The firestorm of Pokemon GO is literally almost impossible to ignore. What can be learned from the extreme ramp up in popularity of this game?

It’s taking over the world! Kids, young adults, teenagers and adults – they’re all going crazy over Pokemon GO!

Despite the craze of the Augmented Reality (AR) game Pokemon GO, no, I am not walking around aimlessly in random places holding my smartphone out in front of my face to find all of the Pokemons. Or whatever it is you find in that game. Mainly because I’m not 15 years old and I have things to do.

BUT, that won’t stop me from trying to draw some parallels between this latest fad and our beloved banking industry. While poking some fun along the way.

In my opinion, this craze could not have happened at a better time for many people. People are in dire need of a distraction from real life. Going full tilt with augmented reality seems like a good choice. As long as you don’t go stomping around sacred places like cemeteries and Holocaust memorials and museums (yes, both of those have happened), everyone’s entitled to a little cut-loose time.

So what am I missing here? Why did this game explode with adoption rates in such a short period of time? Besides the fact that the vast majority of young Millennials grew up on Pokemon and are looking for a way to retreat to their youth, that is. Better yet: what tools can extrapolate from Pokemon GO and cash in for ourselves?

So, for someone who has yet to get addicted, here are my key take-aways to find a winning combination for our own customers and members:

  1. Interaction. Pokemon GO is creating a whole new level of interaction for video games. As bank and credit union marketers, our goal is to think about new levels of interaction for our customers. What tools can we use to increase interaction and drive customer satisfaction at the same time?
  2. Engagement. Interaction drives engagement. The more engaged our customers are, the further we move away from being the “transaction base” of our customers’ lives, and the closer we get to making actual connections that lead to lifelong financial relationships.
  3. Diversion. Real life hasn’t been fun lately and people are always looking for a summertime diversion, which is part of the huge success of Pokemon GO. Finances are really no different. Most people do not enjoy thinking about their finances, talking about their finances, or managing their finances. Consumers need a diversion. They need to have banking treated differently.
  4. Fun. Who doesn’t like a little fun? And to what level can we make banking fun while still fitting in with our brand (realizing, of course, that this will be easier for some than others).

These four components might be the winning combination to capture that lightening in a bottle that Pokemon GO has done. But, it doesn’t have to be complex or sophisticated. Many financial customers are so starved for a change in routine that the slightest positive change will drive them to do more business with you.

So get out there, have some fun! Just keep your head up and don’t walk into traffic!