3402612345_e6e2525d1e_b The toll free 800 number has come into its own as a recognized sign of a serious business. These numbers, however, are showing surprising strengths, even in markets where you wouldn’t expect them to make such a difference. For instance, you’d think that people doing business with local businesses would prefer to dial the local number. And you’d be wrong. According to a Chicago Tribune study, advertisers using toll free vanity numbers received ten times more calls than those just using the local number.

People associate the now ubiquitous 800 numbers, and their 866 and 888 brethren, with business. Simply having a toll free number is a sign of legitimacy and dependability. Vanity numbers take that a step further, giving your customers a mnemonic key to remember your phone number.

120839643_faba40e91c_b According to a study by Response Marketing Group, after listening to a radio spot just one time, 58% of the participants remembered the vanity number used in it. If a hybrid number was used, one in which only part of the number used a word to replace the numbers, only 44% were able to accurately recall the number. Still, that was far and away superior to the meager 8% who could remember a raw string of numbers.

Laura Noonan, VP of Marketing at Response Marketing Group, said her company “wanted to quantify how people retain numeric, hybrid, and vanity numbers in a real world, advertising context.” The success of such numbers had long ago been established when 1-800-FLOWERS lept ahead of the 75-year-old FTD, which enjoyed both a dominating position in its market and exceptional name recognition. Neither of those traits were enough to keep the older company ahead of 1-800-FLOWERS and its easily remembered phone number.

Photo credits: La Citta Vita, robbie jim.