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What is Pokemon Go and How Can I Use It For My Business?

Pokemon Go is making big headlines these days, whether you’re reading the newspaper or scrolling through your Twitter or Facebook feed. But what in the world is it and why is everyone so obsessed with it?
What is Pokemon?
Pokemon, short for the Japanese title of Pocket Monsters, is an insanely popular animated franchise that has been around for a long time. In fact, it’s actually the third longest animated series behind The Simpsons and Arthur. There have also been 21 Pokemon movies and a number of side-story episodes that feature Pokemon.

In the world of Pokemon, monsters are everywhere, and Pokemon trainers make it their job to find, capture, and train these monsters with the ultimate goal of becoming a Pokemon master.

For some, their first encounter with Pokemon may have been back in the days of playing games on the Nintendo Game Boy. These games have since evolved from being played on handheld game consoles to social media, hence our discussion about how Pokemon Go has become all the rage.

How did Pokemon Go evolve?
The Pokemon game has moved beyond the game console and is now a free-to-download mobile app known as Pokemon Go. The game uses your real-time GPS and augments reality by occasionally populating cool-looking Pokemon on your screen as you walk along. You create a digital version of yourself (complete with your own customized clothing), and your goal is to capture and train as many Pokemon as possible.

It’s not unusual to be walking down the street and see groups of friends pull out their smartphones in search of a new Pokemon. Once you capture Pokemon, you can take them to a virtual gym inside the app and have them battle other trainers, which are other real people playing Pokemon Go.

You will also come across Pokestops within the app, which provide players with opportunities to interact with other trainers (real people playing Pokemon Go) and get items to further their “ability” as a trainer.

How can I use Pokemon Go for my business?
At first glance, Pokemon Go may seem irrelevant to your business. However, considering that the game is geographically based, you can use the game to attract traffic to your business and ideally convert them into paying customers.

There’s two basic types of fixed locations that you take advantage of in the game to attract players. One is a Pokestop, which can be a building or destination at or near your place of business where players will go to get some extra Poke balls and other goods. The second is a “gym” where players can go to battle their Pokemons.

There’s a very good chance that there is already a Pokestop convenient to your place of business. You can use this to your advantage by purchasing a package of lure modules (only costs a few dollars of real world cash) and hosting a “Pokemon Go Lure Party.” It’s an inexpensive way to attract more people to your business, and pairing your lure party with some special deals can be an easy way to generate some money.

If your business is located near a Pokemon gym, you could promote that you’ll be hosting a tournament and encourage participation by offering specials and discounts to gym battle winners.

Another way to involve your business in Pokemon Go is to host a Pokemon Hunt. To be most successful with drawing a big crowd for your hunt, you’ll want to make sure that there are a number of Pokestops and gyms near your place of business. To host a hunt, all you need to do is market the event ahead of time, have the players gather at your place of business, and head out together for a family-friendly Pokemon hunt. Your business can further benefit by hosting an after-party where hunters can gather and discuss their strategies.

Someone Has to Play
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to deploy lures or campaign to be a Pokestop. If you want to take advantage of the foot traffic the game is generating for local small businesses, you have to be playing the game. Many businesses are simply encouraging their customers to use their place of business to play the game and will discount items if the visitor purchases lures for their location. Bottom line, either you or the customer needs to be playing the game within your store.

All in all, the great thing about Pokemon Go is that you don’t have to really have any knowledge about the Pokemon series to get started with the game. Also, from a business perspective, finding a way to involve your business in this wildly popular game can give you great exposure for a small cost. Similar to social media, Pokemon Go has become a great way to make connections with people that you wouldn’t necessarily encounter otherwise.

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