Entries Tagged 'Marketing' ↓

What Awesome Shenanigans Did Star City Pull Off? :)

Following is an unedited screen capture from a well-known (in online marketing and measurement circles, anyway) service called COMPETE. Patrick Chapin* pointed it out to me and (last week) I passed it along to some of our overlords such as Steve Sadin and Mister Orange [guy] with the same question I am, asking you:

Now some of you might not quite grok what is going on in this screen capture, so I will put it another way; that is, “edited”:

(I greyed out last month on account of the data is not mature yet, so it would be worthless to talk about.)

This is a measurement of unique visitors to the beloved Star City Games site; NOT how often existing users use it, nor how much they “like it”, nor how long they sit there watching SCGLive videos of the charming Joey Pasco… It attempts to measure the actual, individual, humans… (and hopefully, ultimately paying customers of either Magic: The Gathering singles, Premium memberships, or like Squirrel-backed sleeves).

mise squirrel amiright?

Something happened.

Or, probably (and more likely), the clever marketing machine that is Star City Games proactively did something to dramatically reverse the declining course of their number of visitors.

“J-Curve” or “hockey stick” changes in performance don’t happen all by themselves. In theory we can attribute some amount of performance seasonally (there are many online retailers that do 50% of their sales, or more, in November and December). But we don’t see that here, and if we equate visitors and buyers (which we honestly can’t), the numbers are going the wrong way, anyway. These kinds of sharp and sustained directional improvements typically result from internal, that is organizationally-driven, process changes. For example, here is a directional Analytics screen shot of the day-by-day traffic of this here website, up to these past few days:

What internal process change did FiveWithFlores make in the last few days?

That something Star City did occurred / was done in January of 2011 that added (or perhaps encouraged the return of) literally tens of thousands of unique visitors to their our user base, and catapulted them Millionaire Playboy Pete Hoefling into an amazingly positive direction.

So… What do you think that was?


A couple of possibly useful observations:

My first [let’s be honest] second gut reaction was to credit SCGLive. However this different COMPETE shot seems to indicate that 1) the timing is off, and 2) the magnitude of SCGLive unique users cannot wholly account for the improvements (check the y-axis).

Certainly SCGLive is a super sticky service that keeps people on Star City there, and engaged (not to mention happy)… But at least according to COMPETE’s numbers, not enough new, different people to account for the hockey stick, and subsequent re-up. Anyway, I would guess that SCGLive aficionados cross over quite a bit with Star City’s “regular” user base… It’s not like if you took 10,000 from mommy and 5,000 from kiddo you would have 15,0000 uniques.


Like the title asks: What awesome shenanigans did Stat City pull off?


* Yes, yes, we have our suspicions already 🙂

** Please leave a comment via the old or brand spanking new methods, please.

Student of Warfare and Other Strangeness


  1. Jamie Wakefield
  2. Student of Warfare
  3. The Spanish Inquisition

Before we get in to Magic: The Gathering blogging, I just wanted to throw something out there:

Jamie Wakefied has just come out with a new book. As far as I can tell, this book is not about Magic: The Gathering. I am going to order it… any longtime fans of Jamie (and I’m sure that many of you hold yourselves in that group) should probably do the same.

For the love.

This is an Affiliate link to Amazon.com.
If you order, I will probably make one trillion dollars. Or maybe like one dollar.
Greedy capitalists.

Okay, now for the Magic: The Gathering part.

Student of Warfare:

Multiple people, including Jeroen Remie via Twitter and Slov01 in the comments of the last post pointed out that Student of Warfare is much the 3/3 for three mana as Transcendent Master.

I was actually planning to write about Student of Warfare anyway… But I hadn’t thought of it in that way.

The reason is that, even if it can be thought of as a 3/3 for three mana, it isn’t. It is much, much, better.

The first reason why Student of Warfare is better than a “regular” Gnarled Mass is that it costs one, not three, as a base. This lets you put a down payment on the card on turn one, then spend the next two on turn two for three damage on the second turn (you know, a turn before you could even playTranscendent Master.

Its one-ness is very powerful with one of my three favorite [Standard] creatures, Ranger of Eos.

Student of Warfare is like the white side of Figure of Destiny in the same way that Kargan Dragonlord represents a Red analogue. In my opinion, Student of Warfare seems like the stronger card because its one mana-ness lets it lace up with Antoine Ruel like Figure of Destiny did in Boat Brew.

The second reason why Student of Warfare is much better than a Gnarled Mass — not that being better than a Watchwolf on the second turn without going into a second color isn’t good enough — is that it isn’t just a 3/3; it’s a 3/3 first strike… Kind of like a White Knight grafted onto a Hand of Honor (you know, whiteout the racism).

Getting to Level Seven is quite realistic. It will be awesome when it is awesome. We probably don’t have to spend a whole lot of time on the “ultimate” to this leveler.

Snap Judgment Rating – Staple

More Spanish Inquisition

I know “current” Standard is medium-irrelevant just now, but I have been having a lot of fun playing. This is what I have been playing most; I am very happy with it actually:

4 Armillary Sphere
4 Everflowing Chalice
1 Obelisk of Alara

4 Ajani Vengeant

4 Burst Lightning
4 Chandra Nalaar
4 Lightning Bolt

4 Day of Judgment
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Path to Exile

12 Mountain
4 Naya Panorama
2 Plains
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

1 Obelisk of Alara
4 Goblin Assault
4 Celestial Purge
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Oblivion Ring
1 Path to Exile

The distinguishing thing about this version is still the Goblin Assault set after sideboarding. I really like those: They have been great against control, in particular the relatively popular Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks.

Main deck the main difference between this and the pre-Worldwake version is the addition of Motherlovin Cup aka Everlasting Chalice. The Chalice lets this deck play third turn Ajani Vengeant, Day of Judgment, or sometimes Elspeth, Knight-Errant.

If there is one card (or kind of card) I would like to play (or rather add), it is something like Earthquake or Martial Coup. Martial Coup would be great in particular with Motherlovin Cup… Not sure what to cut right now. I have sided every card in the ‘board in the last 24 hours, with Oblivion Ring a necessary evil due to the many, many Planeswalkers that are now played even in Standard aggressive decks.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Pretty exciting news for fans of me, Billy Moreno, and Paul Jordan that we will unveil relatively soon 🙂



Something Rare and Wonderful at Whole Foods

I went to the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle tonight. My nominal task was to get some apple juice for Clark. However while I was there I also got Katherine a Kombucha and some sage sausages for me and Clark (honestly I was just hungry for din din).

After gathering these scant groceries I assessed my options. I could 1) stand in a line that stretched all the way through the cheese section, past the cookies, and into the prepared foods, 2) get in the sushi line (which would give me an excuse to buy some sushi for Katherine, which might make her happy), or 3) get in the coffee line. I opted for the coffee line because it was already after 8pm and Katherine would have probably already had dinner; anyway I always stay up until 2am or so writing on Monday nights, so I figured an 8.30 caffeine infusion would be the best of the three options (also cheaper than random sushi). You see at Whole Foods if you want to avoid the unending lines you can check out at one of the other sections by buying sushi, coffee, clothes, whatever is appropriate.

Anyway I guess most people don’t know you can pay a $2 coffee tax and circumvent a 20 minute line so there was only one person ahead of me in the coffee line. However this “line” of only one person Did. Not. Move. Why? The guy ahead of me was rummaging around in his man-purse, rummaging, rummaging. He did not find whatever he was looking for. “Sorry,” he said, shrugging. He had not found his wallet.

“Not a problem!” said the guys at the counter.


Amazingly, the barista at the coffee counter bought his groceries for him.

I was stunned.

The guy ahead of me in line was maybe more stunned, understandably grateful.

“You don’t have to do that!”

“It’s a little too late for that!” laughed the barista. “You have a nice night now.”

The guy ahead of me in line, teary-eyed, took a moment to creep his head forward and check out the names of the men behind the counter, committing them to memory, saving up for future gratitude.

“I’m in here every day,” he stammered. “I’ll… I’ll…” You can probably finish the sentence he was trying to get out with your own imagination.

I know this post is a grand departure for this blog. But I was just so moved I had to write about it while it was still fresh in my memory. We fixate on every negative emotion in the world, dwell on every tiny mistake, and talk about nothing in our national news but our swiftly crumbling economy. But even in the midst of these collapsing financial times, it looks like there is opportunity for tiny expressions of generosity to our fellow human beings, even in the heart of that busy zoo called New York City.


Career Renegade

A few weeks ago I blogged about being nervous before giving a presentation in Florida.

Part of the reason I was so stressed out is because I have really wanted to steer my career in a slightly different direction for a couple of months and I considered this speaking opportunity a grand step in exactly that right direction. I ended up being a big hit, but that is neither here nor there.

The more immediate reason I was stressed out, nervous, and so on before going up was Jonathan Fields.

Jonathan used to be a big time lawyer. He had one of those six figure jobs that they train you in this country you are supposed to grow up to want to have. He worked at one of the power firms in New York, handling bazillion dollar deals.

Until his body told him to stop.

Jonathan had a radical medical condition — a growth ended up having to be removed!!! — that he interprets as his body rejecting his career path.

So he decided to go from one day being a big shot lawyer to working as a personal trainer for $12 an hour.

No, he didn’t fall on his head or anything… He was learning the ropes of the fitness world. He transitioned personal training to becoming a fitness entrepreneur, had some associated adventures along the way, until finally opening his own yoga studio in the greatest city in the world.

… On September 10th, 2001.


So he took the biggest financial gamble of his career — his life — right as the New York economy was crumbling under the weight of the greatest tragedy ever to occur on American soil.

But Jonathan saw this as an opportunity to open his doors — for free initially — and help the New York community heal.

I’d say there was a happy ending (because he was eventually able to grow his yoga business to a great success)… but it was not an ending at all. Jonathan recently sold his stake in the yoga studio because he wants to write, blog, and Tweet full-time.

You see, he has become a kind of career chameleon.

Kind of appropriate to the turn I want to take in my own career, kind-of.

So what was the big problem?

Jonathan was up before I was.

On the one hand, he is this wonderful, earnest, and engaging speaker. A true inspiration for anyone who wants to take his own life by the horns and steer his ship to whatever beat of whatever drummer he wants… While making a fine living! Pretty great, right?

He’s an awfully tough act to follow.

Jonathan is one of those “quality human beings” who are just so honest and well-intentioned, out there to actually help you out.

Like I said, he’s an awfully tough act to follow.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Jonathan’s book, Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love is out on Amazon now.

Career Renegade is not just Jonathan’s story, it’s a system that anyone can use to… well… make a great living doing what they want! Jonathan has become famous for finding bloggers who make $200,000 from their kitchen tables or guys who play video games professionally. Sound fun?

Career Renegade is brand new so I haven’t read it yet, but I hope I’ve communicated one per cent of how inspiring a speaker he is. He has poured the last couple of years of his life into this effort, and I know that if you are looking to figure out how to discover the best path for yourself — “bad economy” or not — or find out how you can happily and successfully live towards your best destiny, the $11.20 is going to be a no-brainer.

Especially in this time of economic turmoil, where the news is declaring it “the worst financial situation since the Great Depression” every night, you might want a little Career Renegade in your back pocket.

I’ll write a more proper review of the book once I’ve actually read it, but Jonathan Fields? The guy, the speaker, the Renegade has my highest recommendation.


(I’m guessing you’ll love this)

Not Available at Any Price!

MichaelJ is sick! Also some things are not available at any price. Others are available for between $4.99 and $24.

First of all, sorry for the few / lame updates the past week or two. I am back in New York and have been in I think five cities in three days (Cleveland, Richmond, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, New York again) between Thanksgiving and now. Most recently I flew down to Florida for less than 24 hours to do a speech, back in the office the next day (today).

I am wiped from traveling and the speech / presentation.

Millionaire copywriter Dr. Harlan Kilstein let me do a presentation at his Tactic7 seminar which was daunting. I have done presentations about being awesome at Google before but… like… only at Google or at seminars talking to Googlers. So yes, it’s a big honor to be one of the few online marketing experts to actually present at the epicenter of the online marketing universe, but the stresses are very different. Sure it can still be intimidating, but when you are speaking at Google, you are sharing with a room full of professionals who basically get paid to be there.

Presenting at Harlan’s made me nervous because the situation was reversed: Entrepeneurs and students were paying to hear me speak. Yes it was Harlan’s event and I was just a guest speaker for the day but the people present paid a deep four figures to sit in that packed room so it was important for me to do a good job.

Luckily I aquitted myself quite adequately.

Unluckily — and if you know me in real life (instead of just listening to my videos) you can probably imagine this — I spent a lot of my speech shouting at the top of my lungs. Specifically I repeated THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR five or ten times, Gregorian chant style (if Gregorian monks, you know, shouted THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR at the top of their lungs).

So I have no voice now.

Which is kind of horrible because I am going to do a video on my Star City Blightning Beatdown tonight. I kind of have to. I did the footage more than a week ago, intending to do the video while I was home in Ohio, but wall to wall family stuff came up for a week and the raw files have been sitting on my computer for however long. But the Star City $5K event is less than two days from now… So when you get to see the video (which will be later tonight, getting back to the “sorry for the few / lame updates the past week or two” bit up top), you will have to deal with my non-voice. I am the equal and opposite of Blackagar Boltagon. My voice is THAT un-powerful at present.

So what does this have to do with this blog post’s headline [“Not Available at Any Price!” if you forgot]?

While I was at Tactic7 I met up with fellow presenter, quality human being, and Career Renegade Jonathan Fields, an imminent Amazon.com best seller and expert in social media (you know, like this blog). Jonathan turned me onto Twitter. So if you want to follow me on Twitter (no one is following me on Twitter, please follow me on Twitter, I want to feel popular), I am unsurprisingly FiveWithFlores, that is, Twitter.com/FiveWithFlores. Apparently I previously registered my Madmanpoet self some time in the distant past, but I have since forgotten the password to Madmanpoet’s account. Poor Twitter.com/Madmanpoet. You are alone forever. Long live FiveWithFlores!

Jonathan pointed out the agile use of “not available at any price” in a sales letter he showed me, and I just found something also not available at any price (though my use is dramatically less agile).

I was perusing 80sTees.com, home of The World’s Greatest Tee Shirt (sorry… still not in stock in M, L, or XL… did anybody bug them yet? I didn’t [yet]), and came upon this Decepticon belt:

I am not sure if that Decepticon belt is cool or lame; only that it is bright purple. However I have the following little mice turning gears in my noggin:

1) It’s only $4.99 (meaning that if it turns out to be lame, I blew less than a latte), and
2) It fits up to 38 inches (meaning I’m good… Is there anything more embarrassing than buying a belt you can’t fit into?)

So I’m thinking to myself, “Self, there is a reasonable possibility this belt is lame. Maybe there could be some other belt that is definitely cool, or at least not lame?”

So I came upon this belt:


Zero dollars?


I had to double-take.

This Thundercats belt is $0… You know, like my lifetime winnings in individual Pro Tours.

Yet it is in stock.

How can this be?

When price = $0, that throws the whole cool / lame cost / benefit matrix completely out of whack. Free things are basically automatically cool, or at least not lame.

Then I read that you actually have to buy a Thundercats tee shirt to get the NOT AVAILABLE AT ANY PRICE belt “for free.” Oh, that’s how they get you. Actual commerce and product purchases. The arrogant bastards. You have to pay them before you get goods and services. How gauche. Maybe they should just let me buy The World’s Greatest Tee Shirt instead of it being out of stock. Did I mention “bastards”?

Anyway, I was leaning towards this one, because then I can pretend that I didn’t know there was a double entendre (my life is more or less non-stop shenanigans, and pretending I didn’t know I was committing a faux pas is basically my favorite scam):

The only problem is that if you have a daughter and you want her to be proud, independent, free-thinking, and strong, you have to at least THINK ABOUT / consider certain ridiculous actions and intentional unintentional double entendres, especially if you want to dodge the ire of the Mrs. For the unmarried among you, there is a high benefit to relatively low cost in dodging the ire of the Mrs.

So what is a man to do in order to shotgun a free Thundercats belt?

There is the Underoos-looking route:

Or alternately the hipster “I found these Underoos crumpled under my bed” route:

Personally I like the second one more, but I am worried the Mrs. will mistake it for a ratty old shirt and will accidentally throw it away.

This is more difficult than “Figure of Destiny” or “Tarfire the Birds of Paradise” on turn one.

So long story short, video + Magical post later tonight.

Thanks everybody for continuing to love what Mike Flores loves. If I can get my free Thundercats belt in time for the Star City $5K, it will match my deck of choice (Blightning Beatdown, obv).


What is actually more difficult? Figure of Destiny / Tarfire the Birds of Paradise on turn one or Underoos-looking Thundercats shirt / “distressed” Underoos-looking Thundercats shirt?

Dont forget to follow me on Twitter!