Monday, September 05, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 18)

[This is part 18 in a series, and assumes that you've already read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 14.5, Part 15, Part 16, and Part 17]

I don't recall ever discussing one aspect of advertising for my events before this, so I thought I should add this in, as it's a great way to help get the word out. Mail Chimp is a free online service (there is a paid version, but the free one is all I am likely to ever need) that I use for generating to email newsletters. One is for Store News (like announcing sales, letting folks know when cards for the new sets are available, etc) and the second is a weekly newsletter to find out about my events. The most recent one (send out September 5) can be seen here if you're curious: I have a signup sheet with me at registration so folks can add their email on if they so wish (and there's a signup form on my calendar page of my store as well).

Which reminds me, I've never described our registration procedures either. What I have taken to doing is giving the guy at the register (who has so far been John at Beyond Comics and Patrick at Novel Places) small slips of paper for folks to fill out, giving their name and DCI #. When the person comes in to register, they pay at the cash register, and are handed a slip. They fill it out and bring it to me, and I add them to the event in the WER on my netbook. No slip, back to the cash register. That way I know they actually paid for the event. At Beyond Comics I handle preregistrations (through a Google Docs form like this one), and I give John a small pile of colored slips (prefilled out) to hand to the pre-registrants when they arrive to pay. That lets John know how many preregistered people we're still waiting for.

September 5, 2011: Yesterday something extraordinary happened. If you don't to read me gushing about something that isn't really directly related to my work as a TO, then you may want to skip the rest of this post and just come back for Part 19 after the Magic Celebration this coming Saturday. But I have just GOT to write about this.

To get the full picture, though, I need to head back almost a month. On August 8, when I posted Part 13 of this series, Mike Turian (MTG Hall of Famer and WotC employee) retweeted my announcement of its posting. I thanked him, and he responded:

I was rather pleasantly shocked to learn that the blog had somehow become noticed by anyone at WotC. Not only that, but it was being well received! I smiled to myself, enjoyed a moment of basking, and went on with my life...

Then, on August 17, Elaine Chase (Brand Director for Magic: The Gathering at WotC) made this Tweet, which was then promptly retweeted by @wizards_magic (the official Twitter account for MTG):

Okay - this was getting a bit more serious! This blog got more hits in a single day than ever before (hitting 335 page loads). Again, very, very cool - and I was humbled that this thing was being read by folks who help make this game that I love so much.

A few days later (August 19), I got an email from Twitter saying someone had started following me. Not a completely unusual occurrence, except that the person following me was Aaron Forsythe - Director of R&D for WotC! He only follows ~275 people AND I WAS ONE OF THEM!?!?!?! Needless to say, I needed to Tweet my shock, and he responded...

AARON FORSYTHE READS MY BLOG!!?!?!?!?!?! Okay, no pressure or anything.... Another bump in page loads followed this (not quite as large as after Elaine Chase's, but he wasn't specifically pushing people towards the site, so that's understandable).

Even at this point, crazy ecstatic though the attention (and praise) was making me, I decided to not make a big deal bout it here. Be cool, I told myself. Be cool.

On August 31, in an email conversation with Brian (my WPN rep), I asked him if there was any way I could give feedback for the great job he does (turns out the best I can do is write to his supervisor, which I still need to do). As part of his response he said:
I keep reading your blog and many here in the building do so.  One of the Magic brand managers tweeted your blog out a couple weeks ago for people to read as they were talking about it in meetings.  It is really good.

They were talking about it in MEETINGS!?!!? What??????

Okay, really, relax, it's just a couple of WotC people (yes, in some cases some highly placed people), but that doesn't mean it's really anything noteworthy over there, right? Right?

But then, yesterday, this Tweet popped up in my stream:

OH. MY. GOD. Mark Rosewater. I cannot believe this. For those of you who don't know (and, really, if you're reading this you probably do), Mark Rosewater (or Maro as he's affectionately called by MTG folk) is the Head Designer for MTG. He is probably the best known mouthpiece for the game, and is very prolific both on the Daily MTG website (where he has a weekly column on Mondays) and in social media circuits (Twitter, tumblr, Google+ at the least). He is arguably the most read figure in Magic, I think. At this writing he has nearly 12,000 Twitter followers, all of whom would have received the above Tweet in their feeds. He also linked to the blog via his tumblr feed.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), the blog had a few more page loads that day. In fact, the Tweet was made around 9 pm EDT. In the next 3 hours my page loads went from 26 to 1710. So far today (I'm writing this around 10 pm) I've had 2863. I don't think I'll hit 3000 by midnight, as the loads have slowed down considerably, but that's on the order of 4500 page loads that I can almost 100% thank Maro for.

Some of you reading these words are almost certainly only reading them because he (and Mike, and Elaine, and Aaron) took the time to Tweet about this blog. I am extremely awed, humbled, and thankful to them for doing so. And to Mike, Elaine, Aaron, Brian, Mark (and anyone else at WotC) - if you're all still reading - thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope it continues to live up to your expectations.

I can't say that I have seen any appreciable increase in business at the store from all of this attention, and it's too early to say if the WPN events will show any results (although I certainly hope that we'll gain some new players who happen to read this and live in the area). But even if that shouldn't happen, it's still amazingly cool to know that maybe, in some small way, I'm giving back to the people who literally make the Magic happen.



Les said...

No thats what I call your website blowing up!

Well done! When I read the tweets I thought, "I hope Don is ready for this!"

May the good times continue

mturian said...

I really like that Mike Turian guy. He seems really cool.

Don said...

@mturian: He's all right, I guess. But he's no Joe Shlabotnik.

Mars Voyaguer said...

I got here because of Maro tweet %). Very interesting blog. I am so curious about how the new ranking system is going to affect your tournaments.

When is Novel Places become core level???

Don said...

@Mars_Voyaguer: Hopefully FNM attendance will rise, since they get that 3x point boost.

Hopefully Novel Places will hit Core Level this Saturday. We have so far 5 people preregistered for Magic Celebration who have never played there before. If we get just 4 more that day, we're set!

pHonta said...

This is being a very interesting read, true nail-biter at times. Keep it up! Can't wait for the next part in the series.


Bruce Richard said...

If more people reading your blog means even one more person attending your events, then it is just a big bonus.

If any of my friends decide they want to become a TO, I'll be pointing them here. Your blog has been a thorough "how to" for anyone looking to become a TO.

Andrew said...

I second that last comment. I'm deployed Air Force, got pointed to this website through (one of the few good magic websites that comes through our unclass internet systems).

Truth is, I've been working behind the scenes to become a TO for my base at RAF Lakenheath when I get back from deployment. This was incredibly helpful for me in multiple ways, not the least of which is the huge confidence boost!

Hopefully I can do the same thing on my base. And until then, know that you're entertaining some troops with your posts, and giving one of them a good SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for how to do this when I get back.


Andrew said...

To add onto that (I'm sorry for double posting), look up the "This Week in Magic" segment that labeled for the 9th on Gathering Near the bottom of the list of articles is one that links to your blog like I mentioned before. That's solid as well!

When I get back to real internet (aka unblocked) I'll see about throwing a mention into the site I frequent the most, It can't hurt, and hopefully you get some good players out of it!

Don said...

@pHonta: Thanks for coming along for the ride!

@Bruce: I hope it proves useful.

@Andrew: Be safe out there, and thanks for serving. I'm glad you find the blog useful as a TO guide - that was my hope when I started this, and I'm glad that if I've succeeded in even a small part.