Should You Be Marketing On Pokemon Go?

Pokémon Go or Not To Go?

UPDATED (29 Sept 2016):

Adam Fout was kind enough to provide an update on the game and its marketing value in a great comment below (read it!). A few of the highlights from his comment:

  • The game lost roughly 15 million users (of 45 million) last I checked (and still dwindling)
    • The game is pay-to-win (and, once you reach a certain level, pay to play).
    • Lots of players are facing huge grind-walls (lots of time/work in the game for little reward).
    • The brand has done a poor job of communicating issues or making changes to encourage light-medium players.
    • The casual players are gone, and they’re probably not coming back.
  • The above means only hard-core players are left (You now have to reassess if the user base still fits your demographic)
  • Using the game as a marketing tool (if you are still reaching your target demographic) will require some time and effort (Adam does have some ideas


There is no question Pokémon Go is the hottest craze going at the moment. It seems EVERYONE is playing it…..

…..and judging by the number of people on our local beach and park the last few days, it really may be everyone.

Many are posting how your business can take advantage of the Pokémon Go craze and I have received a number of calls and messages from local business owners asking for help in determining how they can use it to their advantage.

For me, created one small problem. Remember I said it seemed like everyone was playing it?

It isn’t quite everyone. I didn’t download the game. Time to get educated before I could even think of providing sound advice. I reached out to my friend Adam Fout, content writer and creative genius over at Blue Steele Solutions. Seems he’s played Pokémon Go quite a bit.


Adam broke it down into pretty simple terms for me:

You wander around town using your phone’s GPS and staring at your phone’s screen (remember those videos we laughed at when people fell into fountains while texting?) as a guide to locate Pokémon. Once found (as you get close enough, they appear on your ‘radar’) you use Pokeballs to collect them. Eventually, you’ll run out of balls. To get more, you’ll need to make your way to a Pokestop, a predetermined location where you can pick up a few free items, including Pokeballs.

Sounds simple enough. But what aspect of the game lends itself to a marketing tool? Adam explained the ‘lures’ module.

You can use an item called a lure to turn a Pokestop into a hotspot for catching Pokémon. Players can use them to bring Pokemon to them rather than having to hunt them. For a business, it means bringing players to your location to catch the Pokemon.

Lures only last 30 minutes but you can drop them all day. Inc did the math. It only costs $1.19 per hour to attract wild Pokémon (and new customers) all day. Very cheap marketing and easy to promote via social media (hint: that’s where we come in)

Back to the original purpose for my conversation with Adam.  “How can I use capitalize on Pokémon Go for my business?”

Prior to answering the ‘How’ I had to ask…


“Should you even being trying to capitalize on Pokémon Go?”


Seems like an odd question to ask when the cost is under $60 to lure potential clients for an entire weekend. Small business owners are notorious though for thinking “it’s only a few bucks so let’s try it”. The end result – nothing from their investment, and albeit it a minimal one, over time these small gambles add up in dollars spent with little to no return.

So…. “Should you even being trying to capitalize on it?”


Logistics: Lures only work at Pokestops*. If your business is located nowhere near one, unless you can set up shop near one, you might be better off sitting this one out. 

Your target demographic: Every business should have created a Buyer or Client Persona and will know who their target client is and know their demographic makeup. Simply stated, if you do any marketing, you’d better know your target market.


As of July 14, 2016, according to Vox Culture, while more than 40% of those who downloaded the game are over 24, data shows 92% are 34 and younger.


Even if you’re business IS a Pokestop, if your primary client base is primarily made up of the Baby Boomer generation, your $60 might be better spent elsewhere.

Mindset: If your business is close by (or you can set up near) a Pokestop and the 18-34 year old demographic is your target, you need to understand HOW people are playing. People are showing up, collecting their Pokémon and moving on. They’re not hanging around. You’ll need something to offer as an incentive to offer which can be consumed quickly.

Restaurants and mobile food vendors are perfect examples of an ideal fit for leveraging lures and they are seeing amazing results. Drop $60 in lures over 48 hours, attract hundreds of players and offer them huge food and drink discounts. They get their Pokémon, grab that Pepsi and slice of pizza and the business owner generates tons of cash business.   

The first 2 points above are critical. The third matters, but if you don’t have a quick sale product or service, some creative marketing options exist.


Adam had a few thoughts of his own to share:

  1. One idea (this would be great for restaurants) is to offer to help players hatch their eggs. Eggs hatch by accumulating steps. You could offer a service, like “Hey, stop by, get some food, relax, catch some Pokémon, then while you eat, your waiter keeps your phone in their pocket while they run around. You get a phone-free meal with a friend and get your phone back at the end of your meal with hatched or close to hatched eggs”. Brilliant. (Though I’m not sure a 20 something would give up their phone for that long Adam.)
  2. It could be a great branding tool as well. Rather than focusing on selling, a simple booth set up giving away promotional materials makes for an inexpensive (aside from the promotional products cost) way to get your name out there.


I ran this idea by my friend Carolyn over at Standing Stones Photography:

Set up a photo shoot near a Pokestop, paying for lures while you’ll be at the location and promote it through social media (we can help). When any player with a dog comes by to catch their Pokémon, hand them a flyer with a session discount and offer to take a few pictures on the stop for free. The catch for them – they have to provide their email address to receive the images. As long as it’s done properly, they know the free photos are for providing the email address, you have the perfect lead generation tool.

Adam: This is great — I’ve also seen a lot of people walking around with their kids, either in strollers or older children playing with their parents. I think it’s more of a family game than people realize, so [businesses] marketing to families with kids who play (or new parents) could be a viable options. I’ve also seen lots of couples/groups of friends playing, and not nearly as many individuals. It’s not a lot of fun to play by yourself.


Then there’s the out of the box options. Check out some of the creative ways these 8 brands are rocking the Pokémon Go craze – not all of them take advantage of the game itself.  We’re partial to #4!


Eight businesses that have taken Pokémon Go marketing to the next level

The Bottom Line

Pokémon Go is a perfect marketing tool for the right business. Just make sure it’s right for YOUR business.


*Pokémon may introduce a way to request a Pokestop (there are rumors that you can do this now, but I haven’t found it to be the case, just that you can request a Pokestop/gym be taken down) – Adam



13 replies
  1. adam fout (@adamfout2)
    adam fout (@adamfout2) says:

    So just wanting to give an update on this post — the Pokemon Go experience has changed massively since this article came out. They’ve lost roughly 15 million users (of 45 million) last I checked. They still have a large base, but it’s dwindling due to a variety of factors.

    One major issue is that the game is pay-to-win (and, once you reach a certain level, pay to play). Lots of players are facing huge grind-walls (lots of time/work in the game for little reward) just to make it to the next level, and the brand has done a poor job of communicating issues or making changes to encourage light-medium players.

    Only the hardcore are going to stick it out with this one, ESPECIALLY when the pokemon game comes out on Nintendo DS next month and fills the pokemon-sized hole in everyone’s hearts.

    That being said, there will still be a small base of dedicated players, and the smart marketer can target them (they’re either seriously addicted to the game or they have a lot of money to burn, or both). These folks would still be enticed by deals related to pokemon go, and 30 million users is not a small number.

    Finally, the game is only just now being released in other countries, so there’s a great deal of potential if it just came out in your country.

    However, the casual players are gone, and they’re probably not coming back. I don’t think paying for lures all day long at a pokestop near your business makes as much sense today as it did 2 months ago, but, if you made it an event, promoted it to the right audience, created a deal to go along with it, and THEN paid for a bunch of lures (or like, rewarded people with pokemon go coins when they make a purchase) that might still work.

    In fact, I think offering pokemon go coins as a reward/coupon after a purchase could potentially still draw business as the coins (in-game currency) are pretty much the only way you can break down those grind walls and make progress in the game. Now actually implementing this might be tricky — you can’t just buy and donate pokemon go coins (to my knowledge), so a little research would have to be done. You might have to just give people a visa gift card that they could apply to their account or something, branded of course with a coin/bag of coins on it or something, but this is the best thing I can think of to give away. Lures aren’t as important nowadays as they were 2 months ago, but the coins have draw.

  2. Karen Rosenzweig
    Karen Rosenzweig says:

    I love this and as a marketer (mostly for restaurants) I’ve struggled with the same issues. There’s a ton of potential here and anyone ignoring it is missing a huge opportunity!

    • Robert Nissenbaum
      Robert Nissenbaum says:


      Thank you. There is a huge opportunity here for the right business and especially restaurants. Did you catch Adam’s thoughts about the wait staff walking around with a diner’s phone?


    • Robert Nissenbaum
      Robert Nissenbaum says:

      There are some very creative ideas out there. Adam had some great thoughts himself. The game makes far mroe sense now from a marketing perspective…. if you can take advantage of the location factor and demographics.

      • adamfout2
        adamfout2 says:

        Thanks Robert! The location is the biggest challenge — right now, there’s simply nothing you can do if you don’t have a pokestop or a gym nearby. I’ve been thinking more about putting phones in your waiter/waitress’ pockets — I think you’re right that a portion of people would be completely uninterested in ever letting their phones go, but I think theres a portion of people who would be absolutely for it. If you could get around the liability factor, I really feel like this could work.

        I’d do it anyway, ha!

        • Robert Nissenbaum
          Robert Nissenbaum says:

          I wouldn’t evene be concerned about the liability – especially if you lock the phone. I’m thinking the demographic playing the game would never give up the phone! You are onto something though. It’s a very unique angle.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.