November 26, 2014 | Sarah Danks

With Thanksgiving a mere day away, who’s NOT thinking about what’s for dinner tomorrow? I sure am…and frankly, turkey’s not even my favorite meat!

Wondering what’ll be on the table at my parents’ house got me thinking that Thanksgiving dinner is like online marketing. “How?!“, you might ask. Well, let me tell you…

Thanksgiving dinner is like online marketing because of:

The People.

cooked turkeyThanksgiving Dinner: It takes a family — a group of people, if you will (and I think you will) — to make Thanksgiving happen. Yeah, sure, my mom can pull together the ENTIRE MEAL by herself (not only does everything get done on time, but it’s delicious and there’s a vast quantity of it!), but she can’t eat the whole dinner by herself. Plus, what fun would that be? That’s where the rest of the family comes in…plus, she does ask for help these days.

Other family members bring portions of the meal, some people set the table and fill the water glasses while others shuttle the food from the kitchen to the table (and try to fit everything on it). So it’s definitely a group effort.

Online Marketing: It takes more than one person to pull together an effective marketing campaign. Yes, there’s often someone “in charge,” but ultimately you’d be extremely hard-pressed to find one person who can plan the strategy(ies), write the content, develop the website/landing pages, create the PPC campaign (and manage it), post to social media venues, analyze the data and make changes to improve performance. If that person exists, I’d LOVE to meet him/her. It’s all about teamwork.

The Strategy.

pumpkin pieThanksgiving Dinner: My aunt is highly organized. Whenever we go to her house for holiday gatherings, she not only sets the table, she also figures out the seating arrangements — everyone gets a custom, handmade place card. Of course, she knows who’s coming beforehand and knows where everyone has sat before (give or take). But still, large family eating events always include some type of strategy for figuring out who sits where — especially when there are kids involved. Does there need to be a kiddie table in addition to the adult table? If the table is big enough (and there aren’t skads of children), all you have to do is figure out how NOT to have my two nieces sit next to each other, but also sit next to their favorite auntie (ahem).

Online Marketing: You can attempt to “wing it” in marketing, but the most successful campaigns are not only organized; they’re thought out ahead of time. Marketers need to not only know how long it’ll take them to complete a phase of marketing (for instance, creating a custom landing page), but they need to plan out how that portion will fit into the rest of the workflow. Plus, you have to make sure it’s delivered on time to the client. And, when you’ve got a clearly outlined strategy laid out ahead of time, you won’t be running around like a turkey with its head cut off partway through the process…

The Timing.

thanksgiving dinnerThanksgiving Dinner: If your turkey dinner is anything like our family’s, there are a LOT of dishes that make up the meal. And, as I mentioned previously, my mom can bring a meal together like nobody’s business. She knows the turkey takes so many hours to bake, what time we’re going to eat, and she plans each dish from there. It’s really quite amazing. Of course, in her words, it took her years to get the timing down pat to have all the dishes of the meal ready at the same time (I don’t remember that; when I was a kid meals were coming together all at once so it must’ve been her pre-kid time she practiced to get it right!).

For those families who don’t want or need a meal wherein everything is ready all at once, there’s still SOME etiquette to eating it…I mean, just because the pies are already baked doesn’t mean you start dinner by eating dessert first, right? (Okay, go ahead…prove me wrong.)

Online Marketing: Just because the designer has a client logo to work from doesn’t mean s/he should start designing a website — what about the site architecture? So what if the PPC account is done and approved by the client — it can’t go live until there’s a landing page to send it to, right? And, you’re all excited your company is finally on Google+, but you can’t share a blank status update — might want to craft something to say first. In marketing — as in planning a big meal — timing is crucial.

The Food.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Obviously this meal revolves around food. A plethora of it. And, everyone’s got their own ideas of what HAS to be included on the table in order to consider it a true Thanksgiving. In our family, the staples are turkey, stuffing (cooked INSIDE the bird, duh), mashed potatoes (complete with lumps), homemade gravy, homemade rolls…and for dessert: homemade pumpkin pie with (massive quantities of) Cool Whip. That’s not all that Mom serves; but everything after that list is just extra.

Interestingly enough, when I polled some friends about THEIR must-have list for Thanksgiving dinner, I was pleasantly surprised at the mix of responses.

While many people listed turkey as a staple of this meal, most didn’t — even when I prodded, “did you forget to mention the bird?!” In fact, a whopping 65% didn’t mention turkey as one of their must-haves for the meal (and some said they don’t like it at all!). A more common — and commonly loved — dish? Stuffing. Half the people I asked mentioned stuffing as having to be included in the meal. Less than half the people polled mentioned pie — which was shocking to me. I mean, I’m not even the biggest fan of sweets or dessert but you HAVE to have a big ol’ piece of pie after Thanksgiving dinner!

From there, it was fun to see the responses come rolling in as to what else people love at Thanksgiving:

  • corn,
  • the cranberries that come out of the can
    (and “make the sllffuuurrrppp sound“),canned cranberry sauce
  • green bean casserole,
  • gravy,
  • sweet potatoes with marshmallows,
  • bread,
  • various types of pies (including apple, pecan, mincemeat and cherry),
  • salad,
  • …and let’s not forget alcohol.

And, within all those responses, it was evident that people not only want their specific food items; they want them in a specific way (plus they wanna EAT them, too…so selfish). For instance, I’m used to big strips of bacon being laid over the turkey before it goes in the oven. Some people love the skin; some won’t touch it. And let’s not even get into the white meat vs. dark meat debate!

Some people like giblets in their stuffing (ew ew EW). Some people won’t touch the cranberries-in-a-can; others wouldn’t deign to eat “the homemade chunky crap.” Some people hate lumps in their mashed potatoes while others (those of us who are normal) love — and must have — lumps. There are families who think green bean hot dish is more essential to Thanksgiving than the turkey itself.

How can a holiday centered around one meal have so many variations?

Online Marketing: While there tend to be staples to any marketing campaign, some clients need more than “the regular stuff.” In fact, some of them require a varied mix (for real, I can’t stand sweet potatoes, but if that’s what the client needs, I’m all for it). And, even if the majority of your clients need the normal “must-have” marketing tactics, they probably don’t all use them in the exact same way. It’s good to vary up the menu from time to time, too…just to make sure you’re getting the best meal you can.

The Guests.

sweet potato casserole

Thanksgiving Dinner: Of course family is the most important thing to have at your table on this day of giving thanks. But the only thing better than the same ol’ people you see every holiday is your friends. Especially since guests have a tendency to bring gifts and (more) food! And who doesn’t love that?

Online Marketing: You’ve got the perfect marketing mix. You know what works for your clients and you’ve got your routine down pat. But it’s okay to invite others to the party now and then — a different marketing tactic, a guest blogger, or even a bigger budget for the holidays can all shake things up a bit and create more leads or generate more sales.

So, you see? Thanksgiving is more like marketing than you’d think…minus the need for fat pants afterward 🙂






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