James Delves
James Delves 18 August 2016
Categories B2B, Content, Mobile, Technology

What Pokémon Go Can Teach B2B Marketing

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (rather than looking under it for a Pikachu) I am sure you’ve heard of the global phenomenon of Pokémon Go. Within two days of its launch, over 5% of all Android users in the US had downloaded the app.

A week later it has surpassed both Instagram and WhatsApp in user usage time and driven Nintendo’s stock price up 25% (adding £6.9bn to its value). So what can Pokémon Go teach B2B marketing? In my opinion quite a bit.

These figures are impressive but what is interesting is that it’s taken a retro-gaming company to drive Augmented Reality (AR) into the mind-set of the public. For years AR has threatened to breakthrough with a range of apps, headsets and tools available, which range from simple car maintenance to fighting fires with helmet-mounted displays which provide building blueprints and gas lines.

An analyst view

Gartner last year placed augmented reality in its ‘trough of disillusionment phase’ in its annual Hype Cycle report. A year later Gartner reports that by 2018 around 25 million virtual and augmented reality headsets will be sold to consumers and leading enterprise AR vendor Marxent has been listed as a ‘Cool Vendor’ by the analyst agency.

So why the sudden change in fortune? Quite simply, consumers don’t normally adopt new technologies on mass off the back of features or very often even brands. They do however embrace stories and engaging end-user experiences. Augmented reality enabled Nintendo to create a fantasy world within the real-world, which people could dip into for a manner of minutes, have fun playing one of a hundred stories and then share their experiences with their friends in a new and engaging way.

A tool for B2B marketing?

B2B brands are perfectly placed to take advantage of augmented reality, but it requires a change of investment, away from traditional storytelling found in white papers etc. to a more engaging approach.

Nintendo could have created another Pokémon game (there have been seven generations of the game so far and 279 million units sold worldwide) but by taking a more innovative approach to storytelling they’ve reached and influenced a global market.

It’s too easy for organisations (particularly in the B2B sector) to confuse ‘content’ and ‘great story telling’. Sirius Decisions, estimates 70% of marketing content is not used by sales teams as it does not accurately reflect the interests or requirements of prospects. Rather than creating reams of corporate material, I would preach a more modern strategic approach. By truly understanding your customers needs through techniques such as digital forensics it’s possible to create more relevant, impactful corporate stories that can be taken to market in new innovative ways.

Game over?

So next time you pass someone glued to their phone frantically engaging with Nintendo’s content, rather than laughing at them, maybe consider how you would feel if that was your leading prospect acting in the same way with your marketing content.

Maybe we can all learn something from the gaming sector after all.

James is Gilroy's content strategist. 

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