According to The Associated Press, the average consumer attention span fell in 2012 to a groundbreaking low of eight seconds, challenging business owners to capture the interest of potential customers with an almost-impossible twenty word limit.
Of those twenty words, most Americans will actively listen to seven. With such a small window through which to deliver information, the modern entrepreneur must focus on conveying the following information: What is it? Why do you (the consumer) want it? And, most importantly, how do you get it? Fortunately for U.S. businesses large and small, two of these can be quickly and easily captured with the cost-efficient purchase of a vanity number.
What is a Vanity Number?
Vanity numbers are phone numbers selected by businesses for their memorability. Most are phonewords—letters that represent corresponding dial pad numbers. “1-800VANITY,” for example, would correspond to 1-800-826-489. Others are just memorable numbers, such as Super 8 Motel’s “1-800-800-8000.” The goal of any vanity number is to catch the attention of consumers while simultaneously increasing business call traffic.
What are the Advantages of a Vanity Number?
According to a Chicago Tribune marketing study, advertisements featuring vanity numbers yield customer response statistics up to ten times higher than regular numeric numbers. The key is that customers remember vanity numbers; they stick to the brain with an unshakeable determination, lurking in the back of the mind until the time comes for them to be called into use. For the average U.S. business, this makes all the difference. In the case of, say, an unexpected flat tire, a customer who has heard “1-800-TIRES” jingling across the radio for the past three years is likely to dial the number without a second thought, delivering that oh-so-merry death blow to the competition across the street.
Choosing the Perfect Vanity Number
While vanity numbers are effective, some deliver better results than others. Here are a few tips for choosing your vanity number:
1) Communicate what your business does.
Some businesses simply use their store name. “1-800EMPIRE,” for example. While this is effective if your business in already well-known, it doesn’t work as well for up-and-coming businesses. If you’re still building your brand, choose a number that reflects what you’re trying to market. If your business name is reasonably short, you can even do both, like “1-800CARL’S-CARS.”
2) Use words if possible.
Statistics show that consumers are significantly more likely to remember words than numbers. If you use numbers, try to create repetition or sequencing of numbers to make it easier for customers to remember.
3) Make it catchy.
Your vanity number should roll off the tongue and worm its way into the brains your customers. Use alliteration if possible. The shorter your vanity number is, the more likely customers are to remember it. Aim for no more than two words, and try not to use more letters than there are numbers (if at all possible).
4) Avoid unpredictable spellings.
Since most customers dial vanity numbers from memory, unexpected deviations in spelling may result in loss of business. Abbreviations like “1-800Flowers4U” are likely to result in many would-be callers inadvertently dialing their custom to the lucky owner of “1-800FlowersForYou.”
5) Sing your number.
Psychology Today theorizes that the importance of oral history to our ancestors has caused the human brain to evolve to remember musical patterns more effectively than speech patterns. As a result, consumers are more likely to remember a vanity number that’s set to a basic note-per-syllable tune.
6) Be creative.
Vanity numbers are popular, so try not to wave the white flag when you find out that you can’t use “1-800HAIR” for your beauty salon. Think outside the box, and try something along the lines of “1-800KILLERCUTS” instead.
7) Keep it professional.
Using your vanity number to insult the competition — and yes, believe it or not, some short-lived businesses try this, is not helpful. “1-800EMPIRESUCKS,” might successfully offend Empire, but it’s not branding your business either.
8) Spread the word.
You want everyone, everywhere to associate your business with your vanity number. End every advertisement with it, emblazon it across a hundred billboards, paint it on your car, sing it on karaoke night.
Once you’ve chose your toll free number, getting set up is easy. Just contact a reputable toll free service provider and have your calls directed to your catchy new vanity number in less than 24 hours!