How do you service & entice customers to visit your small business during a slow Winter month? By giving them some “Valentine love.”

Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival is a Feb.5-7th Valentine’s Day-themed promotion that offers “a decadent tradition of delectable chocolate, sparkling ice sculptures, and Valentine’s Day shopping” which has been successfully employed in Salem MA for the past 13 years to accomplish those goals.

“February is truly one of the hardest months for our local businesses,” points our Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director of  Salem Main Streets, an initiative whose goal is to promote the merchants, small businesses and life in the Downtown District of Salem MA.

She continues, “Our downtown relies heavily on foot traffic, and it’s a really unappealing time of year to walk around and shop without a specific purpose. This Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival makes the idea of exploring the downtown exciting despite the weather, and honestly, people are usually looking for a good excuse to get out of the house.”

For example, Salem Main Streets, along with partners the Salem Chamber of Commerce and Destination Salem have produced a discount cross promotion.

Sullivan explains, “We’re quite excited to introduce the ‘Sweet 10%’ Promotion this year. With each full-price purchase at a participating business on 2/6 and 2/7, shoppers will get 10% off at the next participating business.”

That would give your customers something to tweet and post about. Buy something for your sweetie at one store and get 10% off for him/her at the next store.

Salem’s So Sweet also presents for local & tourist viewing pleasure during this festival, merchant sponsored Ice Sculptures situated throughout the Downtown District.

Sullivan advises, “This year, we have over 20 beautiful ice sculptures- – a record-breaking number– that will grace downtown Salem starting February 6th! This year’s themes will include The Friendship, the Mad Hatter, an alpaca, and more.”

Enchanting, entertaining and then enticing customers with a cute or, for example, a locally-themed (sports team) Ice Sculpture is also something very worthy of fan tweets, blogs, Facebook likes, Instagram shots, Pinterest pages, etc. to promote your brand. Customers servicing your small business by way of social media.

For this writer, the highlight has always been the kick-off, a Chocolate and Wine Tasting (this year on Friday, February 5th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, at Colonial Hall at Rockafellas, 227 Essex Street.) This tasting event features wine and chocolate samplings from premier Salem restaurants, stores, and sweet shops.

chocoChocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered this and that. Plus wine. As many and as much as you want for $25.

Any dining establishment or store that makes/sells something to do with chocolate or wine takes part, sharing centerstage with competitors and non-competitors as the community samples from table after table after table.

Happy customers, with an excuse (free) to sample what you offer. And then they will tweet or issue posts and pictures promoting your brand.

Whether you sell anything with chocolate or not, the “So Sweet” promotion is flexible enough with the “Sweet 10%” and Ice Sculptures to provide several points of entry for your business to participate.

What do you do in your community to entice foot traffic during first week of February?

For more info on this or any other Salem Main Streets event, please call Kylie Sullivan at 978-744-0004  x15.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow