4 ways to boost business with Pokemon Go

The virtual hunt for the cartoon critters is sweeping the nation. Your brick-and-mortar location(s) can get a nice ROI by attracting customers now and building clientele for the future.

Something is happening.

Children are stepping outside, blinking into the sun as their eyes adjust. People are driving slowly around their neighborhoods, coming to a stop for no apparent reason.

Of course there is a reason: They’re hunting for Pokemon.

The ’90s phenomenon Pokemon is back in a big way, thanks to the Pokemon Go app.

If you’re still wondering what the game’s all about, how you play and what all the terminology is, there are plenty of good primers out there to get you started (like this one).

Here’s the upshot for businesses: People of all ages, all backgrounds are playing Pokemon Go. It’s more popular than Tinder and has more daily users than Facebook and Twitter.

In short, for brick-and-mortar businesses, this is a gold-plated opportunity for you to drive foot traffic to your business and, ideally, get people to come in and stay awhile.

Why the buzz matters

The craze affects all kinds of organizations: “mom and pop” stores, monuments, public parks—places where getting a parking space used to be no sweat—are now buzzing with Pokemon trainers in search of rare specimens.

For instance, one kitschy Florida attraction, the Presidents Hall of Fame, has not just one PokeStop, but three (usually with lures running to attract the pocket-sized electronic beasts). Its dirt parking lot is constantly crammed as people swipe, swipe, swipe and tap, tap, tap their smartphones.

Sadly, they seem unable to capitalize on their newfound popularity. The business is often closed while people congregate outside, even during business hours.

Quick aside: If your organization or location doesn’t want Pokemon Go traffic (like Arlington Cemetery or Auschwitz), you can visit the support page to request that your location be removed as a PokeStop.

More likely, though, you’ll find that being designated a PokeStop yields a fantastic return on investment. Here are some tips for riding the Pokemon Go train to money town:

1. Keep lures active.

“Lure modules” attract Pokemon to a specific PokeStop for 30 minutes.

If your business is lucky enough to be a PokeStop (which costs you nothing), you can buy eight of these “lure modules” to attract Pokemon. Cost: 680 PokeCoins.

Of course, you’ll have to spend a little actual money on PokeCoins: $100 buys 14,500 of the coins via in-app purchase.

With that much Pokecash, you can get yourself 168 lure modules, enough to keep your PokeStop crawling with Pokemon for 84 hours.

Given the massive increase in foot traffic people are reporting at PokeStops with active lures, this small investment (about $1 an hour) should pay major dividends very quickly.

One pizzeria/PokeStop reported a 30 percent increase in food and beverage sales while the lures were active. So, at minimal cost, you could increase sales by almost a third just by keeping the lures active. Not bad.

2. Host an event or offer discounts.

Museums and churches have encouraged Pokemon trainers to visit, but some businesses have gone above and beyond. Sea World in San Diego, for example, hosted a “Lure-a-thon,” encouraging people to hunt Pokemon in the park. (They kept lure modules active during the event to attract more specimens for visitors.)

Other attractions have offered discounts to people showing the app or offered different pricing depending on which Pokemon Go team visitors are aligned with.

3. Use email to reach any Pokemon trainers who happen to be your list.

Email your let any Pokemon trainers know that your location is a PokeStop, and encourage them to visit so they can “catch ’em all.”

4. Do your part to keep Pokemon Go users safe.

Legally speaking, commercial businesses owe the highest duty of care to “invitees,” i.e., customers and prospective customers who visit their establishment.

It’s not enough for property owners to fix known dangers: they must also “reasonably inspect for, discover, and correct unknown hazards” on any part of the premises that the Pokémon-playing public has access to. (Source: FindLaw.com.)

Be aware that people playing Pokemon Go are often distracted to the point of extreme carelessness. Some have crossed over international borders without realizing it; others have walked into traffic or off cliffs.

In light of the increased foot traffic you’re likely to see, you should anticipate dangers that a distracted Pokemon Go player might miss. If you’ve got a trick step or a threshold that lots of people trip over, you should fix these things to minimize your risk of liability.

You’ll also want to keep your insurance coverage current, but you should do that anyway.

For now, the benefits of embracing Pokemon Go should outweigh some owners’ reluctance to spend money on an online game, but these days things quickly go from hot to stone cold, so keep an eye on sales so you’ll notice when Pokemon Go starts to cool off.

The mania will fade, so don’t construct a massive Pokemon battle arena on your parking lot, but do consider being part of the trend, if only to share in the experience and build a stronger relationship with customers and prospects.

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is a writer, lawyer, speaker and educator. She’s also senior program manager for enterprise learning at MarketingProfs. Kerry hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. Find Kerry on Twitter. A version of this article first appeared on Mark Schaefer’s {grow}.

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