How to Set Up a Business Plan for Starting a Newsletter

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A business plan for writing a newsletter is a helpful tool for getting your newsletter under way, whether you are doing a simple, single-page hard copy message, a four-page PDF file, or an e-newsletter. Such a business plan does NOT need to be elaborate or complicated. It just needs to help you address the basics, so you are prepared for surprises, have the resources you need, and know how to please your readers. If your newsletter is part of a larger marketing campaign, your plan should address how your newsletter fits with your marketing strategy-and budget. By following this outline, you should be able to put together a useful business plan for your newsletter.

Step #1: Get clear about the purpose of your newsletter. Are you cultivating interest in a new cause, or working to interest people in a new product? (Avoid using your newsletter as an advertisement. People like to read useful information, not sales pitches.) Who is your audience? Former patients, for example, or local farming advocates, or lovers of tea and coffee? Write out a statement of purpose, and goals, and make sure you get buy-in from everyone whose support you need.

Step #2: Some very practical decisions: How often will you send out your newsletter? Whatever you decide, let your readers know what to expect: occasional? Every week? Quarterly? Second, how long will your newsletter be? A single sheet? Four pages? Third, will you produce a hard copy newsletter or e-news sent in an email? Another choice would be a PDF file sent by email (to avoid postage and print costs).

Step # 3: How much money do you have for your newsletter? You can go back and forth on this one: If the newsletter is a central part of your marketing, it should be able to claim more funds than if it’s less important. Consider every aspect of costs: not only expenses like printing, or an email service provider, but also overhead costs like salaries for your writer or editor.


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Step #4: Calendar! An editorial calendar is a flexible thing but invaluable. No matter how often your newsletter goes out, you need to have a sense of content. An editorial calendar lists the stories you plan to address in each issue, but it also helps you prepare for the unexpected. For example, you may be planning a front-page article about your new financial officer on May 1, along with a side bar about leadership awards. Then, suddenly, the decision to hire the financial officer is postponed-so you move the leadership awards piece to the main article.

Step # 5: Production schedule! Start with the publication date and work backward, including all the steps, from final proofing back to initial deadlines for content. Put your schedule in a very visible place and update it so that everyone knows what’s happening.

Step # 6: “Post mortem!” In other words, after the issue is released, have a short meeting, just a stand-up one if necessary, to review what worked, what needs changing. Keep an eye on your goals for your newsletter, review them regularly, and ask the team “How well did we meet our goals this month?”

Copyright (c) 2011 Jane Sherwin. You may reprint this entire article and you must include the copyright info and the following statement: “Jane Sherwin is a writer who helps hospitals and other healthcare facilities communicate their strengths and connect with their readers.”

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