Until recently, area-wide direct-mail advertising — e.g. mailing to an entire ZIP code — had been a good way for remodelers to reach prospects. But, says Dave Alpert, owner of Continuum Marketing, in Great Falls, Va., “response rates have gone way down.”

Two other types of mailing lists — radius (or jobsite) and circle of influence (family, friends, past clients, lost prospects) — are still proving successful. But with advertising budgets tight, you want to make sure that you reach the right people: those most likely to buy from you.

Stay in the ’Hood

Mailing postcards to each house within a half-mile radius of a jobsite four times during the course of a project is a “clumsy” way to do it, Alpert says. “There might be a highway running through that neighborhood, and the people on the other side of the highway don’t even considers your job to be in their neighborhood. You want people close enough to the home that they walk or drive by it.”

Alpert suggests using InfoUSA, which sells mailing lists, so you can set parameters such as location, home value, age of home, and home­owner age, income, and wealth. InfoUSA allows you to license a list for about $99 for a year. “Most lists get stale at about 20% or more each year,” Alpert points out, so you’ll need to refresh your list annually.


Seed your list with your own address and the addresses of some of your employees to make sure the mail is getting through. Send more than 200 pieces to take advantage of bulk-mail rates. And don’t forget to put “or current homeowner” in the name slug. That way, if the person to whom the mailing is addressed no longer lives there, the piece will still get delivered and it won’t be returned to you to be corrected.


Put your Web address on the postcards. If you mail about 2,000 cards, you should see a spike in Web traffic on the days the cards land and a few days after. Alpert also has found that while jobsite and circle-of-influence mailings generate leads, they work best when reinforced by jobsite signs.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.