Planning Your Newsletter
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Alan Lakein
Proper planning will precede a successful effort. This outline can help you plan your newsletter project. One way to begin is to ask a series of questions that will spark the content you will need for your newsletter.
Questions that will help you plan your newsletter:
What do you want to achieve with your Newsletter? What is your desired outcome?
Do you want to attract new customers, hold on to existing customers or stay in touch with prospective customers? Often the goal is all three.
2. Who will be reading the newsletter?
What is of interest to them? You may already have an idea of who your ideal customer and prospective customer are. You will want to keep that image in mind as you plan each issue of your newsletter.
After you have published three or four issues of your newsletter it’s a good idea to ask for feedback. A newsletter survey will be a topic of a future blog.
3. What problems do your readers have? What do they want to know?
Please don’t forget that newsletters are primarily about the interests of your customer. The key to success is to give the reader what they want and in turn you will see results like:
- Better Retention
- More Referrals
- Better Cross Selling
A good rule of thumb is to keep your content light on articles about your products or services. Less is more in building a loyal newsletter audience. The information, articles, jokes, cartoons, puzzles, contests, etc. will be the items your readers will say they like the most.
If you want them to read about your business you must first get them to read the newsletter and these non-business items are the secret to success. A professional newsletter publisher can help you find these non-business items. Some printers will offer this service since they are already involved with the publishing, printing and mailing of the newsletter.
Make a list of the most common problems your customers have. These may be things not directly related to your business, but still of interest to your customers. In addition, start writing down a list of your customers’ most frequently asked questions about your products and services.
- What should you name your newsletter? The masthead is the primary graphic your newsletter will have and it appears at the top of your newsletter. It should include the title of your newsletter, your company’s name, and logo.
For example, I publish a newsletter called, “All About Newsletters” and it’s about how to write a newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to it, you can do so by going to this link. (Link)
- What is your tagline? The tagline goes right below the masthead of your newsletter. The tagline is more of a second name or sub-headline of your newsletter. It can go into more detail of what the newsletter is about or perhaps convey a message about the benefit the newsletter provides. You should also include a footer. This goes at the bottom each page and could be your contact information for example.
- How frequently should I publish my newsletter? I contend that this is the most important aspect of a newsletter. It’s even more important than the content. Monthly newsletters are the most successful. When it comes to newsletters, consistency trumps everything. Frequency and consistency go hand in hand with building a loyal following, which in turn leads to all the success that newsletters provide.
Think about a magazine, how frequently do they show up? Most, with few exceptions arrive every month. A successful newsletter is more like a magazine than any other publication, but certainly less expensive. If you want to build relationships and trust, a monthly newsletter is the way to go. We find that it takes about three months for most readers to get into the routine of a newsletter.
We hear people say, “Hey I got your newsletter!” You can tell it just registered that they connected the newsletter with us. Give your newsletter three or four months and you’ll begin to see the return and recognition you’re going for.
The more frequently your newsletter arrives (at least monthly), the more success you will have.
- What should be included in each issue? Every newsletter should have a personal message, preferably from the primary stakeholder or the person in charge. It doesn’t need to be long but it’s a wonderful way for the company leader to become more real and connected to customers. This lets them see the company leader as a real person, someone they can relate to.
Develop a schedule with due dates to keep you on track. Here are some of the events you should have dates for when creating your newsletter:
- Mailing date
- Company related content
- Non-company related content
- Writing and editing
- Selecting photos
- Final review
- First proof with corrections
- Final proof
When you begin your newsletter you may wish to mail the newsletter at the first-class postage rate. However, bulk or automated mailing is another option. Bulk mail postage can be about half the cost of first-class postage. Your print provider can be a good source for deciding how best to mail your newsletter.
Sometimes newsletters are sent in an envelope and other times they are printed as a self-mailer. Your newsletter printer will have the best answers regarding envelope or self-mailers for your newsletter.