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Five Ways to Build a Brand for Your Small Business
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By Suzanne Bates

When we think of branding, it’s easy to think of big players with big brands, like Nike or Coca-Cola. If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that your business needs a brand too. But I’m guessing you don’t exactly have the same budget as Nike or Coca-Cola!

So how do you work with what you have? When you run a small business, you can't possibly meet all of your prospective clients. You must devise a strategy so that they come to you, because they “find” you – through a referral or the Internet.

A personal brand for someone in a small business is instantly recognizable, stands for something of value, and creates word of mouth about you. As we all know, word of mouth is an absolute must if you’re going to have a successful small business.

Here are five budget-friendly ways to build a powerful brand for your business:

1. Volunteer to speak to organizations, professional associations, conferences - anyplace where your clients and customers go. If you have an interesting, relevant presentation, people will flock to the podium after your presentation to talk to you. Every organization or association you speak to will have your name on their conference website. This will increase your “Google” factor – the more your name appears on the Internet, the better chance you have of being “found” by a potential client or customer.

2. Step up to be on panels at events where you can talk about a hot topic in your area of expertise. You get exposure not only to those who attend, but to anyone who receives promotions or e-mails about the event. Getting in touch with event organizers yourself, rather than waiting for them to contact you, is also beneficial. These planners appreciate you helping them and will likely become referral sources if all goes well.

3. Write articles - and do media interviews. There’s no better way to show case your expertise and attract people to you than when your articles or ideas are featured in print or online publications. Media trainers, PR firms and other experts can help you get media ready.

4. Project a powerful professional style, everywhere you go. Your wardrobe, grooming, personal style, body language and voice send out loud and clear signals. People often decide based on just a few signals whether you are worth their time.

5. Make sure everything you do is high quality and consistent - your web site, brochure, business card, even your office. Every one of these things sends out signals about your company.

Remember, branding doesn’t have to cost a lot, it just takes some thought. Building a personal brand is about using your head; it’s ingenuity.





Suzanne Bates is the President and CEO of Bates Communications.
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