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  • 标题:How to write a publishing plan - business planning - includes related article on 10 basic rules
  • 作者:Marshall D. Siegel
  • 期刊名称:Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management
  • 印刷版ISSN:0046-4333
  • 出版年度:1998
  • 卷号:Feb 1, 1998
  • 出版社:Red 7 Media, LLC

How to write a publishing plan - business planning - includes related article on 10 basic rules

Marshall D. Siegel

Here are 10 steps that will get you from start to finish when you finally admit that, as painful as it sounds, you really do need a formal business plan.

It's not surprising that many publishers feel they are living in a state of siege. Competition is stiff, discounting is rampant, and owners are demanding greater returns on their investments. Pressures to produce revenue gains have increased enormously. Although no publisher can achieve top performance without prior planning, many still resist the troublesome task of preparing a written forecast of where their magazines should be at the end of a given period.

There are five basic reasons why this is so: No plan is required by the owner/ investor; the publisher is afraid that a written plan, spelling out specific goals that may not be met, will show him or her as incompetent or inept; the publisher may not know how to prepare a plan; the publisher may have difficulty doing anything in writing; the publisher believes that because the plan is clear in his or her mind, it does not need to be written down.

None of these reasons is justifiable, but all are understandable. On the belief that guidelines for producing a publishing plan might remove some of the anxiety that keeps so many publishers from writing them, here is a review of what goes into the standard plan and what you will need to complete it.

Forget the crystal ball It's important to understand that a plan is merely an estimate of what will happen. You aren't expected to be a fortune teller --only to do the best you can by carefully thinking about your magazine's situation and then intelligently plotting a measurable course of action designed to improve your business situation. Given that stipulation, review the following questions; each should be answered in your plan in a very specific way.

Where has your magazine been? This is the place to present your magazine's overall statistical data from the current or immediately past period. If this is a long-term plan, you will want to show a history of the same length as the plan--e.g., a five-year plan would show a five-year history. Use total ad pages and share of market rather than dollars (the dollar forecast comes later). And be sure to include each department. Creating this section simply requires copying numbers--usually supplied by others. So don't feel that the longer this section is, the more everyone will be impressed.

Where is your magazine going? This section requires a lot of thought and originality. Present your vision of the changes you want to make and how they will affect your magazine. Set objectives. Discuss your industry and how changes in the marketplace will affect you. Do you intend to buy or start something new? If so, what? Will it be another magazine, an ancillary product such as a trade show or a Web site? How will these additions affect your operation? How do you see the future of your magazine? Although this section is primarily narrative, you should relate your plans to a forecast of total pages or booths. Again, cover all departments, both current and envisioned.

How are you going to get there? Outline the general methods you and each member of your staff will use to accomplish each objective.

How will each person on your team interact with your plan? Name your people and the overall responsibilities of each regarding your plan and its objectives. Each objective must be measurable, and a specific person accountable. This is also the place to indicate your need for new people, if that is the case. What will their jobs be? When will you want them to come on board? This section should also contain tactical plans from each department head and salesperson that specify how they will reach their individual objectives.

What is the time frame? Using a calendar, set up a clear timetable for the accomplishment of each task and objective that is listed in your plan.

Who are your competitors? List the names and positions of each of your competitors. Indicate how they may affect the attainment of your goals. Spell out their method of selling advertising, their strategies in each department, and how you plan to fight and beat them. Also show their adpage counts and share of market, both total and by territory, and how you expect that to change.

How can you track successful implementation of your plan? Make sure that the goals you have stated in your plan are tied in to your timetable. Each attained goal then becomes a signpost that your plan is on track. Whether the goals are increased ad pages, ad dollars, share of market, position or rank, or simply stages of development, they should be progressive, adding up to your overall objectives by the end of your timetable.

What will it cost? Ask your department heads to supply you with cost estimates for each of the projects you envision. Check these forecasts with your financial people. If you are starting a new project, such as a trade show or Web site, you may have to do research that will allow you to estimate the costs yourself.

What revenue will your plan produce? Take the ad-page counts that you forecast in the second section of your plan (Where is your publication going?) and multiply them by your net revenue per page, if you have one. Or, work with your financial department to set up the revenue portion of the plan.

How profitable or unprofitable will your plan be? Obviously, this will be affected by the revenue and costs involved, and the timetable you have set up to achieve your goals. Use your financial officer to set up operating budgets for each new project. i These budgets will indicate revenue, expenses, break-even and profit/loss. A positive operating budget is a good rationale for going ahead with your plan.

A final word: Your publishing plan should not be carved in stone. A plan is just a roadmap, and should be followed until the next planning period arrives. However, if glaring faults show themselves as you proceed, don't make the plan an anchor: It could sink you. Implement the necessary changes and correct your course --and use the occurrences as lessons for the future.

Yes, creating a plan is difficult, but it will give you a clear view of your business and much more control over your future. It will make you proactive rather than reactive. With appropriate objectives and actions, your plan will force competitive publications into less favorable positions, while you improve your own. So don't get discouraged! The end result is definitely worth the effort.

Ten basic rules apply

Following some rules will make your job easier right out of the box. You'll probably think of more that apply to your situation as you go along, and if you do, add them. But to begin, here are the 10 basic rules of writing a strategic forecast:

1. Keep your plan specific.

2. Be concise, yet comprehensive.

3. Cover all the departments that make up your magazine.

4. Set realistic objectives the magazine can reach.

5. Set realistic goals for individuals.

6. Offer a way to measure performance toward attaining those goals and objectives.

7. Think about each category thoroughly.

8. Ask each department head and salesperson for a specific plan related to his or her responsibility.

9. Keep a running file of notes thereafter, regarding your next plan.

10. Keep track of the time it takes to write your plan.

Marshall D. Siegel is a consultant to Miller Freeman in Dallas. He had been vice president of sales for Gralla Publications.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Copyright by Media Central Inc., A PRIMEDIA Company. All rights reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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