Image source: The VergeBehavior is a funny thing.

Marketers know this as well as anyone, if not better. You take an idea about a product and design, write, and innovate messaging that gets people to act out a desired behavior.

I found myself acting this weekend. I was roaming the North Hills of Raleigh with my son using high throughput, real-time geospatial querying and indexing techniques to interact with real and virtual objects in the physical world.

I admit it. I love Pokémon Go.

But not just because it’s a neat thing to do with my son. I found myself thinking about what marketers – especially channel marketers who put their brands in the hands of thousands of partners and dealers around the world – could learn from this phenomenon.

Beyond the best way to automate lead distribution or the latest dos and don’ts of digital advertising, sometimes it’s important to step back (or forward if that’s the way the Pokémon are headed). There are some big lessons and “good to remembers” that the Pokémon Go experience offers such a diverse marketing ecosystem as the channel. Here are some of them:

Constantly experiment

Try leveraging an unexpected delivery with a tried and true tactic. Take a good idea and combine it with different technology. Remember, sky writing a message over a crowd was once a “new” thing. And one day, geocaching treasure hunts related to your product or service will be old news. So try new, fail, improve, and try again.

Know your audience, but don’t be afraid to expand it

I’m sure the developers of Pokémon Go had a key demographic in mind as they were building the app. And I would bet that I wasn’t in it. I could also sit here and tell you about the million (+1) things I could have been spending my time doing over the weekend. Today, the Pokémon brand is forefront in the minds of all ages and professions. Gamers and non-gamers alike. Which brings me to my next point….

If your brand isn’t social, you’re doing it wrong

Social – as I was reminded when I met a dozen new people chasing down a Jigglypuff – isn’t “just” about keeping your Facebook or Twitter account active. As reported on The Guardian, “In just seven days since the game was released in the US, Australia and New Zealand, Pokémon Go has now almost certainly exceeded Twitter’s 65 million American users, and the game’s servers have repeatedly crashed under the strain of its popularity.” That’s a lot of Pokémon Go-getters.
Social today is also about content that allows consumers to connect. Not just with your brand, but with each other. Your consumers want to feel part of something bigger. They want to feel the community of your product. They want to be on the same team, and if not, they love the friendly competition (just ask my development team about their Pokemon quests.)

How we use marketing to get attention can change in an instant

It took years of hard work, ingenuity, and let’s not forget, money, for a software developer out of San Francisco to turn Pokémon Go from concept into reality. Years. Work. Money. And on its release, it swept across nations seemingly overnight and changed what we want out of our digital applications forever. Sure, we may not know the full effect just yet (we’re too busy finding the closest Pokéstop right now anyway). But be prepared for a new way of advertising, marketing, communicating to consumers that maybe you – or your budget- didn’t anticipate.

You can’t do it all on your own

Raise your hand if you knew the name “Niantic Labs” before July 6, 2016. Anyone?
Niantic Labs is a spinoff from Google, who created the game along with the Pokémon Company, an equity affiliate in which Nintendo owns 32%. So why do so many of the conversations I’ve had about Pokémon Go come back to Nintendo and how they are loving life right now. Today is definitely better than yesterday, but the truth is Nintendo stands to likely make the least from the success. Nintendo owns brand rights to the Pokémon franchise but was not responsible for the game development nor does it get a share of the revenue from in app purchases (those winners are Google and Apple.) What Nintendo is getting is some serious brand buzz that will only help them in the future. It’s like the most complicated channel partner program ever, and brands are winning by association. Remember that next time you interact with a partner or dealer, or any organization in your channel.

Of course, all of these things can’t be done well without the best technology. They can’t be done without excellent content. And they can’t be done without smart marketing. This weekend reminded me of this, and the Zift team will continue to work hard every day to design, write, and innovate channel marketing and management technology so our customers can focus on being the next big thing.

And if anyone has any tips for catching Charizard, leave them in the comments below. Asking for a friend.