Do You Have The Balls For Pokemon Go?

20160710_175052000_iOSYes, I admit it. I spent part of our family vacation looking down at my phone, attempting to flick red and white balls at strange looking creatures. And I became quite good at it – reaching Level 8 – until I ran out of balls.

In case you missed it, which I doubt, Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. It’s a simple, easy-to-play mobile game that is highly addictive. It has managed to get people of all ages to walk around zombie-like in search of Pokémon characters that, thanks to augmented reality, appear in real world places on your smartphone.

And naturally, anytime anything captivates the masses, we simply must look into how we can monetize it, right?

While it’s highly possible that this may be a fleeting fad, there are opportunities available and lessons to learn from history’s most popular mobile download.

What Can Your Business Do?

Pokémon Go encourages players to get outside. So if you own a sidewalk friendly business – an art gallery, a deli, a coffee shop – get involved with the game:

  • Create cooling, shady pit stops for the players – offer water, a place to sit, or free product samples.
  • And if you are close to a Pokestop or Gym, take the next step, use Pokemon lures to attract Pokemon to come near your location.
  • Pokémon Go  is a smartphone battery hog. Offer charging stations so that gamers can recharge while hanging out in your business.

Non-Profits can take advantage too. What about The World’s Slowest 5K & Pokemon Hunt? Or a Pokemon Zombie Walk?  Secure a path chock full of Pokemon or Pokestops and encourage your patrons to donate to join in the fun. One of the more creative uses of the “walking” feature of this game was used by an animal shelter in Indiana, encouraging uses to take a sheltered dog with them on their quest. Pokémo Go likes churches and museums; these are favorite Pokestops.

It’s ideal for the retail segment too. Take advantage of the social aspect of this game – on your social media pages, post photos of Pokemon seen in your location. Encourage patrons to do the same. If you have a “rare” Pokemon nearby, promoting this may attract even more interest.

What does this success tell us?

Your Brand matters

And your brand can be the most valuable asset that you can continue to build.

Consider this – Pokémon, the game and the brand, is about 20 years old. And now, it is not only appealing to a new generation of kids, but it is embraced by young adults who played the game as children (not to mention older adults who bought the games for their kids)

The KISS method works

Pokémon Go is simple to play. It’s straightforward without the need for too many instructions.  A successful marketing campaign can also be simple. Do you recall hearing much fanfare about this new game prior to its launch? Granted, it had a large following (see brand awareness above), but something that is unique and timely, with appropriate incentives, engagement and callsl to action, can succeed on its own merits.

Timing is critical

It wasn’t by accident that his app launched in the summer, when folks spend time outdoors. Keep your timing in mind when you launch your next campaign.

Be social

If nothing else, this hoopla proves that social is a required medium. Keep social channels, as well as other electronic and print channels part of your ongoing marketing mix.

Reward Loyalty

As you catch more Pokemon, you are rewarded with medals and advancements to new levels. Loyalty programs can be very effective. Encourage your customers to stay engaged, and reward them for doing so.


As for me, I’ve been stuck on level 8 for a while. The funny thing about this game, as you advance, success becomes more challenging. It always seems to require more Poke Balls.

Just like in marketing, in order to be successful at this game, you gotta have the balls to do so.

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