How Pokemon GO Grows

Gotta catch ’em all. Pokemon GO has taken the world by storm and has become an incredible cultural phenomenon. Just about everyone is out with their smartphones trying to capture these pocket monsters, hitting up all the local PokeStops and visiting all the local Pokemon gyms. Even John has gotten into it.

This may sound like fun and games — and people are certainly have fun playing the mobile game — but are there business lessons to be learned here that you can apply to your online money-making ventures?

1. Capitalize on Brand Recognition

The basic premise behind Pokemon GO isn’t new. Developer Niantic has had a practically identical mobile game called Ingress for quite some time. I knew a couple of friends who played Ingress, but it was largely a niche title. It didn’t reach anywhere critical mass.

But when they tacked on all the Pokemon branding to go along with that package, the resulting Pokemon GO exploded in popularity. This is even among people who wouldn’t describe themselves as Pokemon fans. In your own business, unless you already have a powerful brand of your own, partnering with a much larger and better known brand can work wonders for your popularity and profitability.


It’s probably not realistic to expect you to partner with Nintendo any time soon, but even moving up the branding scale to better known names in your vertical and industry can be remarkably powerful. A big part of why my freelance writing business continues to operate today is because I connected with John a decade ago.

2. Success Breeds More Success

There is no shame in piggybacking off someone else’s success. If you live in any major city in the United States, you may have started to notice some local businesses who are capitalizing on the rapid growth and popularity of Pokemon GO.

They might toss out some lures in and around their business, just to get the foot traffic near their doors. They might offer specials related to what people are capturing and achieving in the game. Are you a level 10 trainer? Enjoy a free cookie with your latte. You could even say that this blog post is building on the success of Pokemon GO.

3. A Little Competition Is Healthy

In Pokemon GO, players can compare themselves against their friends. How many Pokemon have you caught? Do you have this one yet? What level are you at? There are all these stats and figures that provide for some friendly competition and this can be remarkably motivating.

Gamification can work wonders on your productivity, especially when you can compare your progress against your peers. If you have friends and colleagues who are participating in similar work, like affiliate marketing, compare your numbers on a regular basis and see who is coming out on top.

4. People Love Exclusivity

Just about anyone can get a Charmander. He’s one of the first Pokemon you can find in the game. An Abra, on the other hand, is probably much rarer in the game.


People like to feel special. People like to gloat. People like to think that they’re getting something that no one else (or very few other people) are getting. That’s why seeking out increasingly rare and obscure Pokemon is so appealing in the game.

In your own marketing efforts, offering similar “exclusive” items and bonuses to your customers and clients can further motivate them to buy more from you. It can also help them feel better about their purchases, because they can feel like they are special and a part of an elite club.

Similarly, you want to encourage these customers to be repeat customers. You want long-term supporters, not just one-time buyers. Reward your loyal customers and keep pulling them back in with more quality and new content or product.

5. Recognize the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. In reality, the figures are likely even more disparate than that.

While Pokemon GO is offered as a free download and “trainers” can enjoy the free-to-play model, there are optional in-app purchases. You need to understand that when you adopt such a business model, the overwhelming majority of customers aren’t going to spend a dime. Most of them are just going to play for free.

For most of your dollars and cents, you’ll be relying on 20% (or less) of your customer base. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the 80%, though, because they’re the ones who could be pulling those 20% into your ecosystem in the first place.

Pokemon GO has proven that you don’t need to a massive advertising and marketing budget to have a remarkably successful product. Nintendo stock value shot through the roof after the release of Pokemon GO and this was mostly through word of mouth. When you have a quality product, one that people enjoy and one that is apt to go viral, you can enjoy some remarkable success.

You can be the very best, like no one ever was.

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