Pokémon GO is the newest release in an endless stream of freemium entertainment – games that are free to download and play but offer premium in-game purchases to supplement the free play.

And there are a ton of people playing the new mobile and augmented reality game from Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company.  The game features your Pokémon character standing amid a ¾ view of your local area resembling a Google map.  Buildings and roads are accurate, utilizing existing map data and your position is tracked via GPS.

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This has folks taking late night walks, wandering neighborhoods and parks, heading outdoors during the day in hopes of capturing elusive Pokémon. Spread through cities are PokeStops to pick up free items and Pokeballs as well as gyms to battle and train Pokémon.

One player said that using the app deliberately encourages him to be more active. In his post on Imgur he states that he had walked about 6 miles in one day thanks to Pokémon Go.

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I was down to give it a go and see what the growing buzz was all about. I tested the game in my living room, turning my condo into a Pokémon hunting ground before handing my Samsung to my 9 year old. Off she went, returning about 30 minutes later having caught a dozen different Pokémon around the local neighborhood.

Why Businesses Should Pay Attention

If you’re a business owner with a brick and mortar location you should be tuned into and using this game. Here’s why:

  1. Your business may have a PokeStop or Gym

There’s a good chance one of the training Gym’s or PokeStops could be plopped down in the game at your business location. If this happens it can generate a lot of foot traffic around your store – and it’s not just kids who are playing.  The app is sitting at the top of the store charts and attracting a lot of Millennials out for a bit of nostalgia.

I’m in my late 30’s and even I’ve been playing it.  Just two miles from my home is a Pokémon Gym and it sits right on a Walgreens.

Entice these potential customers and welcome them in, don’t turn them away just because you think they won’t make a purchase.

Don’t do what this Dairy Queen did.

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What you have here is a great opportunity to invite customers right into your store, engage with them, and build a relationship with someone that may have never noticed your business or set foot in your location.

This local clothing store is taking the right approach and it’s bound to leave a memorable and positive impression on people using the app.

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The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art also got into the spirit, capturing and sharing photos of Pokemon found around their museum grounds.

There are a lot of ways to use these PokeStops and the game to promote business including:

  • Capture events – provide discounts for specific Pokémon that are captured
  • Competitions
  • Product highlights – Do you already carry Pokémon related products or can you? Feature those products in your store window to bring business inside
  • Café or restaurant – Offer Pokémon themed drinks or foods to potential customers nearby
  • PokeStop discount – If your location doubles as a PokeStop, offer a discount to anyone who shows you the app on their phone or increase the discount size based on how many Pokémon they have captured
  1. Setup a Lure Module

Within the application there is a purchasable item called a “Lure Module”. When the lure is setup it will attract Pokémon to a location for a set period of time. Any attracted Pokémon are visible to every player/app user in the nearby vicinity.

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If your business is a PokeStop or you have one very near you, for just a few dollars you can set up a lure module. This is a great way to increase foot traffic to your business, especially during slow periods. Announce when lures will go active at your location and you’ll see existing customers return and new customers find their way to your location.

Always keep an eye on new technology and look for trending opportunities you can use to draw in prospective customers and promote your local business.