Selling The Spoils
by Phillip Burkholder
First and foremost, Team Covenant deserves a round of applause for their commitment to The Spoils and their help in making this event so successful. With the cooperation of TC, what started as a free demo tournament evolved into The Spoils Free Pre-Constructed Day at The Covenant Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
At this event, anyone who arrived prior to the tournament and demoed The Spoils received a free pre-constructed deck to keep and use in the tournament if they preferred. Twenty-three people showed up to the demo and sixteen competed in the tournament.
Prior to this or any The Spoils events, the biggest contributing factor to success was advertisement and promotion. In light of that, I chose to write about how I try to sell The Spoils to new players. Also, this event took place on November 17th, 2012, so it seems less than relevant to speak about the event itself. Just know that it was a rousing success with lots of product flying off the shelf.
It was so successful, in fact, that the next week of drafts dried up the boosters and we had to start cracking Competition Packs.
At first glance, The Spoils should sell itself. Itís a game at the top of its class in flavor and mechanics, but there are many people out there that need to be sold before they start laying down cash for a new game.
There are a few types of people that we have to sell to: people that play card games, people that play other games, and people that donít play games. The first category also needs to be subdivided into people that play LCGs and T/CCGís. Letís face it: The Spoils is a CCG living in what is becoming an LCG world.
For those of you that havenít sold anything before, a large part of being successful isnít necessarily knowing a lot about the product, but knowing a lot about the person you are selling to. Now I am not saying knowing the product isnít important. It is very important. I am saying knowing the person is more important.
This is super easy and intuitive, and everyone can do it. The trick is to be prepared to give each person the exact same information regardless of what they say, but give it to them in a way that makes it seem like you get where they are coming from. This is sort of like the old adage, ďdonít take no for an answer.Ē In our case we will call it the, ďGreat! Then you will love The SpoilsĒ technique.
A good start is asking information-gathering questions. Never start by selling The Spoils. In my experience, people do not generally like to be sold to, but if you convince them that The Spoils came up organically, they are more inclined to respond favorably. This is much easier in an LGS setting, but still easy anywhere else.
An example I like to use for this comes from trying to sell one of my favorite comic books. I help out at a local comic shop and one of my goals is to get people to read what I read, thereby allowing that author to keep writing, so I can keep reading. This is exactly what we do with The Spoils.
Writer's Note: Unwritten is the greatest comic out right now and everyone should go buy it right away and read it. Go on. Iíll wait.
Terence's Note: It's pretty good, you should read it.
Always Be Positive
Okay, pretty amazing right? If youíre one of the very few that didnít go get it immediately I will attempt to sell it to you. First, let me pretend that we are talking in a comic shop so I can assume you like comics. If they are in your LGS, donít start by asking if they like to play games. The first question I always ask is, ďDo you like Harry Potter?Ē A positive response garners a ďsweet, then you will love this book. Itís sorta like Harry Potter, but itís about a guy named Tommy Taylor and blah blah blah.Ē
If I am told that they dislike Harry Potter I say, ďGreat! I donít either (this is true, donít hate), which I why I think youíll love this book. Itís about a guy named Tommy Taylor, who is the son of the guy that writes the Tommy Taylor books, who is sorta like their version of Harry Potter, but itís a play on literature in general and yada yada yada.Ē My answer in both cases is positive for the comic and relates to their answer, but itís basically the same information.
When I am attempting to sell The Spoils, my approach is the same. Instead of talking about Harry Potter, though, I explain either that The Spoils fixes whatever problems they have with the games they donít like or it improves upon the aspects that they love.
Just look at flavor. If the person says they love the fantasy genre of Magic, I respond with how I think they will love The Spoils because itís a great twist on the fantasy genre that brings a lot of humor not found in Magic but retains the elements of mystical beasts and mages. I donít yet tell them itís a bunch of 1337 speaking 31v35, dragons, and talking cats, but getting your foot in the door is all you need.
If they say they really donít care about the flavor, but rather itís the mechanics that really attracts them to Magic, my response is that the flavor of The Spoils turns fantasy on its head and embraces a humorous style not seen in other games that would really appeal to someone who doesnít care for the fantasy genre. So if they like fantasy or donít like fantasy they will still love The Spoils.
I sound like a broken record when I sell things I like because I use the same phrases over and over. When I am working at a local rock climbing gym, the other employees will sometimes mouth what I am saying while talking to a customer on the phone because they have heard my shtick so many times, but thatís what makes the sales pitch strong.
You need to sound confident. Confidence isnít just loving the product and knowing everything about it. You need to be prepared for ANY question you are asked by a potential player.
Fact: consumers can smell uncertainty and have keen noses. If you are caught off-guard the customer will notice and it will cast doubt onto the game. Many gamers have been let down by companies in the past and itís up to you to assuage their concerns. Practicing a little wonít hurt and can vastly improve the success rate of pitches.
Breaking Through to LCG Players
Trying to crack a bunch of LCG players? One word: limited. Draft and sealed are the best formats in card gaming. No other format so greatly tests both deck building and piloting skill. Ask those players how they feel about the current meta of their particular card game. Now proceed the explain the nigh impossibility of net-decking in a limited event. Sure, there are small combos you can pull off, but itís mostly head-to-head skill based.
Most LCG players know of at least one person that cannot pilot a deck to save their life, but someone else put such great effort at the drawing board that he neednít have any piloting skill of his own. A lot of these players, even if they donít completely buy-in to The Spoils, will play a limited event once or twice a month for the thrill of it all.
People that donít play games are a harder sell, but just remember to relate The Spoils to something about them. Talk about what they like to do and keep them talking until they say something you can relate back to table gaming in general. If the person says they like to read, talk to them about the story line of The Spoils and how wonderfully ridiculous it is. If they play video games, talk about how much better face-to-face interaction is. You canít go grab a beer with someone sitting at their house in another state and the local community is a great way to meet people to go out and do other things they like.
It is also very important that they have a good impression of the types of people that play games. Pop culture has not been kind to gamers. The Big Bang Theory is the bane of my selling existence when it comes to comics and gaming. Let them know that gaming is becoming huge. Soon, someone saying they donít play games will be as weird as someone saying they donít watch TV (this includes Hulu and Netflix) and they donít want to be that guy. Make sure they know the flavor is more suitable for an older crowd, which usually appeals to non-gamers.
The Final Push
The last thing you will always want to do to sell successfully is always be in the position to demo the game or show cards. Currently, I am sitting in my lab at school. If a student came in and asked me what I was writing about I would start pitching immediately and, if they wanted, I could grab a binder of nearly every card and two starter decks from the trunk of my car. Carrying two starter decks in your backpack, briefcase, or purse takes up almost no space and makes quick demos possible.
Well, thatís the way I try to sell The Spoils. I wish you all luck in growing this great community!