Five Budget-Friendly Ways to Make a Name in Business

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If someone took a survey of your top prospects and customers, what would they say about you? Do they know your company? What do they know? Would they say that you’re an “expert” in your field, the one their friends and colleagues should call?

The world’s most successful business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs know that people don’t call you by chance. Today, in a fast-moving economy with more competition than ever, a “celebrity” culture drives the world of business. You always have a leg up if people have heard of you or, better yet, have heard you speak or read about you in newspapers and magazines. The reason for this is an interesting phenomenon: people believe that if you’re well known, you must be the best, and people want to do business with the best.


If you are a known brand, you don’t have to work so hard to attract new opportunity. When your phone is ringing, it is not only easier than starting from scratch to develop prospects, the people on the phone are already inclined to buy, and you can close more deals in less time.

The results of creating visibility are:

  • You’re “top of mind” with your target market

  • More calls are coming in 

  • Increased sales 

  • Opportunity to sell more to the same clients 

  • Improved closing ratio 

  • More referrals

Making a name and creating visibility for yourself or your business is an important strategy. But most small and mid-sized businesses experience obstacles in terms of budgeting for these branding efforts. When people think of branding, it’s easy to think of big players with big brands, like Nike or Coca-Cola. But the majority of businesses don’t exactly have the same budget as Nike or Coca-Cola!

So how do you create visibility with a small-business budget? You must devise a strategy so that they come to you because they “find” you – through a referral or the internet.

Here are a few budget-friendly ways to make a name in your industry:

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. You get exposure not only to those who attend, but to anyone who receives an invitation to 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. Join boards and take leadership positions with non-profit organizations. Doing the right thing while helping your business is a time-honored tradition. If you have high visibility as a leader on a committee or board, the people you meet have a natural affinity to do business with you because they know you, and you share a common interest.


4. Write articles – and do media interviews. There’s no better way to showcase 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.

5. Project a powerful professional style everywhere you go. Your wardrobe, grooming, personal style, body language, and voice send out loud and clear signals. Although it may seem unfair, people often decide based on just a few signals whether you are worth their time.

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

About the Author

Suzanne Bates is president of Bates Communications, a communications consulting firm that helps business leaders and executives speak with an authentic voice of leadership and get a competitive edge in business. Her firm's clients include Fidelity, Mellon, State Street, EMC, Blue Cross, Interactive Data, and Cabot Corporation. Suzanne is also the author of Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005), which has been translated into Russian and Chinese. Prior to starting her successful consulting firm, she was an award-winning television news anchor and reporter. She can be reached at or by visiting

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