Recently I received a direct-mail piece from a local real estate broker that truly got my attention.

Grabbing a sales prospect’s attention via direct mail in today’s market is not an easy thing to do. Most of today’s direct-mail pieces, whether they arrive in the form of a post card, envelope or letter, all come across to potential consumers as being generic and impersonal. The one I received was quite the contrary. The envelope was big and had an attractive earth toned color to it. It was crying to the receiver to be opened by its attractiveness. It was addressed specifically to me (no “Mr.” or “to the homeowner of” was on it), and it had me convinced that it had been handwritten.

About halfway through opening the letter I realized that it was a very sophisticated direct-marketing piece, but at that moment I was at the point of no return and I just had to see what was inside.

Inside there was a personalized letter with my name and home information on it. This was accompanied by a market analysis of the local real estate market and the recent purchases and sales activity in my neighborhood. Lastly, there was a very convincing value proposition on why this realtor was the right fit for me to sell my home. Just a day or two after receiving this mailer, the realtor contacted me to make sure I received the letter. Heck, at that point I was so impressed because of the sheer creativity, effort and professionalism that I even began to ponder the thought of selling my home!

The lawn care and landscape industry can learn a lot from this realtor’s sales approach. How many common postcards or direct-mail pieces do you receive in the mail each day? If you are like me it is at least half a dozen per day. It takes a split second for your marketing piece to either grab a prospect’s attention or for it to be tossed into the recycling bin.

In today’s day and age, even with the advent of online marketing, businesses are still finding success through direct-mail advertising campaigns. These pieces have become more customized by the utilization of technology, however many companies miss the fact that they still need to make prospects feel that they are personalized. Utilizing technology, whether it is in sales or service is critical in contributing to the success of any business whether big or small. Believe me, I am the biggest advocate of this, which I preach on a daily basis at my own lawn care company Noon Turf Care. However, one cannot forget the power of combining this with personal marketing and sales tactics; writing the sale’s prospect a hand-written card or picking up the phone and calling a prospect.

One of the most important distinctions all companies need to make is product and service differentiation. Like any other service industry, leaders of lawn care and landscape companies need to be selling by being personal. Personalized sales is a refreshing experience for the consumer.

We can all learn from this realtor who grabbed my attention last month. It can start with something as basic as sending out a direct-mail piece that is perceived as being personalized. It doesn’t even need to be personalized, it just needs to appear personalized, like mass-produced envelopes that look like they are handwritten. It’s little things like this that consumers notice and that grab their attention.

Another example of how you can personalize the sales experience for your customer is with hand-written thank-you cards and phone calls. Each day after our sales team wraps it up for the night they are required to write a thank-you card by hand to every new customer they sold to that day. In this card is a short note letting the customer know how much we appreciate their business. We also include the sale’s reps contact information. This is then coupled with a personalized auto blast thank-you email so we ensure that the customer receives both. It is a nice personal touch that sends the new customer the message of both an intimate and professional welcome to our company.

Consumers want to know that they matter, and they want to feel special. They also want to know that they are hiring an established and professionally managed company, hence the follow-up auto email immediately after the sale. These touches reveal to them that the company they just hired is professionally run and organized. By approaching them in this manner, you have immediately won their attention and, more importantly, their trust.

Good marketing will tell your company’s story to deliver the value proposition to the sales prospect. Good salesmanship leverages this by closing the sale. Make sure that as your company grows and professional and technological systems begin to take root, it is balanced out with a personal touch to the customer. It shows you really do care about quality customer service.