While Canadian Pokemon fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Pokemon Go, the delayed rollout to Canada gives businesses more time to plan marketing strategies for when the Pokeballs come out.

Simply put, this game takes the idea behind the classic card-and-video game and brings it to the real world. Players use their phone’s GPS and camera to walk around and “catch” Pokemon. You can then go to PokeSpots to gain experience points and train Pokemon, or go to a gym where you can challenge other players to combat. Both Pokespots and gyms are real places, often spots of significance.

Marketing to Pokemon Go audience

This is what the game looks like when using the app on your phone.

The new GPS-enabled mobile game has rocketed to the top of the App Store and has been installed over 5 million times on Android devices. In the US, it has been installed on more than 5% of all Android devices in the entire country. In just a meagre few days, it has more installs than dating app Tinder. There are more daily active users on Go than on Twitter.

In short, this game is blowing up and is poised to take Canada by storm upon release (expected soon).

So, how can your business take advantage and tap this massive customer base?

Here’s a couple of tips to get up-and-running right away and stay ahead of the curve when it launches north of the border.

Take advantage of your role as a Pokestop or gym

Unfortunately, this step involves a little bit of luck. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have your store, restaurant or place of business designated either of these, you can expect a wave of foot traffic.

By far the easiest option in either of these cases is to make those players stumbling into your business feel comfortable. If you are a restaurant, bar or cafe, add a game-inspired drink. Run retail? See if you can make a bit of shelf space for players, tap into that community. It’s easy to find a connection no matter what business you’re in – it could be “special” comfortable socks for walking around catching Pokemon or a mobile charger for phones. At the very least, throw up some chalkboard art showing you know what’s going on.


Advertising Pokemon Go

This bar in Virginia was lucky enough to be selected as a Pokestop. Each day, they change which team gets a discount.

Rewarding players can help turn them into repeat customers. Offering a discount, or tossing out a cheap, free piece of swag for customers who play can go a long way. Gyms are controlled by one of three in-game teams, so you could also give incentives only to whoever that team is.

There’s also incredible opportunity to turn players into brand ambassadors. Print off some cheap stickers that say, “I train at [your business]” or even give out t-shirts to some of the top players. They’ll be more than happy to wear their Pokewear with pride and you’ll get big points with the game’s community.

Know the Pokemon around you

Okay, so you weren’t lucky enough to win the draw as a gym or Pokestop. Don’t fret! There could still be other Pokemon wandering the streets outside your front door. Identify which Pokemon are out there and let people know via social media. You’ll be sure to see players show up, increasing your exposure and likely getting more customers in your store.

Pokemon Go marketing fail

Pokemon No: This is NOT the way to enamour your business with a community mostly made up of that elusive 16-35, educated, well-connected demographic.

You can provide extra incentive if you offer a small discount for customers who show you they’ve caught the Pokemon outdoors. This will help boost your status within the community, and get people in the door to see your other offerings.

Pay to lure (both Pokemon and customers)

While there’s no advertising in the game (yet), there are some features accessible only through payment. Perhaps the most important one for players is the “lure.” Players can pay to lure Pokemon out from hiding at and around Pokestops for 30 mintures, making it easier to catch more in a quick time.

Arguably the easiest way to take advantage of this is to organize your own massive lure. Plan a lure around your place of business, and take to social media to announce when you’ll be doing it. You’ll be sure to get a wave of players out and ready to catch Pokemon, who you can usher into your business afterward.


A large group of players flock to a Pokestop in Flushing, NY, for a lure.

Not fortunate enough to be close to a Pokestop? No worries, you can still “sponsor” a lure! Unfortunately, that will require some travel to the actual site, but again you can announce online when and where it will be happening. You’ll earn name recognition among players, and if you bring some collateral or free samples, you can give players something to take home to remember you by.

Embrace the spirit

If all the above seem too confusing, time-consuming or just not in line what you do, at the very least you should embrace the spirit of the game. Add a couple Pokemon-related tweets and posts into your social editorial calendar. Find some puns and write them on your outdoor chalkboard. Grab a couple of Pokemon gifs to share when players engage you online. Pick an allegiance and offer rewards to those players. Anything to show this community that you are a member will go a long way, and likely result in your stuff being shared online in forums, blogs and social media.

Pokemon Go marketing team

Waffle U, a gourmet waffle shop in Vaughan, changes the price based on players’ allegiances.

This goes well beyond businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence. Everyone can get in on the act, and should have at least one item in their back pocket to pull out should they need it. This community is too big to ignore.

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