Marketing Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Plate

November 22, 2017

By Chris Franks

Thanksgiving is an interesting week from the marketing agency perspective, because it is a kick off to a busy holiday season for many of our clients. There’s things we are thankful for this year, and, of course, things that drive us insane in the marketing world at the moment. However, we’d rather focus on the thing that makes our team happy across the board: food.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s a buttload of great food that is cooked and shared with loved ones over a bottle or two of wine, and that’s something to celebrate. Now, if you were to break down your first plate of food tomorrow, you might find that there are similarities between the food on your plate and your overall marketing strategy.

You probably don’t want us to do this, but we are doing it anyway. Sorry not sorry – we are nerds about marketing and will find any and all opportunities to ruin a holiday.

Turkey: Your Website

Marketing Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Plate | CleverFunnel Digital

A turkey can make or break your Thanksgiving meal. If the turkey is cooked perfectly, your friends and family will be raving all year. If your turkey is somehow dry, underdone or gives them salmonella, you’re probably going to be dismissed from turkey duty for the rest of your life and shunned. Think about the turkey as you would your website, because it is the star of your online presence and marketing strategy. If you have a perfect website, it is well designed and gets to the point without giving anyone a trip to the ER. We have all gone to a website and thought, “wow that website really sucks.” And if it sucks, it is probably like a shitty turkey: dry, undercooked, or exploded in a deep fryer. Sometimes your website can be doing entirely too much, like a turducken – too many things going on, and no focus. In this case, it’s good to go back to the basics and stick to what traditionally works.

Stuffing: Your Content

Stuffing is always a favorite part of any Thanksgiving meal, but it’s about the quality of the stuffing and not the quantity. It’s timeless, says a lot about your personality, and can suck if not done right. Think of stuffing like your content strategy, because it pairs perfectly with turkey. The better quality of your content, the more it will help elevate the website and other marketing efforts. Of course, if your content sucks, it’s just going to be a disappointment all around. Much like dry stuffing, or stuffing made with raisins or mushrooms (why?!).

Mashed Potatoes: Social Media

Marketing Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Plate | CleverFunnel Digital

Mashed potatoes are usually an exciting part of the Thanksgiving plate, but they can also overpower it if you have too much of a gravy to mash ratio. This is kind of similar to social media in the sense that a little bit of social media is great for your brand, but if you overdo it on any one channel it will overflow and bleed into other aspects of your strategy. It’s also the portion of a plate that when missing from a Thanksgiving meal is sorely missed, and complained about. Similar to if your brand isn’t even on social media. It’s always important in social media, like potatoes on your plate, to remember that less is more. How you market yourself on there should be a quality effort, with delicate finesse to not over gravy.

Cranberry Sauce: Public Relations

When it comes to cranberry sauce, we all know there’s two different types. The straight off the shelf, canned, molded, variety that we all loathe, but for some reason still eat. The other, is the artisanal cranberry sauce that someone has taken the time to artfully put together. With your PR or news outreach you can take a few approaches similar to this. If you want to serve your guests – or your publicity targets – the same predictably gelatinous bullshit that they’ve come to know from their more mediocre relatives, you can always just vomit 500 words into an AP WebWire press release and see what comes out the other end. It’s not good by any means, but every year Ocean Spray somehow manages to sell millions of cases of canned compromise-flavored obligation. The real sauce, the kind that gets responses rather than mostly just polite dismissal, has to be crafted with care and love. Treat every pitch like your favorite grandmother who takes the time to make cranberry sauce exactly the way she knows you like it.  

Green Bean Casserole: Traditional Marketing

A green bean casserole is always going to taste the same. It’s three ingredients that never change: cream of mushroom soup, green beans (canned or frozen), and French’s crispy onions. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It will always taste the same, it gets the job done, and it helps supplement the efforts of other items on the plate. Although, there’s not really much of a return on investment here. It’s a gray and boring dish, while absolutely delicious, just isn’t going to do much for you overall. Think of a green bean casserole like traditional marketing: good to have, but isn’t going to be the star of your strategy and you’re going to need to get creative to make it satisfying.

Yams & Other Dishes People Ignore: Stuff No One Cares About

Marketing Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Plate | CleverFunnel Digital

There’s always that one person that brings candied yams, or a jello casserole that no one wants to Thanksgiving. You eat it to be polite, but you dread it every year. It’s kind of like the other nonsense in a marketing strategy that just doesn’t matter. It’s always a good thing to have for variety, but you’ll live without putting marketing money into it. These dishes are the Yelp or Google+ of your digital marketing strategy: yes, they exist, but do we really need to be spending all of our time with these channels? Of course, if you try it, you can always abandon the idea later on. Similar to how you might put a blop on your plate, and claim you are too full to have another bite.

Dessert: The ROI

The meal is concluded, and it’s time to watch the Lions lose another year of quality Thanksgiving football. The family is all sitting around, trying to fathom how days of meal prep and hours of cooking is all consumed in minutes. Oh boy, if this isn’t a symbol of American excess and imperialism, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, while you’re sunk into the recliner, contemplating whether or not you actually needed that second helping of that weird marshmallow bullshit that your cousin brought with her, out from the kitchen emerges the true star of Thanksgiving: the pumpkin pie. And friends, there’s always room for pumpkin pie.

Think of the rest of the meal as all the work that goes into a marketing program. We drive ourselves crazy sometimes with how much we do to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. It can be tiring, it can be exhausting, but at the end, if everything is done correctly, you get to experience the sweetness that is true, measurable, and attributable results.

Bonus: Family drama: Pleasing everyone (by Mr. Ivan)

Marketing Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Plate | CleverFunnel Digital

Family drama is the constant struggle of trying to please everyone with your marketing strategy. Your druncle José hates the turkey so he always brings in his own honey baked ham. It’s kind of like when you client is dead set on using their own marketing strategy even though they still came to you for help.

Tía Hortencia doesn’t bring anything because she can’t cook. Instead she makes up for it by bringing in the best Tres Leches cake she could find. Trust me, this cake is the sugary goodness that cranberry whatever wishes it could be. Some clients can be like Hortencia in that they will solicit your help, but are convinced the most expensive, do-it-all software they can get is what they need. Sometimes it is.  

Then there’s Ivan. This guy, this guy is the one who is determined to bring the party outside and start grilling some burgers and hot dogs. He doesn’t really care about the holiday but is more than happy to take advantage of it and get the day off to do whatever they want. Ivan is the kind of client who loves working with you, loves your ideas but is ultimately going to do whatever they want. This usually means a mix of your strategy, ideas, and their own. This is both bad and good at the same time, mostly weird. Especially when it’s zero degrees outside and the grill is fired up and Ivan is wearing shorts.  

Don’t forget the tamales.