After shopping for a last-minute Mother's Day card and finding nothing she liked, Linda Nelson was convinced she could produce better cards. So the high school English teacher changed careers and started what is now Sendsations Personal Marketing.

While the greeting card idea got the company started, its real success began after Nelson picked up on an idea prompted by dentists' needs to advertise.

"I started a recipe-a-month program for dentists at a time when it was unethical for dentists to advertise," Nelson said. Printed on post cards, the recipes helped initiate word-of-mouth advertising for dentists.

After several months of pestering by a friend in real estate, Nelson designed a card program for that market. Sendsations now markets a variety of monthly mailer programs structured for high-volume real estate agents who need ways to keep their names in the forefront with potential and current clients.

The success with real estate agents prompted Nelson to refocus the business and increase the monthly mailer programs, which now includes the Recipes for Success, Comedy Connection and Calendar Cards. A new Puzzlerz program includes a contest; the prize is a trip to the Caribbean.

Sendsations also offers a Prospecting Partners program, which includes the cards and monthly brochures on a variety of real estate topics including selling smart, better borrowing, home improvement hints, buyer's guides, home loans and more.

For agents interested in online sales, Sendsations offers a basic "Internet Income" package that provides a personalized Web site and linking Web pages for agents' information and real estate offerings.

Nelson said the concept is to "make sure Realtors get their name out there. Repetition is the key to successful advertising." Recipients receive a new recipe, joke or puzzle each month. The back of the card carries the agent's logo, photo and name with a small greeting.

"The cards are a keeper," Nelson said. "They get in under the `junk mail' radar screen that people have. I call it `stealth advertising.' "

After more than seven years of hard work, financial risks and finding the right market, Nelson's company has gone from making $50,000 the first year to approximately $2 million last year. It has been named among Utah's Top 100 fastest growing companies.

"Take an idea and find a niche," Nelson said. "It was a blessing from heaven." Sendsations is now marketed throughout the United States and Canada. The Orem office has 18 employees with some of the work subcontracted to other local companies.

"Our job is to continually give people the ideas. We are the innovators," Nelson said. "We help them connect on a personal level."

For more information about Sendsations, call 225-2277 or visit the Web site at (www.sendsations.com).