by Nathan Knottingham
Last night my wife and I enjoyed dinner with friends on the East side of 3rd street.  We weren’t finished visiting so we headed West down 3rd for coffee and dessert.  My buddy and I like tech and games and started talking about the 7-day-old mobile game Pokémon Go.  We opened our aps and looked around, on many corners were groups of mid 20 year olds (some older and a few younger, both men and women) playing Pokemon…IN MCMINNVILLE OREGON at 8:30PM at night.  In fact the Bitter Monk had a group sitting outside enjoying beverages with their phones out swiping, spinning, and smiling.  When I looked on the map someone had put a Lure on the closest Pokestop…  We headed to our next stop which was past Cowels St.  I started talking about how much businesses would hate missing this opportunity to show a new generation how awesome it is to shop in your own hometown.
Later that night I hit the internet looking for some resources.  You may think that cellphone video games are ridiculous and that it’s just a fad.  I will agree with you on both points, but fads come and go and the business that is flexible enough to engage each fad will win.  Pokémon was coming out strong for middle and high school students when I was in college.  18 years later they make up the greatest number of under and unemployed workforce with some of the highest amount of expendable capital (this has never made sense to me either).
One of the best articles I found about how to use Pokémon Go to boost your foot traffic.  Some of the places I’ve found in town that would benefit from promoting this strategy: ANYWHERE on 3rd Street (the block between Baker and Cowels especially), New to You/McMinnville Hearth and BBQ, Dutch Bros, anywhere near a McMinnville Park, anywhere you see more teens and 20 somethings gathering…just keep an eye out.
If you’re not interested in these new fads, or don’t need walk in business, then please don’t read the article above.  But if you need more foot traffic in your business you can’t ignore this.  Because people who find your business supporting their hobby will be more likely to visit you again and remember that you were the “cool” place.

Here is part of the strategy from the article: 

“What’s even more incredible is just how affordable luring is. Let’s do the math. With $100 netting you 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokecoins:
14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour
All you have to do is:

  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of your HUD
  • Tap “Shop”
  • Scroll down and tap the purple, box-shaped Lures to purchase. You’ll re-direct to your app store’s payment system
  • Once back in-app, tap the red Pokeball again, then tap “Items”
  • Tap the purple Lure to activate!”


Here’s the summation of the article linked:

Pokemon Go and Start Marketing Your Local Business Right Now
The naysayers inside your organization will say the same things people say whenever there’s a big paradigm shift. “This is a fad,” they’ll say. And that could be true. People, of course, said the same thing about the original Pokémon game.
The more salient point here is that no marketing channel is evergreen, but businesses that want to win have to keep one eye open for these big shifts-and they have to capitalize on them when it’s time. With Pokémon Go, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money.
Even if Pokémon Go isn’t as powerful a tool for driving sales six months or a year from now, the customers that you delight today are going to remember you tomorrow.”

Final thoughts:

The group that built this app/game is Niantic Labs.  They originally developed and launched a game around 2012 call Ingress.  I was an early adopter in that game and then got bored so I dropped it, but it grew and technology got a lot better.  The idea was augmenting reality by letting players update interesting points of interest in their town as “portals” then capturing those portals for their team.  Think of it like King of the Hill on a mobile device.  When you visited new towns you found the Blue or Green portals and either boosted or conquered them.  Fun way explore a new area.
Six years later they took all the work that their players put into the games (the map for Pokemon Go was built by Ingress players), experienced an amazing partnership with Google, and have launched Pokémon Go which was strategically pointed at the heaviest mobile data users in a demographic that loves community gaming and social media.  This group is the Generation that everyone wants to connect to.
Be creative and try to find a way to support and engage these gamers.  There are a LOT of them in and around McMinnville.  And with only 1 week down in game play the wave will continue to swell (remember the Law of Diffusion of Innovations).
And if you find Pikachu will you please let me know?