Okay, I admit it. I have Pokemon Go on my phone.

Last week, we were in Atlanta and my teenage son and his friend kept checking the Apple app store and saying, “It’s not there, yet.”

“What’s not there?” I asked.

“Pokemon Go.  It’s Nintendo’s new mobile app.  They’re finally getting into the mobile game business and their new game is supposed to launch today. You basically use your phone’s camera and GPS to walk around and catch Pokemon at real-world locations.”

Sounded fun to me. Our family took up geocaching a few years ago as a hobby. This sounded like geocaching with a fun twist.

Within 12 hours of that conversation with my son, not only had Pokemon Go been released….but it was the #1 downloaded app in the world….and the #1 highest grossing app.

In fact, Pokemon Go has broken a lot of records in its first week. The game has more downloads in a week than Tinder (a popular dating app) has had in its first four years.

In terms of “daily active users”, Pokemon Go is on-track to surpass Twitter within a matter of days. And, mobile users already spend more time on Pokemon Go than on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

Here’s the best part: you can’t play the game sitting at home. In order to play, you have to get out of the house and walk around.

Read that again.

  • People.
  • Leaving their houses.
  • Walking and driving around their town.

Sounds like a business opportunity, doesn’t it?

It is. As players walk around their towns playing the game, businesses like movie theaters, restaurants, and bakeries are capitalizing on this trend and grabbing huge amounts of traffic that they wouldn’t otherwise get.

So, if you’re a small business owner, here’s all you need to know to cash in on this opportunity:

1: Find out if your business is a “Gym” or a “Pokestop”

In addition to placing virtual creatures in the real world, Pokemon Go also involves two types of locations that are pinned to real-world locations: Gyms and Pokestops. Gyms are places where players can have their creatures battle each other. Pokestops are locations where players can collect rewards.

The first thing to do is see if your business is a Gym or Pokestop (or near one).

Download the game yourself, create a free account and login.  When you’re at your place of business, look at the map.  If you’re a Pokestop or a Gym, you’ll see it on the map.

2: Set a Lure and sit back and watch the traffic roll in

Pokemon Go has a variety of items you can purchase in the game. One of them is called a “Lure”. Lures can be placed at Pokestops and they increase likelihood of Pokemon appearing.

Players can see that a Lure is nearby because it appears as a location on their map that’s being showered with confetti.

Luring is crazy. You have to see it to believe it. The moment a Lure is put out, players start showing up.

Here’s what one restaurant owner said:

I own a pizzeria that’s a Pokestop and I literally did this all day. I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out.

Another business owner reported:

We did this last night (college town), and within minutes of dropping the lure, 30 people walked in. Holy s#&@!

Here’s the best part: it’s cheap.  Let’s do some math:

You can buy 14,500 Pokecoins for $100. An 8-pack of Lures costs 680 Pokecoins.
So, $100 will get you 168 Lures.
Those Lures will last you 84 hours.
It comes out to about $1.19 per hour.

Would you pay $1.19 per hour to have dozens of people flocking to your business?

Ready to do it? Here’s how it’s done:

  • Open the game
  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom center
  • Tap “Shop”
  • Scroll down until you see the option to buy Pokecoins.
  • Tap the button to buy. You’ll be prompted to authorize the purchase through your phone’s app store.
  • Tap “Shop” again.
  • Scroll down until you see the icon for “8 Lure Modules: 680 Pokecoins” and buy them with your coins.
  • Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom center again
  • Tap “Items”
  • Tap the purple Lure to activate.

And, for the next 30 minutes, watch as Pokemon Go players start flocking to your location.

All for just a little more than $1 per hour.

This is an insane ROI. What other advertising can you do that cheaply?

What if my business isn’t a Pokestop?

The secondary method is to see if you’re near a Gym. You can’t place a Lure on a Gym but you don’t have to. Because Gyms are already places where players flock to day and night.

The best strategy for capitalizing on Gyms will depend on your business and your situation. Get creative. Here are some ways to do it:

Start a leaderboard at your business that keeps track of which players are currently winning at the Gym
Get a red, blue and yellow flag and post it according to which team is dominating the Gym.
Take screenshots of the Gym and post it on your social media letting people know that you’re close by.

Hugé Cafe is a chain of coffee shops in Atlanta.  None of their stores are actual Pokestops….but one of their stores was between two Pokestops.

Here’s what they did:  they announced that players could get a free dessert if they posted a photo on social media featuring Huge Café in the Pokémon Go environment.



Result?  They saw a huge in-store spike during the hours of the promotion.

Derek Fridman, executive creative director for Huge in Atlanta says that their next step is to provide 21 phone-charging stations for both Android and iOS players.  Fridman said, “We don’t want gamers to leave simply because they are running out of battery.”


Just by being “Pokemon-friendly”, you and your business can become part of the culture….and players will love knowing you’re “in on the game”.

3. If you’re not near a Gym or a Pokestop, you can still capitalize on the Pokemon Go trend.

Think about your business and your products. Find an angle that would be appealing to Pokemon Go players.

One way to do this is to get mobile. If you’re an ice-cream store, you could load up a cooler with your most popular flavors and go sell ice cream near the Gym. If you repair iPhones for a living, you can give away cleaning cloths or screen protectors as a special “Pokemon Go promo”.

4.  Use other in-game items like Incense and Lucky Eggs.

Pokemon Go has other items for purchase as well that you can get creative with. For instance, Incense works like a Lure except it’s applied to an individual player instead of a location.

If you see a customer playing Pokemon Go near your business, what if you offered to buy them an Incense for 30 minutes as long as they’ll send you a picture of any rare Pokemon they find close by that you can share on social media?

Your cost? 55¢. That’s what 30 minutes of Incense would cost you. In exchange for customer good-will, a person tagging your business on social media.

How much are you paying for your other advertising again? 🙂

Lucky Eggs would be a similar incentive.  They allow a player go get double points for 30 minutes.  I’m sure a local player would be happy for you to buy them a Lucky Egg in exchange for tagging your business on social media when they find a rare Pokemon near your business.

Capitalizing On Trends

There are always those who say, “This is a flash-in-the pan” or “This won’t last”.

To which I reply….so what? Who cares?

Imagine someone came to you and said, “Hey, for the next 90 days, you can get hundreds of people coming to your business for a few bucks a day…..but then it won’t work anymore. You interested?”

The correct answer is: yes.

Will this hot trend fade away? Maybe.
Will this still be a viable strategy in a year? Maybe. Probably. Who knows?

One thing is certain, though: it’s running full-steam right now.

As of Monday, mobile users spent more time on Pokemon Go than they did on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.

That’s nothing to Snorelax about.


  • I’m not surprised that you’re in early on this new trend Tony. Excellent article!