5 mistakes to avoid on your company blog. Want the kind of blog that brings attention to your product and turns customers into evangelists for your company? If so, avoid what Mashable has identified as the 5 business blogging mistakes. Rule Number 1? Don't treat your blog like a press center. ("Repeat after me: Your blog is not the place for press releases.") Write about things unrelated to your core business sometimes--industry trends, a glimpse into life at your company, or even things you've learned during your career. Here are the other pitfalls to avoid, according to Mashable: Not blogging regularly, burying new content in hard-to-discover places, and expecting too much, too soon.
How to make your salespeople more productive?Cut their commissions, says Neil Davidson in the Business of Software. It's a strategy we've recommended before, but Davidson makes a compelling case for ditching commissions because they're not a great way to motivate people. Managers spend lots of time trying to figure out how to keep their employees happy, but when it comes to sales people they tend to think of things strictly in monetary terms. "But, on the whole, sales people aren't that different to the rest of us," he writes. "By removing the simplest, crudest and least effective motivational tool of money, we're forcing our managers to find more powerful, subtle and productive techniques to motivate our sales people. Rather than relying on carrots (sell more and you can buy that new car) and sticks (don't sell enough and you won't be able to feed your kids), we are compelled to make our sales people's work more interesting, to set better goals, to encourage more teamwork." (Via Hacker News.)
How to behave at conferences, according to Michael Arrington. Off the heels of TechCrunch50 and just in time for the Inc. 500 conference, which starts tomorrow in Washington, DC, Michael Arrington has 8 tips on how to steer conversations at conferences, without letting ego or sloppiness get in the way. He says that randomly approaching someone should be your last option. But if you must approach someone cold, don't assume they know who you are. Instead, Arrington recommends an opening like, "Hey Bob, it's Mike from TechCrunch, good to see you again." That way, they have your name, your company, and they know if they've met you before. We think he left off try not to fight "like rapid dogs" with your fellow conference organizer before the event.
Startup tries to beat Madden at his own game. Foxborough, Massachusetts may be most famous for being home to the New England Patriots, but it is also home to an upstart software company looking to make its own mark on the gridiron. As the Boston Globe reports, the company Quick Hit is hoping its no-frills football video game can compete with the dazzling graphics and All-Star names featured in Electronic Arts's wildly successful Madden NFL video games. Given that last year's edition of Madden NFL sold 5.25 million copies, Quick Hit is hoping that employing a different business model can help it topple the giant. Rather than having gamers fork over the $60 most traditional video games cost, Quick Hit is offering its version for free and hopes to raise revenue through online advertising and the sale of in-game extras.
Alternative music site gets mainstream boost. First, it got a lift from a big-name call girl. Now, the music-sharing site AmieStreet.com is getting a boost from a big-name label: Sony Music. As Michael Arrington of TechCrunch reports, Amie Street has struck a deal with Sony to carry the label's entire music catalog on AmieStreet.com. Up to now, the three-year-old start-up has gained popularity by offering dynamic pricing for song downloads; songs start off free and their prices increase to a maximum of $.99 the more they are downloaded. Sony's song prices will not fluctuate, but will be offered at three fixed price points: $.69, $.99, and $1.29. "At least it shows that Sony is willing to experiment with variable pricing," Arrington writes. "Perhaps in time they'll be willing to move to a purer model."
An IPO comeback. Five companies are slated to go public this week, the most in a single week since December 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal. As we've written before, the public markets have been a disaster for startups since the recession began. Last year, we reported that the number of venture-backed IPOs hit a 30 year low. That put pressure on venture capitalists, who depend on having a few huge IPOs. According to the Journal, it was so bad that there were only two IPOs during the six months following Labor Day 2008. Marketplace says that this week's IPOs, which include the electric car battery maker A123 Systems, represent "another sign the financial gloom is lifting."
Netflix Taps the Crowd, Again. Almost three years ago Netflix challenged number crunchers worldwide to develop a better movie recommendation engine, and after a dead heat, the victors were announced yesterday. The winning team, known as BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, took home $1 million. Netflix gets the team's recommendation engine, which will allow it pick the flicks that customers are most interested in with 10 percent more accuracy. It may not sound like much, but it could prove far more valuable to Netlfix than the amount of the prize itself. In fact, the company is launching another contest to try to further model users' tastes.