We’ve got a serious case of the Drowzees here at Forge HQ, and I don’t mean the mid-afternoon slumps. I’m talking about Pokédex entry #096, the languid little tapir-teddy bear hybrids I’ve been catching via iPhone all over Boston’s Back Bay. We’ve come down with Pokémon Go fever, and as it turns out, the gameplay of this reanimated 90’s fad just might have something to teach us about how to level up our business-to-business marketing.

For the uninitiated, let me first congratulate you on managing to avoid both public places and media trend pieces for a full week. The Washington Post put together a nice 90-second primer on the augmented reality app sweeping the nation, so I’ll pause while you get caught up.

There have been plenty of write-ups on what Pokémon Go has done for augmented reality demand, small business traffic, enterprising pickpockets, and Nintendo shareholders over the past few days. But over the past few midday Pokémon hunting expeditions—or as I used to call them, lunch breaks—I realized what was really missing from the cannon of Pokémon literature was an incisive exploration about the parallels between swiping little red and white balls at cryptozoological creatures and the tenets of an account-based marketing strategy for B2B industries.

Here are my top five business-to-business marketing epiphanies encountered on the hunt for my next catch:

ONE WHALE IS WORTH AN OCEAN OF SMALL FRY

In the Pokésphere, critters have a specific metamorphic trajectory, with the all-important Combat Power (CP) increasing exponentially as you climb the evolutionary ladder. Low-level specimens are plentiful, but not particularly useful—it’s their evolved counterparts that pack a big punch. With the objective of the game being to conquer and defend Pokémon battlegrounds, or gyms, concentrating your resources on developing and nurturing your strongest creatures is a smart strategy.

And wouldn’t you know it, the same goes for business-to-business marketing. Cultivating and nurturing a few key accounts that will prove the most valuable for your organization is smarter than constantly chasing after little one-offs. By treating each B2B account as a market in its own right, building deep connections across the organization, and providing meaningful, personalized insights to help your clients achieve their business goals, you’ll become a power player in your industry.

DEDICATION PAYS DIVIDENDS

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that those Pokéballs aren’t going to collect themselves. If you want to make it in the Pokéworld, you’ve got to stay alert—yes, for traffic, but also for opportunities. It may cost you every ounce of battery life, but by keeping your eyes peeled for new Pokéstops you can collect those little creature-catching orbs and other precious potions and peculiarities to keep your stable healthy and happy.

Sound familiar? Landing—and just as importantly, keeping—a big account takes hard work. Especially in the long slog typical of the B2B sales cycle. But when it comes to closing new business and retaining existing accounts, there’s no substitute for hard work. Go beyond just keeping up communication—it takes a good deal of extra effort, but by ensuring that the information and solutions you offer are customized and targeted to your contacts’ needs, you’ll be sure to see your efforts pay off.

YOU CAN’T PUT A PRICE ON PERSONALIZATION

When it comes to Pokémon, the real secret sauce is the app’s ability to seamlessly integrate into a player’s world. By pivoting from a game that you play on your phone to one you play with your phone, Pokémon Go offers the ultimate personalization by existing within a context that we already understand and are invested in. To say nothing of the opportunity the game provides to explore and learn more about your neighborhood, there is no greater joy than catching an anthropomorphic seahorse on the head of a hardworking colleague.

At the end of the day, people—and to an even greater degree, businesspeople—are selfish creatures. Your prospects and clients want insights and information that is directly relevant to them and actionable for their challenges. By providing that kind of meaningful, customized content to them, we’re able to become an invaluable resource and earn not only their attention, but their business as well.

EAT, BREATHE, AND SLEEP STATISTICS

By my calculations, a Pokémaster is tasked with keeping track of no fewer than 27 player figures, 13 commodity levels, and 12 data points for every single adorable Pokémon. And you better not sleep on your numbers. Run out of Pokéballs with a creature in your crosshairs? Listen closely—that’s the sound of you blowing your chance. Dare to step to a challenger without noticing she’s got double your Combat Power? Hope you’ve got a backpack full of revive diamonds, because you just got knocked out. On the flip side, once you earn the magical number of candies a creature needs to evolve into its higher form, you’re in the money.

When it comes to relationship-driven B2B sales and marketing, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of analytics. But it’s crucial to measure your baseline for traditional measurements like lead volume, pipeline velocity, close rate, and annual contract value as well as account-based metrics like coverage, awareness, engagement, program impact, and influence. By keeping your finger on the pulse of both quantitive and qualitative success metrics, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what’s working, what’s not, and how to optimize for the best possible results.

SOMETIMES YOU’VE JUST GOT TO POUND THE PAVEMENT

As a desk jockey, imagine my disappointment upon realizing that Pokémon Go basically goes dark if I’m not physically moving. Like a gamified FitBit, I’ve got to be covering real-world ground—at walking speed no less, thwarting would-be 60 mph Pokéscouts—in order to trigger the appearance of creatures and activate Pokéstops. And assuming all players take the necessary precautions to avoid oncoming traffic and pedestrians, there’s a lot of good that can come from an irresistible compulsion to go for a stroll. I’ll tell you one thing—my dog has had the time of his life with double walks this week.

No matter how many print-and-frame-worthy whitepapers or customized to the hilt landing pages you produce, there’s no substitute for face-to-face. In a digital sales and marketing age, it’s important to remember that a little investment of in-person time and attention goes a long way. Because after all, isn’t that the most personalized content of all?


Forge’s Technology Marketing Group is exclusively focused on building brand and product awareness, conversion-focused campaigns, and sales enablement tools. To learn more about Forge or our Technology Marketing Group, email Jesse Strawbridge.