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Frequently Asked Questions

Select from the following

Questions about Mailing & Telemarketing Lists
Questions about Express Lead Mailers
Questions about Seminar Invitations
 

Questions about Mailing & Telemarketing Lists

How closely can I pinpoint my marketing area when I order a list?
What is a "Sectional Center" (SCF)?
If I order a list by SCF (first 3-digits of a zip code) or by county designation, will my list contain names from all areas of the SCF or County?
What is the minimum number of names I can buy?
What if there aren't enough names in my area to meet a minimum order requirement?
Where does CIS get its names from?
Do I get exclusive use of my list or is the same list provided to others?
Does CIS provide any guarantees concerning the deliverability of its lists?
How often are lists updated?
In what format are lists delivered?
How often can I use a prospect list?
What information do I receive when I order a list?
Do all lists include phone numbers?
I can't seem to find more than 65% of the names provided on my list in the local telephone directory. Is this a reflection of the accuracy of the list?
How long will it take to get my list?
How do I pay for the list(s) I order?
I received my list and it contained fewer names than the online count. Why?
Are volume purchase discounts available if I purchase a significant number of names?
Does CIS provide software support?
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How closely can I pinpoint my marketing area when I order a list?
All lists are available by "Sectional Center" (SCF) designation (the first 3-digits of a zip code). Most are also available by "County" and 5-digit zip code selection.

What is a "Sectional Center" (SCF)?
A "Sectional Center"(SCF) is a geographic area whose boundaries have been set by the U.S. Postal Service to facilitate the delivery of mail. Unfortunately, these geographic areas do not ordinarily coincide with either town or county boundaries. However, as many lists are sold by "Sectional Center"(SCF) designation, it is imperative that you fully understand which counties and/or zip codes are included in your local "Sectional Center" (SCF) marketing area. If in doubt, inquire.

If I order a list by SCF (first 3-digits of a zip code) or by county designation, will my list contain names from all areas of the SCF or County?
Yes. Mailing lists ordered by SCF or County will contain names, selected randomly, from all zip codes within the geographic area(s) requested. Orders received by 5-digit zip code(s) will be filled in priority order, as listed.

What is the minimum number of names I can buy?
Each list has its own minimum order requirement expressed either in dollars or quantity.

What if there aren't enough names in my area to meet a minimum order requirement?
If enough names are not available in the geographic area requested to meet a list's minimum order requirement, you will be given the option of expanding your geographic selection area or receiving whatever names are available and paying the minimum order charge.

Where does CIS get its names from?
We use hundreds of compiling sources for our mailing list program. Included are direct compilations from known source data, i.e. trade directories, membership rosters, state and federal records, etc., as well as names generated from current subscription lists of major trade publications. Names are also generated through business and consumer response sources including direct mail purchases and warranty card returns.

Do I get exclusive use of my list or is the same list provided to others?
Once a list is rented, it will not be rented to another sales representative of the same company for 60 days. It may, however be rented to another company. Realistically speaking, the chance of anyone else receiving your exact names is quite remote as we constantly rotate the names rented from our files. That is, if the file contains 10,000 names of prospects with the same characteristics, we would rent the first 1,000 names to the first person, the second 1,000 to the next person and so forth. As our customer base encompasses all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico, and as we offer more than 200 list options, in more than 45,000 zip codes, it is extremely unlikely that anyone else would ever receive your exact names in any 60-day period.

Does CIS provide any guarantees concerning the deliverability of its lists?
Due to consumer and business mobility, each list will contain names that have become undeliverable by mail. If the number of such undeliverable names on any list, exceeds 7 % of the total provided for that list, CIS will provide a pro rata refund, for the list cost only of any undeliverable names in excess of said seven percent (7 %), on condition that the claim for refund is received by CIS within sixty (60) days of the date the list was originally ordered, and is accompanied by the undeliverable mail for which a refund is requested. CIS makes no warranty, representation or guarantee of the revenue that may be generated from the rental of its lists.

How often are lists updated?
Update schedules vary with the list source upon which the compilation is based. A limited number of lists, compiled from directories or association records are recompiled annually. Most however, like business lists, consumer lists at home address and "hotline" lists are updated weekly.

In what format are lists delivered?
CIS's standard list delivery method is electronically, via e-mail, or hard copy in list format. The choice is yours. If you elect to receive your list via e-mail, it will be forwarded in comma-delimited format that will open automatically in "Excel", and can be exported into most word processing and/or client management programs. Lists can also be ordered on CD or disk at an additional cost of $30 per order, on pressure sensitive labels at an additional cost of $10 per 1,000 labels, or on telemarketing index cards at an additional cost of $25 per 1,000 cards.

How often can I use a prospect list?
Most lists can be used, without restriction, for one year from the date the order is delivered by CIS. Certain lists, however, such as magazine subscription lists or lists compiled from professional organizations are only available for a one-time usage. You will be notified if the list you have ordered, or inquired about, is restricted to a one-time usage.

What information do I receive when I order a list?
You will receive the name, company name (if applicable), address, and telephone number (where legally available with submission of a SAN number) of those prospects meeting your selection criteria in the geographic areas you've identified.

Do all lists include phone numbers?
No, lists compiled from trade association records or magazine subscription files do not contain telephone numbers. Included in each list description on this site is a statement as to whether or not telephone numbers are available with the list.

I can't seem to find more than 65% of the names provided on my list in the local telephone directory. Is this a reflection of the accuracy of the list?
No. The general rule of thumb is that you will only be able to find 45% to 70% of the names found on any mailing list in a telephone directory or cross street directory. The explanation for this will vary with the individual list but basically reflects the high number of unlisted telephone numbers. Also, the names provided might be so new to your area as to not yet show up in directories, as they are only published once per year.

How long will it take to get my list?
Generally, it will take between 2 and 7 business days, depending on the list and format selected. Certain lists within each list category, printed in bold type, are available by e-mail within six (6) hours of receipt of an order.

How do I pay for the list(s) I order?
Amex, Visa, MasterCard or check. Note, however, that if you elect to pay by check, your payment must be received before your order will be forwarded.

I received my list and it contained fewer names than the online count. Why?
Lists are constantly being updated, with new names added, and inaccurate names deleted. CIS's online count system, however, is only updated twice per week. Thus, it is possible, if you have ordered all available names in a geographic area, that the number of names available will vary slightly from the count you obtained online. If additional names have been added to the file, you will be notified and given the opportunity to increase your order. If names have been deleted from the file, you will receive, and be charged for, only those names that meet your selection criteria.

Are volume purchase discounts available if I purchase a significant number of names?
Yes. There are savings to be realized if you place an order for 5,000 or more names from a single list category. Call 800-547-LIST ext. 200 for details.

Does CIS provide software support?
No. If you elect to receive your list on CD, disk or by e-mail, it will be forwarded in comma-delimited format that will open automatically in Excel, unless you request a different format at the time you place your order.
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Questions about Express Lead Mailers

Commonly Asked Questions Regarding "Express Lead" Mailers"

What's different about Express Lead Mailers?
What list will be used with my mailing?
Can I target my list to an ethnic market?
Can I customize the text or layout of a mailer or add a "tag line" to the outside envelope?
What response rate can I expect?
What mailer generates the best response?
Are response rates guaranteed?
Is there anything I can do to increase response?
How long does it take for my Express Lead Mailers to be mailed?
Why are responses returned to CIS and not directly back to me?
When can I expect to receive responses back?
Exactly how will I receive my responses?
Does my entire order of Express Lead Mailers have to be mailed at the same time to qualify for a volume price discount?
Do I get exclusivity with the names used with my mailing?
How often should I mail to generate a constant source of leads?
What if I need help with my order?
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What's different about Express Lead Mailers?
The rationale behind the Express Lead Mailer program is to elicit response from targeted prospects with a genuine interest in the specific product or concept discussed. Our objective is to help generate sales, not vague inquiries from otherwise disinterested prospects. To accomplish this we avoid generic topics and/or mailers, as well as marketing gimmicks that produce illusory results -lots of response but few actual sales. Rather, our mailers are written to hit the "hot buttons" of our targeted audience. The result-a higher closing ratio and more commission dollars earned.

What list will be used with my mailing?
A different list has been developed for each of the Express Lead Mailers offered. Each incorporates an advanced new list technology to target Express Lead prospects. Unlike other mailing programs that target solely by age and income criteria, CIS has developed a more powerful targeting system capable of identifying prospects whose personal, financial, and demographic characteristics "clone" those of other buyers of specific financial products, a far more effective targeting process. While you retain the option of narrowing the focus of your list by targeting prospects by specific age and income criteria, these represent but two of fifty characteristics that have been incorporated into the list in an effort to target prospects with both the need and wherewithal to purchase financial products.

Can I target my list to an ethnic market?
Yes. All Express Lead Mailers can be specifically targeted to Hispanic or Asian prospects. Gender, age, income, length of residency, net worth and type of dwelling unit occupied selections are available. To place an order using ethnic names, call 800-547-5478 ext. 200.

Can I customize the text or layout of a mailer or add a "tag line" to the outside envelope?
Yes. The Express Lead Mailer program offers unlimited opportunity to customize your mailer. You can maintain the text as written for each mailer, modify it in any way you'd like, and/or add a "tag line" to the outside envelope. Modest additional charges are applicable for text and layout changes. A 3¢ per mailer additional charge is applicable for the addition of a "tag line" to the outside envelope.

What response rate can I expect?
CIS would be pleased to provide you with the average response rate generated by each Express Lead Mailer during the past year. When evaluating this information however, be aware that averages by definition incorporate higher and lower numbers. Within the overall average provided for a particular mailer, individual rates may vary from disappointing to extraordinary, dependent upon factors such as seasonality, timeliness, geography, weather, economic events, current news or simply for reasons unknown. That's why experienced marketers recognize that long-term consistency is the key to direct mail success. Mailings of 1,000 - 2,000 pieces per month over an extended period of time have historically returned $5 to $8 in commission income for every $1 of mailing expense.

What mailer generates the best response?
Over the years we have found an inverse relationship between response generated from our most broadly based mailers, and sales results, and those generated from our most focused mailers, and sales results. In essence, the broader the message of the mailer, the higher the response rate, but the lower the overall closing ratio. Conversely, the more narrow the focus of the mailer, the lower the response rate, but the higher the closing ratio and commission dollars earned per case. Accordingly, our combination topic mailers generate the greatest response rate but our concept specific mailers generate the highest percentage closing ratio. You are encouraged to Call 800-547-5478 ext. 200 to inquire of response rates for each of the mailers offered.

Are response rates guaranteed?
No. Unfortunately, there are too many factors that affect response rates to make such a guarantee possible. For example, seasonality, timeliness, geography, weather, economic events and current news in the local marketing area all affect response rates in a meaningful way. It is not unusual for two exact mailings, done thirty days apart, to generate significantly different results.

Is there anything I can do to increase response?
The list used with your mailing has been modeled on the personal, financial, and demographic characteristics of buyers of specific financial products. Notwithstanding that, you have the option, with most mailers, of refining your list by selecting the age range, income range, and gender of the prospects targeted. When making your selections keep in mind that women historically respond at a greater rate than men to financial solicitations. Perhaps they're the keeper of the money or perhaps they're just more concerned with financial security. In any event they respond in greater numbers than men. Also, those in the lower middle to upper middle-income brackets respond at a higher rate than those earning six figures. Lastly, make sure the mailing piece you elect to mail has relevance to the age range you have targeted.

How long does it take for my Express Lead Mailers to be mailed?
All orders are processed and mailed within 5 business days of receipt.

Why are responses returned to CIS and not directly back to me?
As new mailers are constantly being developed to reflect market conditions and financial product development it is important to have an accurate reporting mechanism to track response rates generated. Accordingly, responses are returned to CIS where they are meticulously recorded so that we can provide accurate response data for each of the Express Lead Mailers available to current and potential customers.

When can I expect to receive responses back?
Responses generally begin to filter back to CIS approximately 3 - 4 weeks from the date they were initially mailed (which date is 4 - 5 business days after the order was received by CIS). Occasionally, it takes longer. What's important to remember is that historically 20% of responses are received more than 3 months after the date of initial mailing. Thus, the total response rate for any mailing can't be accurately determined for several months.

Exactly how will I receive my responses?
Upon receipt by CIS, responses are recorded and then scanned and converted to a PDF format that is e-mailed to you within hours. It is suggested that you print a copy of each PDF response as occasionally respondents fail to remember that they have returned the card requesting information.

Does my entire order of Express Lead Mailers have to be mailed at the same time to qualify for a volume price discount? Yes, with one exception. A flexible mailing option is available to those placing orders for 2,501 or more mailers. While orders for up to 2,500 mailers must be mailed all at once, orders for 2,501 or more mailers can be mailed:
a. All at once, or in
b. Two consecutive weekly equal mailings, or in
c. Three consecutive weekly equal mailings, or in
d. Three equal mailings, mailed every other week.

Do I get exclusivity with the names used with my mailing?
Yes. You have exclusive use of the names used with your mailing for six months. During this period CIS will not process any other order using these names.

How often should I mail to generate a constant source of leads?
The key to effective direct mail results is consistency. Sophisticated marketers never evaluate the effectiveness of a mailer or a mailing program by the results generated from a single 1,000-piece mailing. Numerous factors beyond your or our control could affect results. Mailings of 1,000 -2,000 pieces per month, over an extended period of time, have historically returned from $5 to $8 in commission income for every $1 of mailing expense.

What if I need help with my order?
CIS account executives are available Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm Eastern Time to help you place an order and/or answer any questions you may have regarding Express Lead Mailers. Call 1-800-547-5478 ext. 200 for assistance.


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What You Need To Know To Make Seminars Work For You!

Why market by seminar?
Where do I begin? Who should I invite?
Where should I hold my seminar?
Is there anything I should know before setting a seminar date?
How many prospects should I invite?
How can I enhance the likelihood of prospects attending my seminar?
How do personal invitations compare to other invitation methods?
Should I offer a free meal at my seminar?
Breakfast? Lunch? Or Dinner?
Which day, and time of day, attracts the most attendees?
Are there any secrets to creating an invitation that generates response?
Can I promote more than one seminar on a single invitation?
What response mechanism should I offer with my invitation?
What can I do to assure that prospects not only respond, but attend my seminar?
How can I utilize existing clients to boost the effectiveness of my seminar?
Do I need a Business Reply Mail postal permit?
How do I receive postage-paid responses?
How much lead-time is required to create and mail invitations?
Does CIS guarantee a minimum response rate for the invitations it has created and/or mailed on my behalf?
Whom do I call if I have additional questions?
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Why market by seminar?
Seminars allow you to leverage your time by creating an environment where, at a single event, you can speak to a controlled, pre-qualified audience, with both the need and resources to purchase your products and services.

Contrary to the belief of many, seminars should not be positioned as overt selling events. Rather, they should be considered educational forums that subtly set the groundwork for future one-on-one sales opportunities.

Your goal should be limited to demonstrating your knowledge, competence, and professionalism, so that, as a result of your presentation, attendees will logically be drawn to the conclusion that what you've presented is relevant to them, and, most importantly, that you're the right person to help them implement an action plan.

Where do I begin? Who should I invite?
Before considering the invitation process, consideration must first be given to who should be invited and why. First and foremost, the audience must be appropriate for the seminar topic. Among the demographic selection criteria to be considered are age, income, net worth, education level, profession/occupation, sex, marital status, presence of children, i.e. whatever criteria are appropriate for the subject being discussed. The goal is to target those with the greatest propensity to respond. -- not only those with income, but also those with the need for the product or service that will be discussed. As a general rule, your best prospects will be those whose characteristics mirror those of your best clients.

In addition to inviting targeted prospects from qualified lists, it is suggested that you invite some of your clients, and, in turn, ask them to invite others who they think would benefit from attending. A mixture of "cold" prospects, clients, and friends of clients, presents the optimum audience for a successful seminar.

When mailing your invitations, don't address them to "Occupant" or "Friend." You will attract a significantly larger audience by personalizing your invitations by addressing each to a specific individual by name.

Once you have established an appropriate prospect profile, the issue of geographic selection i.e. the zip codes from which prospects will be invited, must be addressed. As a general rule invitations should not be mailed to prospects that reside more than 20-25 minutes from the location of your seminar. Time to your location, rather than distance should be the determining factor in identifying the zip codes from which prospects will be solicited. Note, however that in some markets you must also consider natural boundaries and/or local area customs. For example, Kansas City, MO is a completely different market than Kansas City, Kansas, notwithstanding the fact that they are adjacent cities. Similarly, St Paul, MN and Minneapolis, MN are distinctly different markets although they are within a 20-minute drive of each other.

Where should I hold my seminar?
As a general rule, it's always advantageous to hold your seminar at a "neutral" site. Having the seminar in your office conference room, as nice as it might be, traditionally limits attendance, as it has a tendency to cause the invitee to feel somewhat uncomfortable, even pressured. Not surprisingly, this is even more relevant if they are currently doing business with a competing firm. Another general rule impacting attendance is that the higher the income of the prospects invited, the more upscale the seminar location should be. Hotels, motels (upscale), country clubs, restaurants (private rooms) are all acceptable locations for seminars directed toward higher income/net-worth prospects, while libraries, class rooms, civic auditoriums etc. are appropriate for mid-level markets. Seminars held at colleges, however, particularly those perceived as prestigious, have proven to be excellent locations for all seminars. If you are serving a meal it's important to remember that the quality of the venue selected be comparable to that which the prospect would ordinarily frequent.

Is there anything I should know before setting a seminar date?
It's amazing how many seminars have failed simply because their sponsors didn't give much thought to the date of the planned event. Make sure you select a date that doesn't conflict with other events in the community i.e. open school night, local football games, etc. Also, give thought to what else might be going on regionally or nationally such as Monday or Thursday night football, the world series, a popular television program, etc. Lastly, give thought to holidays, religious or otherwise.

How many prospects should I invite?
Generally, in determining the number, it's easier to work backwards. First, identify how many prospects you'd like to attend (per session offered), and then, based on a conservative anticipated "show" rate, invite the number required to meet your goal. Be careful, however, not to confuse "response" rates with "show" rates.

Historically, between 1% and 4% of invited prospects will respond favorably to your invitation. However, only .75% to 2.75% will actually show up. Note that these statistics are based on invitations mailed to prospects at their home address. Invitations mailed to business addresses will generate a much lower response rate, perhaps as much as 50% lower.

In answer then to how many prospects should be invited, first determine how many you'd like to attend, then calculate the number of invitations, based on a 1% - 2% show rate (calculate conservatively). For example, if you want 60 prospects to attend you should mail approximately 6,000 invitations.

Note also, that seminars offering a free meal historically generate a 25% or greater increase in attendance than those that don't.

How can I enhance the likelihood of prospects attending my seminar?
The importance of the "image" created by your invitation cannot be overstated. It's crucial to the "show" rate generated, as it not only portrays the importance of the seminar, but indirectly categorizes your competence as well. An upscale invitation creates a feeling of respect for the presenter, while a lower quality invitation categorizes both the presenter and event as irrelevant. Always place yourself in the shoes of the prospect. Ask yourself honestly; does this invitation portray me in the best possible light? Would I respond if I received it? If you can't answer affirmatively, start over. A general guideline to follow is, the higher the income of the invitee, the higher the quality the invitation must be to attract response.

How do personal invitations compare to other invitation methods?
Generally speaking, graphically compelling personal invitations significantly out pull other invitation methods. Newspaper inserts rarely work and newsprint ads are costly and generally ineffective, except in those areas with a high concentration of seniors (who all too often evaluate seminars on the basis of the meal offered).

As for individually written or typed letters, on company letterhead, they work quite well when addressed to existing clients but not when used for "cold" prospecting to the general public.

Should I offer a free meal at my seminar?
While this is an extremely controversial issue, there are several points that have been statistically validated. First, as one would expect, the offer of a free meal does, in fact, increase attendance. Second, if you are in an area where it is commonplace for your competitors to offer a meal, you unfortunately may have little choice but to do likewise. Third, the fact that a free meal causes more prospects to attend your seminar does not necessarily mean you will do more business from the seminar. Attendance figures alone don't tell the whole story. It is well documented that in certain geographic areas, particularly those inhabited primarily by seniors, the offer of a free meal frequently attracts what can only be described as "professional seminar attendees." They'll fill your seminar but rarely your book of business. Fourth, almost without exception, statistics show that it's not the quantity of attendees, but rather the quality, as defined by their need, and income to satisfy that need, that ultimately determines the success of your seminar.

When all is said, the fact remains that the question of whether or not to offer a free meal must be evaluated on a case-by-case, and market-by-market basis. There are clearly times when the offer of a free meal will enhance the success of your seminar, but there are an equal number of times when it won't. CIS account executives would be pleased to discuss the "pros and cons" of providing a free meal in your local marketing area when you call to place an invitation order.

Notwithstanding the above, it's important that you do serve something during the seminar, even if short of a meal, particularly if it's an early evening seminar. You certainly don't want to face attendees with growling stomachs. They're apt to leave at your mid-point break. If you're not serving a complete meal, a good solution is generally to serve something sweet, such as coffee and cake, cookies, fruit, or finger sandwiches -- something that will "hold them over." Remember, also, to have something appropriate for diabetics. Lastly, while it may seem sophisticated to serve wine, it's generally not a good idea, as it tends to either dull or agitate the senses of those in your audience.

If you do serve a meal, make sure it's AFTER you're well into your presentation. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to keep your audience focused. Clanging knives and forks, mixed with normal dinner chatter, are not conducive to getting your message across. If, however, you're only serving snacks, finger sandwiches or dessert and coffee, it's okay to have them on the table before you begin speaking. Their consumption won't interfere with your presentation. Another advantage of speaking first is that it permits you the opportunity to interact with your audience as you "table hop" and further personalize your approach.

Breakfast? Lunch? Or Dinner?
Historically, dinners attract the most attendees, followed by lunch and then breakfast. However, they're all appropriate, if carefully thought out. Breakfast and luncheon seminars work best for business owners. Dinner seminars work best for everyone else. If your seminars are directed primarily to seniors, remember that many are hesitant to drive at night. Also, keep seasonal weather conditions in mind when planning your event.

Which day, and time of day, attracts the most attendees?
Historically, seminars held on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays have attracted the highest number of respondents, followed by Wednesdays. Conversely, seminars held on Mondays, Fridays and Saturday mornings have attracted far fewer attendees.

While there are no set rules as to the best time of day to hold a seminar, certain facts should be considered. First, if your seminar is directed to seniors, remember that many are still gainfully employed. Others don't drive at night. Thus, you might want to offer two different seminar time options on your invitation. One, earlier in the day for retired seniors, and a second, in the evening, for those still working.

Second, young families always face problems of getting baby sitters and/or getting children to bed. Accordingly, give them more than the usual advance notice, to allow them time to make these preparations. An alternative might be a Saturday morning seminar. If you're considering this, also consider providing babysitting services together with games for older children, in an adjacent room.

Lastly, consider commuting problems in your local market. If you're not offering dinner, make sure you allow for a starting time that will permit potential attendees sufficient time to get home, have dinner, and still get to your seminar on time. If commutes of more than 45 minutes are common in your area, consider expanding your food offerings to encourage prospects to go directly to your seminar rather than first going home.

Are there any secrets to creating an invitation that generates response?
If your invitation isn't opened, it doesn't matter what's inside. Thus, first and foremost, it's crucial to do all you can to encourage opening. Steps that have proven effective include calligraphy addressing the invitations, placing your return address, but not your name, on the outside of the envelope, affixing postage by stamp, and using an envelope that because of its size or quality stands out from other mail. Addressing your invitations with a label, inserting them in conventional window envelops, or affixing postage by indicia or meter will all have a significantly negative effect on your response ratio.

Conversely, the use of upscale wedding style invitations, as well as GRAPHICALLY COMPELLING self-mailers, postcards and letter style invitations, inserted in FULL VIEW window envelopes, have all proven effective at generating seminar response. While each will work when used appropriately, each serves a different purpose. Wedding style invitations have proven to be extremely effective at attracting higher income/ higher net worth audiences, as they impart a sense of importance. Self-mailers that incorporate a wedding style format are a viable alternative when mailed to a slightly lower income group. Letter style invitations have worked best when used in conjunction with more broadly based seminar topics requiring greater use of text to describe the event. Postcard invitations have proven effective when incorporating a free meal offer and are mailed to middle and lower middle-income prospects, particularly seniors.

Regardless of the invitation style selected, the invitation must immediately convey the feeling that yours is an event not to be missed. Proper layout and proper use of headlines and bullet points are crucial to achieving this result. More effective invitations begin with a headline designed to hit the reader's "hot button." They focus on a single timely idea or problem that will be discussed or solved at the seminar, followed by a series of bullet points that further amplify the seminar topic. The bullet points, as with the headline, are designed to raise, rather than answer questions. Only attendance at the seminar will do that.

Paragraphs that follow should create a sense of urgency by emphasizing the benefits of attending. Finally, in closing, a statement should be added that there is no obligation associated with attending. All this, of course, presupposes that the seminar topic is relevant to the audience invited.

Also, it is advisable to state the ending as well as the starting time for your seminar as some participants may have to make baby-sitting or other custodial care arrangements.

While it might seem quite natural, even beneficial, to exhort your professional accomplishments and virtues on the invitation, in reality, excessively detailed biographies detract from the appeal of your invitation. Keep your personal bio brief, and to the point, citing professional designations, and awards of distinction only.

Can I promote more than one seminar on a single invitation?
It is inadvisable to promote two completely different seminars on the same invitation, i.e. seminars that discuss different seminar topics. However, it is permissible, even prudent, to offer multiple date options, multiple time options, and/or multiple location options for the same seminar, on the same invitation, as long as the total number of seminar date options is kept to three or less.

What response mechanism should I offer with my invitation?
Your invitation should contain at least two response options, generally a postage-paid reply card and a telephone number (with the name of a specific person to ask for). In addition, you may also consider adding an e-mail response option.

Don't underestimate the importance of the person taking response calls. The wrong person can negatively impact your "show rate" by counteracting all your efforts to create a positive professional image. Be sure the person accepting reservations has a pleasant phone manner, speaks proper English (no dems and doses) and preferably understands the subject you'll be speaking on.

What can I do to assure that prospects not only respond, but attend my seminar?
The fact that prospects respond to your seminar solicitation does not mean they will actually show up. To assure attendance, it is critical that you confirm their attendance at least twice, preferably three times. It is suggested that someone other than you make the first confirmation call. It should be general in nature, just confirming that you have received their response. Don't let the opportunity pass, however, without having them told how pleased you are that they've elected to attend and how confident you are that they'll find the seminar to be very informative and of great value.

If a meal is going to be served, the second confirmation call can be made on the pretense that you are making final dinner arrangements and are inquiring as to their dinner preference, i.e. chicken or beef? If no meal is being offered, or if you have already made a dinner selection call, your final call, made the day before the seminar, should be made on the pretense that you are finalizing your presentation and want to know if there are any specific subject areas that the invitee would like discussed.

How can I utilize existing clients to boost the effectiveness of my seminar?
It is recommended that you always invite existing clients to your public seminars. Invariably attendees will ask each other if anyone knows, or has dealt with, the presenter. Having clients in the audience to substantiate, from personal experience, results obtained from guidance given, adds instant credibility to your presentation. To maximize this subtle benefit, always plan your seating arrangements in advance making sure that at least one satisfied client is seated at each prospect table.

Do I need a Business Reply Mail postal permit?
If you participate in the "Seminars Plus" program, you have two options available as to how your business reply cards will be prepared.

  1. If you already have a Business Reply Permit, simply fax CIS a copy of any business reply card previously mailed, using the permit, and CIS will create the artwork required for your mailing. Nothing else is required.
  2. If you don't already have a Business Reply permit there's no need to purchase one. You can use CIS's permit. However, you must obtain from your local post office a business reply zip+4 number and barcode for your local business address. This is a routine request that will be completed by your local post office within a few days, without cost. You can request that it be mailed to your attention or you can pick it up at the post office. In either case, upon receipt, simply fax a copy to CIS. Nothing else is required.
How do I receive postage-paid responses?
Responses will be returned to you by your local postman/postwoman as received. Upon receipt, you will be required to pay the exact reply postage due. Responses will not be left without proper payment. To avoid the inconvenience of having exact postage on hand, the postal service offers an alternative payment method -- a pre-paid postage account at your local post office. These accounts function somewhat like a bank account. You deposit a small dollar amount in your account and the post office automatically deducts appropriate postage as responses are received. As you account nears a zero balance you are asked to deposit an additional sum. The advantage of setting up such an account is that even if you are out of the office or don't have exact change, you will still receive all your responses in a timely fashion. Note that the post office charges an annual service fee for maintenance of the account.

How much lead-time is required to create and mail invitations?
If you're planning your first seminar using the "Seminars Plus" system, you should allow six weeks lead-time from the date you place your order with CIS, to the date of your seminar. This breaks down as follows: 7 days to finalize copy and layout, 9 days to process your list, typeset, print, and mail your invitation, 8-12 days in the mail (postal delivery, standard class), 8-10 days for recipients to respond. Total: 32-38 days (approximately 5 weeks). Subsequent mailings, requiring only time, date, and/or location changes, can be accomplished with slightly less lead-time.

Does CIS guarantee a minimum response rate for the invitations it has created and/or mailed on my behalf?
No. While CIS will use its best effort to create an invitation that will generate a favorable response rate, it makes no guarantee, warranty, or representation as to the response rate or revenue that may be generated from the creation, mailing, fulfillment, or processing of a order for the mailing of seminar invitations. Nor does it guarantee or warranty the delivery of invitations by the US Postal Service in a timely manner once they have been deposited and accepted by said institution.

Whom do I call if I have additional questions?
For additional questions concerning seminar invitations, call Ilyssa Rosenberg, Director of Seminar Marketing, at 1-800-547-5478 ext. 122.

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