What Lessons Can Small Business Learn From The Pokémon Go Phenomenon

pokemon_go_logoWhile most people wouldn’t be surprised that a mobile app featuring Pokémon is popular it is hard to convey just how enormous this game has been in a short space of time. Effectively this game has saved Nintendo’s year, providing profits at a time when their Wii U console sales were relatively sluggish.

What you may be surprised to know is there are a number of lessons here for small businesses to learn, both in terms of the positives and negatives of this particular craze.

Opportunities can come from anywhere

Have people told you that your particular idea is strange or won’t go anywhere? It is worth reminding them that the 15 year (and still going strong) Pokémon phenomenon originated because of one man’s love of insect collecting. Likewise, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally conceived as a doodle on a napkin, while South Park originated as a very adult Christmas video message!

Do the maths

While Pokémon Go has been a bit hit for Nintendo it is not quite as big a money spinner for them as you’d expect- programmer Niantic and the app stores all take their share.

For your business this is a good lesson- if you seek investment make sure you know who takes a cut or if you use a supplier/freelancer check that you are getting value for money!

Respond to feedback

It is easy to forget that it is Niantic and not Nintendo themselves who are chiefly responsible for the app. Unfortunately, there was some negative backlash due to the removal of the tracker while server issues have caused problems.

While this in and of itself can be solved users complained that recent updates did not resolve these issues. This also applies to small businesses- be ready to listen to feedback and act on it.
Cashing in

It is important to know when to cash in and when not to. If your business is a Pokestop it is a good opportunity to bring in customers, you may not otherwise get but be wary of being overly keen as people can be put off.

Some people also go the other way and make fun of Pokémon Go- while this may get a cheap laugh it could result in a backlash (especially since a lot of people play the game and the demographics are older and wider than a lot of people think)
Reward loyalty

Perhaps the biggest lesson from Pokémon Go is to recognise your fan base and to give them something that taps into what they want- ultimately this is a group that grew up watching a cartoon and playing a game while dreaming what being a trainer would be like in real life.

When it comes to your business you need to consider your demographic and what the ultimate version of what you can offer would be- having a coffee shop is one thing but having a coffee shop with artwork, newspapers and events makes it somewhere people can go to and want to socialise around as well as stop and have a drink.

In short it is not necessarily about producing the next billion-dollar idea- it is about producing the best version of YOUR idea for YOUR customers.