8 things startups can learn from Pokemon GO

Pokemon Go

If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go by now, you clearly haven’t been outside recently. It currently has more active users than Twitter, it has also sent Nintendo’s stock up 20% giving the company its first big win in years. And all that in just 5 days after the release on July 6th.

This latest gaming craze of Pokémon Go is a great case study for catching them all and this time by ‘all’ I don’t mean Pokémons, but the actual customers.

Below you can find 8 most important lessons for your startup.

  1. Technology meets reality

This component of the game that excites people the most. In the game, while catching Pokémons you have to interact with real objects and places. You can see the Pokémon in the real world flying and jumping around as you attempt to capture it. The mix of digital engagement with live engagement is one of the most obvious things that show this game’s potential impact on customers and their behavioral patterns.

It clearly shows that people love trying out new technologies, but also highlight the importance of fitting the product into customer’s world.

  1. Gamification

Games like Pokémon Go takes a lot more marketing strategy. Pokémon Go rewards the player for behaviors it’s trying to cultivate. For example, in order to hatch your eggs (with Pokémons inside), players may have to walk between 2 and 10 kilometers! What’s more, once a player finds 10 fighting-type Pokémon’s he earns a ‘black belt’, 50 flying-type Pokémon’s give him a ‘bird keeper’ title and so on and so for.

Think about the goal of your company/app/product. Try to create a game with different levels and distribute rewards for achievement. If digital engagement is a priority, including a social media wall with a ranking showing who has been reposted the most, this will motivate your people to create better content that impacts more audience.

  1. Think Big

If you already played Pokémon Go you know a lot about the patience training they give you almost every moment. Pokémon Go’s server availability is a big mess. It’s funny that Niantic, a company that had 12 months to do a marketing research was overwhelmed by the success of their app. When it comes to Startups, especially tech startup’s, often their biggest problem is thinking “too small” so if they succeed, their poorly-planned limited resources make them lose a lot of potential profit.

  1. No pay Wall

One of the main reasons why Pokémon Go was such a big hit is the fact that it doesn’t require payment in order to play.

As a free download, the game offers value to users for no investment. Providing something for nothing strategically gives future customers stake before they decide to invest.  What Pokémon Go is also doing is encouraging a player to invest after he already becomes addicted and is in a state of doing everything to catch them all. If you want to know what ‘everything’ means I recommend reading Just a giant collection of Pokémon Go stories.

  1. Fun day every day

Make sure that fun is a priority in your product. Stick up with this for your future customers by asking “Yes, but will this be fun?”. Nowadays that’s what it’s all about. When it comes to marketing –  nothing works as well as some good joke or an element of fun in the advertisement. Negative emotions like fear just don’t sell so well. Keep in mind that it’s not about the problems that your customers have, but about the solutions you can provide for them. This way you can achieve your goals while raising users satisfaction rate

pokemon go startups

  1. UX

How many ads of Pokémon Go did you see? I honestly haven’t seen even a single one. Pokémon Go didn’t need it and there goes a high five from me to Niantic that they were able to predict this. They didn’t have to invest much because they knew that it was much more about making it viral. You don’t need a huge advertising budget to be an effective marketer. You just have to connect with people. Well-designed websites, apps, and products are the ones that welcome new users with open arms and make it extremely easy for people to get involved, which is a lesson you can learn from apps like Snapchat or Slack, too. It may sound trivial but you have to be friendly to make friends.

  1. Launch time

Pokémon Go appeared soon after the beginning of summer when children are out of school, outdoor events like festivals are kicking up, and everyone is searching for a reason to go outside and stroll around. If Pokémon Go launched in the middle of winter 80 % of the people would probably stay home. It’s a great timing not only because of the season but also because of the year. Right now people like me, those 20-something ‘grown-ups’ have another occasion to give Pokémon all our money. The only difference is that now that money belongs to us, not our parents.

We won’t notice a business unless someone is talking about it. Click To Tweet
  1. Social proof

Never underestimate the power of hearing something on the grapevine. The truth is we won’t notice a business unless someone is talking about it. In our highly communicative, social media-integrated world, social proof is everything. We won’t buy a product unless someone else has reviewed it first. With Pokémon Go, it’s hard not  get involved because of the people running through the streets with their phones and enjoying the experiences. Everyone is talking about it.

Even though when it comes to creating apps it’s not necessarily about “having them all”, the most important lesson to take from Niantic’s success is: be brave, and you’re good to GO. 😉

Article originally published in Polish on MamStartUp.pl


Marketing/Growth Hacking Assistant at Timble, Italian cuisine and bike rides lover. Trying to figure out all the ways to make managing work a piece of cake.

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