Hello! It’s been a while!
I’m just getting settled into my new home in Hawaii. If anyone lives on Oahu and wants to share some views on the local game shops then please do so! For now, let's talk Magic finance.
When I last published an article I talked about the three basics that every business needs to have a firm grasp on. Once you have this, your clientele will notice, and it will help shape their worldview.
One of my favorite business writers, Seth Godin, writes in his book, “All Marketers are Liars,” about worldviews and how they define a person's opinion of businesses before they even see an advertisement. He defines it like so:
“Worldview is the term I use to refer to the rules, values, beliefs and biases that an individual consumer brings to a situation.
If Jason got screwed the last time he bought a car from a used car salesman, the worldview he has when visiting a dealership four years later is a little different than that of someone who is buying her third car in four years from the same place…
…Different people, different worldviews. People can see the same data and make a totally different decision.
Frames are elements of the story painted to leverage the worldview a consumer already has. George Lakoff popularized this term in his writing on political discourse, but it applies to anything that’s marketed to anyone… A frame in other words, is a way you hang a story onto a consumer's existing worldview.
Don’t try to change someone’s worldview is the strategy smart marketers follow. Don’t try to use facts to prove your case and insist people change their biases. You don’t have enough time and you don’t have enough money. Instead, identify a population with a certain worldview, frame your story in terms of that worldview and you win.”
It’s easy to think of examples within our culture to prove Mr. Godin right. Barack Obama framed his campaign around people who wanted to see America go in a different direction than the one George W. Bush had us headed in. Ikea markets to people on a budget and completely ignores those individuals who are glad to pay extra for a more luxurious living room set.
So how does this apply to us in the finance industry? Or even within the game of Magic: the Gathering itself?
Worldviews within the game of Magic are all around us. Two prominent worldviews actually compete against each other. Some Standard-only players believe that Legacy is too expensive to get into, so they stick to a format where cards rarely get above $50 and rotate often. A lot of Legacy players believe that Standard rotates too much for it to be worth much investment and avoid valuable cards that probably won’t see play in older formats.
There are of course exceptions to each of these worldviews, but the point is to see them and accept that they exist. Don’t try to change them, just try to work with them.
If you are a store owner and most of your playerbase prefers Modern, then you obviously need to stock a lot of Modern singles. You don’t turn down Tropical Islands when they come around, but they may prove tough to sell down the road. This is all basic common sense, you supply to meet demand.
In doing so you are already recognizing the worldview that Modern is the best format. Why not frame your store's priorities around this worldview?
How do you take advantage of that fact to solidify your identity as the place to play Modern in your area? You could hold more Modern format tournaments with larger prize payouts. You could invest more into your Modern product and go out of your way to make sure that you have every staple that anybody could need. You could even stock Modern-legal sealed product.
Sure, you would likely miss out on some Standard and Legacy players, but you aren’t concerned with them as much as Modern players. Limited players may even pay a premium to draft Innistrad block again for the chance to pull some nice cards and enjoy a great format.
I’m not saying to ignore other parts of the playerbase. Hold your Standard Friday Night Magic tournaments, sell an array of Standard staples. Just focus on that main worldview of your particular population and frame your store’s major events and priorities around it.
Doing this will help create a loyal playerbase who will swear up and down that yours is the best shop in town. You will find no better advertising than this.
All of these ideas will work for you whether you are Star City Games or the lowest lowly trader in the shop. Framing yourself as the go-to guy for foreign cards, or foils, or EDH staples is a great way to find your niche in your market. Nothing feels better than having someone straight come to you because their friend knew you would be the one to have that foil Jace Beleren.