A few years back, a friend of mine used to buy FedEx package stickers by the box (this relates, I promise). Each sticker contained a maze that we would then stick everywhere. From the back of stop signs to hijacking music flyers, you had a pretty significant chance of seeing one. The goal of this was to create something that people could interact with while waiting for a bus, or simply make a hobby of finding them. They were easy to make and just as easily disposable, needless to say regardless of what happened, we didn’t really care. What was surprising was after just a few days, we would come back to locations where we had put the stickers, and people actually tried to solve them.
There were plenty of different colored lines, each trying to find their way through the maze. This, for us, was incredible. We thought nobody would even bother with it or see them, but they did. It was the idea of just having something that people could interact with for a few minutes to kill time. This was before augmented reality (AR) was even a dream.
The concept is pretty simple. Go outside, and the game will tell you where you can find a Pokemon using your phone’s built-in GPS. Once you get there, you can catch a Pokemon using a Pokeball. You don’t have unlimited Pokeballs, so you need to go to a “PokeStop” in order to continue playing. These PokeStops can be anything from someone’s house to a real business which some have taken advantage of in terms of drawing attention to their brand.
Now, I don’t play Pokemon Go. Not because I have anything against it, I just have a busy schedule. On the plus side, my roommate has it and knew the best spots. I had him take me on a walk down East Broadway in Derry, New Hampshire to see what it was about and to speak with local businesses on how they are using this new game to their advantage.
We parked the car in a vacant lot and started our walk. Before we even reached 50 feet, my roommate stopped and said that a church across the street was an area to grab some items. We walked over, and he ended up finding and catching a Pokemon.
As we continued our quest, we found that Maryanne’s Diner, one of the most famous breakfast diners in Southern NH was, in fact, a Pokemon Gym.
Jeff: A Pokemon gym is a real area where you can go to “stake your claim.” If you have a strong Pokemon, you can leave it at the gym and it will fight the person who staked their claim first. Each person leaves a Pokemon that you need to challenge. If you beat all the Pokemon in that area, you now control the gym. Other people then have to show up and challenge yours. You just leave one Pokemon there and go home.
Our walk progressed another 100-feet until we arrived at Halligan’s Tavern. A bar located right on East Broadway, we walked in and spoke with the bartender, Rachel.
Me: So have you seen people coming in more frequently?
Rachel: There have been a few parents come in with their children. I see a lot of people drive up, their girlfriend or their boyfriend were on their phones trying to do whatever it is they do.
Me: Have you thought about catering to users of the game?
Rachel: We haven’t, no. But it definitely is on our minds. I would have to speak with the owner when he gets back. It seems like it could work. You might want to try across the street, too they get a lot of people hanging out and playing the game.
While we were there, my roommate caught a Weedle:
We finished up and decided to head across the street. The building adjacent to Halligan’s was a small pizza shop named Jake D’s.
Me: You guys must be aware that the front of your building is a “PokeStop.”
Kyle: We are very aware. We see people coming and going all the time.
Me: Have you thought about doing any promotional deals now that you see a lot of traffic passing by?
Kyle: Actually we’re in the process of making a new sign. We’re offering $1 dollar slices of pizza for users. Wednesday through next Thursday between 12 p.m.- 3p.m!
The idea has caught on with many businesses. The game has only been out for a week so there is still plenty of time for small businesses to utilize Augmented Reality in order to promote themselves.
As we left the building, my roommate screamed in excitement that a Pikachu was nearby, so we ventured over to find it. When we arrived we found 2 other people walking around searching for the elusive Pokemon. My roommate was able to catch it and we made our way back to the car.
The entire walk was maybe about 300 feet from where we parked. In that small area, many local businesses were important stops for users. This shows that while the game is still fresh, there are ways to incorporate this new phenomenon into more sales.