Reach new customers with MTG custom tokens!

2. 6. 2023

Every MTG shop owner asks the same question: How to reach as many new customers as possible and get their attention? The answer can be surprisingly simple - offer them your own tokens.

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A little bit of history...

 
But before I get to the main point, let's take a little look at what preceded their spread.

The principle of tokens, i.e. objects that are not part of the game deck and most often represent artificially created creatures, has been with us since the very beginning of the game in 1993. However, the creators of the game initially had no need to make the battlefield situation more complex, and let the players represent these temporary creatures with whatever they could get their hands on. Then, when the Fallen Empires set was released in late 1994, with tokens and especially counters that modified game attributes abounding, WotC decided that the time was ripe to get more involved in this direction. So in the following year, they included a token insert in an issue of their magazine The Duelist.

 

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However, it wasn't until 1998 that we saw the first real official tokens, when a squirrel or sheep peeked out of an Unglued booster pack at players. But as time went on, the number of token-generating cards kept growing and, more importantly, the number of token types kept increasing. And something had to be done about it.

 

So when the Magic Player Rewards program was launched in 2001, token cards were a major part of the rewards for players. The program lasted for four years and yielded a total of 24 tokens. In the meantime, others have realized the need and popularity of tokens as well as their marketing potential. While still supported by WotC, two series of JingHe Age tokens were produced by the Jing He Shi Dai company - the official distributor of MTG products in China during 2002-2003. The Japanese local distributor Hobby Japan took it a bit further by introducing tokens in the form of figures between 2001 and 2004! In addition, a number of other entities took up token creation, albeit unofficially. We can mention Crazy Clowns Token Cards (started in 1997), Neo-Token Token Cards, Your Move Games Token Cards or Métagame's and StarCityGames shops.



And that brings us back to WotC. Because 2007 was not only the year when you could find a new type of card - the planeswalker - in the boosters of regular sets for the first time, but also the year when the same could be said about tokens. With the Tenth edition Core set, WotC decided that it was not only time to change the color of the borders of the base set cards, but that there were already so many cards working with tokens that it was time to provide better service to players in this regard. Tokens have gradually found their way into other products in their classic (Commander decks) and premium forms (Collector's boosters), and have been used for various promo materials (Helvault, Judge promos, League promos). What was originally a minor game accessory has now become something that is as important to most players as quality card sleeves.

 

 

Today...

Players have learned to use tokens on a massive scale. However, nowhere does it say that they have to and only want to use the ones they find in boosters. Over the past few years, there has been a growing penchant among them for "upgrading" their play decks. It's no longer just about having all the cards in foil or another language. There has been an increased interest in alternate cards and inner sleeves, custom themed sleeves...or just custom tokens. And a smart shopkeeper can take advantage of this!



Every day, store owners or the people responsible for their promotion and marketing face the same questions: how to succeed in today's competitive environment? How to get new customers? You can bet on building a local community, but smaller towns may not be able to support you, and in larger ones you'll definitely struggle with the competition. With the advent of the pandemic, players have also started to shop more through online retailers and have found that they are not limited by the stores where they live. So how do you grab the attention of new customers?



When I noticed an increased interest in manga images from gamers in 2015, I decided to create a set of custom tokens with just a manga theme for my store's customers as a gift and a thank you for their orders. I was surprised by their success, so I continued and eventually started selling them. And more and more new customers came in, many asking for tokens that didn't even exist at the time. When I asked them how they found out about me, they said that they saw my tokens at their friends' or opponents' tournaments and they were intrigued.

 

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Did you find this way of promotion interesting? Before you get started with your own tokens, I have some tips and insights on how to get started on the right path.


That's nice. Where did you get that?

In marketing, the most effective advertising is viral one. And tokens are viral. You don't have to pay a youtuber or an influencer, because the players themselves become the influencers. Free and voluntary just by using the tokens while playing. And they'll show them to others who want to get them too. Remember, the whole front side can serve as your kind of trademark display and the back side is your own advertising space. The cheapest you can buy and the most effective.


Be original!

Avoid stereotypes. A generic set of fantasy images in a bland design will get you nothing. Sit down with your colleagues, employees or friends and share your ideas. Do you have an animal or character in your logo? Use it! Got a "company" cat on the counter all day? Put the cat on tokens! Anything that represents or defines you in some way can help.


Make tokens a collector's item!

You can't make good food out of bad ingredients. And the same is true in the world of graphics and design. Got a great idea for your tokens? Congratulations! Now find a good "chef". There are plenty of community artists and designers out there who will do good work for affordable money. If you take enough care to make the tokens look really attractive, you can even turn what was originally a promotional item into a regular commodity. This usually takes some time, and it's important to show that it's not just a momentary whim, but that you want to continue creating them on an ongoing basis.

 

 

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