In barely a week, Pokémon GO—the smartphone app from Niantic Inc. and the PokémonCo.—has caught 21 million daily active users in the U.S. alone. Released on July 6 in the United States, the app has lured millions of people out into public spaces in search of Pokémon.
Could your small business use Pokémon GO marketing to catch more daily customers?
For The Square Cup, a coffee shop and Patriot Software customer in Talladega, AL, the answer is a resounding “YES.” The shop just opened in March 2016, and Pokémon GO has been key to raising awareness of their new business.
“With this Pokémon hype, we’ve been seeing a lot of increased traffic,” said Carol Ann Wells, co-owner of The Square Cup. “We saw so many people from out of town that would drive up in front of our store looking for Pokémon and PokéStops. We’ve seen them come from hundreds of miles away!” she laughed.
Pokémon GO players walk around with their smartphones and, using global positioning, the app leads them to catchable Pokémon. At PokéStops, players can pick up free items to aid them in their quest to find Pokémon. These PokéStops are usually stationed at cultural spots like statues and public buildings.
Situated in the Talladega Courthouse Square, The Square Cup sits on a PokéStop goldmine. Historic sites like the Talladega Courthouse and the Battle of Talladega marker are just steps away from their storefront.
“This happened to be the perfect location,” Wells said. “If you stand right in front of our door, there are three PokéStops within walking distance. The furthest one away is probably 20 feet.”
But Wells and her team didn’t sit idly by as Pokémon catchers flocked to her business–in one day’s time, The Square Cup team came up with an impromptu Pokémon GO marketing plan. One of their employees created a Pikachu-themed drink called the PokéSpritzer, made from frozen lemonade, lemon-lime soda and cherries. They also created a special 5% discount for Pokémon GO users, and advertised both offers on their sidewalk sign.
Social media marketing has been helpful for spreading awareness, as well.
The Square Cup advertised their Pokémon GO specials on Facebook, making use of the platform’s “Boost Post” feature. They boosted their drink special post within the 50-mile radius, specifically targeting the local community.
Their spur-of-the-moment Pokémon marketing plan has proven to be successful. Not only have they been able to increase sales, but they’ve been building brand awareness, too.
“We’re always looking for ways to bring in new customers, especially being a new business,” said Wells. “A lot of people didn’t even realize we were here, and it’s brought them to our shop.”
“Whether they buy something today or they come back tomorrow, it gets the awareness out there. And that’s what we want,” Wells added.
Ready to start catching new customers using Pokémon GO for business? Take a page out of The Square Cup’s book and follow these four marketing tips.
1. Attract new customers with PokéStops and Lure Modules
No PokéStops near your business? No problem. Pokémon GO now allows users to submit requests for new PokéStops near them. You can send a request on Niantic’s official Pokémon GO website using this form. It will ask you the name of the PokéStop, coordinates, address, and reason behind the request.
If your business is located by PokéStops, you can buy 30 minutes of Pokémon GO action by purchasing Lure Modules, and installing them at nearby PokéStop locations. A Lure Module is an in-game item that can be earned or purchased using real-world dollars. Once purchased, the item must be activated at a PokéStop. One Lure Module costs $1 and lasts 30 minutes. Packs of eight Lure Modules are about $7.
2. Offer Pokémon GO-Themed Specials
Once The Square Cup team realized they were in a PokéStop hot spot, they created a special drink and a 5% discount for customers who show them their Pokémon. Their ice-cold PokeSpritzer was the perfect thing to offer to customers who were Pokémon-hunting in the blistering Alabama heat.
Brainstorm ways your business could offer Pokémon GO-themed specials to the local community. You might consider creating Pokémon-themed treats, like The Square Cup. Or, if your employees all belong to a specific team (Team Valor, Team Instinct or Team Mystic), consider offering a 5% discount to customers on that team.
3. Make Use of Social Media Marketing
Chances are, tech-adept Pokémon GO users are also active on social media. The Square Cup benefitted from increased brand awareness by making a sign advertising Pokémon GO specials—which was then quickly shared throughout social media.
“We’ve actually had people from all over town that would take pictures and post it on social media,” Wells chuckled. “And their friends have come in, and they’ve brought in their friends to take more pictures and catch Pokémon.”
If you’re using street and window signs to advertise your Pokémon GO specials, make sure to include the names of your social media accounts. Share your own posts through your social media profiles as well, and consider paying to promote your post—like The Square Cup “boosted” their posts on Facebook—to reach more customers in your area.
4. Connect with the Community–Start Playing Yourself
The Square Cup team was able to quickly make use of Pokémon GO for business because their employees were already on the app. The Square Cup co-owner Troy Haynes plays Pokémon GO right at the shop, alongside friends and customers. By doing so, they were able to understand the influence the game has on its users and how they could use that influence to their business’s advantage.
“A lot of our friends and customers play, so they were really excited that they could come here and get a lot of attention on the Pokémon GO site.” Wells said. “We had a family come in and ask if our shop could be a hangout spot for them while they were looking for Pokémon. We said, ‘Of course!’”
Every small business has a story worth telling. We’d love to hear yours—share your story and photos with the hashtag #PatriotSpotlight so we can check it out.