How Pokemon Go Could Be Very Good For Your Small Business

By Ann Marie van den Hurk Lexington Herald-Leader

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Peter Shankman, author of "Zombie Loyalist: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans," says that Pokemon is another way that tech is allowing companies to grow their businesses. Shankman suggests that companies wanting in on the action should start small. Download the app and play the game. Spend $10 and install a "lure" near your business. See what happens. Don't try to force it. Let it come to you. If given the opportunity, people will come. Lexington Herald-Leader

In case you haven't heard, Pokemon Go has taken the United States by storm.

Released earlier this month, it became the top free downloaded app in Apple's app store and Google's Play store. There have been more than 15 million installs on Apple and Android devices so far this month, according to App intelligence provider Sensor Tower.

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game. It grew out of the 1996 video game from Nintendo. An augmented reality game is a live direct or indirect view of physical environment whose elements are augmented by a computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Basically, the user is experiencing the game in real time with Pokemon characters appearing on their smartphone screen using the GPS and camera.

Individuals or teams of people can be seen wandering around landscapes, smartphones out, looking to capture Pokemon characters. You need a smartphone, downloaded app, good data plan and willingness to explore in order to play. There are two types of fixed locations: PokeStops where users go to places of note picking up Poke balls, and other items, that are needed to catch Pokemons or Gyms where players battle their Pokemons in a bid to gain control of a location just like in the video game.

So, what could this mean for local small businesses? A lot.

It's pretty easy to draw Pokemon Go players to your business. In fact, Peter Shankman, author of "Zombie Loyalist: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans" and an avid Pokemon Go competitor, or in a Pokemon term a "trainer", says that Pokemon is yet another way that tech is allowing companies to grow their business and expand to new markets.

Shankman, who the New York Times has called, "a public relations all star who knows everything about new media and then some", suggests that companies wanting in on the action should start small. Download the app and play the game. Spend $10 and install a "lure" near your business. See what happens. Don't try to force it. Let it come to you. If given the opportunity, people will come.

With a modest purchase, your business's "lure" should attract users to a location for 30 minutes. Don't worry if you aren't near PokeStops or Gyms; Pokemons can show up anywhere. There is talk that Pokemon Go developers will have sponsored retail locations coming soon, opening up more opportunities for businesses to participate.

The key to success for your business, Shankman says, is to not force people to buy once they come around you. There is nothing worse than luring people in and then forcing them to do anything. Let it happen naturally.

Kind of like it did last week when the University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium opened up to Pokemon players and 1,366 people showed up.

UK Athletics spokesman Guy Ramsey said since so many people are playing the game, the athletics department saw an opportunity for community outreach. Officials for other football teams, including Nebraska and Texas A&M, have also opened up their stadiums for Pokemon Go players.

OK, so your small business isn't Commonwealth Stadium, but here are some fun things you could do:

-Host a "lure" party. Advertise it and offer a discount to trainers.

-Host a Poke-hunt event that starts and ends at your business.

-Give Pokemon Go social media specials to trainers.

And remember this: Pokemon Go crosses generations, gender and race. Everyone seems to be playing and those playing are spending more time on the Pokemon Go app than Facebook or Snapchat. On average, they are on the app for over 30 minutes a day.

It is the summer of Pokemon Go, but what is next for augmented reality games?

Shankman said Pokemon Go may or may not grow more successful, but augmented reality will. That's here to stay, and companies who take advantage of it will do very well. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Ann Marie van den Hurk, an accredited public relations professional, is principal of Mind the Gap Public Relations and author of "Social Media Crisis Communications."

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