15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day

As a 50 percenter of Irish blood and a serial marketing professional, I thought I’d offer you dear reader, my 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day to help you find your little pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow!

And, I’ll offer them quickly because I shouldn’t even be working this hard today as I’m 17 days away from – and preparing for – St. Patrick’s Day which is one of my many “high holy days” – and there’s a Guinness pint with my name of it at my favorite Pittsburgh Irish pub (Riley’s Pour House) and it’s getting warm! So here you go!

1. Green Marketing Lesson One – Making Money. Always keep money (making it or saving it) front and center of any marketing campaign. If you know anything about the Irish (and I do growing up in a large extended family), the majority have experienced challenging economic times and know the value of a dollar. So, incorporating zero based budgeting into your marketing processes will help you become more creative and help you do a lot more for less. 

2. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Sustainability. These days when you hear brands talk about sustainability, it’s related to the environment, but the basic pure definition of sustainability is “the capacity to endure.” Using the same color in your marketing communications reinforces your brand, makes your marketing work harder for you and enables your marketing to endure.

3. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Color. Design and color can help you communicate a great deal. Red – hot, stop; Blue – cool. etc., Keep in mind that all colors also come in a great deal of shades so don’t be boring and predictable.  Green has about 50 unique shades.

4. Create Multi-Sensory Emotional Appeals (e.g., appeal to people’s five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). In a prior post about, “Marketing with Sound,” I discussed the awesome power of sound, but you should also consider all of the ways you can appeal to your customer’s five senses. St. Patrick’s Day appeals them all with color, strong visuals of parades, people having fun; taste of ethnic foods like corned beef and cabbage and drink (pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson) etc.,

5. Appeal to One’s Ethnic Heritage. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to people’s ethnic heritage – net, different strokes for different folks.  In fact, it’s a growing and popular strategy due to our mobile society, immigration, single parent households etc.

Some of this strategy’s keys to success include knowing your market well, being aware of unique cultural nuances, being respectful etc.  Disney’s Epcot Theme Park’s World Showcase is a great example of ethnic marketing, but Denny’s Restaurants’ old Pancake promotion is not.

6. Be Inclusive with Your Marketing. As much of an Irish heritage appeal the holiday provides, St. Patrick’s Day is all-inclusive and welcomes everyone to celebrate – everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

7. Special Event/Thematic/Celebration/Holiday Marketing. Giving a unique thematic association to your marketing messages makes it easier for your customers to understand you and more immediately recognize you too. Tie-ing in to a major holiday celebration gives your promotion authenticity and a “reason why” you’re holding a sales event.

8. Limited Time Appeal.
Having a hard date against a campaign creates urgency, excitement and traffic. Pretty obvious statement, but many marketers leave far too many campaigns without a clear end date and a sense of urgent appeal.

9. Spokesperson/figurehead/celebrity/image appeal. Having a Saint as your celebrity figurehead ain’t too shabby, but it’s the consistency of using the same appealing celebrity with a unique story is what works.

10. Iconic Marketing – Shamrock – brand, sell, profit. Mickey Mouse’s Ears, Ronald McDonald’s big red shoes, McDonald’s Arches and more.

Shamrocks do the same for today’s holiday – it’s the day’s badge of honor and identification. What’s your badge ID?

11. Rule of Threes. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the common Shamrock to teach the Celtic Pagans about the unique Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – 3 in 1 Godhead.

However, the “rule of three” symbolism in the good man’s teaching is relevant today as well because people’s minds are noisy and limited. Using the rule of three enables you to get them to remember you and buy-in a presentation or product mix selection. Small, medium, large; gold, silver, bronze; 3 bears; 3 blind mice; 3 Stooges (see more examples/proof here) – trust me – the rule of three rocks.

12. Be Positive. You won’t find a more positive group of people that the Irish. Despite all of their “Troubles” who else tells you that you can find a pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow? At Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past Saturday, people throughout the day referred to the cold constant rain as nothing more, “a little Irish mist!”

13. Be Nice. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer bunch of people than the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day too.

14. Have fun and don’t take yourself so seriously. In this age of “political correctness” the Irish are for the most part a happy and fun bunch and most Irish demeaning jokes bounce of them like water on a duck.

15. Plan Your Luck by Working Hard. In my opinion, “the luck of the Irish” is based on hard work – simple as that. You’ve probably heard the saying, the harder you work the luckier you get!” Well, its true. The majority of Irish are no strangers to hard work and I believe – all things being equal – people that work harder and smarter than their peers will meet with more profitable success in a shorter period of time.

Got to run, my pint is getting warm.

Slan (Gaelic for “farewell for now”)!

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Authentic Marketing Helps Light Lives

These days you hear a ton about Cause Branding and Marketing and about authenticity and transparency in brand messaging.

Well, to see it first hand, check out this interview we set up for our friends at Light of Life Rescue Mission and good friend, former Pittsburgh Steeler and broadcaster Tunch Ilkin.

It’s easy to see how Tunch and Beth’s passion for the Mission enables it to attract volunteers and donors who help its staff make miracles happen every day by getting homeless men and women back on to bright path of recovery.

Net – it’s easy to ‘sell’ when you believe in your product and what you’re doing!

If you’d like to participate in Tunch & Wolf’s 9th Annual Walk for the Homeless on Saturday, May 9th, click here for more information.

Remember,when you light a lamp for someone else, you brighten your path too!

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A Thankful and Giving Marketing Strategy

On this special day, make a commitment to not leave your “Thanks & Giving” at the table – take it with you and spread its core message of “thanking and giving” throughout all you do in your business and personal life.

Thank and give…give and thank. Plan for it, create unique and fun ways to do it. Then, just do it and rinse and repeat along the way.

If you repeatedly give and thank, your brand will grow, your relationships will grow and your happiness will grow. I guarantee it.

Take some personal time today and throughout this weekend to kickstart your holiday marketing plans, with more than just a “Black Friday” short term sale and thinking. Move toward a more long term strategic way of thinking about putting into practice a “White Sale” of giving more added value to your employees, customers, family, friends and the less fortunate in the communities in which you do business.

If you do, I assure you that people will return your favors by working harder for you, buying more from you and enthusiastically spread your good word.

And, don’t think for a moment that these disturbing facts don’t negatively impact your business and life – so, look for ways to do your part to help eliminate these ridiculous statistics:

  1. One out of seven Americans lives in poverty
  2. The percentage of Americans in poverty is the highest in half a century
  3. Over 59 million Americans have no health insurance
  4. More than 1 million children went hungry last year
  5. Children under 18 make up 27% of the homeless population
  6. Families with children are the fastest growing group of the homeless population, accounting for about 40% of the people who become homeless each year
  7. 38% of the people already homeless are families with children
  8. 50% of homeless women and children are running from domestic abuse
  9. Of all homeless men 40% of them have served in the armed forces
  10. Children under the age of eighteen are 27% of the urban homeless population
  11. Companies that make things no one really needs are doing well in this recession which means the poor are growing in numbers and getting poorer while the rich are getting richer
  12. The total cost of hunger to American society is about $90 billion a year. In contrast, it would only cost about $10 billion to $12 billion a year to virtually end hunger in our nation. And, how much do politicians waste in taxpayer dollars? In defense spending?

Keep in mind, these statistics are for the U.S. a “developed” country, but we all know it’s far worse in other countries and we’re all related and impacted by what’s happening in the smallest corners of the world.

So today, when you’re adding a second helping of stuffing to your turkey plate, remember today’s message and this commercial and commit to thanking and giving.

Have a blessed day and holiday season.

P.S.: Enjoy this Wall Street Journal article, Thank You. No, Thank You – Grateful People Are Happier, Healthier Long After the Leftovers Are Gobbled Up.

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Five Thanksgiving Inspired Brand Building Tips

Here are five ways to use this Thanksgiving holiday as inspiration to build a better brand for yourself and/or your company.

  1. For starters, take the word apart ‘Thanks’ and ‘Giving’ and use both themes as part of your marketing mission and messaging for the next 12 months – not just this week.
  2. Call/visit as many customers, team members and vendors/partners this week to thank them personally. Cards/emails are OK, but try calling first. If you don’t reach them, leave a message saying how appreciative you are of their business and partnership and how much you’re looking forward to building a better relationship in 2011.
  3. Send thank you cards, but make sure you sign it with a special note even though your card may have a message.
  4. Commit now to being a better partner inside and outside your company by giving better value going forward and put a special appreciation process in place.
  5. Champion a cause for your brand and become part of the fabric of the community in which you do business. You can give lots of things such as your time, money and expertise. The most successful brands make money of course, but they also dramatically improve the lives of others and their employees. Here’s a link to ideas to help the homeless and for the hungry you can ‘Take the No Kid Hungry Pledge” here. Did you know that that nearly one in four children struggles with hunger? And, did you know that every $5 the federal government spends on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) generates $9.20 in local economic activity? Read more here in the Washington Post about how you can help end childhood hunger.

Throughout this Thanksgiving and holiday season, work on improving the unique value that only you can provide. Gift giving isn’t a terrible thing, however offering genuine thanks, appreciation, added value and truly giving of yourself is the true essence of this holiday and season – and a gift you can give to others that will reap you and them many future blessings and rewarding relationships.

P.S.: One last tip – OK 3 more:

  1. Always bring something – wine and a covered dish is nice
  2. Help with the clean-up
  3. Learn a great toast or two such as one of my old Irish favorites:

“May all that you wish for, be the least you get…
and may the best times you’ve ever had, be the worst you’ll ever see.”

THANKS FOR READING AND
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOURS!

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9.12 Marketing Lessons

Today marks a special day for all Americans, the 9th anniversary of 9.11.

This year, this special day of reflection has been marked by toxic amount of hate and anger. It seems to have started with the Islamic mosque that’s planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York followed by the planned announcement then cancellation of a misguided Florida pastor who  – along with his congregation – was planning to burn the Quran.

Where’s the leadership, compassion, common sense and class among Americans?

I can recall 9.12 and the feeling of concern we Americans had for the general health and welfare of others and how we came together as a family under one color of red, white and blue and the tolerance the majority of us paid to Muslim Americans.  And, then in the days and weeks that unfolded thereafter the amazing stories of heroism, volunteerism and love made me so proud to be an American and a proud consumer of BRAND USA.

Today, the American Christian pastors and followers who are spewing anger and hate toward Muslims are not true Christians and they are not following the maxims of Brand Jesus. They may think they are, but they are not.

Is there any place in the Bible that shows Jesus hating anyone?

No.

Jesus was tolerant, kind, understanding, welcoming and loving. He broke bread with tax collectors, prostitutes, the poor and more.  The only thing he condemned was the devil. And, when confronted with anger and violence – even his own brutal death – he said “turn the other cheek,” “those that live by the sword die by the sword,” and “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Building a religious denomination is no different than building any brand. If you want to attract someone to your brand, you’ll never be as successful as you could be by putting down your competitor. To be successful, you need to sell yourself. No matter how unfair, dishonest or terrible your competitors are you should never go there. Sell the positives of your brand and work to eliminate the negatives. And, I’m sure you’ll agree that there are a ton of negatives in all religions – both Christianity and Muslim alike – that could/should be fixed.

Full disclosure – I am a Christian (and American) and certainly far from sainthood, but the so called “Christianity” I see being preached and practiced disgusts and saddens me.

And, the Americans who are spewing hate and anger toward Muslims, are they the kinds of Americans that make up the kind of Brand USA we aspire to be and our ancestors fought to be?

No.

It’s crazy to imagine American Christians burning books – the Quran of all things. Book burning is actually against Constitution, nothing good has ever come of it and simply feeds into Islamic beliefs that American’s are against Islam. So utterly stupid and disgusting.

My Brand America is so much better than what I’ve been seeing. And hey, as a patriotic person, I certainly detest seeing the American flag being burned, but I respect and honor the freedom of someone who wants to do it.

Certainly, we’ve made our share of mistakes as a country in treating others unkindly (i.e. Native Americans), but our batting average of being a religiously tolerant land of freedom and a beacon of hope that welcomes everyone, is still pretty high. we’re far from perfect and far better than most countries but right now, we’re in a bad slump.

Going forward as Brand USA, Brand Christianity, Brand You, Brand Whatever, if you want to be successful,  I assure you that you’ll greatly increase your odds of success if you follow the “9.12” example of:

  • being a hero to others and a Servant Leader
  • sacrifice your short term goals for the goals of the greater good
  • lending a helping hand and being kind, considerate
  • freely give of yourself and be a caring person
  • looking for the light in yourself and others
  • being positive and hopeful and lift others up
  • being a good listener and open to other points of view
  • being tolerant and understanding
  • being nice and loving

These are the attributes of the faith I want to practice, the country I want to live in, the life I want to lead, the business I want to run.  How about you?

Today, we pay tribute and honor to the heroes who gave everything of themselves nine years ago on 9.11 and the days beyond and those who lost their lives and their families.

Today should never be a day of hatred, but a day of personal reflection on our heroes and how we can all be heroes of peace and love and leave the world a better place for generations to come.

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The Unique Selling Proposition of Brand Jesus

I’ve been a practicing (and far from perfect) Roman Catholic and Christian all my life, and for over 25 years, I’ve been a practicing (also far from perfect) marketing professional.

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a lot of brand positioning exercises and marketing audits as well as attending a weekly bible study. As I’m preparing to enter Holy Week and Easter – my favorite time of the year – my professional and personal life is colliding in an interesting way.

I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ ministry and his time on earth a lot lately. And, I’ve been thinking about him as a brand too. And, when I think of him as a brand, his radical and remarkable message and unique selling proposition is clearly one of unconditional love, tolerance and forgiveness – but, love is his foundational core message. And, he demonstrated his core message of love by living it out loud through his actions and by making the ultimate sacrifice.

I say radical and remarkable because if you closely study The Sermon on the Mount, you’ll see what I mean. C’mon…turning the other cheek is one heck of a radical concept! Even today!

When I try to stand outside of my faith and look at Christianity as a product,  it’s amazing that it has spread throughout the world and has welcomed 2 billion adherents without depending on large scale ad campaigns, social media and the like.

Christianity has spread because one person – Jesus – started it by speaking his message of truth, being authentic, transparent and following a singular focused devout message of pure unconditional love for everyone.

It’s a great lesson for all of us people of the world and marketers too.

Happy Easter to all of you.

P.S.: With all due respect, this post is not meant to be sacrilegious at all, but merely an essay in effective branding/messaging. Also, for those of you interested in religious marketing lessons, I came across this Blog – Church Marketing Sucks – and found it pretty interesting. The site’s goal as stated is to…“frustate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ.” Another interesting post is here, Jesus Is Not a Brand; Why it is dangerous to make evangelism another form of marketing, by Tyler Wigg Stevenson.

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Marketing Lessons of Dr. King

Today is a special day of remembrance for me because I’ve admired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ever since I was a young boy.

King’s life’s work was to create a formidable movement of change and progress on the issue of civil rights in America – which he most certainly accomplished. In fact, his legacy has expanded to encompass not only the advancement of civil rights, but human rights throughout the world.

Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights Movement taught me a lot about living my Christian faith and American patriotism out loud, and both taught me lessons about marketing a meaningful cause.

First and foremost, their brand message was true, right and good – they operated from a solid foundation of truth and righteousness.

From having a spot-on brand message – equal rights – the Civil Rights movement created support (buy-in) of their cause with personal, touching, motivating and powerful storytelling imagery such as:

  • Segregation signs at water fountains, rest rooms, restaurants and hotels
  • Elderly women in their Sunday best being turned back from voting
  • Rosa Parks sitting in front of a white man on a bus and then being fingerprinted
  • White firemen turning high pressure water hoses on the old and young alike
  • White policemen leading German Shepherd attack dogs through black crowds
  • Innocent black children being escorted by soldiers on their way to school
  • Unarmed, peaceful marchers getting viciously beaten by armed police
  • Disgusting Ku Klux Klan marches, and burning crosses
  • Rampant black church burnings and bombings

There are certainly more, but I’m sure you get the picture.

All of these powerful images of factual accounts and experiences combined, provided a motivating case for drastic and immediate change.

Certainly, many images were created, but more often than not these images were created and spread virally because they were true, authentic and emotional which makes for a far more reaching impact.

The positioning message was a simple one of good vs. evil.

Dr. King persuaded, motivated and modeled the movement after Gandhi’s peaceful marches and protests with dignity and discipline. These non violent marches were impactful, but as impressive…if not more so…was the way in which he communicated his brand’s message of civil and racial injustice.

Two things I’ve always remembered in marketing are:

  1. People don’t join causes…people join people with causes and
  2. People typically buy first on emotion, then justify with facts

These two marketing maxims certainly apply to the Civil Rights Movement.

Do yourself a HUGE favor and listen carefully to Dr. King’s entire, “I Have a Dream” speech. The “Dream” speech is a masterpiece and it’s amazing how quiet the audience is throughout it too.

Here is a list of 10 Communication Tips from Dr. King that I picked up from his speech (see if you can pick them up and agree with them; and see if you can discover a few more):

  1. The perfect imagery setting of speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial
  2. The use of simple, small, easy to understand common words
  3. The impact of the repetitive nature of select phrases (e.g., “now is the the time,” “we are not satisfied,” “I have a dream,” “let freedom ring,” “free at last”)
  4. The effect of name personalization (e.g., my friends, you, me, we etc.)
  5. The effect of location personalization (e.g., he lists key towns and cities where many of the members of his audience live)
  6. The clarity of his speech – perfect annunciation and diction
  7. The passionate nature of his voice – how can you motivate people if you’re not
  8. The perfect pacing and changes in speech patterns (e.g., high, low, quick, slow)
  9. The use of short phrases and sentences to drive home memorable key points
  10. The fact that he used notes sparingly because he spoke from personal experience, believed in his message and thus knew it by heart – teleprompter be damned

Much is made about President O’Bama’s communication skills, but he’s far from being the skilled orator of Dr. King. The president has the Internet, a ton of communication consultants and speechwriters and his infamous TELEPROMPTER (which he uses entirely too much as a crutch). Dr. King had none of the tools that the President has at his disposal, but created such an amazing, impressive long lasting presence.

The President and all of us can learn a great deal about tolerance, patriotism and doing the right thing from Dr. King AND we can all learn a great deal about how to be a Marketing Rock Star too!

Happy Birthday and Rest in Peace Dr. King.

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15 Branding Lessons from the Salvation Army

Salvation Army Red Kettle

You may complain every so often about the number of competitors you face, but consider yourself lucky you don’t work in the competitive nonprofit world. I know, with this economy, you sometimes feel you are a nonprofit…but that’s beside the point.

There are over 1,000,000 charities throughout the U.S. – some great and some not so great – and the Salvation Army is one brand that is head and shoulders above the bunch. It was recently ranked as the second strongest non profit power brand behind the YMCA.

The late great father and guru of modern day management Peter Drucker called the Salvation Army the most effective organization in the world.

The Salvation Army doesn’t have a brand problem, you see a Red Kettle and you know where the money is going. Due to the today’s economy, donations are down (as they are with most all non profits) and requests for services such as food and shelter are up.

However, with the expected downturn in end of the year donations, which are often a critical source of revenue for nonprofits, keep your eye on the Salvation Army because these folks rock in what they do and how they do it.

And, here are 15 reasons why the Salvation Army brand is so successful (and a few things Marketers can learn from them in terms of building a quality brand).

  1. They do remarkable things – they rebuild and save lives
  2. They have integrity – and their mission is a faith-based calling.
  3. They’re authentic, honest, sincere, consistent, reliable and transparent
  4. They have a consistent brand image served with key brand icons such as their Red Shield logo and Red Kettle (you see a Red Kettle you know where the money is going).
  5. They have a great story and tell it over and over again wonderfully well (read Red Kettle Story here).
  6. They know what they stand for and who they are (read 11 Articles of Faith) and read their 12 Position Statements here about abortion, alcohol and drugs, economic justice, euthanasia, gambling, homosexuality, human equality, human trafficking, marriage, pornography, religious persecution and suicide. Now, you may not agree with all of their positions, but you cannot argue that they do not know who they are and what they stand for…do you?
  7. They’re a proven brand that’s been accountable for over 130 years which has made it one of the world’s largest and most trusted providers of social services
  8. Most of their work is done without beating their own chests – their word of mouth buzz is delivered by the grateful people they serve
  9. They’re transparent with their fundraising (83 cents of every dollar goes directly to providing services). The Army’s administrative costs are not charged against funds donated.
  10. They get results
  11. They’re typically the quickest responders to people in need (see Wall Street Journal article – Advantage: God – Why the Salvation Army beats the Red Cross – about the differences in their respective responses during September 11, 2001).
  12. They generate multiple streams of revenue via many online and offline methods (e.g., Classic, Virtual and Mobile – Red Kettle Campaign in retail and heavily trafficked areas and online Virtual Red  Kettle Campaigns).
  13. Their flat decentralized organizational model (e.g., each U.S. region typically controls its own e-mail campaigns) includes Salvation Army officers, staffers, lay people, volunteers and other committed fans. According to this USA Today article from a few years back, it coordinates nearly 4,000 officers, 113,000 soldiers, 420,000 members, 60,000 employees and 3.5 million volunteers. FYI by contrast, Wal-Mart, the largest private employer, has 2.1 million associates.
  14. They have a rabid fan base of marketing partners and such as JCPenney (see online Angel Giving Tree program), Target and Wal-Mart.
  15. As their donor base has been getting older, they’ve worked hard to be more modern and relevant and have ventured more heavily into Web 2.0 Marketing with Facebook (500+ groups), Twitter, iPhone apps, online banner ads on AOL, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Yahoo. They try to be everywhere their fans are – especially younger fans – and are into newer edgier tactics such as magic and stunts.

If you’re still looking for that perfect Christmas Gift to give, consider giving to the Salvation Army.

Merry Christmas and have a great New Marketing Year!

P.S.: Here’s an inspirational interview on the management philosophy of the Salvation Army’s National Commander Israel Gaither. He’s a heck of a guy – and why not – he’s from Pittsburgh!

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Team Hoyt

I thought this post was appropriate due to this special day of Good Friday – a day of sacrifice by one man Jesus Christ who changed the world  – and one who has changed my world for the better.

With this video, I hope you're as uplifted as I am by the sacrifice of this man for his son – I'm sure he has changed the world for others as well. I hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you.

Here is more information about Team Hoyt. And a related interview from the Today Show.

FYI – Tangle is "a global technology company that creates social networking tools for the faith-based and family friendly marketplace. tangle is a place where all users including Individuals, Groups, Churches, Ministries and Bands, among others, can come to connect and share their faith and lives through videos, photos, blogs, prayers, music and more."

This site shows a great way how a brand such as Christianity is using the power of grassroots storytelling in a remarkably demonstrative, show and tell social media way. 
And, how marketing can help make the world a better place.
Excellent visuals, music, and remarkable story.

A remarkable story is the true essence of any successful brand.

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Happy Thanksgiving

The-first-thanksgiving-pilgrim-at-plymouth-jennie-a.-brownscombe-1914

"Now…our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name." (KJV) Chronicles 29:13

May the grace and glory of the Lord be with you and your family on Thanksgiving and always!

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