A mobile game hit the market by storm in July. Within one week it attracted over 15 million players, earned its developer a reported $1.6 million a day and quickly became the hottest game since Candy Crush.
The record-shattering app? Pokémon Go.
Players download the game onto a mobile device before they enter an augmented reality where their physical location and device camera are used to display animated Pokémon creatures all around them.
To find the best characters and access other features, players must travel, mostly by foot, making the game a great exercise motivator. Viral videos have captured the Poké craze, showing players running into places like New York’s Central Park to catch hard-to-find Pokémon. And you may have seen photos of public parks filled with people milling around and interacting as they pursue Pokémon.
If you joined the Poké world or know others who have, you understand the players’ dedication. It’s a trait you can utilize to attract new clients.
A veterinary hospital can put Pokémon Go to use in engaging ways. For example, Muncie Animal Shelter in Indiana advertised to Pokémon Go players to come walk rescue dogs while on the hunt for characters. The result? Media attention, viral social media posts and homeless dogs getting much-needed contact and exercise.
How else can a clinic employ Pokémon Go?
Take Advantage of PokéStops
If your clinic is designated a PokéStop or located near one—the Pokémon Go website takes requests—you can entice nearby players to enter your hospital. PokéStops are set in strategic locations such as landmarks, schools and churches. When players reach one, they earn in-game items such as Pokéballs, which are necessary for catching Pokémon, and potions that heal Pokémon.
You can set lures at PokéStops in an attempt to draw rare Pokémon to the location. The person who lays down the lure sees it, and it shows up on the maps of other players. Lures are good for 30 minutes and are heavily used.
MARKETING TACTIC: For a month at a time, a hospital can purchase one lure a week—total cost of $25—and place it at the PokéStop. You can use social media to advertise the day and time you will set the lure, but be prepared for incoming traffic. Have information ready to hand out to potential clients, or even offer a special deal for players. Get creative with messaging, like “Does your Rattata need a rabies shot? 10 percent off for Pokémon Go players.”
Take Over PokéGyms
Players who reach Level 5 in Pokémon Go earn the opportunity to join one of three teams: Mystic, Valor or Instinct. Teams are an important part of PokéGyms, which are another stop on the map and similar to PokéStops. The difference is this: Players in PokéGyms battle one another to take over the gym and earn daily rewards, typically in-game currency and experience. Players can work together to take over a gym, but only if they’re on the same team.
MARKETING TACTIC: Work with your veterinary team to take over a nearby PokéGym, and issue challenges on social media to current and potential clients to take over the gym. You can offer discounts and specials to specific teams as a way to entice pet owners to walk into the clinic. The key is to share your messages through all channels—social media, email, signage—so people begin to associate your clinic as a regular must-stop on their Pokémon journey.
Rare Pokémon Sighting? Spread the World
By simply downloading the game onto a smartphone and opening the app, Pokémon will appear whether or not you’re near a PokéStop or PokéGym.
In the game, Pokémon are everywhere, possibly inside your kennels or exam rooms, or at the reception desk. The trick is to log in to the game and take a screenshot of Pokémon in fun places at your clinic and share a behind-the-scenes look with social media followers.
MARKETING TACTIC: If a rare Pokémon shows up at your clinic, tell the world. People will travel for a chance to capture uncommon or unique Pokémon, so turn their arrival into an advantage. Creatures like Chansey, Lapras and Snorlax are extremely rare and are hard to find. If one pops up in your clinic and you share its location, be prepared for visitors.
Should the idea of 30 people suddenly running into your clinic all at once to catch a Charmander worry you, host an after-hours event so your appointments aren’t affected.
If you’re looking for a new way to market your clinic to potential customers, Pokémon Go may be the answer. The game is heavily played by teenagers through 30-somethings, so the opportunity exists to invite parents of younger children as well as millennials with pets to catch Pokémon and learn about your services.
Stephanie Duncan is communication coordinator at the Veterinary Hospitals Association, a cooperative based in South St. Paul, Minn.
Originally published in the September 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today!