Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I loved smelling everything cooking in the kitchen, hoping I’d be drafted as a taste-tester when the job became available (mmm, mashed potatoes). I loved having family gather at our house (or heading over to one of my aunt’s) — we didn’t see each other super often, so it always felt special having everyone in one place. Most of all, I loved — and still love — the stories.
Maybe it’s the importance of being together at the table, but for some reason, Thanksgiving has always seemed to be the holiday setting for the best family stories and the most laughter and walks down memory lane.
The thing about Thanksgiving stories is that most of them are not new. We relive many of the same stories year after year, and they’re welcome and wonderful every time. As we think about our work as marketers, communicators, storytellers, and content creators we could all draw inspiration from the holiday table. How?
THE SETTING. If you’re like me, you go into Thanksgiving with the expectation of hearing certain family tales. You’ve heard them before, but because you’re at a certain table for a certain reason, you’re happy to experience these stories year after year. As communicators, think about the setting for your stories. Is it the right time? The right place? Be thoughtful about the wider context of where your message is heading.
THE AUDIENCE. You probably wouldn’t tell the same stories in a meeting with your boss that you’d tell at the Thanksgiving table. This is a no-brainer. Do you know what sorts of things make your audience laugh? What do they care about? Are there topics to avoid? Strive to know your audience the way you know your family.
THE VOICE(S). There are two truths I know firsthand about Thanksgiving: there will always be more turkey than you expect and everyone at the table will have a story or a memory to share. During your holiday meal, listen to the voices at your table. There are probably certain people who have everyone hanging on their every word, people who have everyone cracking up, and people who have a way of bringing you back to a specific memory in a vivid way. In your work, remember that the way we tell our stories matters just as much as the substance of the stories.
THE MESSAGE. A holiday tradition I’ve come to love as an adult is that Greg or his brother will “borrow” my mother-in-law’s phone to re-record an imposter voicemail greeting and then play it back for the family to enjoy. It’s the same general idea every time, but it never gets old. Any marketing communications professional knows that it can be a challenge to feel like you’re repeating or pushing the same messages over and over again. What if your message resonated so well that your audience looked forward to hearing it again? Find ways to keep your stories fresh and relevant over time.
While you’re enjoying turkey and the fixings later this week, take a moment to consider how your content and communications can make your audience feel more like they’re at your table.
This Thanksgiving, we wish you a heartwarming holiday filled with family, food, and your favorite stories.