May 15, 2018

D Veloz: What Joining A Gym Can Teach You About Acquisition

Bringing new faces to in-store Magic comes down to one thing: it's about the experience.

May 15, 2018

D Veloz: What Joining A Gym Can Teach You About Acquisition

Bringing new faces to in-store Magic comes down to one thing: it's about the experience.

By D Veloz, CEO of Versus Games

At Open House, we've got two objectives with each new player: get a sale, and get a lead.

Meeting those objectives comes down to one thing: it's about the experience. You're not just there to teach them the game, but to entertain them. If it's a good experience, they'll associate it with the game, and ultimately that good experience is what's going to sell them the product.

This is common practice in other industries. Gyms like 24 Hour Fitness do open house events where people can come in and work out for a day. They put out balloons, they bring in food, then when you're happy with the amenities—and feeling good from your workout—they give you their pitch.

Magic Open House works the same way: make them happy, then make your pitch.

Here's how we do it at Versus Games:

Open House has been such a great opportunity to grow our player base that we've started doing our own open houses apart from Wizards' program. Here are some things we've learned from that experience that help make the best possible experience for our new players:

We do a staff meeting beforehand.

Here's our objective, here's our goals, here's what we need to do.

Everything that happens, positive or negative, they'll associate with Magic and with your store. Pull out the bells and whistles, pull out a chair for them. We even make sure to have mints on hand. It's a little thing, but hey—you get turned off when someone's breathing coffee breath on you.

We do one-to-one contact.

I bring in extra staff to make sure new players are well-attended.

You shouldn't just hand newcomers a Welcome Deck and then pair them with an experienced player. Sure, that player may be able to teach them, but can they sell to them? I love my players, but I prefer to hold my business in my own hands.

We don't overload them.

They just want to experience the game.

We tell them about this history of the game—briefly. We want to get them playing, because that's what they came for. We open the Welcome Deck, explain lands and creatures and mechanics. Then we do a quick game—we give them a good fight, but let them win—and pair them off with other new players.

Then comes the second part: asking for the sale.

I'm not saying be pushy or aggressive. Like I said, the experience is what's important. But this is a business, not club house. You have to ask for the sale.

What does that mean? For us, it means creating a "yes" situation, establishing the next step for them (both in terms of products and events), and putting the product in their hand.

When the demo is done, we ask them:

"Did you have fun?"
"Is this a game you would recommend to others?"
"What did you like best about it?"

The idea is to create a situation where they're inclined to say "yes". Then I suggest picking up something to enhance their Welcome Deck—a Planeswalker Deck, something not too intimidating—and make sure to put the product in their hand.

Ed: For Core Set 2019, you can even put the latest set in their hands. Sign up for Open House and sell Planeswalker Decks two weeks early.

We try to get that immediate sale, but we also try to get a name and an email to go with it, so we can follow up with them for Prerelease. Prerelease is right around the corner. That's how it's set up—Open House is an introduction, then comes Prerelease.

It won't just magically happen (no pun intended). You really have to work. But you're not a used car salesman, you're not trying to trick anyone. You're trying to grow the game, which in turn will make you money.

Store Stats: Versus Games

  • Location: San Francisco, California (Population: 875,000)
  • WPN Level: Advanced Plus
  • Age: 4 years
  • Size: 800 sq. ft.
  • Website:

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