What in the WORLD Is Pokemon Go – and How Can It Help Your Business?

pokemon go for businesses
I simply can’t imagine a world in which one has not heard of Pokemon Go by now, but in case you haven’t – it’s the newest app game to receive a viral level of attention. If you have already heard of it (because you don’t live under a rock), but are a bit skeptical about getting involved, well… I’ve made it my mission to change your mind.

Should You Download It? (YES…At Your Own Risk)

Before I even considered downloading the app, I heard the word ‘Pokemon’ and scoffed. My thoughts went something like this:

  • Isn’t Pokemon a kind of nerdy card game that came out back in the 90s?!
  • I’m pretty sure kids played this in their basements instead of going on dates.
  • I’m not even sure that I could understand the game…
  • What on earth could this game have for ME (someone more interested in getting my dog Instagram followers, and who generally only obsesses over things like rap musicals ::cough:: Hamilton ::cough::)

Pretty quickly, though, I saw Pokemon Go all over my Facebook feed. Friends were texting me about it, and it even started getting coverage on MAJOR news channels. That’s when my curiosity got the best of me, and I downloaded the app.
Three days later, 105 Pokemon caught, hours wasted, and miles walked… I’m addicted – and a tad disappointed in myself for my slightly judgmental and ignorant initial reaction (a girl can change!).  

So…Why Is Pokemon Go Such a Hit?

  • Is it because the 90s are making a comeback in fashion, TV, and even music?
  • Is it because we are living in a culture obsessed with anything that lets us stare at our phones for a little bit longer?
  • Is it because Pokemon had a cult-like following back in the day, and those people are all grown up with smartphones now?
  • Is it because being nerdy is the new ‘cool’?

It’s safe to say that a combination of the above guesses can be attributed to Pokemon Go’s wild success – but it must also be praised for its incredible use of augmented reality. I am FASCINATED to see how this app will lead the way for a new type of digital marketing experience.

A Brief Rundown of the Game

The idea is that there are Pokemon living amongst us, and we must go exploring to catch them all. The app has a beautiful user interface that works as a virtual GPS map of your surroundings.
In order to find Pokemon, you must move your avatar (or YOU) around your map. How? By walking around. Certain Pokemon can only be found near certain types of geography (water Pokemon are found near bodies of water, etc.). As you walk around, Pokemon pop up and allow you the chance to throw Pokeballs at them to catch them – like this Pokemon, Exeggcute, I caught in Uptick’s new office!
pokemon go for your businessIf you run out of Pokeballs to catch Pokemon, simply explore your nearby area for Pokestops (generally found at popular local landmarks). There, you can receive more Pokeballs, and get other exciting extra features like Lures…but I’ll talk about those later.
At a certain level of the game, you will be asked to join one of three Pokemon Go teams (Team Mystic [blue], Team Valor [red], and Team Instinct [yellow]). Once you choose, you can search around your city for Pokemon gyms! Pokemon gyms will be one of the three team colors, and whichever color they are represents which team is holding them. Send your Pokemon into battle against other teams’ gyms, and try to take them over!
So, if you see tons of people gathered around a strange spot staring at their phones, they are probably loading up on Pokeballs or trying to defeat other teams’ Pokemon to conquer a gym – it’s pretty fun, and a little hilarious.

What Does This Have to Do with Digital Marketing Again?!

Basically – Pokemon Go’s widespread success has already got forward-thinking business leaders taking notice, and the lesson is threefold:

#1: Augmented Reality Is the Future

Several companies have tried and failed to produce popular augmented reality games – until NOW. The level of success Pokemon Go has reached is undeniable, and there is no doubt that it will pave the way for a new future of gaming apps – and a new way to market. You see, games are universally accepted, meaning their appeal has the ability to transcend cultures, genders, ages, and classes. This makes for a very lucrative marketing space (if done correctly).

#2: The Importance of Brand

Like I said before, Pokemon Go is the first of its kind to reach this level of popularity. In fact, an app called Ingress (that works much like Pokemon Go) has been around since 2013, but has only been able to capture the attention of very serious gamers.
Why is Pokemon Go so much better? It has everything to do with brand. Pokemon started with a strong, consistent brand way back in the 90s, and has developed upon it for 20 years now. How did this help? Well – Pokemon Go released with little to no advertising. They simply made an announcement and put out a trailer. Now THAT is brilliant branding!

#3: You MUST Be Forward Thinking

You might think you are being a forward-thinking business leader by setting up a Facebook and dabbling in the Twitter world, but it’s fairly safe to say that Pokemon Go will be a game-changer for businesses everywhere. Every new game and/or social media platform creates new ways to brand and sell your product/services – and staying on top of it all keeps your business ahead.
Remember the Lures I mentioned above? Pokemon Go allows users to purchase Lures (if you are not so lucky to snag one at a Pokestop) and use them to draw Pokemon nearer. Forward-thinking companies have already recognized the potential behind the game and its features (like the Lures) and utilized them with social media announcements.
The announcements look something like this:

  • “Every Wednesday at 5pm we will be activating a Lure. Stop by for Happy Hour, good appetizers, and rare Pokemon!”
  • “Our store is a gym – Holding teams get 50% off Margaritas! Come battle it out!”
  • “Tonight ONLY, Team Mystic gets 15% off on all tennis shoes!”
  • “One FREE donut to the first three customers who can show us they have caught the RARE Pikachu!”
  • “Use a Lure at our store for a FREE t-shirt!”

And these announcements aren’t just working – they are SLAYING. Businesses utilizing the app are reporting higher sales, and those late to the game have even noted customer COMPLAINTS!

The Future of Pokemon Go

Currently, Pokestops and gyms are randomly located, but the CEO behind the game, John Hanke, has already announced their future: “Sponsored Locations.” This would allow brick-and-mortar companies to become actual Pokestops or gyms for a small investment (and an even bigger reward).
Needless to say, both players and businesses alike can benefit from the game, and if you haven’t already joined the party, it’s time you took the plunge. Whether it be for the fun, for the local business perks, for your OWN personal business gain, or for the killer calve muscles you’ll develop from walking around – Pokemon Go has something for everyone!
Now, get out there and GO – You Gotta’ Catch ‘Em All!