With the sudden explosion of Pokémon GO, business owners everywhere are scrambling to learn how to use this popular mobile game to benefit their stores.

For businesses to truly understand how they can use Pokémon GO to grow their business, we need to better understand the roots and thoughts behind the game. With this in mind, we decided to reach out to one of the top-ranked Pokémon card players in the world, 11-year old Malachi Fox. He shared a bit about the game and tried to help us understand the difference between Pokémon card games and Pokémon GO, and how it could possibly work for SMB owners.

Pokemon Go business

Malachi Fox, on how he got started with Pokémon:

“My friend, Bobby, gave me my first Pokémon card. It seemed pretty interesting so I wanted to learn to play the game. My Mom spent time learning the rules on the Internet, we got more cards, and then started playing as a family. At first, learning the game was the challenge, because it’s complicated. Now, the game itself is challenging because you need strategy to play.”

On what is needed and where Pokémon has taken him:

“My family is my biggest support system. My Dad is my unofficial coach. Also, there are nearby Pokémon ‘gyms’ we go to. I have lots of friends there to battle with, which is basically how you sharpen your skills. It’s worked for me. I was ranked first in the Midwest region and the highest ranking I’ve achieved was seventh in the US. However, those rankings fluctuate. I came in 25th at Nationals this year as a finalist. We have attended tournaments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Kansas, Indiana… and this year, the Pokémon World Championship will be held in San Francisco, California.”

On the media coverage and spreading the idea of Pokémon:

“Last year, the Star Tribune, which is our local Minnesota newspaper, ask to feature a story about my Pokémon success. They were interested in the article because I had won six City Championships in a row. It was fun to see myself in the paper, because I got interviewed and a photographer followed me with a camera taking pictures. It was especially nice, though, because it helped spread the idea of Pokémon in the area.”

On the financial side of his success:

“There’s money to be made with Pokémon, but it takes a lot of time and work. I have earned a lot of championship points throughout the season by placing well at tournaments, Pokémon was awesome in helping out with travel expenses… they awarded me travel stipends. Also, for placing 25th at Nationals, I earned $750.”

On Pokémon GO:

“Pokémon GO seems like it’d be the best of both worlds, you get the competition and strategy and also get to walk outside. Not many gamers do that these days… or maybe non-gamers, either. It will definitely get YouTubers and gamers off their butts. LoL It’s fun, to be able to capture Pokémon in the “real” world.”

On the differences between Pokémon and Pokémon GO:

“There are a lot of differences between the two games. The card game is full of strategy and skill. Pokémon GO, though I haven’t played it much yet, seems to be more about capturing Pokémon and having fun with friends, like you would with a typical video game. The only strategy you use with Pokémon GO is when you are building your initial team. It’s easier. Basically, Pokémon GO has become popular because it’s a fun, simple way for people to get outside and be a part of something interesting. Also, YouTubers want to make more money, so they record it to get more subscribers. It is a good way for people who don’t know Pokémon to see what it is all about… but the card game is still where it’s at.”

On how Pokémon helps with life skills:

‘Pokémon, the card game, has helped me with math, reading, and strategy. My brain has grown, and I’ve become a better thinker. I’ve also gotten to see many places in the USA that we’d have never been able to travel, if not for the Pokémon championships.

Pokémon Go would help with the physical fitness and social side of life, especially since it makes you get out and walk to hatch “eggs”. Haha For me, though, I’ve grown up playing team sports like baseball, soccer… and practicing tae kwon do. Those things, and Pokémon meets, keep me moving and social.

On Pokémon GO and businesses:

“I’ve read in articles and seen in real life, how Pokémon GO is helping some local businesses. They’re smart, because they’re keeping up with the trends and advertising themselves as Poke Stops. I wish all of my favorite places would put up Pokémon Lures and Stops. If they were really on it, businesses could hold special events that utilize the special nature of Pokémon GO… like that dog shelter did in Indiana. Or they could offer perks to battle in their Pokémon ‘gym’. Some do this kind of thing already with Pokémon card game. For example, our local Mcdonald’s has handed out special Pokémon promo cards.”

On practical advice for Pokémon players, far and wide:

Players, practice. If you keep practicing, you’ll get better. And for Pokémon Go players especially, don’t get lost with a dead battery while playing your game. LoL

So now that you’ve gotten a feel of the game from official Pokémon champion and expert, Malachi Fox, are the creative business ideas starting to spin?

How can you, as a small-to-medium business owner, maximize your foot traffic and sales with Pokémon GO? It can be as simple as buying and setting out Pokémon Stops and Lures around your shop and watching the traffic flood in. Or you can think of something more creative, designed specifically to fit the needs of your business and its target audience.

Do you have ideas for using Pokémon GO to help your business? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!