Pokémon What Now?

pokemon1As we search for business lessons in the game’s wild success, it’s natural to ask: What’s the takeaway for publishers? Or are we wasting our breath?

In the wake of Pokémon Go’s rampant, pandemic success, industry bloggers of every stripe are penning posts about the lessons to be learned.

Like most phenomenally successful products, this kind of success is a fare combination of timing, technology and trust. Timing, because it’s summer, kids are bored and the rest of the news feed has gone insane; technology, through repurposing of a familiar concept remade for the newest platform; and trust, because the target audience already has a huge affinity for the Nintendo brand from childhood.

Brilliant, really.

Can publishers possibly expect to have any similar kind of success, or are we kidding ourselves?

Certainly, some publishers are benefitting through good SEO and piggyback marketing, as Chris Sutcliffe explains in the Media Briefing – but if they’re looking for their own viral rock star they won’t find it here, he explains.

“Even thoughtful, forward-thinking pieces about lessons from Pokémon Go like this one from Poynter’s Melody Kramer are written with the assumption publishers have a product which audiences are not only willing to pay for, but offer access to their data and time for,” he writes. “Without an IP like Pokémon attached, I seriously doubt any similar endeavour from publishers will find success of anywhere near that magnitude.”

“It’s understandable that media companies should look at Pokémon Go and wonder whether they can learn any lessons from it,” Sutcliffe continues. “After all, since mobile is the preeminent battleground for user attention now, it is essentially a direct rival. Nor are we entirely blameless, having encouraged similar comparisons: In the past, I’ve advocated media companies take a look at the games industry’s success in diversifying its revenue.”

He’s probably right that we won’t see a hit of this size coming out of the publishing industry. But I believe there are lessons to be learned here; mainly that understanding your customer relationship is the beginning, middle and end of everything. Anything less than a committed audience-first focus is the real waste of breath.

Try searching for what lights up your reader, and give them more – much more – of that.