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Hook up with social networking sites to market online game

October 13, 2009|Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: I am 15 and have created a multiplayer online game. How can I market it?

Answer: Social networking sites and online communities are ripe with opportunities. They probably already attract your target customers and are mostly free. Establish a social networking presence with your professional persona and keep it updated, said Richard Stanton, chief executive of Bintro.com, an online business matchmaking service.

"What you provide will in most cases leave a permanent record, so think twice before you share your particulars," Stanton said. If you're marketing to gaming companies, join their networking groups and link to them on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you are hoping to get consumers to buy your game, join online gaming communities and interact with end users.

Before you start selling, do some research and form a business entity. You'll also need legal help to protect your intellectual property.

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Compensation mix may pay off

Dear Karen: I'm hiring salespeople and have had candidates say the commission system is counterproductive. What's the best approach?

Answer: Use a mix of salary and commission to motivate your sales force, said Jerry Carter, chief executive of Carter & Consultants and the author of "Business Clarity."

"A business owner should pay enough in salary so that the sales staff can pay bills, but not so much to dampen their motivation to make a better-than-average salary through commissions," Carter said.

Partly commission-based compensation also helps smaller firms keep salaries in line with sales, Carter said.

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State website can advise on permits

Dear Karen: I have started a blog and plan to sell ads to local businesses. What business licenses and permits do I need?

Answer: The CalGold website, at www.calgold.ca.gov, aggregates information about business permits and licensing in California. You enter your city, county and business type and the site lists the requirements applicable to you.

Most cities require you to pay a fee and obtain a business license, said Paul O'Reilly, principal of O'Reilly & Associates in Los Angeles. "The business license will request the legal name of the business and the organizational structure, so you'll need to make those decisions first," he said.

Get help with these decisions through a small-business assistance organization. "Talk to a counselor at your local SCORE office or Small Business Development Center, or look into classes at a community college or university near you," O'Reilly said.

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Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to inbox.business @latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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