What Pokémon Go Can Teach Marketers
by John Waldron last updated on 0

What Pokémon Go Can Teach Marketers

I’m assuming that all those who are reading this article have not missed what’s been going on over the past week or two. But, what I can’t assume is if you’ve been swept up in the madness, or just watched on bemusedly as swarms of people in the world have started using their smartphones to chase virtual creatures around streets, parks, and even busy roads.

Yes, I’m talking of course about Pokémon Go – the latest craze from Nintendo that has taken the world by virtual storm.

Whether you’re into the game or not, there’s no denying that its popularity is a pretty big deal – not least for Nintendo. The statistics tell the story. It took just 13 hours for the game to reach the top of the highest-grossing app chart in the US. Just five days after launch, Nintendo’s market value increased by a whopping $9 billion. And the app had enjoyed over 15 million downloads in just one week. Boom!… That’s how you own a market.

In the style of a true cultural phenomenon, it seems as if everyone has jumped aboard the Pokémon Go train. Youngsters, of course, but so too their parents (some of whom pretend, I’m sure, to be enjoying the game a little less than they secretly are), and even celebrities – good old Justin Bieber was caught playing the game in the middle of Central Park last week.


What’s it all about?

Ok, before we go on and reveal what on earth all of this could have to do with content marketing, I think it’s only fair that I take a moment to explain the game on the off chance that you’re still uninitiated.

Pokémon Go is a free Augmented Reality (AR) game app that you can download onto your smartphone. Using your phone’s camera and GPS, it’s your mission to travel the world (or just your town or street, depending on how seriously you want to take this thing) tracking down little virtual creatures called Pokémon, which appear on your phone’s screen as if they were part of the real life world. That’s it, in a nutshell.

What can content marketers learn from the Pokémon Go craze?

Ok, so we know roughly what the game’s about, and how successful it has been for Nintendo – but what can this all teach the rest of us about content marketing?

Well, as already explained, there’s no denying that Pokémon Go is a phenomenal success – so what did its marketing team get right, and what little gems and wisdoms can us lowly try-hards steal to implement into our own content marketing strategies?

Timing of launch is everything

Nintendo released Pokémon Go smack bang in the middle of summer (in the US), when most school-aged children (the game’s core audience) are on their summer holidays with plenty of free time to head out in good weather and enjoy the app.

If we think about it, if Pokémon Go had hit the streets at any other time of year – even Christmas – the impact could well have been far less substantial. The long daylight hours of summer mean that even parents have been able to get on board with this thing after work (and have probably picked up a habit of chasing the little critters on the way to and during work in the meantime). What’s more, with the whole premise of the game involving getting outside are wandering around, a winter launch when it’s cold and miserable outside would most likely have fallen flat.

So, what can we learn? As content marketers, we mustn’t forget that creating the content itself isn’t the whole story. We need to think about a decent and profitable strategy for releasing this content into the wild that chimes perfectly with the behaviour of our target audience. We should be using data to consider launch timing, promotion, and our target demographics. Indeed, a decent launch strategy can make or break our efforts.

Breathe new life into old favourites

Although the app itself is brand new, Pokémon itself isn’t exactly a spring-chicken anymore – in fact it’s a game that’s 20 years’ old but has been given a new lease of life in this latest incarnation.

In your experience as a content marketer, you with no doubt have produced various pieces of content over the years that have proven to be a lot more successful and popular than others. So take note of them. What were they? Whitepapers? eBooks? Newsletters? email marketing campaigns? Or a particularly groovy blog series that almost went viral a couple of years ago?

Whatever it is, if there’s something that can be learned from the huge, global success of Pokémon Go, is that old content can one day work again for you. Indeed, a lot of people have jumped aboard Pokémon Go simply for the nostalgia of trading Pokémon Cards when they were nippers.

However, a word of caution – I’m not suggesting here that you simply re-publish all those old blogs and papers with all their tired old opinions and statistics. Rather, that you will do well to look on your successes of the past, and offer fresh new takes on them – that’s what will make it so exciting for new and old followers alike.

Utilize the latest technology

Part of the craze, of course, comes from the fact that Pokémon Go leverages the very latest in smartphone AR technology. Yes, as we’ve discussed, Pokémon is actually an old game, but it’s dressed up in the latest rags, revitalizing it and revamping it from the bottom up.

So what’s the lesson here? Well, as content marketers, it can be far too easy for us to keep churning out, if not quite the same old content, then new content in the same old formats. eBooks. Whitepapers. Blogs. Newsletters. Etc. etc. etc….

At the moment, we still need to produce all of these things, of course – not least for SEO purposes. But already there are some great changes on social media and video content. That’s really valuable stuff in 2016. According to Socialbakers, Facebook video is now even bigger than YouTube for brands, which means, video needs to become part of your content strategy, if it isn’t already. And in fact, what’s quickly rising in importance is live video, and Facebook Live has now rolled out to all users.

In short, it’s no good trading cards in 2016 when consumers want augmented reality. Pokémon Go knew this – and you must too.

What else can we learn from the Pokémon go phenomenon? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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