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Ride the Pokemon wave and watch your business grow

By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly

The Pok mon GO craze has swept across the nation. If you aren't playing it yourself, you've at least heard of it. But what you might not know is that the Pok mon fad has the potential to bring an influx of customers into your business.

How it works

Pok mon GO works by using GPS technology to place Pok mon avatars at locations in the real world. Using the Pok mon app, players must go to the physical locations in their communities to capture the Pok mon, which are visible to them through their phone cameras. Once the Pok mon are visible, the player can capture them by using Pok Balls. Later, players (known as Trainers in-game) can battle other players in virtual spaces known as Pok mon Gyms.

Just how big is the phenomenon? According to MoneyNation, nearly $3 million a day is spent on in-app game purchases, with approximately $233 million earned as of the end of August 2016. And that doesn't factor in ad revenue, which hasn't been calculated yet but is forecast to be in the billions. In July, an estimate from Recode put the number of American players at 9.5 million.

How can your business benefit?

In addition to hunting Pok mon, players need to frequent Pok Stops. Pok Stops are places where players can get accessories to be used in the game. This includes Pok Balls which are needed to catch Pok mon. Pok Stops are typically public spaces, such as libraries, art installations or other public landmarks. As a business owner, taking advantage of a Pok Stop that's near your business can be very rewarding. First off, the popularity of the game means that Pok Stops will draw traffic to their areas, and any local business can benefit from this. To really take advantage of the craze, you can open a Pok mon account yourself and purchase Pok mon Lures ($1.99 in-app purchase).

When Pok mon Lures are cast near Pok Stops, wild Pok mon are attracted, drawing yet more traffic to the area. As a business owner, you can take advantage of this by advertising on social media that you are going to cast a lure. Incorporating Pok mon into your social media is a great way to raise your profile and bring in business. This July, Joyride Nashville, a Tennessee tour guiding service, created a Pok mon Go Tour. In the first 24hrs they booked seven tours at $45 per person. The L'inizio pizza bar in New York increased sales one weekend by 75% by spending $10 on lure modules.

Better yet, why not turn your business into a Pok Stop? By submitting a request to Niantic, the game developer, it's possible to make your business into a dynamic Pok mon hub. There's no guarantee that your business will be accepted, but if it is you'll suddenly be a hot-spot of activity. Imagine owning a restaurant or coffee shop that's a Pok Stop. People will come there just to get game items, and while they're there you'll be able to provide the refreshments. More players will come when you cast lures, and by advertising Pok mon food and drink specials you're looking at a bonanza of sales.

Where to start

If you're interested in taking advantage of the Pok mon craze, the best thing is to download the app. It's free, and it will help you get your bearings. Learn about the game and find out where the nearest Pok stops and Pok mon Gyms are and see how close they are to your business. There might be troves of new customers just around the corner.

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