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Tips Pokémon Go to Work for Your Small Business

By now, you’ve probably heard of the augmented-reality mobile game “Pokémon Go,” in which players move throughout the real world to hunt for and capture digital Pokémon. It might seem trivial or irrelevant to your business at first glance, but since the game is geographically based, there are a number of ways you can use it to attract local players to your location and, hopefully, convert them into paying customers.

There are two types of fixed locations in the game that are important to most of these strategies. The first are known as PokéStops, which are buildings or places of note around a city where players swing by to grab some extra Poké Balls and potions. Many of these stops are businesses, but even if yours isn’t one a PokéStop is still likely nearby.

The other type of fixture is called a “gym,” where players battle their Pokémon in a bid to gain control of the location for their team. Both of these locations regularly attract players multiple times a day and can be leveraged into generating more patronage for your business. After extensive, tireless weekend research into “Pokémon Go,” Business News Daily has worked out a few ways to capitalize on the craze.

One item that can be placed on PokéStops is called a “lure module.” Once activated, lure modules will attract wild Pokémon (and, more important, players) to that location. Consider buying a package of lure modules and advertising a night as “‘Pokémon Go’ Lure Party!” If your business is on or near a PokéStop, hosting a lure party could be a great way to bring players to your establishment. It’s a cheap and easy form of marketing; create a “Pokémon Go” account by downloading it for free from the Google Play or App stores, buy a package of lure modules with a few dollars of real-world cash, and then just set them up at your nearest PokéStop. Each lure is active for 30 minutes, so you can use them in succession to create a lure party that lasts as long as you’d like. Coupling a lure party with some special deals could be a great way to bring in some extra money.

Maybe your business is closer to a Pokémon Gym than a PokéStop. In that event, there’s another way you can incentivize players to come patronize your business. Advertise that you’ll be hosting a tournament in advance, perhaps even offering discounts to gym battle winners. Then, on game day, players who successfully become gym leaders (with proof of gamer ID) will be entitled to that discount. Not only is it a great way to harness those intense “Pokémon Go” rivalries for your business, but to hold gyms teams need multiple members to defend it. So, while you’re giving discounts to the gym leaders, their teammates will be there alongside them as well, most likely as full-paying customers.

Hosting a communitywide “Pokémon Go” hunt that starts and ends at your business’s doorstep is a strategy that’s not contingent on the proximity of gyms of PokéStops. All you have to do is advertise the date and time of your family-friendly Poké-hunt, wait for players to gather, and then depart together for a stroll around your neighborhood. Your staff might even join the hunters in branded shirts to make sure your business is visible through the entire event. Of course, as it is with any good Poké-hunt, there’s an after-party. Invite the hunters back to your establishment for some trainer talk and to compare their hauls. This is an especially effective tactic for restaurants.

You can even use “Pokémon Go” to increase your visibility on social media. Offer customers a few dollars off to take a screenshot of a Pokémon in your store or restaurant and then post it on social media with a tag to your business. While it might just be a few dollars off for them, it spreads your brand online. It also shows other nearby players how many rare and exotic Pokémon are crawling around your establishment, and it might encourage them to come visit and maybe spend a few dollars of their own.

The rumor mill is swirling with talk of future “Pokémon Go” updates that will allow trainers to trade Pokémon and items. If and when these updates come, these new features will open new doors for businesses to harness the immense appeal of this augmented-reality phenomenon. And if more AR games prove to be as popular as “Pokémon Go,” businesses might have an entirely new marketing strategy at their disposal; luckily, these strategies cost virtually nothing to employ.

 

Tips to Create an Effective Marketing Plan

Most small business owners know the importance of a business plan, which outlines your company’s course for success. One crucial element of that plan is your marketing strategy.

Because this strategy is buried in the larger business plan, many small business owners may not give marketing the time, research and attention it deserves, assuming that they know their customer base and how to reach them. But an in-depth and detailed approach to laying out your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities from a new audience or potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competition reaction, and potential reach.

At its most basic, a marketing plan describes who your customers are, where they get information and how you are going to reach them. Robert J. Thomas, a marketing professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, said the development of a marketing plan requires that you complete four specific tasks:

1. Develop a very clear and focused insight into why a potential customer would use your business. More specifically, figure out the core need that your product or service will meet. Is it to help your customers get through the day more easily? Do their job more efficiently? Be respected and admired by friends? Your offering should be designed to solve client problems or meet customer needs better than the competition can.

2. Identify your target customers. There are numerous potential customers in most markets, but to succeed faster and better, a small business must study the market and determine the characteristics of its best target customers. The target customer should be described in detail. Create an avatar, or fictional person, who has all of your target-customer attributes, and examine what that person would say, do, feel and think in the course of a day.

3. Identify competitors that would also want your target customers. No matter how original your product or service may be, there is always competition for your target customer’s dollar. Small businesses seldom take the time to study their competitors in depth, or determine competition that may be outside their industry but just as capable of luring the customer away. Preparing to know who that is, what their core competitive advantage is and how they will respond to your offering (price cuts, increased communication, etc.) will help you figure out strategies to combat such losses.

4. Write down your brand-positioning statement for your target customers. Ultimately, your brand and what it symbolizes for customers will be your strongest competitive advantage. You should be able to write down a simple declarative sentence of how you will meet customer needs and beat the competition. The best positioning statements are those that are single-minded and focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value.

Now that you know the elements of the plan, you need to figure out how you are going to reach that target customer. Aside from traditional print and broadcast media, here are three tech-driven marketing channels that many of today’s business owners utilize.

Social media has become an essential part of businesses’ marketing plans because every type of customer is on some type of platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other networks. Small business owners can feel overwhelmed at the possibilities but should focus on the ones that can benefit them the most.

Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing company Markitors, advised companies that are just getting started in social media to get to know their customers and what platforms they are using.

“Figure out where your customers are spending their time, and set up shop on those platforms,” Farmiloe told Business News Daily. “Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms. While all three steps are key, the biggest one is really determining if your customers are on these platforms.”

Though email marketing may not be a new concept like social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for many small business owners. Companies can implement email-marketing techniques in a number of ways, including using newsletters, promotional campaigns and transactional emails. Companies such as MailChimp and Constant Contact make it easy for companies to manage their email campaigns.

Farmiloe noted that companies can set their email marketing efforts apart by segmenting their markets.

“Not all subscribers want to receive the same blast,” Farmiloe said. “Smart email marketers take the time to segment subscribers at the outset, and then continue to segment based on subscriber activity. Through segmentation, companies reduce the amount of unsubscribes, increase open rates and, most importantly, increase the amount of actions taken from an email send.”