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Pokemon Go – Unique Business Applications

pokemon busines ideas


Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of Pokemon GO and the buzz it has created in the last couple of weeks. It’s attracting people of all ages – I’ve seen adults & children alike wandering about, staring at their phones like it’s the zombie apolcalypse.

Businesses have noticed as well and have recently found ways to capitalize on this new craze; after all, it’s the first app of its kind that requires players to be out and about. Many times Pokestops are found near businesses, and this created a great opportunity.

Below are four interesting ways businesses have taken advantage of the Pokemon GO insanity:

Pokemon GO Tours: a simple concept really – find a route where Pokemon are in abundance, create a tour, and charge customers for the ride.

This is exactly what is popping up across the country. A recently launched Pokemon GO Tour in Austin combines catching Pokemon with a tour of the city. Here’s a brief description of how it works according to a recent article:

“Everyone get out your phones and get ready,” said Philip Loyd to a bus full of Pokemon passengers.

Loyd guided passengers by live tracking Pokemon creatures and alerted passengers on what they’re about to catch, when and how long they have.

“Alright, everyone, so we have a cadaver coming up. We have about 90 seconds to catch it,” Loyd told the gamers aboard the air conditioned bus.

When there’s a lull of virtual creatures, Loyd gave background information on neighborhoods they passed through.

The bus tour that started in East Austin eventually makes its way to famous Austin landmarks. One of the tour stops is Vic Mathias Shores, a hotspot for pocket monsters.

Here, passengers spread out and conquered as many Pokemon as they could.

Such a simple idea, right? Other tours are quickly popping up, such as the one at Churchill Downs and the above mentioned Austin tour – just Google “Pokemon bus tours” and see how many pop up.

Animal shelters utilize Pokemon GO players as volunteers: this is probably my favorite use of Pokemon GO:

pokemon go animal shelter

From reports on this program, it seems that it has been successful in increasing foot traffic to the shelter. It’s a win-win situation – increases awareness of animals that are available for adoption and, at the same time, gives the shelter animals a bit more attention and exercise. I’m sure the shelter volunteers appreciate the extra help!

Pokestops as a means of luring customers their way: businesses have been on the hunt to find Pokestops near their business. While they cannot create a Pokestop at their business (yet – sounds like “sponsored locations” will be launched soon), if there is one nearby, they may have some luck with purchasing Lures to encourage people to be near their place of business.

A Lure is simply a feature of the game that will do as it says – “lure” nearby Pokemon into your area for players to catch. It’s simple enough to purchase a Lure, but keep in mind it may not work if you don’t have a Pokestop nearby and/or it is too far away.

To Purchase Lures:

  • Open the Pokemon Go app
  • Catch your first Pokemon and you’ll get a red Pokeball
  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of the screen and hit “Shop”
  • Scroll down and buy a pack of Pokecoins (the apps currency)
  • Once you have Pokecoins use them to buy a Lure Module

Are there Pokemon around you? Shout it to the masses! When businesses realize that Pokemon are hanging out nearby, they have turned to social media & other marketing avenues to promote this fact, hoping to increase foot traffic (and customers). Some things businesses have used:

  • Post to social media sites to alert players that there are Pokemon in the area, and follow up by offering a special discount if they come in, make a purchase, and mention Pokemon GO.
  • Encourage foot traffic to turn into sales by offering discounts and deals for those that show screenshots of Pokemon captured at their place of business.
  • Knowing there is a nearby Pokestop, businesses have created signage that is displayed in store windows encouraging Pokemon GO players to wander into the store.

Who knows how long this Pokemon GO craze will last – it’s hard to tell, but while it is the talk of the town, many businesses have seen the value in making the most of it. It’s a good time for business owners to download the app and see what creates are lurking nearby – it might be good for increased foot traffic and sales!


Well Played, Sam’s Club, Well Played…


sams and costco


Some Costco customers were unhappy with the news that Costco was ending its relationship with American Express and forming a new relationship with VISA. Costco informed customers they should have received a new VISA card in May or June, and as of June 20th, customers would no longer be able to use their American Express card to make purchases. However, problems arose when some customers didn’t get the new card in time, others were unhappy with the switch, and then others who were ready to abandon Costco all together. This caused many Costco customers to re-evaluate their membership with the retailer.

During all of this, Sam’s Club was paying close attention.

In a bold move, Sam’s Club allowed Costco customers to visit Sam’s Clubs, using their Costco Card, for a short period of time after the announcement – from approximately June 20th to July 4th.

This was an excellent example of how a retailer watched the competitor and took advantage of a potentially difficult situation for Costco customers.

By allowing Costco customers to visit a Sam’s Club, it gave an easy opportunity to check out the competitor, see what they have to offer, and give unhappy customers a chance to make a change.

Why was this such a great move?

  • Sam’s Club quickly identified the pain points of Costco customers. Building on that emotion, they opened their doors to the competitor’s customers at a time when many were already thinking of changing their shopping loyalty. They made it easy to check out the competition.
  • If done correctly, Costco customers could be wooed by Sam’s Club and the retailer could offer these customers the chance to sign up for a membership right then and there, or at least sign up for email notifications or something similar. This is a quick way to grow an email marketing list.
  • The company took advantage of some free marketing & advertising. Realizing that the Costco news would send shock waves across the internet and news outlets, they realized that by taking this step, they would be included in the conversations, thus spreading word of mouth easily and without much advertising spend.
  • By closely monitoring social conversations, Sam’s Club also has another unique opportunity; while the majority of online conversations may revolve around the card switch right now, many customers may also be expressing their dissatisfaction with other aspects of being a Costco customer. If Sam’s is listening, it is giving them the ammunition they need to further develop their marketing content to align with showcasing their strengths over the competition. One of their newer marketing tactics involves mirroring Costco’s new marketing campaign, as seen below.


sams costco hearts


While this was a very popular news story between two large brands, the key takeaway is the importance of competitive intelligence. No matter the size of the company, paying attention to the competition can give a business a much-needed marketing push, or at the very least, learn more about the competitor’s customers and find new ways to engage with them and showcase the benefits of doing business with someone else.