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3 ways to rock your small business holiday marketing, starting right now

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/15/2018 Steve Strauss

a group of people in a city: Philadelphia's popular Christmas Village includes a heated garden serving mulled wine, daily concerts and a German grill serving favorites like bratwursts, Belgian fries and strudel. The Philadelphia area was ranked sixth for activities and weather © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. Philadelphia's popular Christmas Village includes a heated garden serving mulled wine, daily concerts and a German grill serving favorites like bratwursts, Belgian fries and strudel. The Philadelphia area was ranked sixth for activities and weather Did you hear the one about the small business owner who was too busy to market the business for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

That entrepreneur lost a ton of money.

In the seminal small business book "The E-Myth," author Michael Gerber writes too many small business owners spend far too much time working IN their business, and far too little time working ON their business. Working on the business can mean a lot of things, but here it means taking the time to think ahead and plan for the upcoming selling season, be it the holidays, or summer, or whatever.

If you are running behind, fear not. Here are 3 powerful ways to rock your digital marketing this holiday season, even if you are just getting started:

1. Launch a Google Ads campaign

Previously known as Google AdWords, Google Ads allow searchers to find your products while they are looking for similar items or information on Google. While it is very difficult to get on the first page of a Google search result organically (no matter what the “experts” say), you can buy your way to a Page 1 result with a Google ad.

And think about this: What are people looking for when they search on Google? Answer: Information RIGHT NOW about a subject. If they see your ad when they are highly motivated and searching, that can quickly turn into a warm lead.

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The secret is to target the right keywords, words people will likely use in their search that relates to your products. Use a keyword research tool to find highly searched words related to your product. Say that you sell snowboards in Maine. Target keywords such as “Snowboards, Maine," "best skiing gifts” or “giving a snowboard.” Then create specific landing pages for those products and advertise on Google targeting these desired keywords.

Voila! You are instantly back in the holiday sales game.

Keys to success:

• Have a call to action: “Sale ends in 3 days!” “25% off this week only!”

• Use the magic words: “Free” and “Sale” are the two most powerful words in advertising

• Use seasonal words: “Happy Holidays!” “Holiday sale!”

• Test and refine: Google Ads are great because you can check results 24/7 and make necessary changes immediately.

2. Use retargeting

You know this drill. You read an article about Hawaiian vacations, or click on a link about them, and then all of a sudden, ads for Hawaiian vacations are all you see online for two weeks. That’s called retargeting.

Here’s how it works: Say someone comes to your site to check out your snowboards. With retargeting, a cookie ends up on their computer (it’s legal, don’t worry), and ads for your snowboards then show up while they are reading a news site, or watching a video, or whatever.

Retargeting is great because it helps keep your site and brand and products top of mind.

3. Use seasonal video in your email marketing

What is the most important part of selling online – price, availability, 2-day-shipping? Nope, nope, and nope. As it turns out, selling online often requires some sort of emotional connection. If people feel good about your business or product, they are far more likely to buy it.

That’s where your e-newsletter generally, and video specifically, comes into play. Your e-newsletter is great because it is a personal connection with your tribe, and even better, they have opted-in; they want you to email them.

Video doubles down on that. People love to watch video online, and in an e-newsletter it is clicked more than anything. So create some friendly, fun, and/or personal holidays videos and share them in your seasonal e-newsletter. Have the staff sing a Christmas carol, or have your VP of sales make a cheesy video. Give a personal, warm season’s greeting.

The good news is that you need not worry if you haven’t started your holiday marketing. Use these tricks and there is still plenty of time.

Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship who has been writing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. Email: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com. You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 3 ways to rock your small business holiday marketing, starting right now

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