Why Pokémon Go is a Next Level Small Business Marketing Gem


App developers and business owners alike for many years have known that there is promise in the rise of the number of mobile device users enabling location-based services. Some thought that it would be easy for stores to push coupons to users’ mobile devices nearby. Others have dreamed that the technology could be used to influence potential customers to walk right into their store without direct prompting.

Nonetheless, retailers, small businesses and developers have had little success in overcoming the privacy barriers that are involved in getting the mobile access they need to influence user behavior.

Enter Pokémon Go, an augmented reality-based game that incentivizes the user for moving around in physical space. At its core the game brings to your pocket the themes of the older Pokémon games where you capture, train and battle Pokémon — but it adds a real-world twist. You discover virtual Pokémon to capture and train only by moving around in your physical world. Real world places correspond to the location of Pokémon Gyms (training centers) and PokéStops (places to retrieve items) in the app. You might say its somewhat of a cross between Zelda and Geocaching. If you want to progress in the game, you must go to the physical locations.

People are often more suspicious when they perceive that you are trying to get them to do something than when you are inviting them to have a fun experience. The Pokémon Go universe is nearly over 21 million users strong. It has access to the location data about all of these users and employs reliable mechanisms to influence users to move to specific locations.

It’s undeniable that the app has been influencing users’ real life behavior. It’s been getting people to go out in parks, walk along streets and to take impromptu trips. This uncommon behavior has even been noticed by law enforcement and has prompted more than one or two conversations with citizens.

Some businesses that are near Pokéstops have seen a rise in sales or have offered deals to Pokémon Go players. One couple is experiencing unexpected people traffic in front of their home (once a historic landmark) as visitors use their front lawn as a Pokémon gym. Meanwhile, health advocates are lauding the app’s ability to get people taking more steps.

It would seem that the entertainment gained through Pokémon Go fun is a semi-permanent veil that provides the makers with the ability to get in-depth user data points and influence users’ moment-by-moment location. I will not be surprised if revenue, as a result of Pokémon Go, outpaces that of Facebook in the coming months. Many advertisers and marketers may be looking to create partnerships with Pokémon Go to connect with its massive audience. How many of them have you caught already?


“Let me take a Selfie.”


Some people are early adopters of tech gadgets, I’m a late adopter of any software update ever known to man for my phone or computer. I can’t count the number of times I select, “Remind me later.” So, when I got a new phone with iOS 9 and imported my pictures, I was surprised by many photos auto-sorting into a folder called Selfies. I learned that this folder is pre-defined by Apple and there’s no way to delete it. I asked around and many of my friends had a similar experience! Is this a smart way to increase the amount of Selfies people take? Maybe. It’s at least one way to create a database of people’s portraits.

In 2013, “Selfie” was named Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year, and has since swelled in popularity, becoming the name of a 13 episode TV show by ABC and a fun song by the Chainsmokers. New gadgets like selfie sticks are available in any fine retailer near you. Some say this is evidence that we live in a culture increasingly interested in ‘me’. But, self-portraits  are some of the most popular types of paintings and have been around since ancient Greek and Egyptian times. Today, most Americans carry a ready-made artist in their pocket that can produce a self-portrait in 1.5 seconds flat. Good thing Apple has now created a way to organize them!

Square Stand: Sleek New Look for Cash Registers

It’s no surprise that Jack Dorsey and Square have introduced an attractive new product to compete with archaic, clunky cash registers of the past. The Square stand (with built in card reader) lets you insert your iPad (with free POS app) and attach a cash drawer and receipt printer to get all the functionality of a traditional register.

The Square Stand seems ideal for small businesses and current users of Square Register. It’s unclear how quickly companies who’ve made investments in existing POS systems will adopt this new technology. But, look out for the Square Stand popping up at your favorite local coffee or smoothie shop.

Image: intomobile.com

Facebook’s New Status Prompts

The “What’s on your mind?” prompt in the status message box of Facebook has finally been updated. There are now a couple rotating prompts with user name attached to incite people to spill the beans about what’s happening?!

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It will be interesting to see if these prompts actually lead users to post more or post about different types of things.

With Our Powers Combined We Can Rid Wikipedia of Yellow Pop-up Ads

If you spend any time on Wikipedia, you may have noticed that this year’s fundraising campaign is in full-swing. Potentially taking a cue from the advertising 101, this year’s campaign features a bright yellow banner message that pops up when you are browsing Wikipedia. It is virtually impossible to miss.

The message itself is similar to previous years, describing a very practical way that the fundraising goal can be met immediately if everyone gave the “price of a cup of coffee.” Sometimes that section is switched out to say if everyone gave $5. The only difference in the message I noticed was the end note, “Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia.”

In the past, Wikipedia has used banners at the top of each wikipedia page with an image of the founder, Jimmy Wales, and the request to “Please read: A personal appeal. . .” Satirical imitations of the banners have popped up all over the internet poking fun at his personal appeal over the years.

As a part of 2011’s campaign, there was some variety to the banner advertisements and banner ads with multiple personal appeals. Also, there were five different banner ads tested for effectiveness. Want to see a list of test banners used in last year’s campaigns and their click and donation rates? Click the image below.  Also, see the 2011 campaign results here.

I’m still undecided on whether I’ll donate to Wikipedia this year. But, maybe when you see that yellow banner pop up in your way, you’ll consider it.

Update: Wikipedia has made it even easier for you to give.

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JCP: OK. . . Just This Once!

No more sales! Except for when customers complain. No more sales! Except for when we can rename them monthly values. No more sales! Except for when it’s the holiday shopping season. JCP’s new motto could be, no sales, except for when it’s convenient.

This year, JCPenney will continue to honor tradition by giving their customers Black Friday and Cyber Monday  sales opportunities. It’s not surprising, as JCPenney needs to do whatever they can to get shoppers through their doors.

JCPenney has come under scrutiny over the past several months due to their drastic restructuring of their pricing strategy, their cryptic and confusing commercials, and their loss of $123 million in revenue. With a decrease of 26% in store sales and 37% in online sales in the last quarter, many doubt the approach CEO Ron Johnson has taken.

I heard the company is giving out free buttons this season instead of coupons. Let’s just pin a button on and hope it distracts investors and consumers from the drastic decline in revenue that has swiftly followed intense shifts in JCP’s brand, strategy, and store experiences.

Related by me:

JCPenney’s Brings Back Sales

Screaming at the Death of JCP sales


A Dose of Realism for the Chief of J.C. Penney

Which Retailer Will Die First: Sears or J.C.Penney?