Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.
Thanksgiving is the last pit stop before a flurry of big-time consumer spending, spearheaded by Black Friday and consolidated throughout December as we near Christmas.
It’s the calm before the storm. A time to be thankful, give back to the community and spend time with your family.
At least, that’s the prevailing sentiment. But Thanksgiving is far from a void of marketing opportunities. In fact, it’s a critical component of the holiday season for most businesses. By engaging customers in promotions, giveaways, and feel-good customer-experience campaigns, you set yourself up for a BIG holiday season.
If you’re thinking about running promotions in the lead up to Thanksgiving and are hungry for ideas, look no further than the one thing this holiday is synonymous with - food.
Here are 10 food-centered promotional ideas that are perfect for Thanksgiving:
#1. Turkey feast giveaway
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be both expensive and time-consuming for families, which is why giving away a Turkey feast as the prize for a contest can generate a lot of interest.
The biggest problem with this kind of prize is that it’s generic, meaning that a publicly hosted contest won’t necessarily garner interest from your ideal customers (unless you sell turkeys). So I wouldn’t recommend running this kind of giveaway as a lead gen campaign. However, if you are looking for a bit of feel-good publicity, or to re-engage your current customer database, then this promo idea is always a winner.
Example of a Turkey feast giveaway.
#2. Meal pledges for subscriber growth
Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for those you care about and giving to those who are less fortunate. So why not pledge a series of meals or food baskets to the underprivileged people in your community?
Not only will a meal-pledge campaign produce positive PR for your brand, but you can gamify the process and grow your email subscriber list in the process. You might offer to pledge “One family Thanksgiving feast for every 100 new subscribers,” as an example.
#3. Product placement
Not in the Turkey business? No worries, you can still leverage the Thanksgiving food obsession to promote your brand, you just need to be a little sneaky about it.
For example, you could run a content marketing campaign on social media with professionally shot videos and photos that place your product or service alongside a Thanksgiving Day’s feast. Obviously, this is easier if you sell food products, like this small food co-op below:
Even though it’s a natural fit for a brand like Tofurky, if you get creative, then this could work for any business.
#4. User-generated content
Leading on from the last point, there is nothing like a bit of user-generated content to solidify your brand in a consumer’s mind. Think about how you can encourage customers to place your product alongside their best Thanksgiving feast and share it on social media. This could be via a photo contest, or you might just like to use a branded hashtag to collate the content on Instagram.
BarkBox are the masters at enticing user-generated content from happy customers, and Thanksgiving is no different. In 2020, BarkBox created the branded hashtag, #dogsgiving, and it now has over 9,000 posts.
#5. Food-related quizzes
Not only do marketing quizzes uncover vital information about your ideal customers, but they are extremely engaging. In fact, the average quiz gets shared 107 times!
The best quizzes are topical and relevant at the time they are released. For example, with Thanksgiving approaching, you could run a food-related quiz about people’s favorite Thanksgiving dinner dish, or ask them “Which Part of the Thanksgiving Turkey Are You?”.
Food-related quiz for Thanksgiving.
#6. Food bundles
You don’t need to give away a full home-cooked feast to scratch the Thanksgiving itch, instead, something like a food hamper or bundled gift prize can do the trick. You could put together all of the necessary ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast and subtly drop your product into the basket too!
Or, as Impromptu Gourmet has done below, create a unique Thanksgiving product:
#7. Community involvement
There is nothing like a bit of positive community press for your business, so use the Thanksgiving period as an opportunity to help those in need.
Go beyond the generic “apron-ladle” photo at a local soup kitchen and take your community involvement up a notch by getting your team involved in several initiatives. Of course, make sure to document everything on social media as you go so the knock-on brand benefit is amplified.
#8. A personal thank you note
As businesses move more and more of their customer engagement efforts online we slowly lose the personal touch. Use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to re-engage with your customers on a more personal level. Send them a thank you card. Write it with your own hands, and even consider dropping in a Black Friday discount code with an exclusive bonus for current customers! You’d be surprised at how much this bit of extra effort sticks in someone’s mind.
#9. Recipe contest
Everyone thinks their family recipe for pumpkin pie or turkey stuffing is the best, so why not put it to the test? Run a contest with an attractive product-related prize and have contestants submit a recipe.
For example, this year, Taste of Home Magazine is hosting a Countertop Convenience Recipe Contest - crockpot and instant pot recipes you can set and forget until it is time to eat. A fun challenge too, if you work on Thanksgiving but still need to provide a dish for the family potluck.
#10. Release a cooking video
Have you ever watched a video on Facebook of someone cooking a meal?
Why not replicate this idea by cooking a Thanksgiving feast on Facebook for your audience to watch and engage with?
Of course, you’ll need to find a way to make this relevant to your brand, such as linking it to a giveaway or increasing your page followers. But don’t underestimate how powerful video is in spreading the word.
What food-centered promo ideas will you put into action this Thanksgiving?
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