Still single? That’s nothing a marketing campaign can’t solve
“I’m so exhausted, I’m literally going to fall asleep in the middle of my parshah lesson…” Penina’s voice cut out for a minute as the phone connected to Bluetooth. “…got to bed so late last night.”
Suri leaned closer to her steering wheel, and grabbed her latest marketing book before it fell off the dashboard. “Why the late night? On a date?”
“No, I was not on a date. You know I haven’t dated in six months. Actually, if you really want to know, I did have a date. With the tests I had to grade. And it was a very bad, one-sided conversation date. Me yelling at the tests!
“And actually, it’s been seven months, ‘cuz the last time I dated was before Succos, which barely counts. It was a one and done. I don’t have a single dating outfit in my closet from this season — and it’s not like it even matters. And I just know that Gitty’s gonna do one of her coughing chains in class today. She always somehow knows when I’m tired. And Mrs. Strickman will for sure come observe me today. And then she’ll go and suggest another crazy shidduch idea—”
“What you need,” broke in Suri, “is some good PR.”
“Last time, it was her great-great-nephew who has a pet hamster, and by the way, he lives in Hong Kong.”
“PENINA!” Suri said, braking sharply. The street behind her erupted in an explosion of honking. She hastily put her foot back on the pedal. “Listen! Legit — this is it. I’m serious about this, you need some PR. I’m going to market you and you’re gonna be sold. Hello, this is what I do for a living!”
“Sure,” Penina mumbled, “for how long? Three months now?”
“Whatever. We’re talking about proven marketing tactics that have like, made millions. You’re super marketable, this will be a no-brainer. We’re totally doing it.” Suri swung into a spot, grabbed her phone, and slammed the car door shut, ignoring Penina’s half-hearted protests. “My boss lets me use the office for my own work after hours. Meet me here at five fifteen, okay? It’ll be epic.”
Despite the empty office, Suri tiptoed down the hallway to the glass-walled conference room, whispering to Penina to follow her.
She held open the door with a flourish, as if it wasn’t her first time ever stepping inside. She’d witnessed enough of the intake sessions — her desk was just a few cubicles away — to know the ropes.
“Penina, want a coffee? We have—”
“What on earth is my shidduch résumé doing on that huge screen?!”
Suri jumped, knocking over the K-cup stand. “Omigosh, Penina, you scared me. It’s fine, I told you no one else will be here. And besides, I had such fun figuring out how to project it onto the big screen. You just relax, okay?”
“Fine, if you promise that you’ll get that thing down the minute we’re done.”
Suri nodded and flashed a thumbs-up, all solemn sincerity and jangling bangles. Penina sat down on the edge of a swivel chair. “What happens now?”
Suri tapped her clipboard. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, and we’ll fill out this Marketing Brief.” Suri emphasized the phrase with a toss of her curls. “Relax. It’s not going public — it’s just to make sure all our marketing efforts will be research-based.”
Suri forged ahead, ignoring Penina’s eyeroll. “Great! Let’s get started.”
Client: Penina Gold
- Yiras Shamayim
- Ben Torah
* Must be musical
Ideal Chassan Avatar
a representation of the person we are trying to reach with our marketing efforts
Age range: Ideally between two years older and six months younger than client
Personality: Normal! Not too intense, takes responsibility, fun but not a macher
Yeshivos: Flexible (as long as they’re normal)
Chitzonius: Must be taller than client, preferably blue-eyed
As low as possible, due to client’s teacher salary
Note: This project will be pro bono. Client agrees to be featured as an anonymous case study in Suri’s portfolio.
a list of people client has previously met, to help us create a look-alike audience
Note: Client requested to skip this section
Brand Style Guide
- Never appear outdoors without hair done, mascara, and lipstick (applied in the last three hours).
- Always wear at least one designer item, but never more than one.
- Look perfectly composed at all emotional occasions, especially chuppahs.
- Place billboard ad with client’s shidduch résumé Vetoed by client
- Digital retargeting ads Client feels this is too creepy
- Create profile on world’s largest professional shidduch network, MatchedUp
Suri will create and post MatchedUp profile. We will reconvene for a Performance Review in one week.
Suri picked up immediately.
“Hi, you!! What took you so long to call me back? I’ve been controlling myself the entire week from checking up on your MatchedUp profile. Time for our Performance Review. I’m opening your profile analytics right now. It’s the coolest thing, did I mention the ‘Track Views’ feature?”
Penina dumped her gray teaching bag on the couch. “You did. Twice.”
“And did I mention that they can click to call your references? Did you ask Shani if she got a ton of calls this week? Did you start shopping for dating dresses? Did you — OMG! Penina! I cannot believe this. I totally thought we would have to pay for MatchedUp ads to boost your visibility. Your profile got 167 organic views!”
“Okay, why are you so shocked?” Penina said mildly.
“That’s mostly unique views, by the way. Besides one anonymous lark who viewed it eight times. Wonder who she is?”
“Umm, seriously?” Penina choked. “How awkward. Don’t they, like, have to be a member in order to view my profile?”
“You mean, an account holder?” Suri corrected. “They do have to have a ‘boy’s mom’ account, but you can only see their name if they forget to turn on YA mode.”
“Yenting Anonymous. Speaking of which, guess who was checking you out? Mrs. Brenner. And Rebbetzin Hecher. Hellooooo, I must have done a really good job on the ‘about’ section. Too bad my original title was flagged for keyword stuffing.”
“What? You wrote a description of me? Ugh, I don’t even want to know. So what happens now?”
“That’s a great question,” Suri said, frantically switching tabs and scrolling through her Free Download Guide for Digital Marketers. Phew, there it was. She resumed her businesslike voice. “Yes. Now we need to check conversions. As in, how many people converted — er, never mind — clicks, basically.”
“Wait, they can click on my résumé?”
“Exactly. They send a request to connect — which is basically a yes — and you approve it. Well, if you want to go out with him, that is. And look, we can even filter for blue eyes. Isn’t it cooooooooooool?”
Penina rolled her eyes. Suri, unfazed, continued. “So. According to this report I’m pulling up, you have 167 views, 159 unique views, zero conversions, 27 notifications — wait, zero conversions? What on earth?”
Penina rolled her eyes. “Why are you so shocked?”
“What do you mean? You have alle mailes. An irresistible ‘about’ section. Recommendations from three noted mechanchos. I even uploaded your special ed degree. Why wouldn’t you have conversions?”
“Maybe because there are 650 other profiles that all say the same thing.”
“C’mon, Penina. You need a mindset shift. It must be just taking time for the algorithm to pick up speed. I’m sure by next week…” Suri’s voice suddenly trailed off.
“Suri?” Penina called. “Hello? You there? You alive?”
“I’m alive.” Suri’s voice was barely discernible. “For now. Until you see the ‘about’ section.”
“WHAT?” Penina reached for her laptop. “Okay, how do I open this? Where do I click? Oh, here. About.” She squinted to read the tiny lettering. “Penina Gold is an [adjective] [noun] with [adjective] [noun], who can often be found [adverb] [verb]. She is admired by friends and family alike for [quality], [quality], and [extra impressive quality]. She…” Penina stopped reading. “Suri Weinberger. What is this?”
“It’s the template from MatchedUp. For the ‘about’ section.” Suri’s voice faded to a whisper. “I forgot to change it.”
The blush-and-gold envelope in the middle of the stack of mail on the counter caught Penina’s eye. She untied her Nikes, tossed her empty water bottle, and flipped the envelope to see who it was for.
It was addressed to Ms. Penina Gold in cursive lettering she could barely make out. The rest of the envelope was unmarked, except a tiny logo in the corner that said “Bekarov.” She peeled open the flap and pulled out a sparkly gold card.
~ You’re Invited ~
Dear Ms. Penina Gold,
Are you sick and tired of waiting for the phone to ring?
Wish you had a dedicated shadchan working on your lead-gen?
Bekarov’s first annual exclusive in-person networking event.
This coming Tuesday at the Harrison Group offices, Tower 47.
The event will feature seven noted and renowned shadchanim.
Looking forward to greeting you personally.
Mrs. Golda Bloom and the Bekarov team
Bonus in-person webinar for early registrants: “What You Are Doing Wrong and How to Fix It”
Corporate Sponsor: yeshivishproposalprops.com
Sponsored l’iluy nishmas Gittel Raizel bas Reb Tzvi
Wow, Penina thought. All they’re missing is a tagline.
Wondering how she snagged a spot on Bekarov’s exluuuuusive list, Penina flipped the card for a clue. She found it, scrawled in the corner in a familiar, loopy handwriting.
Ooooh. Of course. Penina remembered. Wasn’t Suri’s aunt — or maybe cousin’s aunt — called Goldie Bloom? That must be how she got the invite.
She scanned the note:
Forgive me now?
P.S. Do you like the copy???
Guess who wrote it!!!!
Can you spot the PAS formula???
Penina silently counted the names in her roll book. Twenty-four mothers down, just three more to go.
She sighed. Six years of PTA, and it still was no picnic.
Bending down to pick up a pen she’d dropped earlier, Penina found herself staring at a pair of no-nonsense maroon lace-up shoes. She bolted upright in her chair, and coughed lightly to cover her embarrassment.
The maroon shoes’ owner was just as formidable as her footwear. She reached out to shake Penina’s hand. People still do that?
“Hello, Miss Gold, I’m Miriam Slomawitz.”
Uh-oh. Gitty’s mom, Penina realized. “Um, I’m looking for a learning—”she began. Penina stopped, then sucked in her breath in horror. That was the elevator pitch for the event tonight, not the PTA spiel.
Mrs. Slomawitz never noticed. “Gitty tells me what a difficult year you’re having, and I just wanted to tell you how bad I feel for you. It really must be hard. She even told me you left the classroom in tears the other day. I have a niece who’s teaching, too, who also can’t control her class, and I know what a nightmare it is.”
Penina bit her tongue. What am I supposed to say, thanks for the pity? Oh, and by the way, this is my sixth year in teaching, and I never had such a hard time until your daughter came along?
Penina opened her mouth to respond, but Gitty’s mother waved her away. “I have to run. I need to be somewhere in a few minutes. It was lovely meeting you. And if you don’t mind my saying so, I hope you learn not to take these things so hard.”
Penina picked up her bag, and what remained of her pride, and headed for her car. She turned the music to the highest volume, but it didn’t help. All she could hear was that ridiculous shidduch elevator pitch — which Suri had helpfully put to the tune of Old MacDonald — playing on repeat in her head.
Penina toyed with just heading straight home (Ugg slippers. Pistachio ice cream. A ponytail!) but knew she couldn’t do that to Suri, not after all her hard work writing that cringey invite.
Steeling herself, Penina entered the office building, all gleaming marble, and headed for the conference room. The sign on the door proudly announced Bekarov’s exclusive in-person networking event, in blush-and-gold-and-sparkly, of course.
“Hi, welcome!” The coordinator, 1,000-watt smile and all, handed Penina a name badge, and waved her toward room #2. “The shadchan’s running a drop late, but make yourself comfortable.”
Comfortable? As if! Penina slouched low in the chair, and flipped open her phone to text Suri.
Suri!! Help, I’m blanking out. Remind me what I’m looking for!!
Hearing footsteps, Penina swiveled toward the door, and found herself staring at a pair of no-nonsense maroon lace-up shoes.
Penina plopped down on her bed and put her feet on her pillow, still wearing her shoes, and pretended she didn’t hear her mother calling her.
Her phone flashed silently and Penina pressed ignore with a little more force than the poor button needed. It would be Suri calling, of course. Did that girl ever give up?
The phone defiantly flashed once more and the voicemail notification got the better of her.
*First message – beep*
“Hi, Penina, it’s Suri! Calling for the third time today…
“Are you mad at me or avoiding me or something? Mrs. Bloom, y’know, my cousin’s aunt, told me you never even got to meet her? You were texting me so I know that you were there… did something happen?
“Call me soon, we must discuss followup emails to the shachanim — we need you to stay on top of their minds. Talk to you, bye.”
Penina snorted. Call me? Yeah, right! As if Suri Weinberger, Chief Yenta of the Century, doesn’t know what happened. There’s no way I’m calling her back. I could die just thinking about it. That look on Mrs. Slomawitz’s face…! Ugh. I don’t want to see another maroon sweater set for the rest of my life!
And there’s probably a chain call going down the class list right now, Gitty telling everyone just who her mother met! What was Suri thinking?! Next thing you know she’ll tell me to make cold calls to boys’ mothers.
Penina deleted the message.
*Next message – beep*
“Hi, Shoshana motek, how are you? It’s me, Dodah Chedva.”
Shoshana? Wait, who was Shoshana? Penina checked her phone again. Nope, this wasn’t from a number she recognized… And who was Dodah Chedva? Penina took a mental inventory of all her relatives and came up blank.
“…I heard what happened yesterday, and I just called to say that imo anochi b’tzara, and tell you how much I care. You should know that it happens to the best of us, and I’m telling you, gam zeh ya’avor, b’ezrat Hashem, and I also just heard in my emunah yomi the other day, I had to tell you, that in the pasuk of ‘Yagel libi b’yeshuasecha ashirah laHashem,’ it says, ‘Ki gamal alai’ in past tense, because once we trust in Hashem, then we know, it’s going to happen.
The phone slipped from Penina’s hand. Dodah Chedva’s unflappable voice continued blaring from the floor.
“…I’m coming tomorrow to drop off a smoothie, and let me know if I should take your kids for an hour.
And hold on, I have to share one more thing from Rebbe Nachman, it’s mamash madhim. He says that just like you can borrow against future money that you’ll earn, on credit, you can borrow on future happiness. So motek, just be b’simchah, and I’m telling you, yihyeh tov.
Okay, bye, Shoshana, gotta go back to my shidduch calls. Did I tell you I got a new job at Bekarov?
Imaleh! This is one of my shidduch list numbers! Oooof.
Penina didn’t delete this message. Just as she started heading downstairs for supper, the phone rang again. This time, she only half-snorted and sent a quick text.
Got your message. Call you later.
Penina’s mother poked her head in the door as she was deciding between the tan heels and the white ones. “Penina’le, are you sure the date’s called for seven o’clock?”
“Mm-hm.” Penina nodded, still facing the mirror.
Her mother came in and sat down on her bed.
“We’ve never done this fancy computer system before. I mean, we looked into him, and it looks amazing, but we usually make up a time through the shadchan. This whole online calendar and approving these yeses on, what’s it called, MatchedIn?”
“MatchedUp.” White heels it is. They’re less noisy. She turned around to face her mother.
Mrs. Gold lifted her reading glasses, and gave Penina’s getup an approving nod. “And I still can’t believe that we got seven yeses, and we were able to choose one. And the bochur really does sound impressive. But are you sure he’ll actually show up?”
Penina smiled indulgently, ignoring her own twinge of doubt. Ki gamal alai, she told herself. “Yes, Mommy, it’s fine. Suri took care of it. She knows how to use the program. You don’t have to worry.”
At 7:01, there was a not-too-loud, not-too-quiet knock on the door.
Mr. Gold offered up a silent prayer, opened the door, and offered a warm smile to the crisply dressed boy who stood there. He reached out his hand, just like he usually did.
Everything was as usual, down to the rental car key in the young man’s hand. Everything, that is, except for the other six freshly shaved, be-suited, and very confused bochurim standing behind him.
“Hello, how was your very first date that I…, uh, MatchedUp, arranged? Tell me everything! Do I get shadchanus yet?” Suri pressed the phone tightly to her ear.
“You tell me!”
Suri hurriedly pulled the phone away to minimize the assault on her eardrum.
“How in the world did seven guys show up at my door when I only approved one? Seven!”
Suri flew off her bed, and dove for her laptop. “Wh-what? Legit, are you sure?” She fumbled with the zipper, and threw the laptop case open. “Hold on, I’m opening your account.”
“How could that even be?” Penina wailed. “And how, why, how in the world did my calendar septuple book like that?”
Suri mm-hmmed. “MatchedUp’s app status page says ‘All systems operational’ so I don’t think it’s a glitch from their end. I wonder if the API integration between your calendar and MatchedUp broke? Is it only syncing one way? If the key changed, or…” Her voice trailed off as she peered at the screen.
“Or what?” Penina demanded.
Suri swallowed, hard. “All seven are marked approved. I must have pressed the bulk action button.” She banged her head into the wall. “That’s it. I’m quitting my job and moving to Alaska.”
“Quitting your job! First, we quit this ridiculous marketing project! Do you realize how much shopping I’ll have to do since I wasted my first-date outfit on six additional boys?”
“Make that Hawaii.” Suri never noticed the interruption. “Alaska is way too cold.” She brightened suddenly. “But hey, how was the date? Or dates?”
“You mean after my father finally figured out what to say to all those extra six guys and untangled the traffic mess from six extra cars on our tiny cul-de-sac? Whatever. Another one of those very-nice-but-not-for-me.”
Suri made some sympathetic noises, while still frantically refreshing her screen to see if the numbers would magically change. “I totally want to hear every detail, but I have a cousin’s bar mitzvah tonight. Wish I could ditch so we could do ice cream together, but my grandmother would kill. We’ll talk, ‘kay?
“We’ll talk about teaching, about what shoes I’m buying for Simi’s wedding, and what we’re doing this Chol Hamoed Pesach. Aka anything that doesn’t have the word marketing.” Disdain wasn’t really Penina’s favorite flavor but this time she couldn’t help it. “Or shidduchim in it, ‘kay? Because I am so so done.”
After completing the requisite hugs, air kisses and greetings, Suri snuck over to the kids table for some French fries. If there was ever a time for comfort food — and respite from chattering aunts — it was now.
The bar mitzvah boy struggled through his pshet’l, but Suri didn’t hear a word. She pulled her tiny notebook out of her evening bag, and added some ideas to her running list.
a/b test the references on Penina’s résumé
Try more channels. Maybe email marketing?
Two-for-one special? Extra year of support? Maybe the proposal props place would sponsor this!
After 20 minutes, the music finally resumed, and Suri drifted over to the mechitzah to watch the dancing, trusty notebook still in hand.
The 13-year-old in the too-big hat was perched five feet in the air, on a chair held at a dangerous angle by his friends. Suri held herself back from running in to save him, and shifted her attention to safer things, like the one-man band in the corner.
Hey! Suri watched, surprised, as the singer handed over the mic to a tall young man. Is that Shimon? He’s back from Israel? Cute.
As Shimon confidently handled the mike and the crowd, Suri turned to her grandmother. “Bubby, you didn’t tell me Shimon was coming back!”
Bubby beamed. “Well, you better bet I told all my friends. He’s the biggest catch since his brother Eli. Did you know he just made a siyum? Eh, bit of a macher he is, but at least he knows what my favorite chocolate is. And listen…”
Chocolate! That might work. She quickly jotted it down. Penina should totally start sending chocolate platters to shadchanim.
“…to how well he sings. Tante Rivky told me he wants someone who loves kids, maybe a teacher… Wait, Surishel, don’t you have that sweet friend…”
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 805)
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