Is your brand and marketing ready for 2015, or is it stuck in 1995? When it comes to branding and marketing small businesses, a lot has changed in the past 20 years, but it is an unfortunate fact that many small businesses are still firmly stuck in the “phone book” while competitors are embracing Google and Facebook. What can you do to break free from old branding and marketing habits and completely enter the 21st century?

Push Marketing Is Old-Fashioned

Don’t get us wrong, we love the 1990s! Who wouldn’t love the decade that brought us the Macarena, Friends, and grunge music? Aside from popular culture, the 90s is historically significant as the decade in which the world began to embrace the Internet. Google was founded in 1998, and both Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. Most significantly, in the 90s small businesses still embraced a “phone book” approach to branding and marketing that was essentially unchanged for decades – small businesses used print marketing to “push” their products or services onto consumers, usually through print advertising in phone books, advertising circulars and newspapers. Small business branding elements were often limited to simple black and white logos, taglines were often limited or discarded due to limitations on space, and color schemes were often deemed unnecessary.

What Is Pull Marketing?

The Internet has given everyone many different mediums of expression, such as a website, blog, or social media accounts. However, many small business owners and managers neglect or fail to fully capitalize on the potential of these online resources, simply because they don’t understand the opportunities that small businesses now have to fully realize their branding and marketing potential. Phone books, circulars and newspapers still exist, but their marketing reach and power has been greatly diminished in relation to the pull marketing power of the Internet, in which consumers pull the information they need off of the Internet in order to make an informed buying decision. Paradoxically, you have less control and more control than ever before – you have less control over how and when consumers discover and perceive your brand, but you have more freedom and control over the digital mediums used to present your brand to consumers. It is therefore important to ensure that your business understands how to fully harness the marketing and branding power of the Internet.

A Fully-Realized Brand For All

Back in the “phone book” days of small business branding and marketing, a business’s brand was dependent on their advertising and marketing budgets. If a small business couldn’t afford television or full-color, elaborate print advertisements, then it may not have been important to create a logo, a tagline, a color scheme and other branding elements. If a business became more successful, those branding elements may have been added later, but many small businesses were satisfied with a good company name (often beginning with an A, to rank higher in the alphabetized phone book directory), a simple logo and perhaps a short tagline.

Equal Marketing Opportunities

In today’s marketing world, small businesses have easy access to the same digital marketing tools as large corporations. Of course large corporations will always have bigger budgets for advertising and marketing campaigns, but small businesses can easily and cheaply develop websites and social media pages that are just as elaborate and powerful. However, many small business owners and managers don’t fully realize the potential of these tools and don’t fully develop their branding and marketing as a result – basic branding elements are often shoehorned into generic website templates and social media pages, leaving readers, consumers and prospective customers unimpressed and underwhelmed as a result.

Is Your Business’s Image Up To Date?

We know that your branding isn’t truly stuck in the 1990s, although it can appear that way to some potential customers. What matters is making sure that your business’s branding is up to date with where your business is today. If you take a look at your business’s branding and marketing, are you impressed by what you see, or do you feel like crucial branding elements are missing, which can lead to a boring and uninspired website? Also, you should not be using old logos and messaging on your website if your brand has moved on from those elements. By keeping your branding elements and online presence up to date with where your business is, the fresher your brand will appear to your potential customers.