Convert ‘Em All: A B2B Marketing Lesson From Pokemon Go

I, like many millennials, spent more than a couple hours this weekend running around outside with friends, playing Pokémon Go. You know things have gotten strange when you see young people wandering around a graveyard on a bright Sunday afternoon, walking with their phones held high in front of their faces.

They exchanged friendly greetings, as it isn’t difficult to discern a Pokémon Go player from the ordinary walker.

And it’s not just me. As of Sunday, July 10, Pokémon Go was about to surpass Twitter in the number of daily active users on Android. And the game has only been out for around a week.

A few weeks prior, the record-breaking movie Finding Dory took its place as Pixar’s biggest opener in history, making $$135 million in its first weekend on the silver screen.

According to CinemaScore, when you compare attendance rates, “the under 18 crowd’s attendance shrank from 51% to 38% while the 18-24 doubled from 9% to 18%, and the 25-34 demo upticked from 13% to 14%.”

It seems the easiest way to attract the millennial audience is to play off their nostalgia. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise year and so most of the original watchers and players of the games and television series are now making decisions at companies worldwide.

And while Pokémon plays specifically off the childhoods of most 20-somethings, there is opportunity to create nostalgia outside the popular 90s throwbacks.


How Nostalgia Works

Scientists have discovered that while nostalgia often stems from negative feelings(such as loneliness), it actually helps to ease those feelings and promote good and positive ones.

That’s why when you hear that song that you played on repeat in the car with your high school sweetheart, you get surges of happiness. Some of the psychological benefits include: reduced stress, increased feelings of social connectedness, enhanced mood, and even feelings that your life has purpose.


It can be triggered by a smell, a song, a sight, or even reconnecting with an old friend. And it happens on average about once a week to most people, maybe closer to three or more times for some people. It’s really no wonder that Pokémon Go is so effective. After all, those in their 20s are some of the most nostalgic along with those over 50.

So how do you, in the B2B world, harness nostalgia? After all, most B2B brands have a different kind of history with their prospects and customers. They’re unlikely to be attached to any kind of fond childhood memories. So what are you to do?


Utilize the History You Have

One thing that makes B2B unique is the length of relationships. If your company has a 10+ year relationship with another company, you can use nostalgia as a powerful tool to strengthen that relationship.

Remind your clients of key points in the relationship, like the signing of deals or the first product that they purchased from you.

Not to mention, while your current relationships will be strengthened by the sense of history, current prospects will see how well your current client relationships are going, which could drive conversion in the future.


Use Holidays and Events

Remember that wild time at the trade show? How about the lovely dinner your sales rep shared with one of your clients? These are moments that you can use to create nostalgia. Bring up the event in your content or create a social post referencing the event, making those who were there look back at the event fondly.

These relationship-building events and moments are ample fodder for those looking to use nostalgia in B2B.


Make Sure the Memories Are Positive and Meaningful

But on that same note, not every business interaction goes smoothly. Maybe your relationship with another company has been long and rocky. They keep buying from you because they have to, not because they want to.

These are not the ones you want to target with nostalgic marketing.

Don’t attempt nostalgia just because you want to try it. Your effort to create a warm, emotional connection will fall flat due to its insincerity. You want to create an “Aww, I remember that” effect as opposed to, “Look at this company try to make me like them using a picture of a 90s cartoon.” The first works, the second absolutely does not.



Have you ever used nostalgia as a marketing tool? How did you do it? Was it effective? Let us know in the comments section.



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[…] Augmented Reality – Augmented reality is virtual reality’s little sister. This technology is being implemented through camera filters on platforms like snapchat, and was brought to the public’s attention by the short-lived Pokémon Go. […]

[…] tactic is to use nostalgia to connect with your audience. People love reminiscing about the past, so jokes that your audience […]

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