MBA sees success in marketing, seeks funding

MANCHESTER — In the wake of the Manchester and the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce's dissolution, local leaders formed the Manchester Business Association (MBA) with a specific goal in mind: bringing visitors to the Northshire community.

Since its inception in March, the group has worked fastidiously to promote Manchester in multitudes of formats including the web, social media, and even radio.

"Our Facebook and our website visitors have substantially increased over the last four or five months," said Anthony MacLaurin, the volunteer leader of the MBA's marketing team. "We have increasingly been told by businesses in town and hotels that they have seen increased traffic and bookings as well."

In light of that success, the MBA will make a presentation at the Oct. 24 Manchester Selectboard meeting to propose the utilization of a portion of increased revenues from the town's local option tax on rooms, meals, alcohol and some sales to fund their marketing efforts.

According to the group, the option tax generates net proceeds to the town of Manchester of around $650,000. With their efforts to increase commerce and tourism, the MBA believes that the optional tax revenue could increase by $50,000 to 100,000 per year.

"Our number one purpose is to drive visitors to town, to improve retail sales, hotel bookings, restaurants, and to keep the vitality of the town strong during a period of massive changes going on in our country," said MacLaurin.

On the web, the MBA established their "" website with more than 150 area businesses registered and more than 60 paying for a "preferred listing" (featuring increased visibility in email blasts, blogs, and social media).

In the past six months, the group has managed to expand Manchester's web presence significantly. Statistics from the MBA show that between March and September of this year, webpage views rose from an average of 9,813 views to 61,336 views. The group said it has increased email subscribers significantly, from 263 subscribers in March to 2,425 in September.

In terms of social media, the MBA's Facebook fans have grown from 3,600 to 4,610, Twitter followers have risen from 750 to 1,144, and Instagram followers have spiked from 1,725 in March to 6,874 in September.

Alongside virtual marketing efforts, the group has also invested in radio campaigns running on WAMC and NPR.

"The Manchester Business Association has been driving digital marketing to our website, and we have put out very regular monthly, sometimes twice monthly, promotions for the town's assets whether it be hiking, food, or even the ITVFest," said MacLaurin. "We're marketing all of the time."

Additionally, the group has operated a visitors center at the corner of Routes 11/30 and 7A throughout the summer season with plans to continue through fall foliage.

"Our visitors center has been very successful," said MacLaurin. "We've actually looked after more than 3,000 visitors in the visitors center, providing them with pamphlets and information on hotel accommodations, hiking, biking, where they can go with their kids, and things like that."

Comprised of leaders from area businesses and organizations, the MBA has received monetary and in-kind donations from dozens of local businesses to date with a goal of doubling those in the next year. To share their progress since March, the group will hold a private event on Oct. 17 to for local businesses and supporters.

"On the 17th we would like to say thank you to the website promoters and advertisers, and the sponsors that have taken us to this stage," said MacLaurin. "We will give them an update on our marketing plans for 2018/2019, and talk about our strategy for raising money with the town."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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