The reading level for this article is All Levels

Red Light, Green Light, 1-2-Zine: Is a newsletter right for you?

By Beth Silver

So you’re thinking about starting a newsletter. Some of my clients who want to start a newsletter are looking to improve the sales for their products and services, and others want to keep in touch with clients, prospects and friends while reinforcing their expertise in their specific industry. However, starting a newsletter is not a one time deal or as easy as sending an email. There are a few more steps to consider:

Step 1: Design a Newsletter Strategy
Like all marketing efforts, every initiative needs a solid strategy. If you don’t have a plan, sending out a newsletter will be almost impossible.

  • What are the reasons you are sending out a newsletter?
  • Know who your target audience is. Most of the readers of my newsletter are business owners so I’m offering information that will be useful to their businesses. If I were sending this newsletter specifically to women who play mah jongg, then this newsletter would be a bore.
  • What do you want your target to feel and do when they read your newsletter? I want The Target Advocate to be a valuable tool that people pass on to others and look forward to each month.
  • Determine to whom you are going to send the newsletter. If you don’t have time, hire a writer or marketing firm to write each month’s newsletter for you and create an editorial calendar so each month’s theme is under your control.
  • If you are looking for a great resource to learn about starting your own newsletter, check out Alexandria Brown The E-zine Queen.

Step 2: Newsletter Distribution & Maintenance
Now that you know the type of newsletter you are going to distribute, you need to look at how readers will receive their newsletter.

  • There are many different distribution companies such as Constant Contact, Consult Logic and Cooler Email. Andrew Boardman of MANOVERBOARD helped me choose CampaignMonitor, a relative newcomer but a powerful tool. He has also used CoolerEmail for many years and has a number of clients that have had wonderful results. No matter whom you choose, I found these companies all make it easier than doing it on your own.
  • What will your newsletter look like? All email-publishing providers have templates. You can use one of their templates or use one that mimics your branding. Although I created a customized template, if you are starting your newsletter for the first time I suggest using one of their templates with your logo or sending out a text version.
  • Now that you have chosen an email-publishing provider, begin to think about what your list server documents will look like. List server documents are your welcome, goodbye and confirmation emails. If I learned one thing during this process, it is to be clear and warm.
  • Determine who you are going to send the newsletter to. While there are many different thoughts on who should receive your newsletter, I recommend being cautious. While opt-in and double opt-in seem to be where the trend is going, I suggest learning about the different sign-up options and determine which is best for you.
  • Keep your list clean. Be mindful not to post your list on mass email lists or it will be seen as spam and blocked.

Step 3: Back Pocket
After you have chosen what the newsletter will be about, keep the following in mind:

  • Have more than one newsletter written at launch. You never know your schedule and don’t want to be stressing about your next newsletter.
  • Be aware of your readers’ reactions. What do they like and don’t they like?
  • Be yourself. Let your newsletter be an extension of who you and your company is and most, of all, enjoy it.

These are just a few of the things I have learned while setting up a newsletter. I hope you find this information helpful as you think about starting a newsletter.

This Sales & Marketing article was written by Beth Silver on 11/7/2005

Beth Silver is Managing Director of Doubet Consulting, a marketing and management firm that works with entrepreneurs and business owners around the country. For more information, please visit