Magic: the Gathering is an excellent game. 21 years and still growing is a pretty good track record. It is fairly easy for a local game store to open up, declare that they have game tables and Magic cards for sale and have a steady source of income for their business. The trouble is that too many would be store owners do just that, open up their shop and hope that the Magic community will take care of them. That “strategy” will only carry them so far and will then usually result in said game store closing it’s doors for good. I’m guessing that since you’re reading this you don’t want to go down that path. That’s good.
A successful Magic business uses a progression to develop their customers. It looks something like this.
Level up your customers and you will level up your business.
The first time a customer walks through your doors you will likely have no idea where on the spectrum they lie. Besides being a great way to make your customers more loyal to your store, discovering more about them is crucial to finding out what kind of player they are and figuring out the best way to serve them. Each level of player requires a different approach to unlock their potential as a customer for your store.
Non players are the customers who have never even heard of Magic before or haven’t yet played a game of one. They need the most hand holding but present the greatest opportunity for development.
Wizards of the Coast and Magic in general has seen such tremendous growth over the last five years because of WotC’s strategy of aggressively recruiting new players to the game. Local game stores can also use this strategy to great effect. By actively engaging new customers who turn out to be Non Players and helping them learn the basics of the game, store owners can create new customers for their business that may over the course of their time in the game spend several thousand dollars at their shop.
The most effective way to introduce a customer to Magic is to play a game with them. A demonstration set up before hand that is created with the idea of teaching the basics to new customers can be one of your best recruitment tools.
Have two decks made up of simple Core Set cards of roughly equal strength and walk them through an example game. You can even stack the decks so that they play out the same way each time. Go through the basics until the customer has a grasp of how to play and then allow them to make their own decisions. Ideally you let the customer win their first game to get that feel good association with the experience.
Beyond the demo there are a few tools that your game store should be using to help recruitment new players.
- A new player package: Once a player begins to show interest in learning more and getting deeper into the game you should be at the ready with a tailor made set of products just for them. Something along the lines of an Intro pack, a few boosters, a pack of sleeves, and their first binder. Offer them a special price and help them get started in the Magic community on the right foot.
- Designated open play time: Have a specific section of your weekly schedule set aside for free play. Encourage your new players to come in and meet other players in their local area in a casual setting where they can continue to learn and have fun at the same time. This is also a great time for new players to be introduced into the concept of trading.
- A new players only tournament: Depending on how often new players come into your store you should be able to have an event organized specifically for them every month or so. Make it a Standard constructed format event and, this is important, it should be free. Offer a small amount of store credit to the top X number of players and give each participant a booster pack. The pack will entice them and the tournament will teach them how to play in a safe, comfortable introduction into the world of Magic competition.
The basic idea is to invest a little time and money into new customers and in return they will invest their time and money into your business. These are some of the tools that turn Non Players into Casual Players. Next time we’ll dive into how to cater to your store’s Casual Player base and what it means to have an Events Manager for your business.
Leave a comment down below sharing your strategies for introducing new players to the game of Magic.
Until next time.