IMG_2355Even if you’re not playing Pokémon GO, you’ve definitely heard of its roaring success. (Or, at the very least, you’ve seen people staring at their phones as they walk down the street even more than usual…now you know why.)

In case you’re not addicted yet, here’s a brief introduction: Pokémon GO is an Augmented Reality (or AR) smartphone game based on the popular Pokémon franchise, in which players open up their smartphones to see a map of their current location transposed onto their screen. This map includes ‘gyms’, at which players battle against each other to gain mastery, and ‘Pokestops’, at which players can pick up useful supplies.

Most importantly, this map also includes Pokémon, which spawn randomly as a player walks around and changes areas on the map. When they see a Pokémon appear, they can tap on it with their finger to ‘catch’ it and add it to their collection.

But what makes this simple game so addictive? And, more importantly, how can you apply these tendencies to your advocate marketing program? Here are three lessons you can use from this game to build up the success of your advocacy program:

1. Build connections both online and offline

A big part of the fascination with Pokémon GO revolves around the fact that everyone is talking about it online, from posts on forum sites by obsessed users to major news outlets like The New York Times. Players are sharing tips and tricks to up each others’ game, and forming an online community.

And that’s not all. Although it’s based online, there are still opportunities for players to connect in the real world. Players can choose to be on the same team as their friends, or battle against them. Plus, since players are also forced to walk around in order to discover new Pokémon and gyms, they’re simultaneously discovering new locations in their town—and meeting other players in real life.

It’s the same for advocacy. A big part of your advocate marketing program should involve building connections between your advocates and allowing them to expand their networks, not only within an online platform but offline as well—through conferences, meetups, or simply inviting your advocates to drop by your office.

Adopting this two-pronged strategy ensures you’re getting to know your advocates on a more personal level and forming deeper connections. It’s also giving them the chance to build their networks and get  even more value from your program. Finally, offline meetups offer you the chance to connect with customers you may not even have known were advocates. (So go out there and catch ‘em all!)

2. Tap into activities your audience already does

The only thing you need to play Pokémon GO is a smartphone with internet connectivity. Since it’s meant to be played while walking, it’s easy to fit it into your day: all you have to do is open up your phone as you’re walking to the office or heading to the grocery store.

The style of Pokémon GO is also perfectly suited to its user base. Many people played Pokémon when they were younger (or their children did), so they already know how to play—and it also brings back fond memories of childhood. It’s the combination of both things—convenient technology and familiar gameplay— that helped make it a smash hit.

In a similar vein, learning how your advocates behave and tailoring your communications to them is key. This has three main components:

    1. Scheduling: Make sure your communications fit into your advocates’ schedule. For example, if they work 9-5 weekdays, sending out an urgent ask Friday at 4:50 isn’t the best idea.
    2. Convenience: Make it easy for advocates to access content by keeping everything important in one centralized platform that’s familiar to them.
    3. Tone:  Are your advocates fun-loving marketers, or serious finance professionals? Tailoring your messages to match your advocates’ personality will help them resonate.

3. Make everything a competition

Pokémon GO users thrive on competition. They want to catch all the different Pokémon, beat other users in gyms and be the very best—like no one ever was.

Turning your advocate marketing program into a game helps ensure your advocates will get hooked. Although they might not be battling each other, you can still incentivize them to compete by implementing a points and recognition system in your program every time they complete an activity. Leaderboards, badges and opportunities to showcase their accomplishments will also incentivize your advocates to participate.

Worried that your customers wouldn’t be interested in fun and games? Here are some real-life examples that our customers have done that showcase how to keep your advocate program both fun and professional:

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