How to use Pokemon Go to promote your business

Having been a comic retailer during the Magic the Gathering and Pokemon card games and the Beanie Baby craze, the Pokemon Go launch reminds me of all three on steroids. Magic and Pokemon were a younger and mostly male audience, Beenie Babies leaned older and female, but Pokemon Go is crossing so many demographic lines it’s almost targeted at everyone under 50. Just the other day, I saw a group of moms at the library play time, all sitting together playing Pokemon Go while their kids did story time. And later, it was a group of boys on bikes and skateboards going down the street playing along the way.

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Pokemon Go Daily Users Approaching Twitter’s Daily Users After Three Days


Pokemon Go is one of, if not the, fastest downloaded and used app ever released. Within two weeks of launch, it has more installs than Tinder (Pokemon is more popular than sex?) and has higher engagement with users than Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. And that is in less than a week of release.

Pokemon Go Downloads Surpassing Tinder in Two Days

Pokemon Go Downloads Surpassing Tinder in Two Days


For those unfamiliar with Pokemon or Pokemon Go, here is a quick overview. Those who know can skip ahead.

Pokemon is a massive Japanese game where players capture and collect different special animals. They can fight each other with the animals and change them from lower level animals with limited powers to higher powered. Each new rank increases the power and abilities of the Pokemon you have. If you have extras of any Pokemon, you can turn them in for extra bonuses within the game, meaning you have every incentive to find every Pokemon you can. The game requires you to actually visit real world locations and not just play from your couch.


  • Pokemon show up in the real world through the Pokemon Go app. Players have to go to different locations to find new Pokemon, or capture more of specific ones, to help power up one they all ready have. They can also get Pokemon Eggs and special items for in-game use at specific Pokestops (usually memorials or places of interest from Google maps) and challenge other players at a Gym. Players can belong to one of three teams and a Gym is “owned” by the last person or team to capture it.
  • Players can use a Lure to increase changes of getting a Pokemon at a spot. A lure helps all players, not just the one that cast it in the first place. Lures last 30 minutes and you can earn them in the game or buy them (how Pokemon Go is ranking in huge amounts of money). Lures cost about $0.75 each.
Chart of Estimated Pokemon Rarity

Chart of Estimated Pokemon Rarity

If you have a retail storefront:

First find out if you have a Pokestop nearby your location. Don’t have Pokemon Go on your phone yet? Download it or get an employee, friend, or relative to help check around your location. Treat this like social media, and keep track of what’s going on around you in the Pokeworld. Having an employee who is familiar with the area and what’s going on is like having a Pokemon concierge. When we were selling magic cards, we had people coming into the store just to ask questions about different cards, game play, and more. And we sold them things every time.

If you have a Pokestop nearby, then advertise that on social media. Encourage players to come by and maybe offer a special promotion if they catch something rare and post a screenshot on social media and tag you. Much like lottery ticket outlets advertise the players that won large amounts, do the same with Pokemon. Make a leader board list for your window or in the store letting people know who has captured which Pokemon at or near your store.

Offer discounts for people that capture a rare Pokemon while they are in your store. Have a team night for one team and rotate through the three teams over a week. If you have a gym near you, offer a reward if someone new captures it.

Remember you have adults and kids playing. Offer specials based on getting people in the door. A free or discounted appetizer or drink if someone plays a lure. Lures last 30 minutes, so you’ll get people staying at least that long and you can keep serving food or drinks.

Animal shelters — offer to let people walk dogs while they hunt Pokemon. Dogs get walked and you might place a few like this shelter.

Zoos — about as obvious as it gets. Offer discounts or free things for people playing while they see real animals.

Any location or one that don’t have a store front:

  • Get a chalk sign board and put in the latest Pokemon captured. Let people walking by know you are Pokemon Go friendly.


  • Hand out coupons for purchasing items in the store on their next visit. Offer better coupons for people that captured rare Pokemon (insert image here).
  • Encourage them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter if you have someone doing consistent Pokemon Go updates. Use hashtags like #pokemongo and #pokemon.
  • Create a Pokemon zone in your business for kids to hang out in while their parents shop. Use posters like this one on Amazon — Pokemon products on Amazon. Start selling Pokemon products if you have space.
  • Do a Pokemon Trivia Night at your business.
  • Team Night (there are three Pokemon Teams you can join, have a special for each team of just a special for members of one team for that time).
  • Pokemon Tours — Partner with several other businesses nearby that have a Pokestop at or near their business and create a tour. Offer a coupon, discount or free something for everyone that goes to each place and posts it on social media (get a hashtag to track them).
  • Do a Pub Crawl with 4–6 pubs within walking distance from each other. Offer some sort of progressive discount or offer if someone goes to all of the pubs.
  • Historical tours — Like a pub crawl, only with historical stops along the way. Great for downtown and historical associations, cities and art groups.
  • Sponsor Pokemon events at businesses that share your demographic — Comic stores are a great place, and if you need help finding one, use our handy Comic Store Finder app. Apple Link, Android Link

Ideas for Individuals:

  • People are already offering Uber like services driving people around while they hunt Pokemon. Safer than trying to drive and catch them.
  • Walking tours — Pokemon gets people out and active. Take advantage of it if you run walking, biking tours, and know where every Pokestop is along your routes.
  • Park tours — Have parents drop their kids off and escort them around the park helping them hunt Pokemon while the parents go run errands (great summer job).
  • MC a Pokemon Trivia night. You need to be up on your Pokemon trivia, but if you grew up wanting to be a Pokemon Master when you grew up, this is your chance.
  • Walking people’s phones for them. While not everyone may trust you with their phone, apparently some people are already “walking” other people’s phones around and catching Pokemon with them.
  • These kids set up a lemonade stand and used Lures to get players to stop by. What can you do with this kind of viral traffic?
  • If your business or association already has an app, consider adding some sort of gamification to your app. For some of our winery app clients, we have checkin with badges so you can “collect them all.” We’re also helping clients add the known Pokestops to their app, so their users can see if a business is close to a Stop or a Gym.

Want your own Augmented Reality app like this (but not using Pokemon —  that’s a licensed property) or a geolocation app for your business, association, group, city, or government agency? GoLocalApps has made more than 100 apps for Apple and Android phones and has several best-selling apps in different categories. Schedule a phone call with me here — Calendly.

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