"What is Pokémon Go?"
If you've been out in the streets at any point in the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed people even more engaged with their phones than normal. You may also have heard or seen something about the summer phenomenon that is Pokémon Go.
What you may not know is that Pokémon Go is actually driving a lot of customers towards small businesses.
Pokémon Go is a game played on smartphones which uses Google's map info and a phone's camera to interact with the real world. The game sends players on a mission to "catch" virtual creatures called Pokémon. Players then compete in factions for territory and dominance. The key part here is "territory".
Players are sent out into the real world to catch their Pokémon and a creature can appear anywhere, including inside your store. This means a customer suddenly has an incentive to walk through your doors and pay you a visit.
"So how do I take advantage?"
The game is not even a month old at the time of this posting, so the practical applications are still being discovered. But here is what we do know: The game creates places were players have a very strong incentive to go. As a player, you can influence these places and draw other players (i.e. customers) to your business by playing the game yourself.
Here are the 5 steps to cash in:
1. Try to establish a "PokéStop"
You want your business to be near a "PokéStop". PokéStops are locations where players can gather items necessary for the game such as "Poké Balls", "Potions", and "Eggs". For now, Pokéstops are assigned randomly by Niantic (the company that runs the game).
For a brief time a few days before this blog was written, Niantic made it available to request a Pokéstop in their support page for the game. Check the link and see if that option is back. Players have to visit these Pokéstops to collect necessary items and hunt for Pokémon. A Pokéstop will see plenty of foot traffic.
Pokéstops are usually located in parks or around businesses. Niantic tries to keep Pokéstops away from residences for obvious reasons.
2. Invest in "Lure Modules"
Lure Modules can be purchased in the app and set up around Pokéstops to increase the number of Pokémon in the area for 30 minutes at a time. They can only be attained after level 8. At their most expensive, one Lure Module costs just $1, but you can get deep discounts for buying them in bulk.
Once you set up a Lure, Pokémon come to your area. Lure modules are shared with other players in the game. This means other players can take advantage of your lures and will know there are Pokémon to be caught at that location.
Social media is your friend here. Players are constantly on the hunt and any tips to catch Pokémon are often shared. So let people know on Facebook, Instagram, and all your other social media accounts that you have Lures and you plan to use them. Make sure you give specific times, so customers know when to show up!
Lures are only active for 30 minutes at a time, but you set a new Lure as soon as one expires. Just a few dollars a day invested in Lures can draw a crowd and massively boost your sales for the day. Some businesses in larger cities have seen their sales go up by 75% using Lures! This goes especially for businesses where customers are encouraged to stick around.
Pokémon Go is already impacting how people choose their restaurants and plan their shopping trips. Making sure your web presence mentions it will help prospective customers find you and walk through your doors!
4. Be Aware of Competing Teams and Their "Gyms"
Players can be on different teams in the game. (Currently, there are 3 teams: "Mystic, "Valor", and "Instinct"). "Gyms" are gathering spots on the map that belong to one team and one team only.
Players can assign their Pokémon to compete and either protect their team's gym or to try and take over another team's gym. If your business finds itself at or near a gym, it's probably best to remain neutral. Although some businesses are happy to show bias if all their regulars happen to be on one team or another.
Locations designated as "gyms" will be areas with significantly more foot traffic.
5. Get Creative
Don't be afraid to approach people walking around outside near your business. Once a customer walks through your doors, they are obviously far more likely to buy something. Think up some fun ways to get people through the door:
Set up a charging station! - Pokémon Go is heavy on battery usage. Buy some extra long USB charging cables and hook up some chargers on a power strip. Customers can set their phones down for some much-needed juice. Meanwhile, they can browse around your store.
Sell Pokémon merchandise! - Pretty obvious here. People who like Pokémon will probably buy Pokémon-themed stuff. You can use the Shopventory app to keep track of your new inventory (hey, we had to get our name in somehow).
Encourage Your Employees to Play! - People love to discuss Pokémon Go with other players. Having a knowledgable staff can be key in generating repeat business.
Don't feel left out! - We have been seeing businesses that aren't near Pokéstops putting up signs like "Show us your Pokémon, get 10% off!". Engaging players will bring more players, which in turn brings more possibility of having a Pokéstop assigned nearby.
Above all, be patient. There will always be customers who just come to look and never buy. Making these customer feel welcome nonetheless is far more productive than making them feel unwelcome. Like any other tech craze, it's generally pretty useless to fight back the tides. You make far more by harnessing their power.
Want more ways to boost profits?
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