lure Hangout

Drop a lure at your nearest Pokémon location at a specific time. During the time in which the lure is activated, offer discounts and incentives to players who are playing Pokémon. Make sure they see what you are offering. Get the word out. This can work with something as simple as a sign on a sandwich board. But If you really want to make people come your way, you can choose to communicate with existing or potential customers on a massive scale.

You can purchase paid facebook advertising and also leverage your already existing communication channels (email and social media).

Strategy 2 - Gym Tournaments

Pokemon Go - trainer discounts


This strategy works well if you are near a gym. Spread the word that you are hosting a gym battle tournament and offer incentives to players who manage to become leaders within that particular location.

Be sure to get creative. There are 3 teams in Pokémon Go: Valor, Instinct and Mystic. You can capitalize on their rivalries. Create special offers for the teams with the most wins. Naturally, many people would show up, so plenty of people will be happy to pay full price.

Strategy 3 - Pick a Team

Pokemon teams

By picking a team, you are now part of a group. A tribe of like-minded people. A Pokémon brotherhood. This will help build trust within your potential customers because you know have something in common. Something that both of you are passionate about. This sort of marketing has been around forever (ever see sports bars in which everybody cheers for the same team?)

You can turn your business into a “meeting spot” for people who pertain to a certain Pokémon team. Make them feel good for picking the right one. Offer them special deals.

Strategy 4 - Harness The Power Of Social Media

Social sharing with PokeMon Go

Have you ever noticed that people love to share what they do on social media?  Now is your chance to take advantage of that.

This strategy is simple. Chances are, there may be some Pokémon within your business. Make your customers know that if they manage to capture a Pokémon within your vicinity, to take a screenshot. They should then share this image to their social media networks and tag your location. By doing this, offer them an incentive, a special deal of some kind. This will not only increase brand awareness, but also make people come to your store (after all, there’s Pokémon in there!)

Strategy 5 - Use Your Existing Channels To Spread The Word

Use every communication channel you have to tell people that you are part of the Pokémon Go community.

Have a blog? Write a blog post detailing what you plan on doing  (gym battle, lure, special offers, etc).

Have a large email list? Send out an email to your existing customers about everything that you’re offering thanks to this new craze.

Want to generate new customers?

You can run ads on facebook. Make them as targeted as possible. Filter it by people who live within a certain city and zip code. Choose people within a specific age group and who have like the Pokémon go app.

In order to get the most out of your marketing efforts, no matter what communication medium, make sure that your headlines are enticing, seo optimized, and have a clear proposition. Be sure to communicate with players at least 24 hours before the event.

There is so much you can do. You just have to get creative.

5 Companies that are Doing “Pokémon Go Marketing” Correctly

1. iconoCLAD

A Salt Lake City used clothing shop, placed a sign outside its store telling players to “come get your Pokéballs and previously rocked threads. Luckily, the store happens to be a designated PokéStop, This simple act has garnered media attention from some of the world’s most respected business and financial magazines (Money and Forbes).

2. Muncie Animal Shelter

Muncie Animal Shelter Twitter post


Who would have known that virtual creatures would have the power to positively impact the lives of real animals? This animal shelter located in Indiana found the perfect mix between goodwill and enterta    inment. The goal of Pokémon Go is to go outside and actively catch Pokémon. You need to walk around in order to find them. So how did they use this new “habit” of people randomly going for walks to their advantage? They invited locals through social media to walk their rescue dogs while playing the game. Within the first two days of promoting this new idea, more than 150 people volunteered to walk dogs from the shelter, according to the The StarPress.  Their Facebook post was shared over 26,000 times and their message had effectively reached approximately 1.5 million people. If that wasn’t good enough, this organization was mentioned in magazines such as the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Time Magazine.

3. Huge

This Atlanta-based advertising agency has an in-house coffee shop available to the public. They do this in order to get people to give them valuable feedback on creative ideas and campaigns. Luckily, the café is located between not one, but two PokéStops.

The company took advantage of this by posting lures around the stops.  This caused a massive chain of events. Crowds of people began to flock past their shop.

Lures are in-app modules that cause a huge amount of Pokémon to appear within the area it was activated.  They last for 30 minutes. There are free Lures, but you usually need to buy them.  So basically, they made a bunch of Pokémon spawn near their business.

Once they started getting massive foot traffic near their doors; they began to offer free appetizers to patrons who caught Pokémon within the café. By giving away samples, people were more tempted to buy a full meal.

Most smartphone batteries stink. Playing games on them usually makes your phone die pretty quickly. Huge also had the idea to provide an additional 25 phone-charging stations. So when people ran out of battery on their phones, they came into the café (and their chances of spending money there increased as well).

Squirtle Pokemon HUGE Cafe

4. L’inizio Pizza Bar

Remember when advertising used to be expensive? Getting the word out about your business cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Local businesses couldn’t possibly compete with the big guys. When the internet arrived, suddenly everything changed. Businesses were now able to advertise for cheap and with extreme precision. Could it get even better than this? You bet! Pokémon go is changing the way advertising is done.

A Pizzeria in Queens, N.Y. says its sales increased by 75% in a single weekend after spending a measly $10 on lures. By flocking massive amounts of Pokémon near their pizza shop, they were able to convert local foot traffic into sales. After all, if people are running around all day chasing Pokémon, they got to eat at one point. This was a great way to gather people who share similar interests, who are practicing the activities, and who have a need for what this business has to offer.

This strategy gained media attention due to the nature of this inexpensive method of acquiring new customers. PC Magazine has said that buying lures are the cheapest, most effective, and fastest method of advertising that money can buy right now.

4. Yelp


Need to go out to do some errands? Or how about some help in choosing a good restaurant to take the family. Yelp, the largest local business directory in the country has caught onto this trend as well. It recently added a button that lets you filter your search results by, you guessed it: local PokéStops.

So the next time you take the kids out to eat, you can choose your destination based on the amount of Pokémon available within that area.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Many companies have luck. They release something and all of a sudden the whole world catches onto it. It seems like the most amazing thing in the world at first, but honestly, how long will this fad last? Everything is awesome as soon as it’s released. But as time goes by, people start getting bored and start distancing themselves from the game. Like regular video games, after you play a specific title for a while, you soon want another one.  It’s up to the creators of Pokémon to make this game last as long as possible.  But what can we honestly expect?

If Pokémon go drops in popularity, there is one thing that we can be certain about. It has opened up our perception to the possibilities of augmented reality gaming through mobile devices.

Up until now, augmented reality was simply a dream. Take the Google Glass for example.  Here is a tool that was supposed to revolutionize the way we do anything on a regular basis. It made the promise that our lives were supposed to be much more high-tech. It would allow us to live in both the online world and offline world at the same time. The perfect mix.  However, what we saw was a concept that seemed good but flopped. But why? Could it be that the price was out of the public’s reach? Could it be that people were not ready to implement this new resource into their daily lives? As to this day, these questions remained unanswered. But what we have now seen, is that this form of interaction is something largely accepted by society. People liked it and they want more.

The world is now prepared for this sort of communication. We can now expect an increase in augmented reality business applications.  Just imagine how our lives once we are able to interact with brands online, in a way that looks and feels “real. Take Wayfair, a furniture company who places 3D virtual models of its products in real settings. You can see exactly what it looks like in your very own home, without ever having to place a piece of furniture inside. It lets you get a real view of what it would look like inside of your home.

Final Thoughts

The possibilities of augmented reality are endless. Marketers need to move quickly and respond to these unexpected applications that are going to surge from here on out. This technology is going to take the world by storm. Are you ready for the future?


About the Author

Wes McDowell is the head of web strategy for The Deep End Web Design in Chicago. When not helping clients to succeed online, Wes can be found blogging about all the latest trends in web design, usability and internet marketing.

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