Last time we talked about how to turn customers who don’t play Magic into beginner/casual players. That article can be found here if you haven’t read it yet. The principle behind the concept of the Customer Development progression is that a local game store owner should invest into its customers in order to create customers that will return that investment into their business. This applies not only to Magic but also to other genres of gaming as well. The tactics will be different for miniatures or board game players but the idea will be the same.
To pick up where we left off, the next stage of a Magic player’s development is that of the Casual player. Casual players have also been known by the moniker “kitchen table player” because they have a tendency to play mostly with their friends in their homes. A Casual player may only visit their local game store occasionally to buy booster packs and perhaps a few individual cards for their deck.
Understanding where a player lies in the progression is the best way to know how to cater to them. Pointing out your excellent prices on tournament staples will not likely excite the casual player as much as showing them your dollar rare box or talking to them about their Warrior tribal deck they are building.
Casual players also tend not to play in tournaments often as they can be intimidating the first time. This is a good opportunity for your store as casual players are one of the most profitable segments of the Magic community. If you serve them well and create a place where they feel welcome and comfortable, they will reward you with their business and loyalty. Beyond the intro tournament we talked about in the previous post the best tournament to introduce casual players to is FNM. For the uninitiated, that is Wizards of the Coast’s own event series known as Friday Night Magic and every store with gaming space that sells Magic should be running them.
They are by far the most popular Magic events in terms of consistency and they are well supported by WotC to boot. This is where registering with the WPN as an event organizer comes in.
Any store can sell Magic once they have access to a distributer. Any store can run tournaments as well but to gain access to WotC’s Wizards Play Network and their support your store has to be registered. It’s free and relatively easy. There are only a few requirements:
- A physical location in a commercial/retail district.
- A retail area offering current Wizards of the Coast products for sale to customers.
- A space to host organized play events.
- A store sign.
- Regular business hours.
The link to apply is right here. This means that if you’re reading this for research into opening your own store but don’t have a physical location yet you won’t be able to register. Don’t delay though, a successful Magic retailer needs to be a part of the WPN in order to gain access to premium level tournaments. Becoming a member of the WPN should be one of the top priorities once your business has opened its doors.
Friday Night Magic is one of the easiest ways to get a casual player more involved with a store’s competitive scene and the Magic community in general. It’s a friendly tournament with cool prizes where players can gather and meet new friends that share their hobby. If a Casual player comes into your store during one of their infrequent visits don’t be afraid to ask them if they are coming to FNM this week.
A trend I have observed with local game stores is that the person behind the counter, whether that is the owner or an employee, usually avoids engaging their customers. Many people walk into the store, get the usual “Hello, is there anything I can help you with?” greeting and that is the extent of it. It’s as if the person running the store is trying to avoid interrupting the customer or avoid being “salesy”. A few words on this.
If this sounds like you, cut it out. You run a game store and sell fun and enjoyment. Besides the fact that a person entering your store has already implicitly stated they are interested in what you have to sell, if you believe in your products and services you are doing a disservice to your customer by not trying to engage them. You should be excited to share the wonderful world of games and Magic with your customers.
Running a consistent and well organized FNM every Friday is great way to build and grow your local player base. It attracts new players because of its friendly environment as well as experienced players interested in winning some sweet foil promo cards like this Brain Maggot on the right.
Wizards struck quite the chord when they created the FNM program. It’s just the right mix that tends to appeal to nearly all Magic players. It’s also a great training ground for players looking to improve their skills beyond that of a Casual player and grow into the next phase of the progression. Casual/Competitive players (or Competitive/Casual players depending on how much of a priority winning is) cut their teeth on FNM.
Which is where we are going to step away today. So to summarize what we have learned so far, people who have never played Magic before are at the beginning of the progression as Non-players. Through the efforts of your store you can turn Non-players into Casual players through demonstrations and a program that cultivates a customer’s ability to play and enjoy the game. With your knowledge of the game you can answer their questions and engage these players, thus generating some loyalty points.
Moving into the next phase involves introducing the budding Casual player to the world of structured events and encouraging them to visit the store more often in order to meet other players and take their hobby to the next level. At each stage of development your customer will likely be spending a higher average amount of their time and money at your store. You get recurring revenue for your business while the customer is getting immense value by playing a game they love in a community that you have created. A true win/win relationship. And as I said above the details may differ but the principles are the same for most forms of gaming.
Next time we’ll go into what make the Casual/Competitive player so valuable to have in your community and how to get your customers to help grow your community for you.
ps. If you haven’t checked out the post previous to this one you should really check it out. Here’s a link to make it easier. Later.