Monday, January 9, 2012

Marketing is a lot of work. . .

I can't say I'm pouring my time into marketing into the Pantry Cookbook with the same gusto as writing it, but I have been plodding along with my efforts, because if I do nothing to draw attention to the book, it'll just sit there, a lonely lump in the ether.  So!  What have I been up to?

First of all, there is the Facebook page.  What can I say, it's free.  I've been using it as a place to stockpile links to articles and websites that might be of interest to food banks.

I have also been using Facebook to get in touch with food banks.  It turns out a search for the term "food bank" yields a list of about three hundred.  I have left greetings on all of their walls once, and I am now going back for a second round.  It's tedious, but like I said, free.

I cringe that my messages on their walls might be seen as spam, but so far the only responses I have seen have been positive.  Most of the feedback is of the "wow, thanks for doing this!" variety, but I did get one food pantry state outright that they will make the Pantry Cookbook available free-of-charge to their clients.  Hooray!

The representative from that particular food bank described some of her food bank's patrons as "second generation non-cooks."  That phrase has really stuck with me.

Closer to home, my neighborhood food pantry, the Franklin Food Pantry, found two businesses willing to cover the printing costs for a first run of 300 books.  These will be made available to clients, and this gave me the opportunity to see what difficulties people are likely to have when attempting to do their own publishing.  Most notably, I need to make it clear that if a program wants to add some simple benefactor information into the cookbook, there are two pages I strategically left blank just for that purpose.  Not that I mind if anyone wants to get out their digital tools and really monkey with the book!  It just happens that changing the number of pages can have unintended consequences, such as causing everything previously on a left-hand page to end up on the right, and vice-versa.

On the non-digital front, I picked out five big-looking food banks and mailed them each a copy.  This afternoon, I heard back from one of them:

"On behalf of the nutrition education staff at the Capital Area Food Bank of Washington, DC, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for sending us a copy of The Pantry Cookbook.  In our department we are dedicated to carrying out the mission of the food bank, that is, providing the underserved communities of our nation’s capital with sufficient, nutritious food while simultaneously offering education around the food we distribute.   This book will no doubt serve as a valuable tool for more fully carrying out that mission."

Well!  It's not an absolute yes-we-will-print-your-book-right-away, but someone there is excited about what I have done!  I will put on my patient optimism hat, and imagine that the Pantry Cookbook is being handed around, discussed, and perhaps salivated over.  Just a little

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