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Is Pokemon Go just a poke in your eye?

IMG_8154 (1) - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In July of this year -- the world experienced a phenomenon that we are still trying to process. Pokemon Go. The game is already (in less than 2 months) the most downloaded app in iTunes history and the owners (Niantic and Nintendo) are enjoying about a $1.6 million dollar take every single day.

But what does any of this mean to the average business?  We've all read the stories of players falling off cliffs, playing during a funeral and even hunting pokemons at the Holocaust Museum

Is it ridiculous? Is it inappropriate? Sure. I'm not going to make excuses for stupid or insensitive. But it is clear that the game is breaking new ground and has already captured a significant portion of the globe's population. Don't believe me? Go down to the Sculpture Park any time of night or day and you will be amazed at the numbers of people there, all walking the park and capturing pokemons on their smart phones.

In terms of what Pokemon means to businesses and marketing -- there are two distinct camps. Those who do not want people hunting pokemon near their location and those who very much do want that. There are perfectly valid reasons 

I have some advice for both.

If you do not want people playing Pokemon Go on your property/store/location: The question is how do you do this without looking like a curmudgeon who hates fun?  

  • Be nonjudgmental in how you communicate your request that they play somewhere else.
  • Give them suggestions on where else nearby to play/catch pokemons.
  • Provide context as to why you'd rather they not play in your space.

On the flip side, if you'd like to use Pokemon Go to attract people to your business:

  • Create specials. (Show us your pokedex for a discount, discounts for players at a certain level or with a specific Pokemon in the pokedex.)
  • Buy/launch lures at pokestops near your location.
  • Watch for the opportunity to create special events/stops down the road. (The company says they are coming.)
  • Post signs if you're a site that spawns a rare Pokemon or if that is happening nearby.
  • Play along -- join in the conversation and connect with your customers at a different level.

On the one hand, this seems silly, doesn't it? Seriously -- we're planning our communications messages around a game? Maybe it will blow over. (W.when was the last time you heard an Angry Birds mention?) But for now, it's a cultural trend/reality.

Our businesses don't exist in a vacuum and the smartest marketers know to pay attention to what has captured their audience's attention. It's hard to deny that this might matter, at least in the short run.





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