AOH :: HOWTO243.TXT|
How to achieve success with your own money-making newsletter
HOW TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS WITH YOUR OWN MONEY-MAKING NEWSLETTER
Writing and publishing a successful newsletter is perhaps the most
competitive of all the different areas of mail order and direct
Five years ago, there were 1500 different newsletters in this
country. Today there are well over 10,000, with new ones being
started every day. It's also interesting to note that for every new
one that's started, some disappear just as quickly as they are
started - lack of operating capital and marketing know-how being the
principal causes of failure.
To be successful with a newsletter, you have to specialize. Your
best bet will be with new information on a subject not already
covered by an established newsletter.
Regardless of the frustrations involved in launching your own
newsletter, never forget this truth: There are people from all
walks of life, in all parts of this country, many of them with no
writing ability whatsoever, who are making incredible profits with
simple two-, four-, and six-page newsletters!
Your first step should be to subscribe to as many different
newsletters and mail order publications as you can afford. Analyze
and study how the others are doing it. Attend as many workshops and
seminars on your subject as possible. Learn from the pros. Learn
how the successful newsletter publishers are doing it, and why they
are making money. Adapt their success methods to your own
newsletter, but determine to recognize where they are weak, and to
make yours better in every way.
Plan your newsletter before launching it. Know the basic premise
for its being, your editorial position, the layout, art work, type
styles, subscription price, distribution methods, and every other
detail necessary to make it look, sound and feel like the end result
you have envisioned.
Lay out your start-up needs; detail the length of time it's going to
take to become established, and what will be involved in becoming
established. Set a date as a milestone of accomplishment for each
phase of your development: A date for breaking even, a date for
attaining a certain paid subscription figure, and a monetary goal
for each of your first five years in business. And all this must be
done before publishing your first issue.
Most newsletter publishers do all the work themselves, and are
impatient to get that first issue into print. As a result, they
neglect to devote the proper amount of time to market research and
distribution. Don't start your newsletter with out first having
accomplished this task!
Market research is simply determining who the people are who will be
interested in buying and reading your newsletter, and the kind of
information these people want to see in your newsletter as a reason
for continuing to buy it. You have to determine what it is they
want from your newsletter.
Your market research must give you unbiased answers about your
newsletter's capabilities of fulfilling your prospective buyer's
need for information; how much he's willing to pay for it, and an
overall profile of his status in life. The questions of why he
needs your information, and how he'll use it should be answered.
Make sure you have the answers to these questions, publish your
newsletter as a vehicle of fulfillment to these needs, and you're on
You're going to be in trouble unless your newsletter has a real
point of difference that can be easily perceived by your prospective
buyer. The design and graphics of your newsletter, plus what you
say and how you say it, will help in giving your newsletter this
Be sure your newsletter works with the personality you're trying to
build for it. Make sure it reflects the wants of your subscribers.
Include your advertising promise within the heading, on the title
page, and in the same words your advertising uses. And above all
else, don't skim on design or graphics!
The name of your newsletter should also help to set it apart from
similar news letters, and spell out its advertising promise. A good
name reinforces your advertising. Choose a name that defines the
direction and scope of your newsletter.
Opportunity Knocking, Money Making Magic, Extra Income Tip Sheet,
and Mail Order Up-Date are primate examples of this type of
philosophy - as opposed to the Johnson Report, The Association
Newsletter, or Club-house Confidential.
Try to make your newsletter's name memorable - one that flows
automatically. Don't pick a name that's so vague it could apply to
almost anything. The name should identify your newsletter and its
subject quickly and positively.
Pricing your newsletter should be consistent with the image you're
trying to build. If you're starting a "Me-too" newsletter, never
price it above the competition. In most instances, the consumer
associates higher prices with quality, so if you give your readers
better quality information in an expensive looking package, don't
hesitate to ask for a premium price. However, if your information
is gathered from most of the other newsletters on the subject, you
will do well to keep your prices in line with theirs.
One of the best selling points of a newsletter is in the degree of
audience involvement - for instance, how much it talks about, and
uses the names of its readers.
People like to see things written about themselves. They resort to
all kinds of things to get their names in print, and they pay big
money to read what's been written about them. You should understand
this facet of human nature, and decide if and how you want to
capitalize upon it - then plan your newsletter accordingly.
Almost as important as names in your newsletter are pictures. The
readers will generally accept a newsletter faster if the publisher's
picture is presented or included as a part of the newsletter.
Whether you use pictures of the people, events, locations or
products you write about is a policy decision; but the use of
pictures will set your publication apart from the others and give it
an individual image, which is precisely what you want.
The decision as to whether to carry paid advertising, and if so, how
much, is another policy decision that should be made while your
newsletter is still in the planning stages. Some purists feel that
advertising corrupts the image of the newsletter and may influence
editorial policy. Most people accept advertising as a part of
everyday life, and don't care one way or the other.
Many newsletter publishers, faced with rising production costs and
viewing advertising as a means of offsetting those costs, welcome
paid advertising. Generally the advertisers see the newsletter as a
vehicle to a captive audience, and well worth the cost.
The only problem with accepting advertising in your newsletter would
appear to be that as your circulation grows, so will your number of
advertisers, until you'll have to increase the size of your
newsletter to accommodate the advertisers. At this point, the basic
premise or philosophy of the newsletter often changes from news and
practical information to one of an advertiser's showcase.
Promoting your newsletter, finding prospective buyers and converting
these prospects into loyal subscribers, will be the most difficult
task of your entire undertaking. It takes detailed planning,
persistence and patience.
You'll need a sales letter. Check the sales letters you receive in
the mail; analyze how these are written and pattern yours along the
same lines. You'll find all of them - all those worthy of being
called sales letters - following the same formula: Attention,
Interest, Desire, and Action on the part of the reader - AIDA.
Jump right in at the beginning and tell the reader how he's going to
benefit from your newsletter, and then keep emphasizing right on
through your "PS", the many and different benefits he'll gain from
subscribing to your newsletter. Elaborate on your listing of
benefits with examples of what you have, or you intend to include,
in your newsletter.
Follow these examples with endorsements or testimonials from
reviewers and satisfied subscribers. Make the recipient of your
sales letter feel that you're offering him the answer to all his
problems on the subject of your newsletter.
You have to make your prospect feel that "this is the insider's
secret" to the success he wants. Present it to him as his own
personal key to success, and then tell him how far behind his
contemporaries he is going to be if he doesn't act upon your offer
Always include a "PS" in your sales letter. This should quickly
restate to the reader that he can start enjoying the benefits of
your newsletter by acting immediately, and very subtly suggesting
that he may not get another chance to get the kind of "success help"
you're offering him with this sales letter.
Don't worry about the length of your sales letter - most are four
pages or more; however, it must flow logically and smoothly. Use
short sentences, short paragraphs, indented paragraphs, and lots of
sub-heads for the people who will be "scanning through" your sales
In addition to the sales letter, your promotion package should
include a return reply order card or coupon. This can be either a
self-addressed business reply post card, or a separate coupon, in
which case you'll have to include a self-addressed return reply
envelope. In every mailing piece you send out, always include one
or the other: either a self-addressed business reply postcard or a
self-addressed return reply envelope for the recipient to use to
send your order form and his remittance back to you.
Your best response will come from a business reply postcard on which
you allow your prospect to charge the subscription to his credit
card, request that you bill him, or send his payment with the
subscription start order.
For make up of this subscription order card or coupon, simply start
saving all the order cards and coupons you receive during the next
month or so. Choose the one you like best, modify according to your
needs, and have it typeset, pasted up and border fit.
Next, you'll need a Subscription Order Acknowledgment card or
letter. This is simply a short note thanking your new subscriber
for his order, and promising to keep him up-to-date with everything
relating to the subject of your newsletter.
An acknowledgment letter, in an envelope, will cost more postage to
mail than a simple postcard; however, when you send the letter you
have to opportunity to enclose additional material. A circular
listing other items available through you will produce additional
Thus far, you've prepared the layout and copy for your newsletter.
Go ahead and have a hundred copies printed, undated. You've written
a sales letter and prepared a return reply subscription order card
or coupon; go ahead and have a hundred of these printed, also
undated, of course. You'll need letterhead mailing envelopes, and
don't forget the return reply envelopes if you choose to use the
coupons instead of the business reply postcard. Go ahead and have a
thousand mailing envelopes printed. You also need subscription order
acknowledgment cards or notes; have a hundred of these printed, and
of course, don't forget the imprinted reply envelopes if you're
going along with the idea of using a note instead of a postcard.
This will be a basic supply for "testing" your materials so far.
Now you're ready for the big move - the Advertising Campaign.
Start by placing a small classified ad in one of your local
newspapers. You should place your ad in a weekend or Sunday paper
that will reach as many people as possible, and of course, do
everything you can to keep your costs as low as possible. How ever,
do not skimp on your advertising budget. To be successful -to make
as much money as possible with your idea - you'll need to reach as
many people as you can afford, and as often as you can.
Over the years, you'll launch several hundred advertising campaigns.
Always run new ads for a minimum of three issues and keep close tabs
on the returns. So long as the returns keep coming in, continue
running that ad in that publication, while adding a new publication
to test for results. To our way of thinking, this is the best way
to go, regardless of the product, to successfully multiply your
Move slowly, start with a local, far-reaching and widely read paper,
and with the profits or returns from that ad, go to the regional
magazines, or one of the smaller national magazines, and continue
plowing your returns into more advertising in different
publications. By taking your time, and building your acceptance in
this manner, you won't lose too much if one of your ads should prove
to be a dud. Stay with the advertising. Do not abandon it in favor
of direct mail. We would not recommend direct mail until you are
well established and your national classified advertising program is
bringing in a healthy profit for you.
Do not become overly ambitious and go out on a limb with expensive
full-page advertising until you're very well established. When you
do buy full page advertising, start with the smaller publications,
and build from those results. Have patience; keep close tabs on
your costs per subscriber, and build from the profits of your
advertising. Always test the advertising medium you want to use with
a classified ad, and if it pulls well for you, go on to a larger
display type ad.
Classified advertising is the least expensive way to go, so long as
you use the "inquiry method." You can easily and quickly build your
subscriber list with this type of advertisement.
We would not recommend any attempts to sell subscriptions, or any
product from classified ads, or even from small display ads. There
just isn't enough space to describe the product adequately, and
seeing the cost of your item, many possible subscribers will not
bother to inquire for the full story.
When you do expand your efforts into direct mail, go straight to a
national list broker. You can find their names and addresses in the
yellow pages section of your local telephone directory. Show the
list broker your product and your mailing piece, and explain what
type people you want to reach, and allow them to help you.
Once you've decided on a list to use, go slowly. Start with a
sampling of 5,000 names. If the returns are favorable, go for
10,000 names, and then 15,000 and so on through the entire list.
Never rent the entire list based upon the returns from your first
couple of samplings. The variables are just too many, and too
complicated, and too conducive to your losing your shirt when you
"roll out an entire list" based upon returns from a controlled
There are a number of other methods for finding new subscribers,
which we'll explore for you here, detailing the good and the bad as
we have researched them.
One method is that of contracting with what is known as a
"cash-field" agency. These are soliciting agencies who hire people
to sell door-to-door and via the phone, almost always using a high
pressure sales approach. The publisher usually makes only about 5%
from each subscription sold by one of these agencies. That speaks
Then, there are several major catalog sales companies that sell
subscriptions to school libraries, government agencies and large
corporations. These people usually buy through these catalog sales
companies rather than direct from the publisher. The publisher makes
about 10% on each subscription sold for him by one of these
Co-op Mailings are generally piggy-back mailings of your
subscription offer along with numerous other business offers in the
same envelope. Smaller mail order entrepreneurs do this under the
name of Big Mail Offers. Coming into vogue now are the Postcard
Mailers. You submit your offer on a business reply postcard; the
packager then prints and mails your postcard in a package with 40 or
50 similar postcards via third class mail to a mailing list that
could number 100,000 or more. You pay a premium price for this type
of mailing - usually $1000 to $1500 per mailing, but the returns are
very good and you keep all the incoming money.
Another form of co-op mailing is where you supply a charge card
company or department store with your subscription offer as a
"statement mailing suffer." Your offer goes out with the monthly
statements; new subscriptions are returned to the mailer and billed
to the customer's charge card. The publisher usually makes about
50% on each subscription. This is one of the most lucrative, but
expensive methods of bringing in new customers.
Direct mail agencies such as Publishers Clearing House can be a very
lucrative source of new subscriptions, in that they mail out more
than 60 million pieces of mail each year, all of which are built
around an opportunity for the recipient to win a gigantic cash
sweepstakes. The only problem with this type of subscription agency
is the very low percentage of the total subscription price the
publisher receives from these subscriptions, plus the fact that the
publishers are required to charge a lower subscription rate than
they normally charge.
There are also several agencies that offer Introductory, Sample Copy
and Trial Subscription offers, such as Select Information Exchange
and Publisher Exchange. With this kind of agency, details about
your publication are listed along with similar publications, in full
page ads inviting the readers to send $10 or $20 for trial
subscription to those of his choice. The publishers received no
money from these inquiries - only a list of names of people
interested in receiving trial subscriptions. How the publisher
follows up and is able to convertthese into full term, and paying
subscribers is entirely dependent upon his own efforts.
Most major newspapers will carry small, lightweight brochures or
oversized reply cards as inserts in their Sunday papers. The
publisher supplies the total number of inserts, pays the newspaper
$20 per thousand for the number of newspapers he wants his order
form carried in, and then retains all the money generated. But the
high costs of printing the inserts, plus the $20 per thousand for
distribution, make this an extremely costly method of obtaining new
Schools, civic groups and other fund raising organizations work in
about the same manner as the cash-field agencies. They supply the
solicitor and the publisher gets 25% or less for each new
Attempting to sell subscriptions via radio or TV is very expensive
and works better in generating sales at the newsstands than new
subscriptions. PI (Per Inquiry) sales is a very popular way of
getting radio or TV exposure and advertising for your newsletter or
other publication, but again, the number of sales brought in by the
broadcast media is very small when compared with the number of times
the "invitation commercial" has to be "aired" to elicit a response.
A new idea beginning to surface on the cable TV scene is "Products
Shows". This is the kind of show where the originator of the
product or his representative appears on TV and gives a complete
sales presentation lasting from five minutes to 15 minutes.
Overall, these programs generally run between midnight and 2 AM,
with the whole program a series of sales presentations for different
products. They operate on the basis of the product owner paying a
fee to appear and show his product, and also from an arrangement
where the product owner pays a certain percentage from each sale
generated from this exposure.
Newsletter publishers often run exchange publicity endorsement with
non-competing publishers. Generally, these endorsements invite the
reader of newsletter "A" to send for a sample copy of newsletter "B"
for a look at what somebody else is going that might be of especial
help, etc. This can be a very good source of new subscriptions, and
certainly the least expensive.
Running ads in the Mail Order Ad Sheets is not very productive,
either in terms of inquiries or sales. About the best thing that
can be said of most of these ad sheets (and there seems to be a
million of them with new ones cropping up faster than you can count
them) is that your ad in several of them will let other people in on
what you're doing. You will be able to keep track of a lot of the
people trying to make a place for themselves in the mail order
Last, but not least, is the enlistment of your own subscribers to
send you names of people they think might be interested in receiving
a sample copy of your publication. Some publishers ask their
readers to pass along these names out of loyalty, while others offer
a monetary incentive or a special bonus for names of people sent in
who be come subscribers.
By studying and understanding the information in this report, you
should encounter fewer serious problems in launching your own
successful specialized newsletter that will be the source of ongoing
monetary rewards for you. However, there is an important point to
remember about doing business by mail - particularly within the
confines of selling information by mail - that is, Mail Order is
ONLY another way of doing business. You have to learn all there is
to know about this way of doing business, and then keep on learning,
changing, observing and adapting to stay on top.
The best way of learning about and keeping up with this field of
endeavor is by buying and reading books by the people who have
succeeded in making money via the mails; by subscribing to several
of the better periodic journals and aids to people in mail order,
and by joining some of the mail order trade associations for a free
exchange of ideas, advice and help.
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