If You Want to Be the Very Best

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you’ll have heard of, if not played, Pokémon Go. It’s impossible to miss. Since its July 6 release date, you might have seen one of the following headlines:

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So, what is Pokémon Go? Well, it’s a location-based mobile game that is played using augmented reality technology on a smartphone device. Basically, it combines the characters you know and love from the Pokémon series with geocaching. Players must explore their own environment--whether in the city or country--to find, catch, train, and fight Pokémon. Since launch, Pokémon has generated at least 15 million downloads and generates $1.6 million per day in in-game purchases on Apple devices alone.

Within the location-based mobile game, there are Pokéstops and Gyms. These locations can be found at cafés, stores, gas stations, post offices, houses of worship, monuments, and sometimes, graveyards. Players are likely to congregate around these spaces in order to catch and fight Pokémon.

Why does this matter for marketers? For starters, you’re going to see a lot more Millennials (like me) and Centennials out and about with their eyes glued to their phones. Yes, more than usual. 

While a player of the location-based mobile game is just as likely to stand outside and attempt to catch Pokémon hiding in your location, you as a brand, have an opportunity to engage with them. Here’s how:

1. Invite them in: This weekend, Sprint will place Lure modules on their stores (to draw in Pokémon) and are inviting consumers to come in to hunt, but also to recharge. Any Pokémon Go player knows how valuable a charging station is. Sure, you might not make a sale today, but they’ll remember you the next time.

2. Offer a discount: Okay, this won’t work for everyone, but it catches attention. Players have posted pictures all over social media showing how cafés and other small businesses are offering up discounts to people on specific teams. “10% off for Instinct, 25% off for Valor, double the price for Mystic” is just one example I saw over the last week. (Go Team Instinct!).

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3. Sponsor a location: Brands should realize that having 40 people standing outside their business instead of inside their business isn’t helping them much. As the location-based mobile game grows, so does the desire and necessity for sponsored locations. Over the next few months, keep an eye out for the Pokéstops and Gyms paid for by brands. (Lures for paying customers only, please.)

4. Keep it relevant: Above all, any tactic your brand takes should align with your business. Players of the location-based mobile game are still consumers and consumers crave authenticity. Don’t fall into the trap of kitschy signs and tweets if it comes at the price of your brand integrity. Follow the Best Buys and Sprints of the world. Stay true to your message.

Only time will tell if Pokémon Go is a flash-in-the-pan or if it is here to stay. But in the meantime, happy hunting and best of luck trying to catch ‘em all.