Store turns Pokemon Go players into vehicle buyers
Pokemon Go players stand in front of the Tundra Horse, a Pokestop on the Street Toyota lot.
Street Toyota salesman Nick Schuman has found a way to catch Pokemon and customers at the same time.
While Schuman was on the Street Toyota lot tracking down the fictional creatures on a Sunday afternoon in late July during the store’s first Pokemon Go event, he crossed paths with fellow players who soon became clients. Schuman couldn’t make sales or discuss pricing on a Sunday for legal reasons, but the rapport he built with consumers while playing the wildly popular augmented-reality game was instrumental in closing two deals in the following days.
The Amarillo, Texas, store ended up selling three used vehicles to people who attended the event. The buyers had never done business with Street Toyota before.
The dealership used the horse to promote its event.
The get-together, which drew around 50 people, was so successful that Street Toyota is planning another gathering on Sunday, Aug. 28. During that event, the store plans to have a tent while giving out water and Pokemon cookies.
“People come to the lot with a barrier,” Schuman, 25, told Automotive News. “When you find common ground immediately, it just makes the process so much easier. I guess if you’re playing Pokemon, you’re not the stereotypical, extremely pushy car salesman. You’re kind of a nerd.”
Since its July release, Pokemon Go has sent players to random locations around their cities — including two daredevils who fell off a California cliff — in quests to catch Pokemon through their smartphones. Instead of brushing off the Pokemon Go craze as another fad, Street Toyota is capitalizing on the hype in an effort to reach new buyers.
The dealership spent $25 to promote its Pokemon Go gathering on Facebook and Instagram. It dropped another $20 on “lures,” which are purchased in the game to attract more Pokemon to a location.
The dealership also generated interest by publicizing the event via local Pokemon Go enthusiast groups on Facebook.
The $45 investment resulted in Street Toyota selling a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country along with two Ford Escapes from the 2010 and 2011 model years.
Schuman sold one of the Escapes to a pair of buddies who appeared to be roommates. The men came by the dealership to play Pokemon Go and returned the next day to trade in their vehicle for the Escape, which they saw while catching Pokemon on the Street Toyota lot.
The Town & Country was sold to a couple with four children. Schuman met the couple during the Pokemon hunt and the family came back to the store the next two days to settle on a vehicle and close the deal.
While paperwork was being signed, Schuman said he activated a Pokemon lure to keep the children occupied.
Brad Paschal, e-commerce director for Street Auto Group, said he’s trying to get his Volkswagen store recognized in the game as a Pokestop — a location where players can collect items such as the Pokeballs used to capture Pokemon. In the future, Paschal said businesses will be able to pay to have Pokestops on their properties.
Paschal said Street Toyota was labeled as a Pokestop when the game launched. The store didn’t have to do anything to gain that status.
Paschal added that Reunion Marketing, the agency that handles Street Auto Group’s search engine marketing, came up with the idea of a Pokemon Go promotion.
“We can’t discount anything that gets this much attention,” Paschal said. “Our job as dealers is to embrace those types of things and figure out how to apply it to our business to benefit ourselves and our customers.”
Abram Sirignano, group director of the Fjord New York Studio, said Pokemon Go’s simplicity makes it easy to pick up. He said “Pokemon,” a popular cartoon in the 1990s that spawned products such as video games and trading cards, was an influential cultural phenomenon.
Nonautomotive companies have joined the craze. The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, for example, opened EverBank Field to Pokemon Go players on July 25.
“A lot of businesses are actually picking up on this because it’s a real-world game,” Sirignano said this month during a speech at the Digital Dealer Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. “It’s an absolute phenomenon.”