You know those mindless zombies walking around town blankly staring into their cell phones?  For the last few weeks, they may not be checking texts or watching a YouTube video.  Many of these adults are collecting Pokémon.

Yeah, that’s not a typo, though I kinda wish it was.  Grown-ass people (and kids) are walking around town collecting invisible game characters with their phone. Then hanging out at special locations to “train” and “fight” them.

Ikea Augmented Reality CatalogFor most of you Pokémon Go is not news. One Bloomberg report says the game already has more active users than Snapchat! It also is NOT the birth of augmented reality, it’s only the first most public use. Ikea has had an AR catalog since 2014, allowing you to “place” their furniture in your home from your phone or tablet.

When I first heard “augmented reality,” I originally thought people were talking about the 2016 Presidential Election. But, no! According to  the article How Augmented Reality Works, “The basic idea of augmented reality is to superimpose graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements over a real-world environment in real time.”

Pokémon Go is a perfect example. People are using the camera on their phone like a looking glass to the world. And the magic Pokémon people have used the phone’s GPS to place hidden items. So, through your phone, you’ll see a real tree, but next to that tree would be a cartoon item to “collect.” Look up from your phone and the cartoon’s gone, back down to your screen and there it is … augmented reality.

Aside from the Pokémon aspect of it … it’s really cool stuff.

Now every Marketer in the country is trying to shoehorn this technology into their marketing plan to be the next cool kid on the block.

My advice? Educate yourself on it. Relook at your strategic plan and see where it might fit. Play, “what if.”  But also remember QR codes. Granted, augmented reality has a much higher “coolness factor,” but if QR taught us anything it’s not to do cool for the sake of cool.

But, “what if” is fun, so assuming it fits with your strategic objectives … what if:

  • You held your own Pokémon Go style scavenger hunt driving your retail customers to your commercial business client’s locations
  • You used AR for directional purposes … Guiding customers to your commercial client’s places of business?
  • You used AR in your branches. You could replace TV screens with signs that say “point your phone here for the latest message from us (car buying tips, investment advice, a message from the CEO, fun videos)
  • Every mortgage you do has an AR logo of your institution on their front door. Collect so many logos for waived closing costs (see who, in your neighborhood, uses us for their mortgage)
  • Instead of sales collateral, you have baseball card-sized pieces with product names on them. When a customer holds their phone to the card, it displays a 3D figure or you telling the customer about the benefits of your product – like Princess Leia say, “help me Obi Wan Kanobi, you’re my only hope.”

The absurd success of Pokémon Go (please let this be the LAST time I ever have to talk about Pokémon!!!), may be the launching board for augmented reality. It certainly has made the technology a more household idea. Just make sure to proceed with caution.

I have a client that is placing Pokémon lures at a community event, and publicizing it on social media, to help drive traffic. There certainly are uses. Just keep in mind, that if you have to try too hard to make AR work or if you’re using it only because your CEO said it was “cool” you might want to reconsider.

In addition to being a bank and credit union strategic consultant, MarketMatch also has nationally and internationally requested speakers. Contact us to bring our marketing ideas to your institution or next conference.

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