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Branding and networking for small businesses

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Veteran marketer Rod Means of San Diego claims that he was the first to put jump suits on auto-racing pit crews back in the 1970s, when T-shirts and jeans with a rag hanging out of the back pocket were standard. Such jump suits now blossom with brands in NASCAR pits, and also on small-business workers who wear T-shirts or jackets with company logos.

Means now is a volunteer with the Service Corps of Retired Executives Association (SCORE), which offers guidance for small-business owners. Its funding comes in part from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Means’ marketing advice? Join up, including with trade associations, local chambers of commerce, Kiwanis, Rotary. Go to mixers. “You need to become part of the woodwork of the community,” Means says.

SCORE agrees with volunteer Means: Stay active in associations and other networking events. As for small-business marketing ideas, SCORE offers these: Start a blog, add e-commerce on your website, promote your business on Twitter, and set up a Facebook page.

Be aware that Facebook and its 400 million users have been plagued with spam and viruses. In January, Facebook offered users a free six-month subscription to a security package—but computers hijacked by such “malware” must endure a software scan to get their Facebook account back.

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