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Winning Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in NJ

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

There are over 950,000 small businesses in New Jersey, according to the NJ Small Business Administration. We account for 99.6% of all NJ businesses, and nearly half of all NJ employees.

You have nearly a million competitors for local customers and brand awareness — marketing strategies for small businesses in the Garden State must be visible, memorable and engaging.

marketing strategies small businesses nj
(source: JazzGuy via Flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0):

When I talk to New Jersey small business owners, they mention 2 key barriers between them and better marketing ideas:

  1. “It's too hard to find the time.”

  2. “It's too hard to determine a budget.”

These are valid concerns, but they're easily fixed — you need a customized small business marketing strategy, built from the ground up by a local marketing pro that respects your time and your budget.

Any company that doesn't offer customized small business marketing strategy doesn't understand what you really want from a marketing agency.

You want proof of success, you want examples of winning strategy, and you want them for free before you decide to work with a marketing company.

So here's my pitch:

I'm a content marketing professional living in New Jersey. I've used a 4-step marketing campaign to grow my small business revenue by over 300% this year and increase my average SERP rankings by 6-12 places.

And I've done it with a budget that makes sense for a solo entrepreneur.

I'd love to work with you on your New Jersey small business content marketing strategy. Before I do, I'd love to give you a free head start on your own in-house marketing efforts.

Want to skip ahead? Jump to any of these sections:

Step 1 is simple: Go online, and get all the free stuff you can.

Step 1: Start With Digital Marketing You Can Get For Free.

digital marketing small business nj
Yes, NJ small business owners, there IS such a thing as a free lunch in digital marketing.

My grandfather used to say, “There's no such thing as a free lunch.”

Of course, he was born in 1922. 100+ years later, you still have to pay for lunch — but you don't have to pay for all of your digital marketing. You just need to know where to look.

Get Active on Google

Claim your Google Business profile and Google My Business account today. I don't even mind if you stop reading to do so — it's that important.

You'll need to verify your address with a simple postcard code that takes about 5 days to deliver. Answer a few questions, and your search engine visibility improves without doing an ounce of SEO work.

Here are 5 things you'll be able to take advantage of by getting Google verified:

  • Use Google Analytics to track your website's search data, which pages are popular, and how people are finding you.

  • Set up automations to take appointments, book services, and publicize special offers on Google.

  • Heighten your brand awareness and positive customer engagement with Google Reviews.

  • Sign up for free Google small business extras, including expert advice on improving your marketing efforts.

  • Discounted offers and promotions for Google Adwords campaigns.

Claim Your Small Business in Free Local Directories

Local SEO doesn't have to cost money. Claim your company in free local business directories like Superpages, Yahoo! Local, and MerchantCircle.

It's also a great idea to get listed with the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce to gain credibility.

Not every online directory is free — it's up to you to determine whether the cost matches the value you receive.

For example, it's free to sign up for Angi. But you'll pay between $15 and $80+ per generated lead, and it does cost money to advertise on their platform. If you're a home contractor in a competitive space, that might be worth it. If your customer base is established, or if you have a tie to a company like HOMR, you may want to take a pass.

Take a Fun Digital Quiz About Small Business Marketing Strategy!

Developing a marketing strategy doesn't have to be hard work! I created a fun quiz to help you determine a helpful small business marketing strategy that you can implement immediately.

Are you looking to increase search engine visibility, or is a stronger social media presence right for you? Do you need a better blog, or is building a portfolio of online reviews more important?

Take 3 minutes, answer 10 multiple choice questions, and find the best marketing strategy for you!

Step 2: Write Local — Talk Like Your Target Customer.

local small business marketing content
Good local marketing means talking like your neighbors.

Your target audience lives down the street. Why talk to them like they're strangers?

So many small business owners cast their nets too wide when creating website and advertising content. If you're from East Brunswick, write like your neighbors in Middlesex County! If you're a roofer in Asbury Park, talk about roofing issues that matter to local homeowners.

Content marketing is the core of an effective marketing strategy, but it only works when it sounds genuine. Here are my 3 favorite ways to craft engaging, relevant content for local customers:

Get Your Blog Started, and Update It Weekly

I recently wrote an article for The Campfire Circle about why blogs are a crucial online marketing channel for small businesses and startups. And I practice what I preach — most of my 15+ years in content marketing have been spent writing killer blog articles that capture high search engine rankings for small business owners.

It doesn't matter if you're a B2B or B2C brand — business blogs generate leads.

  • B2B brands with a blog gain 67% more leads than competitors without them.

  • B2C brands with a blog gain 88% more monthly leads than their competitors.

The average startup blog costs under $900 to create. Think about the ineffective traditional marketing campaigns you've spent far more than $900 on — then, think about what your first batch of articles should be.

Heck, I love blogging so much I'll help you strategize the content free of charge.

Post on Your Social Media Platform (Don't Buy Facebook Ads)

small business social media ads

A recent SurveyMonkey poll shows that 74% of people are tired of social media ads. Why would you spend money to alienate 3 out of every 4 new customers?

But with the average consumer spending 2 ½ hours per day on their socials, you can't ignore social media marketing as part of your overall digital marketing strategy.

Smart local businesses save money and curate their brand by posting thoughtful, timely messages on their platforms. You get the benefit of brand awareness without the negative perception of social media ads — and you won't spend a dime.

Online Reviews: Let Your Existing Customers Advertise For You

Online reviews are the ultimate referral marketing tactic. Not only do you get positive advertising with built-in social proof from satisfied clients — they do all the writing for you!

Provide multiple channels for customers to provide reviews. Capture them on Google, your website, and any business directories where you're active.

If you happen to get a bad review, handling it in a courteous and timely manner can spin it into a positive marketing experience. 45% of customers say they're more likely to use a service if they resolve a negative review in a timely manner.

Pro Tip: Offer discounts and perks for customer review feedback. They're improving your search engine visibility and generating new leads for you. Displaying your gratitude will only increase your customers' lifetime value.

Step 3: Know What Doesn't Work in New Jersey.

This is where things get a little specific. It's important to rely on small business marketing advice that's tailored to New Jersey — things that work in other states don't always succeed here.

Don't worry — specific doesn't mean complicated. It's pretty easy to figure out when a marketing plan doesn't hit home with Jersey residents, because you are one!

If you think a piece of advertising content is a waste of time and money, a potential customer likely does as well. So why would doing the same thing bring you different results?

In general, I've found 2 perfectly acceptable marketing channels that don't very work well in NJ:

Email Marketing*

The last time I criticized email marketing as a NJ marketing tactic, I caught a lot of flak. Email marketing isn't bad — but text and SMS marketing works far better in the Garden State.

I'm not concerned with email open rates. That just means your reader has opened the email — they haven't visited your site, claimed the offer or made a purchase. Email click rate is a far better metric.

The average email click rate is just over 10% nationally. It's closer to 6-7% in New Jersey.

By comparison, the average click-through rate for SMS marketing campaigns is between 20-30%. You skip the action of opening an email and move directly to “getting the click”. That's a huge advantage in the fast-paced New Jersey marketplace.

Newspaper Ads

Do you read the newspaper? When was the last time you flipped through the extra ads stuffed in your Sunday edition?

Let me be clear: there's nothing wrong with newspapers or print journalism. The medium isn't dead by any means, and newspaper ads are surprisingly viable in other world markets — just not in New Jersey.

It costs $0.25-$5 to get 1,000 impressions with Google ads. The average cost to put an ad in the Star-Ledger is almost $500. The cost-vs-value proposition for NJ small business owners isn't fantastic.

Step 4: Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses Must Be Customized.

It's good to have a solid roadmap for content marketing and digital marketing strategy. But it's equally as valuable to know when your individual business should stray from the path.

Big-box marketing plans aren't scalable enough, especially in a crowded marketplace like New Jersey. You need a customized marketing strategy that's specifically bult to serve your brand's local target audience and capture local SEO.

The biggest secret about customized small business marketing? When you work with another small business owner like me, it's actually cheaper than hiring a large marketing agency.

Small business content marketing isn't “one size fits all”. I built Perk Copywriting as an a la carte fleet of marketing services — together, we'll pick and choose the ones that make sense for your brand.

Here are 3 inexpensive marketing ideas I've found to be highly effective for New Jersey small businesses:

Short Form Video Content on Social Media

post short form video to social media

A well-executed short video on social media is as effective as a local commercial, and there's no charge to post it. Invest a small amount into a quality HD video with a meticulous script, and you're guaranteed to drive engagement:

  • Nearly 60% of online consumers will watch your entire ad video if it's under 60 seconds.

  • Social media videos get 12x as many shares as text and image posts — combined.

Choose your preferred social media platform based on the demographics of your local customers. If you attract a younger clientele, engage in TikTok and Instagram video content or hire a local celebrity to do some influencer marketing.

Want to capture an older demographic? Facebook groups still work well, especially for NJ moms and community organizations.

Optimize Your Website Landing Page for Local Buyers

A local business needs a local landing page. Period.

Imagine you live in Paramus, and you're looking for a local construction company. You find 2 excellent candidates, both with strong Google reviews and search results.

You click on each of their websites. One offers highly-specific content to Paramus and the Route 4 area of Bergen County, with special promotions for your area and recent job photos from Saddle Brook, Paramus and Wyckoff. The other sounds like it was written by an SEO agency in another part of the country.

Which business would you choose?

If you outsource your web design and website content strategy, hire a NJ-based copywriter or content marketing expert. You'll receive a landing page tailored to your local customers, written by someone who understands the innate needs and desires of your community.

Did I Mention I Love a NJ Business Blog?

small business blog marketing data

Here are 3 more reasons a small business blog is a valuable (and cheap!) marketing channel:

  • Companies who blog get 97% more links to their websites.

  • 80% of blog owners report measurable growth in customer retention KPIs (lead generation and/or signup).

  • Inbound content marketing is 62% cheaper than traditional outbound advertising.

Craft your blog content around topics and keywords that are highly relevant to your local audience. (If you need help on topic research, I can recommend a few inexpensive online tools used by Fortune 500 companies!)

Post a link to every new blog article on your social media platforms. Frame them as in-depth information regarding the topics your community cares about — whether it's upcoming events at your Red Bank brewery or the harvest schedule at your Hunterdon County orchard.

Let's Create a Customized Marketing Plan for Your Business

I'm here to listen first, and offer advice second. When I customize a content marketing strategy for your small business, I need to understand your brand as well as possible.

That's why every first consultation with me is free — I like to prove my value before asking for your business.

So reach out. Let's talk about your brand. Let's celebrate your strengths, and solve the marketing concerns that keep you up at night. And let's do it within your budget.

I can't wait to write your next chapter together.

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