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On Marketing: Can Pokmon Go work for your business?

by Josh Gordon Published: September 18, 2016 12:00 AM

Everyone is nuts for Pokmon Go right now.

What began as a joint project for Niantic Labs (a Google company that also has many of the folks who designed Google Maps) and Nintendo has turned into a smash hit that people and company executives both love.

For anyone not plugged in to the Pokmon Go craze, here's the quickest recap you'll find anywhere

The Pokmon Go app blends the real world and digital world through augmented reality technology. Looking at your phone you will see Google Maps in your game window -- just like the one you use for directions. You will also see indicators of where a Pokmon creature is, as they just pop up on the map indicating their real world location. You tap on the character and try and catch it. Capture the characters, and then build your character through the gameplay. The fun is in acquiring, protecting, and growing characters and property (called a "gym").

It might seem cool or dumb or worse to you. The total downloads for the game has surpassed 500 million worldwide and counting as of early September.

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So, Pokmon Go is a big deal, culturally.

Can Pokemon Go help your business?

The marketing story here is explored by trying to answer this question: Can my business use this game to make money?

The answer is yes.

Many Pokstops (places you find power ups) are near businesses. So, offering special discounts or products to players can be a way to draw folks into your business that may not otherwise have discovered it.

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Updated signage outside your business (like something as simple as a chalkboard) and pop-ups on your mobile website offering discounts for Pokmon Go players are just a couple of the easy, basic ways you can benefit.

Find out if your business is a Pokstop by playing the game or requesting one from the game's creators by opening a support ticket with their company. You can also drop a "lure" from the game itself. They last for under an hour, but players will flock to it.

Because the game is played on mobile, just make sure the mobile footprint for your business is in good shape. Make sure your information is right on online directories like Google Maps, Yelp, and others. In fact, Yelp even has a few ways it's helping businesses capitalize on Pokmon Go.

One of the goals of the game is to control a virtual "gym." If a gym is near your business, put up signs showing which players are in control, and offering products or discounts to anyone who has held the gym.

Use your own social media to attract players, too, reporting how Pokmon Go is near your business with a hashtag like #pokemongo. Players follow the hashtags for tips.

As a general rule, make sure your website is optimized for mobile display. If not, you may have a cool business right next to a Pokstop, but no one will come in based on the confusing way an unoptimized mobile website presents your business.

Pokmon Go staying power

Pokmon Go might be a fad and gone next month. Or it might be the Helen of Troy for augmented reality games and transform gaming. Either way, you never know when a craze like this is coming your way, and it's best to make sure your marketing presence is always up-to-date.

No what matter what your opinion of Pokmon Go is it's clear that the game has both market and marketing value. It isn't for every type of business or product, though. But for some businesses, it works. Just remember, fortune favors the bold.


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