Part 3/5 – It’s Us v. Them

So the first couple of blog posts on this topic were about things that sites should de-emphasize. It’s not that Limited is “bad” (in fact, it is 50% of competitive Magic), or that tournament reports are “bad” (some of them are spectacular)…

But if you want to grow a Magic site and a Magic audience, neither one of those is what you should be focusing on.

You probably know from the pictures that the first thing that we are going to focus on is deck lists.

But why?

Frankly, it’s “us” v. “them” 🙂

The sign of a terrible marketer is that she wants such and such done a certain way because she likes it that way (or “he” … no reason to be sexist). That is how you get [theoretically] beautiful websites that don’t convert any buyers.

A much better marketer listens to what customers want. Sometimes they actually ask customers (weak – customers lie); but better, by constructing tests and seeing what drives response. Regardless of what they say, customers vote with their wallets. That’s how you get a slew of sales letters — even online — that look like they were composed with a 1970s-era typewriter and a yellow highlighter.

… That — hideous or no — convert lots of customers.

So what does this have to do with deck lists?

Deck lists — especially in contrast to Limited content or Tournament Reports — are focused on the people on the other side of the equation. A customers (or a “reader”) can take the deck list and do with it what he pleases (or “she” … no reason to be sexist). Sure, you can heroically add “Flores…” to the beginning of a deck list name, but beyond that, the deck list ultimately belongs to the reader. The reader gets something.

We call that value.

Contrast that with Limited content. Limited is largely a story. There is essentially no Limited in isolation. Limited is built on either repeated sealed deck play (rarely), or drafting; in a sense, all Limited is kinda like little Tournament Reports, even when it isn’t characterized that way.

Tournament Reports are at their cores narrative. They are stories. They may or may not have much strategic value.

Again, when they have value, Tournament Reports are usually distinguished by being enchanting… That is, the good ones are the products of enchanting minds. A player (writer) who makes a good Tournament Report could have written an enchanting anything.

A great tournament report is the product of work; of having something enchanting pumped into it; process.

By contrast, a good deck list has value in and of itself.

Well when you put it that way, it sounds blatantly obvious!

Just wait until you get to the next two points 🙂

Before I leave you, I will just say a little bit about deck lists and their relationship to publishing. Remember, this mini-series is about how to grow a Magic audience and build website content that people like. It is not about what I or any individual person like or think… That would be like a worthless (if ostensibly beautiful) website instead of a hideous (but highly effective) one that looks like a form letter.

  1. Even terrible deck lists drive lots of traffic. Additionally, when you put them in the right place, they drive something else called “controversy” that brings with it lots of traffic (if not good will).
  2. That said, we generally want to publish “good” or at least “worthwhile” deck lists if we want to drive consistent traffic and earn a long-term and loyal audience.
  3. For deck lists to be considered a minimum of worthwhile, they at least have to be different (more on this sometime in the future). When we are looking at variations on archetype decks, they should have some kind of unique functionality, increased speed, what have you. For other decks, even if they don’t perform brilliantly, at a minimum, they should do something different, or force players to think differently. A good example might be Jake Van Lunen’s B/W Allies deck, that doesn’t necessarily win more than, say, a Jace, the Mind Sculptor + Primeval Titan deck, but does different stuff in a different way while still doing stuff.
  4. Good deck lists win. Or at least they win more than the deck lists that are already available.
  5. The best thing — from a deck lists perspective — that a site can bring leaders is a concept called technology. Technology is just a different way of doing things (hopefully better). For example we talk about the epochs of human civilization by the technologies they / we used / use (Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, etc.) … These ages for the most part had similar tools, but used increasingly improved materials.

Got that?

Up next – Link Bait


PS You can earn up to two #FloresRewards with the “Share and Enjoy” options on this blog post — one each for Facebook and Twitter!

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