This summer you may have noticed more young people than usual walking down the street staring intensely at their cell phones (sometimes to the point of physical injury!). While this certainly perpetuated the Millennial stereotype that we are inextricably tied to our phones, it also brought new opportunities for businesses to capture this influential market through gaming.

This social game, which was just released on July 5, is the biggest U.S. mobile game ever.

Last month the average iPhone user spent 34 minutes playing Pokémon. This is twice the daily engagement of Snapchat (see below), and above and beyond the time spent in any other app including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

chart COS

While you may have heard rumors that the Pokémon Go craze is “dying” or “severely declining” due to losing over 20% of its U.S. players since July, these numbers mean absolutely nothing without context.

A fall in active daily users is a completely natural trend for a mobile game that was launched with unparalleled hype unlike anything ever witnessed in the gaming industry.

The global brand power of “Pokémon” has been sustained for over two decades, which means we won’t see this game disappear anytime soon. That means mortgage and real estate professionals still have time to play to win with Pokémon.

How does Pokémon work?
If you’re not already “catching them all,” here’s a quick summary of how the game works:

Pokémon is a free mobile app where users try to “catch them all”—with “them” being small little critters called Pokémon. Once you catch a Pokémon creature, you train them and battle with them.

Pokémon is location-based and tracks users’ movements on GPS using a Google-maps-like interface. The game is unique as it uses the real world to inform user experience.

Players are forced to walk in real life in order to move their character and advance in the game. One of the fun parts of the game is that the Pokémon you are able to catch changes based on your location (i.e. water Pokémon at the beach, grass Pokémon in the park, etc.).

Like nearly any game out there, users find and collect tools to advance in the game. The difference here is that you find these tools by traveling in real life to places like museums or monuments.

  • Lures:As the name “lure” suggests, lures help lure Pokémon to a player’s location. Lures can be used by everyone in that location. They last for about 30 minutes. Most Lures are placed by players. However, businesses have also used lures to attract potential customers to their location.
  • PokéStops: Users must travel to “PokéStops” to use lures and get tools that help them improve how they play the game. In the future, businesses will be able to purchase PokéStops as well.
  • Gyms: Pokémon users can also battle other players at prominent real-world locations, known as “gyms.” The game is all about having the Pokémon that you catch fight other people, and that only happens at these locations.

The nature of the game has quickly turned once quiet, desolate spaces into local hotspots. While it may appear laughable to some, mortgage and real estate professionals can incorporate the game into their marketing strategy as a way to drive a greater audience to open houses or local events, build a modern brand, and at a minimum provide a unique conversation piece with customers and referral partners.

4 ways housing industry professionals can use Pokémon for businesses

Pokémon GO can be a fun way to expand your business and build your brand in the mortgage and real estate industry. We’ve brainstormed a few unique methods specifically designed for industry professionals:

1. Buy a lure to be placed near open house sign.

One loan officer, Ryan Owens, with VanDyk Mortgage in Tampa Bay, said his money was well-spent on setting out a few lures to drive people to his referral partners’ open houses. For only $10, you can increase Pokémon traffic in the area of your choice for approximately a half hour. Owens put up an open house sign in a local “gym,” and added lures where he placed open house signs, which stated things like “calling Pokémon trainers.”
While he hasn’t seen direct sales using the game, he says it’s been a great way to get people’s attention. In a good piece of modern marketing advice, Owens states, “When you have a wave of something people are paying attention to in this digital age, you have to get on it quickly.”

2. Pokémon handouts for customers and referral partners.

As an added value of your business, create a 1-2 page handout for your customers, referral partners, and leads with an overview of what Pokémon GO is and a couple of tips for using it. Include a map with locations of local PokéStops, gyms, and rare Pokémon in your area. Your customers and partners will love the unique value and neighborhood description, and it will add a memorable touch to their experience with you.

3. Host a Pokémon happy hour or homebuyer education event (or both).

Most first-time buyers want homebuyer education, but they’re tired when they get off work and want to be in a comfortable, fun, and relaxing environment. Host one these events at a location that supports a stress-free atmosphere—such as a local brewery, restaurant or pub—to encourage more attendees. As an added incentive, advertise you’ll be placing a lure at the event. (For those of you who are obsessed with Pokémon and really want to go all out on an event, you can host a Pokémon hunt. The San Francisco Pokémon GO bar crawl in July had over 9,000 people in attendance and almost 29,000 interested people on Facebook.)

4. Leverage Pokémon GO to better the health and knowledge of your workforce.

While this might sound crazy in many respects, Pokémon is doing something good for society. Before you gasp thinking about the number of people staring down at their phones, listen to this argument from, “It’s getting people to try new restaurants, it’s helping people combat depression, it’s improving players’ physical health, and it’s even helping Americans learn the metric system.”

Leverage the Poke-sensation and get your workforce moving by hosting a “GO workout” event. For a full outline of workout ideas, visit Lifehacker. One of the easiest workouts is the “PokéStop Trot” which includes running or jogging to the next PokéStop where you can gather new supplies.

While Pokemon GO should not be the main focus of your marketing campaign, it can be a fun way to add unique value to your personal and professional brand. If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage social media platforms to improve your business, check here

(Main photo credit: Matthew Corley /