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Round Up: How Businesses are Using Pokemon Go

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Earlier this summer, Pokémon Go hysteria swept the globe. Fueled by nostalgia and one of the first widespread iterations of augmented reality, the app became the most downloaded app in a first week ever. Groups of Pokémon trainers traversing the streets, phone in hand, became a common sight in many cities, and many families found a fun activity together that involved exercise and heading outdoors.

Businesses quickly took notice of amazing marketing opportunity. While the app as taken a downturn in usage due to some botched updates, there’s still a great chance for businesses to capitalize at little to no cost, and have some fun in the process. In the future, Pokémon Go will likely have opportunities for businesses to pay to become a PokeStop or a Gym location, making it even easier to draw in players. Until then, here are some examples of businesses using the app in unique ways to boost sales and their reputation that you can steal ideas from.

A new way to explore the Denver Zoo

Soon after the app’s release, the Denver Zoo jumped at the chance to use it to boost attendance during their typically slow July weekends. Armed with $380 of in-game lures (a tool in the app that draws Pokémon to the area it’s dropped in for a set period of time), the zoo’s marketing team offered a $5 admission to guests who showed the app at the ticket window, and then spread the lures throughout their grounds. During the July 22-24 weekend, the zoo brought in $58,000 in revenue from Pokémon Go players and beat attendance projections by 5,000 people. Guests enjoyed catching the virtual creatures while also learning about the real life animals that live at the zoo and the organization’s conservation efforts.

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Board the Pokémon Express in Cheyenne, Wyoming

After a staff member of Visit Cheyenne noticed that there were around 40 PokeStops along the city’s historic trolley route, the tourism organization knew they’d hit a goldmine. They created a Pokémon Express Tour for two days in July. Participants paid $10 to take a slightly altered version of the trolley’s route, which included extended stops at particularly active PokeStops. The tours sold out quickly, and the organization offered four more in August and one in September, citing the great marketing opportunity for local businesses along the route.

A Michigan bank offers a social media contest and gift cards

Monroe Bank and Trust in Michigan put together a Facebook contest that nearly any business with a store front could copy. The bank announced in a post that they’d be dropping lures at select ATM and bank locations. When participants found the location and caught a Pokémon there, they could take a picture and share it on the bank’s page for a chance to win a variety of gift cards.

Doing good while catching Pokémon

There have been several great stories about Pokémon Go players finding ways to use their hobby to do good while they level up. An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana teamed up with local players to walk their adoptable dogs while they played the game. A local news crew filmed a segment on the story which was then featured nationwide and provided a huge boost to the shelter’s Facebook page. Players have also organized groups to pick up trash in their cities while playing and simultaneously used other apps while on the hunt for Pokémon that donate to a selected charity based on how many steps you walk. Nonprofits have a unique chance to connect with local players by offering them the ability to play the game while volunteering.

T-Mobile offers free data for Pokemon Go trainers

T-Mobile jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon early with offers for their customers that included free, unlimited data for the app for a year and free Lyft rides to popular PokeStops. While the unlimited data portion of this plan is controversial due to how it may or may not set a good net neutrality precedent, T-Mobile is an example of how nearly any type of business can participate and connect with Pokémon Trainers.

What’s Next

For cities heading into winter, it’s possible that the app will see another down turn in usage thanks to players staying inside out of the weather for a few months. Still, since participating is relatively low cost for businesses, it’s still worthwhile to consider how your organization can use the app in your marketing. Inc. has a handy guide for jumping in – take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your customers authentically and try something new!