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Updated Oct 24, 2023

8 Ways Pokemon Go Can Work for Your Small Business

Since it first burst onto the scene, Pokemon Go has evolved in a big way. The augmented-reality game could offer some easy marketing opportunities for your business.

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Adam Uzialko, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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The augmented-reality (AR) mobile game Pokemon Go, in which players move throughout the real world to hunt for and capture digital Pokemon, has remained popular among players since its release. Since the game is geographically based and requires players to move throughout their local area, there are multiple ways you can use it to attract some of the 80 million monthly players to your location and, hopefully, convert them into returning customers.

What geographic locations in Pokemon Go can help small businesses?

There are two types of fixed locations in the game that are important to most of the marketing strategies below. The first are PokeStops, real-world buildings or places of note around a city where players visit to grab extra PokeBalls and potions in the game. Many of these stops are the site of a business but, even if your business isn’t a PokeStop, there’s probably one nearby.

Screenshot of Pokemon Go

Source: Adam Uzialko

The other type of fixture is called a Pokemon Gym, where players battle their Pokemon in a bid to gain control of the location for their team. Both PokeStops and Gyms regularly attract players throughout the day and both can be leveraged into generating more patronage for your business. After extensive, tireless weekend research into Pokemon Go, Business News Daily has worked out a few ways to capitalize on the craze. [Related: What Is Geofencing?]

How to use Pokemon Go for your small business

1. Host a lure party

One item that can be placed on PokeStops is called a lure module. Once activated, lure modules attract wild Pokemon ― and, more importantly, players ― to that location. Consider buying a package of lure modules and advertising a particular night as a Pokemon Go lure party. If your business is on or near a PokeStop, a lure party could be a great way to bring players to your establishment. It’s a cheap and easy form of marketing. All you need to do is create a Pokemon Go account by downloading it for free from Google Play or the App Store, buy a package of lure modules for a few dollars and set them up at your nearest PokeStop. Each lure is active for 30 minutes, so you can use them in succession to create a lure party that lasts as long as you’d like. [Related: How to Choose the Right Location for Your Business]

If you combine a lure party with some special deals, that could be a great way to bring in extra money. Since the launch of the game, multiple types of lures have been created, each attracting a different type of Pokemon. These different lures allow you to be more specific in your event planning, such as pairing certain types of foods or drinks with the type of Pokemon you’re luring.

Screenshot of Pokemon Go

Source: Adam Uzialko

2. Drop incense

Similar to a lure module, incense is an item that can be used to draw Pokemon to your location. The difference is that you don’t need to be near a PokeStop. Previously, the item had a duration of 30 minutes but the limit was recently raised to 60 minutes. Incense can be a good alternative to lure modules for making your store or business a Pokemon Go destination. A single incense costs 40 Pokemon Go Coins (that’s 40 cents in real currency) and you can drop multiple incense items one after another to extend their effects and make your location a hot spot for longer.

Screenshot of Pokemon Go

Source: Bassam Kaado

3. Host Gym battle tournaments

Maybe your business is closer to a Pokemon Gym than a PokeStop. In that case, there’s another way to incentivize players to patronize your business. Advertise that you’ll be hosting an event or tournament in advance. Maybe even offer discounts to Gym battle winners. Then, on game day, players who become Gym Leaders successfully (with proof of gamer ID) will be entitled to that discount. Keep in mind that to hold Gyms, teams need multiple members to defend that location. So, while you’re giving discounts to the Gym Leaders, their teammates will be there alongside them, most likely as full-paying customers.

Screenshot of Pokemon Go

Source: iDownloadBlog

4. Capitalize on raid battle gatherings

Having your business close to a Pokemon Gym could benefit you in more ways than you might think. Raid battles happen when a Gym is temporarily occupied by a Boss Pokemon. The Boss Pokemon could be at any number of difficulty levels and usually requires a large number of players to team up to defeat the Pokemon.

Boss Pokemon are usually shown as an egg waiting to hatch, which takes a certain amount of time. Once hatched, the Pokemon will stay at the Gym until another period of time passes. This can be a great opportunity for your business because the set time frame allows you to be creative. For example, a nearby restaurant could offer half-priced discounts on appetizers while players wait for the egg to hatch or a dollar off the customer’s meal if they beat and capture the Pokemon.

You can also capitalize on what is called an EX Raid, a battle that requires an invitation to participate. What better place to house an exclusive raid than your establishment?

Screenshot of Pokemon Go

Source: Screen Rant

5. Celebrate Community Days

Pokemon Go developed Community Days, monthly live events where a particular Pokemon will be spawning more frequently for a limited time. This is usually an incentive for players to catch as many of that particular Pokemon as possible. Your business can combine Community Days with lures and incense to bring as many of that Pokemon. That, in turn, will pull in as many players as possible.

Your establishment can hold special events on that day that coordinate with the highlighted Pokemon, including deals or special dishes. If you’re a restaurant that wants to celebrate Bulbasaur Day, how about a Bulbasaur-inspired burger or dessert? The great thing about Community Days is that they happen regularly and can present a wide array of marketing opportunities. There are many ways to take advantage of national days for advertising.

Pokemon Go community calendar

Source: The Pokemon Company

6. Advertise a PokeHunt

Hosting a community-wide Pokemon Go hunt that starts and ends at your business’s doorstep is a strategy that’s not contingent on the proximity of gyms or PokeStops. All you have to do is advertise the date and time of your family-friendly PokeHunt, wait for players to gather and depart together for a stroll around your neighborhood. Your staff might even join the hunters in branded shirts to make sure your business is visible through the entire event. With any good PokeHunt, there should be an after-party. Invite the hunters back to your establishment for some trainer talk and to compare their hauls. This is an especially effective tactic for restaurants.

Screenshot of Pokemon Go

Source: Adam Uzialko

7. Create Pokemon Go social media deals

Use Pokemon Go to increase your visibility on social media. Offer customers a few dollars off to take a screenshot of a Pokemon in your store or restaurant, post it on social media and tag your business. While the tactic might result in just a few dollars off for them, for you, it spreads your brand online. It also shows other nearby players how many rare and exotic Pokemon are crawling around your establishment, which might encourage them to visit and maybe spend some money of their own.

8. Hold a Pokemon Go trading event

After years of speculation and teasing, the ability to trade Pokemon was finally added to the game. Trading requires two players to be in proximity, giving your business another potential game feature to focus on. Your business could have an event for Pokemon trading, like “Pokemon Trading Tuesdays,” where customers that engage in a trade get a perk or small discount. Some experienced players can engage in special trades or even have lucky trades, which you can award with greater perks and discounts.

More mobile games to use for your business

Pokemon Go isn’t the only mobile game you can take advantage of for your small business. Here are a few others that we think entrepreneurs should consider taking advantage of for their local marketing efforts:

  • Pikmin Bloom: Pikmin Bloom isn’t quite as popular as Pokemon Go but, with more than 2 million downloads it’s certainly a successful AR game. Developed by Nintendo and Niantic, the same companies behind Pokemon Go, the game sets users in the universe of Pikmin, where they collect flowery little followers that can be used to overcome challenges and solve puzzles.
  • Geocaching: Geocaching is an AR treasure hunting game in which players hide treasures for one another in real-world locations to find using their mobile devices. There are more than 3 million active users playing geocaching and, as a business owner, you could regularly stash treasures to be found near your place of business. Consider offering discounts as a prize to players who stop in and can show you that they located your treasure ― you may be surprised by how much foot traffic you can generate.
  • Hearthstone: The World of Warcraft card game is an immensely popular mobile game with more than 400,000 daily active players. While it isn’t an AR location-based game like Pokemon Go or Pikmin Bloom, it’s highly engaged following might be interested in stopping into a local business for an afternoon of in-person gaming sessions accompanied by discounts or promotions.

If you’re interested in leveraging mobile games to market your small business, plug yourself into the community of players first. Find out if the game has a big following in your area ― after all, it’s important to know the users you’re targeting are actually within your reach. If so, though, these games could be a powerful and fun way to grab peoples’ attention and turn them into customers.

The future of Pokemon Go and AR

If more AR games prove to be as popular as Pokemon Go, businesses might have a new local marketing strategy at their disposal. Luckily, these strategies cost virtually nothing to employ. Consider toying with Pokemon Go marketing strategies as a proof of concept for what might become a powerful way to drive local foot traffic to your business in the future. After all, AR is only in its early stages and is likely to become more sophisticated from here.

Tejas Vemprala and Bassam Kaado contributed to this article.

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Adam Uzialko, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
Adam Uzialko, senior editor of Business News Daily, is not just a professional writer and editor — he’s also an entrepreneur who knows firsthand what it’s like building a business from scratch. His experience as co-founder and managing editor of a digital marketing company imbues his work at Business News Daily with a perspective grounded in the realities of running a small business. Since 2015, Adam has reviewed hundreds of small business products and services, including contact center solutions, email marketing software and text message marketing software. Adam uses the products, interviews users and talks directly to the companies that make the products and services he covers. He specializes in digital marketing topics, with a focus on content marketing, editorial strategy and managing a team.
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