The Joys of Marketing

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Things have been kind of tough lately. My mobility scooter broke down again, so I’m trapped inside. But that’s not the worst of it. Life is just getting on my nerves. My son told me, “You have a blog. Rant about it.” So here goes. I will even throw in some useful information along the way.

As a writer and speaker, I’ve created some pretty cool things. My books have won awards; readers loved them. The new program Aisha and I developed for couples with chronic illness gets raves from people who attend. We’re helping people. But there have been few readers, very few programs, and even less money. It’s pretty frustrating.

I figure the problem is marketing. If people don’t find out about a product and why they might want it, they are not going to buy it. Writing coaches tell you to spend 50% of your work time writing and 50% marketing. But the marketing work is hard, and often ineffective. It’s especially hard with the programs, because with them, we’re not targeting individuals. We need to find sponsors.

Like for our program, “Defending Your Marriage from Diabetes,” we need diabetes centers or hospitals or possibly community groups to put them on. Many are willing to do that, if there is funding. But we have to find the funding, too. The diabetes centers don’t have time for that.

Where to find funding? From drug companies (“Pharma”), of course. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’m not a big friend of Pharma. But I figured, it’s for a good cause, so I should apply. I first tried to apply to one drug company that makes insulin and an erectile dysfunction drug. Some of our program is about sex, so it sounded like a good match.

Their online application process, though, was not for people like us. It was for centers and hospitals. I needed to talk or correspond with an actual person, but whenever I called, I got referred to their Web site. I’m still trying to figure out how to break through there.

Meanwhile, I tried to approach another company that makes an erectile dysfunction medicine and some of the sulfonylureas. Similar problems, but I haven’t given up. It’s the same with the other programs for people with multiple sclerosis or arthritis. So far we have zero potential sponsors.

Sometimes I think I’m wasting my time. But I also wonder if I’ve given up too soon. I tend to do that. My first book, The Art of Getting Well, is about self-care. I had a lot of fun talking about that around the country and in England. One trip was to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Because of the names, people thought I had gone to France!

Most of these self-care talks were to diabetes audiences, because diabetes is the one condition where Western medicine thinks self-care is important. That’s how I first learned about diabetes. I learned that self-care will only take you so far, because social conditions are very important, too.

I decided I needed to write about those social issues. That’s what my second book, Diabetes: Sugar-Coated Crisis is about. But if self-care is a hard sell, social issues in health is even harder. When that book came out, all the speaking invitations dried up.

So I took another direction, helping couples dealing with chronic illness. That was natural for me, since Aisha and I live with it every day. We worked on this program all year, and it came out great.

But what’s the good of creating all this stuff if nobody finds out about it? Maybe instead of changing directions, I should have stuck with one thing. Anyway, I’ve been spending hours on Facebook and other Internet sites, trying to get the word out. It’s boring, and so far it hasn’t done any good. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

In Other News
New research suggests that people with both Alzheimer disease and diabetes have a slower rate of memory loss than people who have only Alzheimer. I guess that’s good news, although nobody can explain the findings. The study was published in the October 27, 2009, print version of the journal Neurology. Earlier studies had found that diabetes increases the risk of getting Alzheimer disease. Can both be true?

World Diabetes Day
Manny at TuDiabetes writes: “November 14 is World Diabetes Day. On that day, at 14:00 hours (local time), thousands of people with diabetes will test their blood sugar, do 14 minutes of exercise, test again and share their results on TuDiabetes or on Twitter.” I guess it’s a chance to see how large the online diabetes community is.

Well, I’m off to see about getting my scooter fixed. Next week I promise more real news.

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