Pokemon Go

How can you make the Pokémon Go craze work for your business?

By Tina Irgang

Welcome to the post-Pokémon Go economy. Seemingly out of nowhere, the augmented-reality app is taking over cities worldwide. The implications for the future of gaming are potentially tremendous, but what about other industries? Can you leverage the app to promote your own brand?

If you haven’t been following this story, here’s the idea: Originally a video game franchise, the world of Pokémon has expanded into all sorts of other media, including trading cards, TV shows and, most recently, an app called Pokémon Go. The goal of the app is to catch Pokémon creatures, which are superimposed on your phone screen when it’s pointed at real-world locations.

As Vox explains, the app “uses your phone’s GPS and clock to decide which Pokémon appear in the game. If you’re at the park, more bug and grass types appear. If you’re by a lake, more water types appear. If it’s night, more nocturnal ghost and fairy types do. So Pokémon won’t just come to you; players have to traverse the real world” to catch them.

So what does all this have to do with your business? Well, the app gets people to go to real-world locations in search of Pokémon creatures, especially rare ones. It also draws people to certain places that host so-called PokéStops, where players can get accessories, and PokéGyms, where players’ Pokémon can be trained to fight other Pokémon.

Why not get those people to come to your business? “Some businesses are paying the app a $10 daily fee to purchases lures or items that attract users … to drive foot traffic,” Time reports.

Businesses find creative ways to lure customers

Take the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR: “When they discovered that Pokémon and PokéStops were scattered across their grounds, they got creative and photographed them next to various displays and pieces of art, then blogged about it on their site,” says Forbes. “Perhaps you have a coffee shop or local restaurant that doubles as a PokéStop. Create a Pokémon-inspired drink or dish and offer customers who show you the game on their phone a discount.”

Of course, that sort of initiative only works if you happen to have a retail operation. But if you don’t, there are still ways you can benefit. As The Huffington Post reports, “nonprofit Charity Miles launched a challenge on Tuesday asking Pokémon Go players to raise money for nonprofits while playing the game. … The challenge uses the Charity Miles app, which allows people to raise funds for a nonprofit by tracking the distance they walk, run or bike. The app then donates funds to a nonprofit on the person’s behalf.”

Even if you’re not a nonprofit, you could make that idea work for you. For example, why not promote your brand by telling people you will be donating to a nonprofit if players take a specific action, such as walking from a local landmark to your office? (You could have people take before-and-after pictures to provide proof.)

Even if you can’t see an immediate way to benefit, it’s worth keeping an eye on mobile apps based on augmented reality. “Keeping abreast of the emerging augmented-reality technology will help brands prepare for new marketing strategies,” notes CyberAlert.

After the Pokémon Go craze inevitably wanes, augmented reality won’t be going away any time soon. Now is the time to think of ways you can leverage this trend to promote your products or services.

Tina Irgang is the managing editor of SmartCEO magazine and SmartCEO.com. Contact her at tina@smartceo.com.