The winning entries highlight professionalism and creativity.

By Nina Patel

Newsletters, business cards, and post-job surveys were the focus of this year's REMODELING marketing contest. The judges were looking for materials that are creative, well designed, and nicely reproduced. The winning entries reflect careful planning and expert help. And similar to the companies that won last year's top honors, the winners spent money on professional design and consulting.

The three Grand award winners will receive an award plaque. In addition, one person from each winning company will receive free admission to the Remodeling Leadership Conference, held in Washington, D.C., May 19-21. The two Merit winners will receive an award plaque. There were 46 entries overall: 19 business cards, 20 newsletters, and seven surveys.

Marketing Focus: Newsletter

Grand Award

Shirey Contracting Issaquah, Wash.

Designers: Kristen Schuerlein and Karla Chin, Design Duo, Seattle

Shirey Contracting's simple one-page newsletter was a favorite among the judges, who praised its simplicity. "It reminds people you are available for remodeling jobs and that is the job of a newsletter," one judge said.

One judge said this one-page newsletter "has a nice image; you can read it quickly and it makes an impression."

"The newsletter gives us the biggest bang for our buck," says company president Donna Shirey. It started out as a black and white piece. Over the years, Shirey turned to two-color and is now moving to full-color as it becomes more affordable. Shirey sets stories into the template, then takes a digital version to the copy store, where it is printed and folded. She sends the pieces to 1,600 past, current, and prospective clients four times a year. The newsletter is part of the company's integrated marketing package.

Grand Award

Hopkins & Porter, Potomac, Md.

Designer: Rob Sugar, Auras Design, Silver Spring, Md.

The square shape of this newsletter sets it apart from other direct mail pieces. The judges also liked the simple design with lots of white space. "It's not information overload," one judge said. The professional photos also made an impression on the judges. Though hiring a professional photographer is expensive, Ellie Denker, treasurer at Hopkins & Porter, says the photos have a long life. The pictures can be used for contest entries, for press releases to magazines and newspapers, and for sales presentations.

The idea for the square shape came from designer Rob Sugar. "It grabs attention," one judge said.

The newsletter is distributed to clients of the company's remodeling, new homes, and handyman divisions, as well as to subs and suppliers. "We're making sure everyone who is in contact with us knows the full range of what we do," Denker says.

Marketing Focus: Business Cards

Marketing Focus: Survey and Judges