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Making Your Newsletter Pay for Itself Back

Your newsletter provides a valuable service to your readers and is an essential tool for every information manager. It facilitates communication between you and your readers and makes it easier to remind your readers of rules, policies, and procedures. It is also an excellent way to gain new customers and keep the ones you already have.

So you can clearly see the benefits of a newsletter. But there can be even more! You could have your newsletter pay for itself. In this part one of a series on advertisements in your newsletter, we look at obtaining advertising suitable for your newsletter. The following explores several options you have when pursuing advertisements for your publication.

The Best Things in Life are Free

Well, at least for advertisers they are. If you decide to offer free ads in your newsletter, consider a type of “barter” arrangement. For example, a local pizza shop could advertise free in your newsletter in exchange for providing pizzas for your summer party. A math tutor could advertise in exchange for offering a free once-a-week homework “jam session” with the school-aged children in your community. Get creative and look for services or products that would benefit you or your readers.

Many advertisers are willing to trade services or products for the exposure they will get in your newsletter. Many newsletter producers have several hundreds or thousands of readers. This is appealing to advertisers, as a newsletter has a higher rate of readership than other types of direct mail advertising.

Show Me the Money!

What if you run into someone who wants to advertise in your newsletter, but isn’t interested in bartering with you? Or what if you’d like to get even more return for your newsletter advertising space? Consider charging for the ad placement. Generally the price is based on the size of your newsletter readership—the more readers you have, the more appealing it is for advertisers, and the more you can charge! It may take some trial-and-error to find the right price for ads. You will need to take into consideration whether you or your advertiser are doing the ad production work, how large the ad is, and how much your advertisers are willing to pay for the exposure they will receive. We will discuss detailed pricing considerations in a future installment of this series.

Don’t Come Knocking!

When deciding whether to include advertising in your newsletter, you may find that you are uncomfortable soliciting advertising. Don’t worry! It can be easy to find advertisers willing to barter or pay for the exposure they will receive. Start simple by offering your own readers the opportunity to advertise in your newsletter. Many newsletter producers find that allowing readers to advertise free is a great community relations policy. You will be providing a service to your readers and will set the tone for future advertisements.

Once you’ve begun including advertisements in your newsletter, you can use your newsletter itself to solicit more advertising. Offer your newsletter to everyone, from prospective tenants if you are an apartment community, to suppliers and vendors that come to your company. Many people will see that you include advertising in your newsletter. If your newsletter is interesting and professional looking, you will find that you begin to get requests for ad placements in your newsletter.

The key to making this work is to include a notation in your newsletter, preferably near the ads, that states your policy for accepting ads. In a way, this is your own advertisement, calling for more advertisements. Be sure to include a contact number and any other pertinent information.

Calling All Ads!

So you’ve seen the potential for making advertising pay for your newsletter. What if you’d like to get even more? It may be time to get more proactive in finding advertising for your newsletter. Begin by making a list of the restaurants, insurance agents, bookstores, cafes, hair stylists, pet groomers, bakeries, and other establishments near you. If your readership goes beyond your community, consider approaching businesses that have a nationwide customer base.

Your next step is do to some telephone work. Call each business, describe your company and your newsletter, and state simply your advertising policies and rates. If they would like to see a sample of your newsletter, offer to mail or drop it by. By making this personal contact, an potential advertiser will be more inclined to consider advertising with you. Stress the benefits of reaching a local audience and the high rate of readership of newsletters.

What’s Next?

It is helpful to set up a policy for the types of ad layouts that you will accept before you begin soliciting advertisements for your newsletter. The reason for this is simple. When a vendor approaches you or you solicit an ad, you will likely be asked several questions. “How big can the ad be?”, “Can I include color?”, “Can you design the ad for me?” Knowing the answers to questions such as these will help make your newsletter production process much easier.

Decide on several sizes for ads that would be suitable in your newsletter. If you are charging to include ads, of course, larger sizes will command a higher price. If you are including ads for free, you may decide to allow only one standard size, in order to have enough room for other ads and the regular information and articles you normally include in each issue. Sizes generally include a business card size (3.5 by 2 inches), an eighth of a page (4 by 2.5 inches), a quarter of a page (4 by 5 inches), a half page (8 by 5 inches), and a full page (7.5 by 10 inches).

If you find that you have several ads and they are crowding the space that you need for the main information in your newsletter, consider placing all ads on a supplemental sheet to be inserted in your newsletter. This will keep your newsletter free from clutter and will provide your readers with an easy way to save ads for the future. However, this option does include added cost for you, in the time needed to layout the supplemental page, and the actual cost of printing. Be sure to calculate these costs into the price you charge your advertisers.

You will also need to make decisions on the type of format you will accept. If it is possible, the easiest types of ads to accept are those in digital format. Ask your advertisers if they are able to design their own ads, and if so, if they can provide them to you on a floppy disk or a CD. All they need to do is save the file as a picture, and you will be able to insert it easily into the word processing or desktop publishing program you are using to produce your newsletter.

If your advertisers cannot provide you their ads in digital format, at least require that ads be in “camera-ready” format. This means that the ad is in its final format and is of a suitable quality for reproduction. These types of ads will already be the proper size. Generally, a laser printer will produce output that is considered “camera-ready.” You then can use the ad in one of two ways. You can scan in the ad and, since it is in “camera-ready” format, you will not need to do any additional formatting work. Or you can simply attach a hard copy of the ad to your completed newsletter before taking it to be printed or photocopied.

What if a potential advertiser says, “I would love to advertise with you, but I don’t know how to design an ad myself”? In


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