Winifred Sanderson: Sisters, All Hallow’s Eve has become a night of frolic, where children wear costumes and run amok!

Sarah Sanderson: Amok, amok, amok, amok, amok.
(from Hocus Pocus, 1993)

Nowhere in America is that truer than in Salem Ma, the city of the Sanderson Sisters. Here, children of all ages celebrate Halloween the ENTIRE MONTH during October’s Haunted Happenings festival. The traditional kick-off is a children’s costume parade, which this year is being held on Thursday, October 4th. The theme is “The Magic of Hocus Pocus,” to honor the movie’s 25th anniversary!

But— No Sponsorships, No Parade

The Salem Ma. Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Haunted Happening’s Halloween Grand Parade. Traditionally, it recoups expenses of police, marching bands, security, advertising, postage, and staging with sponsorships. These come from some individuals and organizations, but mostly from small businesses that see the value in word of mouth marketing through support of community events.

International marketer John Moore has suggested, “If people are not talking about you, they are forgetting about you.”

What better way to motivate local people into talking about your small business than to sponsor a local “feel-good” event?

Word of mouth marketing is especially critical to small businesses as Nielsen reports that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.

In return for financial sponsorship, The Salem Ma. Chamber provides the following:

  • Banner Sponsor & Friend of the Parade ($1,000)
    Donor Individual sponsor banner carried in the Parade, and
    Small Businesses have their company name included on the list of sponsors on the Salem Chamber’s website and in all Social Media
  • Friend of the Parade Sponsor ($500)
    Small Businesses have their company name included on the list of sponsors on the Salem Chamber’s website and in all Social Media

The parade steps off from Shetland properties on Congress Street, promptly at 6:30pm. Then it turns left passing businesses on Derby Street, right onto Central Street, left onto Front Street, right onto Washington Street, and right onto the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall. It ends at the Salem common.

Brand Loyalty and Brand Buzz

This is the 23rd edition of the parade. No doubt, many parents and small business owners marched in costume as youths long ago themselves. They know first hand how much it means to Salem as a kick off for Haunted Happenings.

They are even more so personally invested in it as a fun event for the youthful marchers who are being waved at, applauded, cheered at, and having their pictures taken by the crowds along the route.

By the banners on the floats and the names posted by the Chamber, parents will remember and share which local small businesses helped make this a memorable night for their children.

In this way, word of mouth marketing builds brand loyalty and creates brand buzz for local small businesses.

If you’re a Salem merchant reading this, here’s the link to the Salem sign up site.  If you’re not in Salem, step outside your store and see if your community is sponsoring some such similar event that needs financial backing.

“I put a spell on you, and now you’re mine.”

Word of mouth marketing is indeed magical.

(Your thoughts are ALWAYS welcome. Turn this into a conversation either here or on my Twitter account @amssvs)