Print newsletters remain popular marketing tools, but a growing number of remodelers are spreading their news via e-mail newsletters. “I think people pay attention in a different way to things they receive in their in-boxes, than to things they receive in the daily mail,” says Dennis DuRoff, a business consultant who produces e-letters for remodelers and builders. Besides having no printing or mailing costs, e-letters can instantaneously reach many recipients —who can then forward them to others with the click of a button.

As with traditional newsletters, e-letters vary widely in cost, effectiveness, and ease of producing. They can generate leads, but they're best used as friendly, informative, and noninvasive tools for staying in touch with clients, prospects, and professional referrals.

J. Francis Co., of Pittsburgh, sends a monthly e-letter to about 500 targeted recipients. “Our e-mail list is a living, breathing thing —every new contact goes in our newsletter database,” says Jean M. Krak, business development manager. She had to call 18 years' worth of past clients to get their e-mail addresses, but most of them happily obliged.

J. Francis' e-letter features company news, current projects, seasonal home-maintenance tips, and a trivia contest that awards a $25 gift certificate to the first correct answer. People love getting the letter, Krak says, but the few who don't can click “unsubscribe.”

A local tech company created J. Francis' e-letter template and distributes the e-letter to recipients. Constant Contact ( tracks who actually reads it. Krak writes the copy and uploads the images. She could do the technical work, “but I would rather be out there selling,” she says.

For his e-letter, Art Elliot uses DuRoff's subscription-based program, The Remodelers Newsletter ( It's “outstanding,” says Elliot, president of Shelter Associates, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. “It reminds people that we're here and provides information, but not from a selling standpoint.”

For $195 per issue, DuRoff's turnkey e-letter goes directly to remodelers' own contact lists. Subscribers get their own Web page, so they can upload photos, logos, and writing, or edit the pre-written articles the service provides. “We felt it was critical that everyone be able to stand behind their newsletters,” DuRoff says.

It's also important that recipients actually want the e-newsletter. “No spam,” adds DuRoff, whose service is “opt-in” only.