Gotta catch em’ all: how small businesses can capitalise on Pokémon Go

BIG Partnership Senior Account Executive, Jen Degnan, discusses how the game that has taken the world by storm could mean big benefits for small businesses.

“I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was”… whether you’ve been reciting this privately in your head or singing it fearlessly in public, you have probably caught on to the latest app taking the smartphone world by storm – Pokémon Go.

Its viral power has been unprecedented, with the game downloaded approximately 7.5m times by the end of its first weekend in the US. It took 13 hours to (team) rocket to the top of the US app chart and just three hours to hit the number one spot on the iPhone revenue chart after launching in Germany. The game was released in the UK last Thursday but eager beavers here found ways of downloading Pokémon Go before it became available officially, so hype was already building among the masses. Its fusion of nostalgia and augmented reality have made it a viral success, as shown in this video of a horde of would-be Pokémon masters in New York’s Central Park.

App store optimisation firm, Sensor Tower, estimates the game’s daily revenue at $1.6m and it seems big business will soon be cashing in on its lucrative potential. John Hanke, the CEO of Niantec, which developed the app in partnership with The Pokémon Company, indicated the game may soon generate revenue through sponsorship opportunities. He said businesses can “pay us to be locations within the virtual game board – the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic.” McDonalds has already confirmed 3,000 of its Japanese sites will become sponsored Pokémon Go gyms in Japan.

There are, however, a number of ways small businesses can take advantage of Pokémon Go right now at very little or no cost, before big organisations catch on.

Use lure models

BIG Partnership’s Glasgow office happens to be a Pokéstop – locations scattered around the game where users can collect items like Pokéballs for free. Lure modules can be purchased in-store and activated on Pokéstops making them a magnet for the critters, lasting 30 minutes. Small businesses can use lures to target players and drive footfall.

L’inzio Pizza Bar in Queens, New York, made headlines by spending $10 on lure modules. The manager reported a 75% surge in sales, with people coming in to enjoy a beer and play Pokémon Go.

Twitter user, Sebastian Fung (@sebfung), calculated businesses could spend $1.17 per hour to keep a lure active on their premises throughout the day.

Fill your social channels with Pokémon Go content

Get playing and engage followers by letting them know your business has caught on to Pokémania. Take in-game photos of Pokémon caught at your premises, especially if rare ones are lurking (you can view a list of rare types here). Share these images with followers or go one step further and use Facebook for Business to target Pokémon fans in your area with this content, letting them know they can grow their collection while visiting your business.

Another way to catch ‘em all (customers not Pokémon) is by running competitions asking followers to post photos of them catching specific Pokémon e.g. Charmander, sharing the content and picking one user at random to win a prize.

Offer deals to Pokémon Go players

Create deals targeted towards players that will ensure they actually purchase something rather than loitering outside throwing Pokéballs! For example, offer discounts to Pokémon trainers, enticing them inside. There have already been examples of businesses leveraging their position as Pokéstops or Pokégym to offer players incentives for placing lures on their businesses, attracting more customers. Some have even offered preferential discounts depending on which team (Instinct, Mystic or Valor) players join when they reach level 5 and start battling at Pokégyms.

There is a lot of debate as to whether Pokémania is here to stay or if the craze will end as quickly as it started. For the time being, the opportunity for small businesses to leverage the game’s current popularity is simply too good to miss.

Tell us how your business is leveraging Pokémon Go now on Twitter, tagging @BigPartnership