Photo Credit: ABC7//David Hamilton
Jonathan Strupek, Chamber Marketing & Public Relations Manager
If you haven't heard about Pokemon GO on your social media pages, the newspaper, television, or radio we recommend visiting the main website, reading an introductory article, or watching an introductory video to help bring yourself up to speed. If you're all caught up - keep reading!
If you've been around Downtown Bloomington, Uptown Normal, a local college campus, or even looked out on your street at home you've probably noticed droves of people walking around looking at their cellphones. What looks like a zombie apocalypse is actually Pokemon GO: a cultural phenomenon that's sweeping the nation - including us right here in McLean County. Pokemon GO is an augmented-reality mobile game that lets players catch virtual creatures called "Pokemon" in the real world. Players must walk around to different locations around town (tracked by Google Maps API in real time) to catch different types of Pokemon.
While the game may seem completely irrelevant to your business it's been providing many businesses an opportunity to attract local players to their storefront and turn them into paying customers. For as little as $1.19/hour some local businesses are seeing 60-70% gains in business since participating/advertising. This guide is here to help your business get involved! If you're still confused after reading this guide try asking a friend or family member who's already playing for assistance. Even some local players will be willing to get you set up if you ask for help!
If you're already familiar with Pokemon GO
please skip down to "Attracting Players & Cost" section.
To get started - and to better understand as we move along through the guide - you'll need to download the game on iOS or your Android-based phone. Search "Pokemon GO" in your App Store or in Google Play to begin downloading the latest version of the game.
Once you log in you can either create an account via Niantic or use an existing Google account. If you don't have a Google account already you can sign up in minutes by clicking here. Once you're logged in follow the on-screen instructions to name your player (if you're using this just for business purposes we recommend naming yourself after your business) and giving your character a look. You'll also get practice catching your first Pokemon!
Once you're fully set up you'll be greeted with something similar to the picture on the left (Credit: Adam Uzialko). Your character is in the center with a ring pulsing around it representing how far the game will search for Pokemon, Pokestops, and Gyms (explained below) based on your current location. In the bottom right there's a white bar with outlines of Pokemon that are nearby. If you click it a larger window will appear with outlines and footprints underneath: the fewer the footprints the closer the Pokemon are! This will also show how many Pokemon are normally near your business at any given time.
The large blue fixtures are called Pokestops - these are crucial to your businesses promotional efforts. Pokestops are where players visit frequently to restock on items to catch Pokemon and place "lures" to attract rarer Pokemon. These are the Pokestops with flower petals falling from them in the picture. The more Pokestops that are nearby the higher the chance players will be nearby. For example: Uptown Normal, Downtown Bloomington, College Campuses, parks, etc. all have condensed Pokestops. You'll be utilizing lures to attract local players (explained later). If you find that your business/current location isn't near any Pokestops you'll need to get a little bit more creative in attracting local players. Niantic has also released that businesses will soon be able to "sponsor" Pokestops to be placed in front of their business.
The tall grey/red fixture in the distance is called a gym. Players gather at gyms with their strongest Pokemon to battle other players and represent their team: Team Valor (Red), Team Mystic (Blue), or Team Instinct (Yellow). If you find yourself close to a gym location you're at a similar promotional advantage to being near a Pokestop.
If you click the Pokeball at the bottom center of the screen you'll be greeted with multiple options: Pokemon (to view the Pokemon you've collected), Items (to view what items are currently in your backpack), and Shop (to buy items). Since this guide is strictly business-focused will be reviewing the Shop only.
Players are attracted to Pokestops that have lures (or flower petals) placed on them. Businesses are taking advantage of this by purchasing "Lure Modules" (pictured right in purple) and placing them on Pokestops near their business. Lures attract rarer Pokemon and last for half an hour each - meaning most players find a lure and will sit near it for as long as possible for the best result.
Purchasing Lures costs coins which can be purchased with money via the App Store/Google Play. Scroll to the bottom of the Shop screen to select how many coins you want to purchase. Lures are surprisingly affordable for the amount of players they can potentially attract. Coins can be bought for anywhere from $1-100. Here's a breakdown of cost if you spent $100 on coins for Lures (Credit Walter Chen, INC.):
14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour
Essentially: $100 buys you 84 hours worth of lures running. That's a long time - and a lot of local players/potential customers! We recommend buying a smaller amount first to experiment with how well the lures work near you. We also recommend placing lures around the lunch hour, after work, and even well into the evening as some players tend to stay out late! Players can also place lures at your business as well - free traffic for you!
To place the Lure you must physically be close enough to the Pokestop (use the ring pulsing around your character to guage distance). You'll know that you're close enough when the blue box normally on the blue fixture turns into a circle (or Pokeball). Click the circle to bring up a large screen with a picture of a monument, your business name, or something else close by. Just above the picture is a small white rounded rectangle. Click that to bring up the "empty module slot" screen. Click the purple Lure Module icon towards the bottom of the screen after purchasing Lures and then click it again to place the lure.
Congratulations - you've started luring! Make sure to refresh to lure whenever possible and advertise when you're doing so!
Businesses are getting creative in promoting their Pokestop location all across the nation. It's entirely up to you on how you advertise your Pokestop/Lure, but it's important to be creative and base it on your business! Pictured left is a thrift store advertising their Pokestop location along with their product line: "Come get your Pokeballs AND previously rocked threads!". Seen here is a church providing water for local players, dog shelters promoting to walk their dogs while catching Pokemon, or a Botanical Garden boasting its many Pokestops and Gyms. Some businesses are even offering discounts on food/water or themed drink specials throughout the day (see picture below). The possibilities are endless!
We also recommend putting some kind of sign up in your window, placing a street sign, promoting on social media with a picture of your store & address, or even getting some other local players to promote your spot with pictures of the Pokemon they've caught. It's entirely up to you! Overall: incorporate your product and Pokemon into your advertising efforts. We promise that local players will be grateful that you're giving them attention and some may even start promoting you for free to their friends!
Gyms don't require lures to attract players - they're naturally attracted to them to battle and conquer a certain location! This is a free advertising opportunity for your business. You can utilizing similar advertising efforts listed above under "Advertising Your Lure/Pokestop" or you can appeal to the team-aspect of the game.
Since players must choose between three teams to conquer a gym: Team Valor (Red), Team Mystic (Blue), or Team Instinct (Yellow) you can advertise that whichever team owns the nearby gym recieves a discount on your product. Players can prove what team their on by clicking their portrait in the bottom left of their screen to bring up their profile. This will bring out a little bit of friendly competition with a reward as well! Be sure to advertise your opportunity with signage, social media efforts, etc.
Don't worry! Just recently Niantic released a form that businesses can submit to have a Pokestop or Gym placed near their business! Click here to fill out and submit a form. We're not entirely sure how long it takes, but make sure to attach a picture of your business.
You can also use the tracker in the game (the white box in the bottom right corner next to the Pokeball) to see what kind of Pokemon are popping up next to your business. Click here to check to see if any of the Pokemon near you are rare or not. Whether you've got some rare Pokemon nearby or not you can always advertise what's close by!
A big thing as well is to offer Pokemon players a place to charge their phones. The game DRAINS battery life quickly so offering some shade, water, a bite to eat, and a surge protector can go a LONG ways. You may not be a Pokestop yourself but you could be at the dead center of two popular Pokestops, so offering incentive to stop and charge is widely beneficial!
While Pokemon GO may or may not be here to stay we want to provide you - our valued member - resources to participate in national trends such as this to help further grow your business. While not every business may be the right fit for promoting Pokemon GO, we want to make sure that you have all the necessary tools to participate if you so desire. We've also linked a few additional help articles for more information:
Questions or success stories can be sent to the Chamber's self-proclaimed "Pokemon GO" expert Jonathan Strupek at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 309-829-1186. Remember to ask around for help as well - you'll be surprised how many of your friends, families, or employees are already playing!
Now go catch 'em all!