The American Diabetes Association is a very large organization that reaches out to people suffering with diabetes and offers assistance. They also help fund research and legal policy to help people with diabetes. This gives them some unique marketing challenges because they are trying to reach two specific audiences. One is people with money who are willing to donate it to the association, and the other are diabetics who need help from the organization. They also must attracts people willing to donate time to advocate and get the goals of the organization done.

One effective marketing strategy the Association uses is the Walk or Ride for a Cure events. This event marketing gets people involved, and allows people to donate money in small amounts while at the same time getting an experience and fun out of their time and money. They host these events all over the nation, and go even further in recruiting teams. These teams then go out and find new donors who will sponsor them for the race. This is almost like affiliate marketing, where the teams find new “customers” and are rewarded on race day with prizes and recognition. They also offer both types, the walk and the ride to get different groups of athletes interested in participating. The more hardcore exercisers are going to go for the bike ride, while the young, old, and less in shape will choose to go for the walk. They have an event for everyone interested in diabetes, and this gives them a chance to get their message out to the right audience.

Another tool the American Diabetes Association uses is their website. Their website is full of information that will help anyone with or interested in diabetes. You can sign up for their newsletter, and get involved in their online forums. Their website does a good job of making you feel like part of their community, and bringing you in so you will be more likely to participate in the many events the association runs. When you search for diabetes their website is the first thing to come up, and almost everything diabetes related on the internet points in some way to their website. They even have the domain name, which is perfect for them. The website gives anyone interested an easy assailable place to meet and get information. It also provides them with a store front to sell specialty goods, using the proceeds to fund the association.

The association also sponsors a lot of foods you see in the supermarket. Almost any food that is good for diabetics, or might be useful in their diets, has the seal of approval on the back from the Association (much in the same way the Heart Association does). By having their seal on these products, the products themselves get a boost of credibility, but the Association is also saying that they are there and looking out for diabetics. This good will advertising makes diabetics and those interested in diabetes trust the association.

A new type of marketing that has recently hit the scene is digital marketing. In the American Diabetes Association’s case, they have started installing digital screens in the waiting rooms of diabetes doctors offices. On these screens they play the latest diabetes tips, little adverts about new diabetes products, and plugs for their own events. They have captured a audience that is interested in what they have to say, especially when they are at the doctors office and focused on their own health. While this could be annoying if not done right, by providing mostly information and keeping it related to diabetes, I think it works really well to get the message across to the right audience.

They also publish a magazine called diabetes forecast. This magazine has everything from recipes to news about the latest diabetes developments. As part of their lure to become a member, they offer a subscription to this magazine for free when you become a member. To make it even better for them, when you sign up for a subscription and pay for the magazine, you become a member anyway. This makes almost anyone interested in diabetes a member by default if they want to get the latest up to date news on the subject.

Recently the Association finally joined the social revolution and setup a Twitter and Facebook account. They have started the basics of social networking but have just started to explore all the possibilities of these new technologies. Right now they have a basic profile where they invite people to events and post updates, but I expect in the future to see full Facebook apps and other unique ways to get new donors and new advocates.

The American Diabetes Association uses a wide array of marketing tools to reach their wide yet specific audience. They face unique challenges because their product only fits a very specific type of person, even if there are millions of them in the U.S. By taking on these challenges in unique ways they have grown into a big and powerful organization, and I believe with their new efforts they will continue to grow. That is, until diabetes is cured, and there is no need for the association anymore.