If you’ve been outside in the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed an increase in the amount of pedestrians standing around looking at their phone. This is largely thanks to Pokemon Go, a new game based on the Nintendo property that’s quickly becoming one of the most-used apps in the world. The game uses augmented reality to immerse players in a world where they need to capture the imaginary creatures in order to level up and gain access to areas of the game. The popularity of the game has caused everyone to think about how to potentially capitalize on this phenomenon, with some establishments catering to that crowd by speaking directly to them in their advertising, like creating promotions for certain players or encouraging customers to play the game in their store in exchange for a small discount.
While these marketing efforts should be applauded, the true potential of Pokemon Go’s marketing reach could be seen in Japan, which rolled out the release of the game with all of their Pokemon Gyms—the location where players can fight their Pokemon against others—being located across Japan’s McDonald’s franchises. And while your athletics department won’t be able to take advantage of this solution at this level, you can learn a lot from Pokemon Go’s ability to create a social phenomenon and how you can use it to identify new followers to convert them into customers.
Pokemon Go revolves around PokeStops, which are locations where players can collect items. There are dozens of PokeStops in a well-populated area, which means that even if you’re lucky enough to have your box office be a PokeStop, you’ll be competing against all the other locations in your area. By engaging with your audience in reality while they are immersed in the augmented reality of the app, you’ll be able to snap them out of Pokemon Go and strike a connection. The biggest examples of this being done comes from retail locations that use outdoor signage to drop inside jokes that communicate directly with players or to offer discounts.
A more concentrated effort that takes advantage of Pokemon Go comes from businesses that companies who organize events directly tied to the game. Best Buy ran a meetup in an area where a lot of PokeStops were placed and gave away the chance to win a portable battery pack to everyone who stopped by. Not only did this help the players by directly offering them something they needed, it solidified Best Buy as the place to go for all your Pokemon Go accessories. Some companies with multiple locations also offered prizes or deals to anyone who photographed a Pokemon at their location using the app.
Embracing Pokemon Go isn’t a marketing strategy on its own, but with so many active players it makes sense that you acknowledge it in an organic way. Maybe you set up a tailgate near a PokeStop, or advertise the fact that your stadium is also a Gym. Whatever you choose to do, embracing this new technology will help you reach new prospects and lets you forge a deeper connection with existing customers.