How to drive customers to your business using Pokémon Go

Never before has there been an app, game, or piece of technology that does the work for you of getting people to your local business, at little to no cost, in such an easy and fun way — until now. It’s called Pokémon Go. Perhaps you’ve heard of the phenomenon?

The PokéStop can get people to your business, lures can keep them there, and effective marketing strategy turns those visitors into paying customers.

Watch this free Pokémon marketing video now for more tips!

Fast stats:

  • July 5, 2016: Pokémon Go mobile app began rolling out for download in the U.S.
  • By July 13:
    • Pokémon Go surpassed Twitter’s daily users.
    • The app surpassed the average time spent daily on Facebook.
  • As of July 19:
    • Pokémon Go had over 20 million U.S. downloads and counting.
    • The app had approximately 10 million active daily users in the U.S.

Pokémon Go may just be a fad or it may give way to a more permanent trend and evolve how we interact with apps; many people once believed that multibillion dollar companies Twitter and Facebook were just fads, too. Regardless of whether it’s a fad or becomes a trend, there is a real opportunity for your small business right now.

What makes Pokémon Go unique is that it’s the first mobile game application of its kind that requires players to be up and out of their homes to participate. The game promotes community by encouraging players to join teams and convene in public places that serve as gyms, and at landmarks and places of business that are PokéStops.

  • What is a Pokémon Gym? A gym is a place where players go to train their Pokémon and battle for prestige and rewards. In order to participate at a gym, players join teams and battle their Pokémon against other teams at the gym.
  • What is a PokéStop? A PokéStop is a public place, typically a unique landmark or a place of business such as a restaurant, pizzeria, or coffee shop where players go to obtain in-game items such as pokéballs, potions, and Pokémon eggs, and also increase their odds of catching more Pokémon. To attract more Pokémon a player can drop a lure, which will draw in more Pokémon for 30 minutes. Lures can only be dropped at a PokéStop.

What this means for your business

Your business has the opportunity to draw in additional customers simply by embracing the growing Pokémon Go audience. You might be getting additional customers already without doing anything — imagine how you might grow business, including during off-peak hours, if you do something.

There is a working theory that the more people playing the game at a PokéStop, the more likely it is for rare Pokémon to appear. This adds appeal to hosting PokéParties and dropping lures at your business. Your business may be one of few locations that has the ability for players to drop lures; therefore, you may be the key to catching rare Pokémon. Check out these examples of crowds of fans gathered to catch rare Pokémon.

3 things your business should do today to tap into the Pokémon Go opportunity

1. Find out if your business is a PokéStop:

  • Download the game and open the app at your place of business, or enlist the help of an employee or friend.
    • If your business is a PokéStop it will appear within the game like this:
  • If you are not a PokéStop or PokéGym, you may be able to submit a request to become one. (Note: As of July 18, the submission form was not working, with a note that Niantic Labs, the game’s developer, was currently not accepting submissions for new PokéStops. I recommend checking back frequently:
  • Note: If your business or location is currently a PokéStop or PokéGym and you wish to be removed, you may use that form to submit a request to remove your location/home/business.



2. Drop lures: If you are a PokéStop, congratulations! You have a ticket to opportunity that other businesses can only wish for! By dropping lures you will attract Pokémon to your business for 30 minutes. Players of the game will see a beacon indicating that a lure is active at your business, which attracts people to your location. To see how this works, check out the video here.

3. Creating a marketing promotion: The key to making money with Pokémon Go is developing a creative way to get customers to spend their money with you. Just getting them to your business is not enough, as the players could simply stand outside your business and catch Pokémon without spending any money. If you create a welcoming space, including reserved tables (“Reserved for PokéPlayers”), or devise a special (“Pokémon & Pizza — $5 all day, every day!”) this makes it more likely that users will become your customer. You can market your business in the following ways:

  • Pokémon Hot Spot
  • Catch ’em all here!
  • PokéParty daily 5–7 p.m.!
  • Pokémon & Pizza only $5! Catch ’em all over a slice!
  • Pokémon & Pie $5 special!

There are many reasons why so many people of all ages are hooked on the game — it’s fun and allows users to engage with a mobile app in a new way. Parents may appreciate walking around their neighborhood with their children and bonding over an activity that’s fun for all, rather than watching their kids play video games indoors. For kids the game provides encourages them to be a part of a team and offers an opportunity to make new friends. For millennials who grew up with Pokémon trading cards and the TV series, it may bring back memories of their childhood.

Think about how your business can tap into these feelings that matter to your customers and create a welcoming and engaging space for players within your walls. For more creative marketing ideas check out this video where I share promotional ideas and show you exactly how to make money with Pokémon Go!

Now go, all you PokéStars, and catch ’em all!

Amber Swenor, founder of Strategic Partners Marketing, is on a mission to empower businesses in their marketing through education and access to helpful resources and tools. Her experience spans a lifetime of curiosity and 14 years professionally in sales, online marketing, brand development, and marketing strategy. When she's not strategizing with clients you'll find her writing, playing with her wrinkly pups, or rocking with her band, Amaryth.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.