Pokémon Go: If you have been in a public place in the last week and saw an increase in people’s heads buried in their phones, well… congratulations! You’ve just witnessed history in the making. This wildly popular app allows users to catch fictional cartoon characters in the real world, anywhere from your bathroom to the line at Starbucks.
Within hours of its debut, Pokémon Go dominated the charts for both Android and iPhone, making it one of the most successful product launches in history. Let’s not even get into the multi-billion dollar increase in Nintendo’s valuation. So what can we do to imitate the ingenious marketing tools used to usher in this kind of success? We don’t have ALL the answers, but we have three ideas to model.
Offer something for free
If the game had been available for purchase instead of offered for free, there would not have been the unprecedented spread of users the launch amassed. After the game is downloaded and played, there are opportunities for in-app purchases, with users willing to pony up a few bucks for extras.
TAKEAWAY: When it comes to business, always offer the customer something of value for free (or extremely LOW risk), whether it is an e-book, a tutorial, or a glossy 8 x 10 of your beautiful face (if you think that kind of thing would be desired). Once you’ve hooked them in, they will be more than happy to pay for additional valuable services.
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Timing is key
When the app was released the first week in July, kids had just gotten out of school, the weather was beautiful, and people were outside from the east village in Manhattan to the Golden Gate Bridge. Getting outdoors to take a stroll to catch a Pokémon or two is a welcomed distraction, and maybe even an excuse to get some fresh air. If the app had launched in the dead of winter, I doubt we’d see folks shoveling themselves out of a nor-Easter to play the game.
In a bigger picture, the timing comes 20 years after Pokémon’s original release. Fans who were once children are now well into their 20’s and 30’s, and they have a lot more buying power than they did when they were ten. Or we would certainly hope.
TAKEAWAY: Don’t be in a rush to launch: timing can make or break your product. Make sure the stars are aligned and that you’ve put in the market research before you launch, because unlike games, life doesn’t come with a reset button.
Get in the real world
While most mobile games remove you from the world around you, Pokémon Go puts you right in the action. Everything from knowing smiles exchanged when you pass by a fellow player to conversations birthed with strangers over your latest conquest, the game has the uncanny ability to unite the masses. In a world that is currently marred by political and social unrest, people are seeking out oneness, and Pokémon Go has the ability to cross the divisive lines that humanity faces.
TAKEAWAY: Customers are seeking connection. They need to feel that others really get them. They want to know you, and want you to take a genuine interest in them. They are also looking for communities. Help them build relationships with each other. Engage with your social media audiences, host Q&As, and have deep conversations once in a while.
The key here is starting your business with a solid foundation: a good company, a useful product, a needed service. If you begin with something of value, these takeaways will only compound your success and increase your growth.
BRB, I gotta catch this Jigglypuff.