WPN Orientation: Player Path

October 23, 2019 | 6 min to read

New players are the lifeblood of a successful WPN store. Even the best stores will gradually lose customers, so it is best if we think of player acquisition as a continuous effort. In this article, we’ll discuss best practices for player acquisition, how you’ll help them learn the game, and the types of products you’ll carry that encourage your customers to keep coming back for more.

Review the Player Path checklist here:

This article will cover the following topics in more detail:

  1. New Player Acquisition
  2. Organizing a Demo
  3. A Product for Every Player
  4. Strategic Merchandising

New Player Acquisition

Organizing events to get new players through your doors should be an essential function in your store’s work flowchart, as it is key to growing and maintaining a healthy community and customer base. Have a strategy to acquire new players from several sources: your existing in-store community, your outside community, and walk-ins.

In-store Community

Many WPN retailers consider word-of-mouth marketing an integral part of their marketing strategy. However, word-of-mouth marketing is not as effective without a plan to take advantage of it. Generate new potential customers by implementing a Bring-a-Friend program to incentivize your regulars for inviting new players to your business. A friendly gesture is to reward your regular with a simple gift for bringing their friend along for a demo.

Outside Community

It is also important to spread awareness of your store’s offerings with active targeted outreach efforts. Establish a friendly relationship with a local community center, such as a library or a school. Also consider building partnerships with local escape rooms, videogame stores, fast food restaurants or tourism offices. Position your store as a safe space for players to go when they want to learn or play games. Post flyers and advertise learn-to-play events to spread the message.

Walk-Ins

When new players come to your store to learn Magic, you need to be prepared! Make sure you and your staff know how to run demonstrations for Magic. You’ll want to have a plan for on-demand demos, as well as during dedicated learn-to-play events you schedule in advance.

Organizing a Demo

The best demos are quick, easy, and fun. If you don’t have Welcome Decks, contact our team and we’ll ship you some free-of-charge. When you have a new player that is interested, it's best to use one of these decks to play a short game. Here’s our advice for demos.

  • Keep it quick. Most games of Magic start with twenty life points, which is balanced for normal competitive play. A demo only needs half that, so start with ten life instead.
  • Make it easy to understand. One big appeal of the game is the immersive fantasy. Put the game into the context of two wizards battling and try to avoid using complicated vocabulary. Don’t feel too pressured to explain all the rules in the beginning, just jump into the game.
  • Make it fun! Focusing on the enjoyment of the game is more important than a complete understanding of the rules.
  • Provide a follow up. Give the complete Welcome Deck to the player at the end of the demo and invite them to return to a regular Casual event to continue playing. The Welcome Deck is Standard-legal, so the next best step is to direct them towards Standard-friendly events and products. Provide the player with your calendar of events and invite them to join your community.
  • Take the sales opportunity. Understanding the ideal first purchase off the back of your demo game is huge. Many players will want to buy something right away if they had fun, so pay attention to the signals they give you during the demo.

Read on for more information on recommended products for new players.

For a more comprehensive walkthrough of a demo, check out this article by Magic designer Gavin Verhey.

Magic: The Gathering Arena

Some players may be intimidated when they come to learn Magic at a game store. You could let the player know about Magic: The Gathering Arena. It’s free-to-play and features a comprehensive tutorial.

The player could try Magic Arena in your store if you have a computer available with the game installed. Learning through this game is a nice way to play without common in-person pressures and boost confidence. After pitching Magic Arena, it’s important to invite them to return to your store to join a specific event when they feel more confident in their skills.

A Product for Every Player

Educate yourself and your staff on appropriate Magic products for different types of customers. The key to understanding which products are better for which players is starting with the experience level of those players and directing them to products that suit their needs.

New to Magic, or Casual Players

When trying to bring a new player to the game, providing them with the right set of next steps will help ease their transition into more regular play. The more accessible your events are for newer players, the more likely a player is to return to join your community. The events with the lowest barrier to entry are Standard-friendly, since they use the most accessible products—new ones.

We recommend stores carry these products and refer new players to them before recommending more advanced products. New players don’t need much to get started, and oftentimes less is better. Help players get started with low barriers, and don’t overcomplicate your pitch by trying to sell products they might not be ready for.

Planeswalker Decks

This is the best first purchase product for new players. It’s affordable, eye-catching, and allows them to play a game right out of the box. Keep this product at eye level and near other new player products. Core Set Planeswalker Decks also pair well with the free Welcome Decks.

Try setting up a learn-to-play event with Planeswalker Decks as the product they play with.

Spellslinger Starter Kit

This product helps new players jump right into their first game of Magic. It comes with two Standard-legal 60-card decks and is designed to create an interactive learning experience for two. Consider pitching this as a way for busy customers to learn the game with a friend at home and invite them to come back to your store later to learn more. You could also offer the Spellslinger Starter Kit to two friends who are learning Magic at the same time in your store.

Deckbuilder’s Toolkits

This product contains everything a new player needs to build their first Standard deck, as well as a box to keep their cards. We recommend this as a second purchase after a Planeswalker Deck, or as a gift option. Some stores have organized Deckbuilder’s Toolkit workshops, where new players can learn the fundamentals of deckbuilding.

Theme Boosters

These products help new or casual players expand their collection with colors they’re already invested in. Try using them as the base for decks for a quick and fun event, just add lands!

Interested and Engaged Players

As a player becomes more comfortable with the game, they seek out new challenges. Start pitching more advanced products, defaulting to product that help them continue to engage in your organized play offerings.

These products include:

  • Standard-legal Booster products. Encourage them to join their first Draft event.
  • Bundles from the latest set to expand their collection.
  • Challenger Decks to encourage participation in a higher-level Standard tournament.
  • Commander Decks help players join your community of regular casual players quickly.

Super Fans

This is a large and vocal group of players who have a wide range of wants and needs, and many of them probably know Magic and Magic products more than you do. Check in with these players from time to time to ask what they would like to buy from you. Do the best you can to keep up with them.

Strategic Merchandising

Many retail businesses have a clear strategy on how they present their product to customers. You want to make the product easy to browse and well organized, so customers can find the things they want faster and without assistance.

Take a strategic approach to planning your product layout with something like a planogram, or a list of well-defined rules for product placement. Here are our layout recommendations for Magic products that you could use.

  • Make new player products the easiest to find.
  • Highlight the newest product, and group current and Standard-legal products together at eye level, so a customer can identify the most recent expansion.
  • Group older products together but separate from current product so it cannot be confused. Back catalog products generally sit on lowest shelves, and experienced players that are interested in this type of product know how to ask for it anyway.
  • Price your products clearly. Label the different product categories to help guide players to products that are more appropriate for them.
    • Consider labels such as “Start Here,” “Top Seller,” or “New!” to encourage purchases.
  • Consider having some products within arm’s reach of your customers, so they can hold the product before they decide to buy it. This is best done with new player products such as Planeswalker Decks, Theme Boosters, and Deckbuilder’s Toolkits.

Top Takeaways

Set your store up for success and strive to acquire new players and sell more effectively. Here are our top talking points.

  1. Have new player programs in place. Every contact you have with new players should have vision and intention, as well as a clear follow up.
  2. Have a demo plan. Have your staff know how to teach Magic. Keep your Welcome Deck inventory stocked and ready.
  3. Keep your new player product/event recommendations Standard-forward. Keep barriers to play low. Make it easy for a new player to know how to join your events quickly.
  4. Make your product display work for you. An effective product display helps direct players to appropriate products for them without direct assistance.

For more customized training on any of the above topics, please contact your WPN Retail Development Specialist for information.

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