You've probably already seen "Pokémon Go" players wandering the streets. Young and old alike, these players often make their way around town with their eyes glued to their smartphones as they search for elusive creatures to capture, train and battle. The newly released mobile game is taking the world by storm. In fact, according to CNET, the app has been downloaded on more than 15 million iOS and Android devices.

You don't have to play the game for it to help increase exposure for your business and engage your employees, however. There are a number of ways to leverage "Pokémon Go" for small businesses, but first, business owners must understand how the game functions.


Pokémon Go revolves around capturing virtual creatures, i.e., Pokémon, and adding them to your collection via Poké Balls. "Pokémon Go" differs from previous installments because it offers an augmented reality universe powered by Google Maps technology. Developer Niantic has created a game in which players are required to get off the couch and move around the real world to capture Pokémon that appear on their smartphone's camera.

If you're noticing a sudden burst of foot traffic around your business, you may be located near a PokéStop or Gym. At stops, players can acquire key items such as Poké Balls (used to capture Pokémon), Potions or Eggs. At Gyms, players battle their Pokémon and compete against other players.

So what does this mean for small businesses? GameStop found that stores that hosted Pokémon Go-related events experienced a huge bump in sales. Here are three tips to leverage "Pokémon Go" for small businesses:

Offer Digital Discounts

As NPR reports, a number of businesses are offering special deals for "Pokémon Go" users. Rush Street in Los Angeles offers a discount for players of a certain level, and Kaleidoscope Café in Pittsburgh simply requires you to show the app to get a deal. It's a natural progression: Players are already out and about, therefore more likely to stop in a local business for a drink or a snack. Why not make sure you're the most attractive option?

Lure 'Em In

Another way to bring in Pokémon players is to become part of the game itself. If you're next to or very close to a PokéStop, it may be worthwhile to make an account and purchase "Lures," which draw Pokémon (and users) to your location. As noted by Forbes, Lures are a great investment (they cost around $1 each to purchase in-app) for any type of food service establishment. That said, deploy your lures carefully: lures can only be activated when you're at a PokéStop and they're only active for 30 minutes. If you're looking to increase traffic, you'll want to be sure you're not activating during peak hours or while your business is closed.

Join the Hunt

Some small businesses have leveraged social media to organize a "Poké-hunt" that starts and ends at their location. We recommend sending your employees who are also Pokémon trainers (it's highly likely that you have a few) along to help spot and capture Pokémon, then bring everyone back to your doorstep. But remember, you should still be aware of employee and workplace safety rules, as well as ensure employees are paid for this time if considered "hours worked" under applicable laws.

Ready to explore the world of "Pokémon Go?" By playing along, you'll catch both Pokémon and customers.

Tags: Mobile Business Strategy Millennials social media