Thanks to my smartphone I can barely remember the number for my girlfriend of nearly two years.
I just tap her name and the smartphone does the rest. There is no need to remember a seemingly random string of digits anymore.
Chances are that your experience is the same. Remembering phone numbers is a thing of the past.
However, there are some phone numbers that I can recall, no matter how much I would like to forget them…
…That’s thanks to an easy-to-remember vanity phone number (and a jingle catchier than any bubblegum pop song that tops the charts today).
In fact, a vanity phone number is a great way to ensure your business comes to mind whenever your product or service is required.
If you ever listen to the radio, you’ve probably heard the Kars4Kids commercial and jingle. It’s so darn catchy, I curse every time I catch myself singing it later in the day.
It may anger me, but I most definitely will not forget that their number is 1-877-Kars-4-Kids.
What’s that? You have never heard the Kars4Kids jingle? Here’s a little refresher:
I’m sorry that I had to do that to you, but at least now we are on the same page…
…Vanity phone numbers are a great way to promote your business. And today I am going to teach you everything you need to know about them.
You can a link below to jump to a specific section of this guide…
- What is a vanity phone number?
- Benefits of a vanity phone number
- Types of vanity phone numbers
- How to get a vanity phone number
- Vanity phone number search
- How to choose the best vanity phone number for you
- Examples of businesses that successfully use vanity phone numbers
- What to do when you no longer need your vanity phone number
- Vanity phone number mistakes to avoid
- How to advertise your vanity phone number
What Is A Vanity Phone Number?
Every business needs a phone number. It’s one of the fastest ways for a customer to contact your business.
But here’s the thing:
Most businesses just stick whatever phone number they get given and don’t give it a second thought.
And that’s all well and good…
Except you are actually missing out on a powerful promotional tool – An easy to remember phone number
A vanity phone number is a local or toll-free number for which your business can request a sequence of numbers or phoneword that will not be soon forgotten.
A phoneword is a phrase that is represented by the letters on your phone keypad…
You may have been wondering about those. Well, as it turns out, these letters have a use after all. Each letter matches the number that it shares the button with, and these numbers can be used to make words in a vanity phone number.
Examples of vanity phone numbers include:
- 1-800-FLOWERS (1-800-356-937)
- 1-800-CONTACTS (1-800-2668-2287)
- 1-800-GOT-JUNK (1-800-468-5865)
If you look at the actual phone numbers above, you will notice that they are nearly impossible to remember. But thanks to the phoneword, these numbers can easily be recalled the moment you need the service of the respective business.
Avid fans of the show Scrubs may also remember that time Turk got his own vanity phone number: 916-CALL-TURK
Another form of vanity number is those that end in repeated digits, such as 1-800-555-5555.
There’s only nine businesses out there that can have their entire number be one, singular number. And the more numbers you add, the more difficult the phone number will be to remember.
That’s why phonewords are the most popular type of vanity phone number – there are more combinations to choose from.
That said, vanity phone numbers that rely on repeated digits are still widely used by businesses that sell to a local area. But I’ll get to that a bit later.
Benefits of a vanity phone number
It’s every businesses dream scenario:
A customer ignores all of your competitors and instead heads straight to your business.
A vanity phone number can turn this dream into a reality.
Let’s say your power went out and you need an electrician. If you could remember an electrician’s phone number off the top of the head, it is likely that would be the electrician you would call.
In the above example you have skipped using Google to find a local electrician. Instead you have gone straight to one electrician, all because of an easy to remember vanity phone number.
But the advantages of vanity phone numbers don’t end there…
Companies who do display advertising with billboards, bus and train ads, can capitalize on the short amount of time they are seen by using memorable phonewords.
If someone is driving past an advertisement for your law firm, do you honesty expect them to remember a random string of digits by the time they get home?
The answer is simple:
But if your phone number was 1-800-LAWYERS or 1-800-JUSTICE, it is much more likely to be recalled by whoever sees it.
In fact, 84% of Americans surveyed by the Mountain Marketing Group were able to recall a vanity number because of the use of phonewords.
Those are some pretty impressive statistics.
Types of Vanity Phone Numbers
There are two different types of vanity phone numbers:
- Local Vanity Phone Numbers
- Toll-free Vanity Phone Numbers
Toll-free vanity phone numbersIf the “free” didn’t give it away, toll-free numbers are free for customers to call. The charge will not appear on their phone bill…
…But someone has to pick up the bill.
And it’s your business. Depending on the amount of calls your business receives, the costs can certainly add up.
But the major advantage is that it removes a hurdle for your customers. Can you imagine losing a customer simply because they did not want to pay the phone fee?
And besides, from a customers point of view – if they are going to be paying good money for your product or service, why should they have to pay to interact with you?
There are six toll-free codes available to your business:
These toll-free codes are not interchangeable. For example, calling 1-800-555-5555 would not reach the same recipient as if you dialed 1-888-555-5555.
Toll-free numbers are assigned to businesses on a first-come, first-serve basis. They can be purchased through Responsible Organizations, commonly known as RespOrgs.
Mountain Marketing Group says that 90% of the Americans surveyed said they had used a toll-free number to contact a business after watching an ad.
Given those impressive figures, its unsurprising that over 24 million toll free numbers are in use in North America.
1-800 vanity numbers are great and all, but they give your business a big corporate feel…
…And for many of you, a 1-800 vanity number is idea. It gives the impression that you are a professional business, even if your business is entirely run from the spare room of your home!
But if you only service your local neighbourhood, a local vanity phone number may be the way to go…
2. Local Vanity Phone Numbers
As the name suggests, a local vanity phone number uses local area codes.
The biggest upside of local phone numbers is that anyone who views your phone number will immediately identify you as a local business.
And if you only sell to your local area than that’s a good thing.
Let’s go back to our electrician example. If your power went out, you would ideally want to call a local electrician, because they would be able to respond quicker than an electrician that is located further away…
…And a local vanity phone number gives the impression that you are located nearby.
The idea may seem funny, but it works.
In fact, many national businesses use multiple local vanity phone numbers to give the impression that they are a small and local business.
Capitalize on that hometown pride!
Depending on what you sell, there can be benefits to making it obvious that you are a local business.
But, like toll free vanity numbers, local vanity numbers also have a downside…
Before we discuss that, I just want to give you a quick overview as to how a local phone number is made up – it will help you to better understand if a local vanity number is ideal for you
In the united states, phone numbers are fixed in length with a total of ten digits. This is referred to as the 3-3-4 scheme, which refers to the blocks of numbers that appear in a phone number. Each block has it’s own meaning:
The above is a local area code for New York.
It is made up of three blocks:
- Area Code – First 3 digits
- Prefix – Next 3 digits
- Line Number – Final 4 digits
Now the biggest problem is that you cannot change the area code and prefix. These are fixed according to your geographic location. To put it simply, you cannot choose the first 6 digits.
This makes it hard to make phonewords with local vanity phone numbers, given that you only really have control over the final 4 numbers.
Below are some examples of local vanity phone numbers:
- Repeated Number: 718-650-650
- Phoneword: 718-650-5296 (lawn)
It should be noted that local numbers are not toll-free – but, fortunately for your customers, local calls are cheap.
How Do I Get A Vanity Phone Number & What Do They Cost?
There are countless services from which you can purchase a vanity phone number> These services are called Responsible Organizations -commonly known as RespOrgs.
While vanity phone numbers are delegated on a first come first serve basis, you may still be able to buy or rent your preferred number, if has already been purchased.
Each RespOrg offers a variety of benefits and additional services. Some RespOrgs also allow you to send and receive SMS text messages through vanity phone numbers, offer voice mail services, conference calling, music on hold and more. However, depending on your business, you may not need these additional offerings.
A very affordable solution for toll-free vanity phone numbers. These numbers are $10 per month. There are no setup fees. It’s 3.9 cents per minute for calls or you can purchase a plan with unlimited minutes for $44 per month.
If you’re seeking a rare or high profile phone number, RingBoost may be the best solution for you. There may be very popular vanity numbers, such as 1-800-LAW-FIRM, that have long been registered. However, a service like RingBoost allows you to rent the number for your local area code. Costs will vary according to the quality of the vanity phone number.
Google Voice is an excellent solution for local vanity numbers. It’s totally free to set up. There is no cost for calling to and from the U.S. and Canada.
How Can I See Which Vanity Phone Numbers Are Available?
Tracking down the right vanity phone number for your business can be a difficult process. To help with the matter, many companies offer what are essentially a search engine for vanity phone numbers.
Toll Free Vanity Phone Number Search
Grasshopper allows you find your perfect toll free number by entering the name of your business or phoneword. In an instant, all the available combinations of your vanity phone number will be displayed.
Local Vanity Phone Number Search
PhoneNumberExpert allows you to search for local vanity phone numbers by words, numberas or patterns. It was our favorite search engine for local numbers.
How To Choose the Perfect Vanity Phone Number For Your Business
Here are some simple tricks you can use to come up with the perfect vanity phone number for your business.
1. Make It Fit
Does your company name fit within the seven digits of a vanity number? Seven letter business names or less work best for this.
1-800-LAW-FIRM fits perfectly.
And if you are really creative, you will be able to create a phone number that fills out all 7 characters.
But what if your business or phone word is shorter?
You can add numbers repeating numbers like this…
The hybrid number and phoneword combination still results in a memorable phone number.
2. Communicate what you do.
Ideally, a customer should be able to look at your vanity phone number and know exactly what service your business offers, without even calling you.
Let’s say you run a hairdresser business called Florida Hair…
One option for your vanity phone number could be 1-800-FLORIDA.
It may be pretty but, to a customer, the number doesn’t really mean much. You could be referring to Florida, the state or even Flo Rida, the rapper.
is a much better option.
Just by looking at the phone number, your customer will know that you are a hair dresser – making the number much easier to recall next time your service is needed.
Using a vanity phone number that showcases your business services can pay off big…
…Superior Homecare was able to boost their sales by 300% just by using the vanity phone number 1-800-HOMECARE. While they could have chosen 1-800-SUPERIOR, they went with a phone number that offers a clear understanding of their business. The results speak for themselves.
The only time you should use your core branding in your business has a large presence and the service you offer is widely known.
Let’s take FedEx for instance. We have all heard of them. That’s why it makes sense for them to use 1-800-GO-FEDEX as their vanity phone number.
But for all of you smaller businesses out there, use a vanity phone number to say what you do.
3. Letters are easier to remember than numbers
Unless you have a photographic memory, chances are that you suck at remembering numbers.
It’s kinda funny to think about. I mean, I can remember the names of hundreds of different people. But if I was to allocate a number to each person, I doubt I could remember more than ten.
I am sure there is a scientific reason for it, and perhaps someone much smarter than me can let me know in the comments, but for whatever reason, humans are better at remembering words than they are numbers.
And it’s for this reason that your vanity phone number should contain as few numbers as possible.
Let’s say you own a flower store…
…1-800-FLOWERS is much easier to remember than 1-800-28-ROSES.
If you have to go the numbers route, stick to repeating numbers. You’ll be better off than if you choose an awkward number and word hybrid vanity phone number.
4. Create a list
If your industry is competitive then it is highly likely that serveral companies have already snapped up the prime vanity phone numbers.
But this doesn’t mean there are not hidden gems that the other businesses have missed.
Simply create a list of words that cover all the areas associated with your business.
Let’s say you run a plumbing business, some words you could use in your vanity phone number include:
- Hot Water
You get the idea…
Now keep in mind that I am not a plumber and that list took all of a minute to come up with. You will know your business better and should be able come up with a huge selection of words suitable for a vanity phone number.
Don’t forget that you can add more than one word to a vanity phone number to come up with something truly unique and memorable.
Take the word leaks for instance…
We can turn it into the vanity phone number 1-800-GOT-LEAKS or 1-800-NO-LEAKS
If you take the time to get creative, you will realize that there are some amazing vanity phone numbers that other business have missed.
5. Don’t be afraid to lease
If you have strained your brain and still can’t come up with a vanity phone number that isn’t taken then don’t be afraid to lease one.
While leasing is very affordable, it will still cost more in the long run than buying a vanity phone number outright.
That said, leasing a vanity phone number does have it’s advantages..
If you don’t see the results you had hoped for you can simply end the lease.
You then have the option to lease a different vanity phone number or skip it altogether.
And if the vanity phone number leads to an increase in customers then the lease will pay for itself.
6. Get Inspired
As I have touched on already, a lot of vanity phone numbers have been already been purchased by businesses large and small.
If you are stuck for ideas, this is a good thing. You can check out how these businesses use their vanity phone number to drive customers to their business.
You may even be able to recall a catchy vanity phone number off the top of your head.
Your vanity number doesn’t have to be original, it just has to be memorable. So if you see business that has a great vanity phone number, think about how you imitate it.
Take 1-800-GOT-JUNK. It’s a great example of a memorable vanity phone number.
If you were a beverage company, you imitate it and use 1-800-GOT-SODA…
Similar, yet still unique and memorable.
If you can’t recall any vanity phone numbers then check out the examples below…
Businesses That Use Vanity Phone Numbers
Still having trouble finding the right vanity phone?
Below are some clever ways that businesses have used a vanity phone number to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
KNR Legal: 1-800-HURT-NOW
Personal injury is a tough legal field to stand out in. KNR Legal use the vanity phone number 1-800-HURT-NOW in their branding. Because when you are injured, what do you feel? Hurt right now. Today KNR Legal is one of the most recognized and well respected injury law firms, and their vanity phone number played a huge role in their growth.
Holdy Real Estate: 772-500-0000
Rather than use a phoneword, Holdy Real Estate decided to stick with a local vanity phone number with repeating digits, pronounced as 772-FIVE MILLION. The vanity phone is associated with the high price that Holdy Real Estate will be able to sell your home for.
Local ESPN Radio: 877-710-ESPN
The local ESPN radio station in Los Angeles, 710 ESPN uses a combination of easy to remember digits, in their call number on the dial, and the phoneword ESPN. Calling in to pass the time while sitting in gridlock traffic has never been easier with the number 877-710-ESPN.
Dial 7: 212-777-7777
Dial 7 is a local car and limousine service that has seamlessly incorporated their company name and vanity phone number together. As the business name suggests, local residents just need to dial 7 to make a booking.
Life Insurance :1-800-LIFE-INS
At first glance this seems like a horrible vanity phone number. However, it is a vanity phone number that has stuck with me. And it all came down to presentation. Everywhere the vanity phone number was printed, it was written as 1-800-LIFE-INSurance, with the phone number in a much larger font. A clever way to obtain a relevant vanity phone number when everything is taken.
Do vanity phone numbers accept text messages?
Nowadays, most vanity phone number providers allow your vanity phone numbers to receive text messages.
If sending and receiving messages is important to your business, make sure you check that your RespOrg can provide you with a text message service before you reserve your vanity phone number.
Sending text messages is a great way to interact and market to the millennial generation who, some argue, have developed a bit of a phobia to actually talking on the phone.
Do I need a landline to have a vanity phone number?
If this were the case then vanity phone numbers would be useless to many businesses.
While you can still use a landline if you so choose, you can now have vanity phone numbers forward directly to your cell phone.
You can even use a VOIP service to make and receive phone calls through the internet if you so choose.
So forget the landline, you could be taking calls on your vanity phone number while your on the beach or running errands.
Are there any restrictions on vanity phone numbers?
The FCC prohibits certain practices when it comes to toll-free phone numbers, vanity or not.
Warehousing – RespOrgs are not allowed to reserve toll-free numbers without having a subscriber reserved for it. Doing so is subject to penalty.
Hoarding – A subscriber cannot purchase more numbers than they intend on putting to use.
Brokering. A part of hoarding, you also cannot sell or offer a toll-free number without being a RespOrg.
Aside from the above practices, restrictions on toll-free numbers vary from country to country.
Instra Corporation has a helpful list of international legal restrictions on toll-free numbers. It’s another factor to consider when purchasing vanity phone numbers.
Additional restrictions may come into play if you’re using a landline for your vanity number. If you move outside of your rate center (your local area), your number won’t function. Both wireless and VOIP carriers are not bound by these rate center restrictions.
Do certain carriers restrict vanity phone numbers?
A carrier may restrict you from transferring your vanity number if your account has been frozen for any number of reasons, such as failure to pay for services.
You will also be bound to any previous contracts and terms of service that you agreed to with a previous carrier. Make sure you read that small print!
What Can I Do if I No Longer Need My Vanity Phone Number?
Closing your business? Changing phone numbers? Whatever the reason, there may come a time when you no longer require your vanity phone number.
While you could just disconnect your phone number and be done with it, another option is to sell your businesses vanity phone number.
After all, What may not be so valuable to you may be extremely valuable to someone else.
Certain RespOrgs like VanityTell allow you to sell your vanity phone number for a lump sum.
However, in many cases, laws of certain jurisdictions do not allow for the sale of a phone number. But don’t despair, you still lease your vanity phone number to someone else.
These sites often use language that skirt the aforementioned FCC restrictions by saying they assist in activation and transferring a number to a new account, rather than saying they sell phone numbers.
Vanity Phone Number Mistakes to Avoid
Now that you know basically everything you could ever want to know about vanity numbers, let’s take a look at a few things you should look out for:
1. Shop around
Avoid sites with limited inventory. Just because your number wasn’t available on one site, does not necessarily mean it won’t be on another.
2. Think outside the square
Vanity phone numbers have been around for over 30 years. And many of the obvious ones have very likely already been taken. Don’t be bound by your company name or industry description. You can get creative. Think about examples like 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
3. Don’t be afraid to go with a less popular toll free code
Know the hierarchy of toll-free codes. Obviously most people associate toll-free numbers with 1-800. Next in line is 1-888. After that comes 877 and 866. You should always prioritize making your vanity number memorable, but don’t forget to consider the order of importance of toll-free codes.
How to make your vanity phone number known to your customers.
Choosing the perfect vanity phone number is half the battle. Now you want to get your vanity number out there!
After all, if customers don’t know your vanity phone number exists, then they certainly won’t call it.
Stuck for ideas? Use the following to show off your brand new vanity number:
1. TV commercials.
Let’s be honest. Most of us are blowing by commercials on our DVR a majority of the time. Even during a sporting event or an award show, when you’re forced to watch live, most are looking at their phones or taking a pee break. A memorable vanity number is one of your last lines of defense against the DVR and our collective attention spans.
2. Radio spots
At least in the car, the driver can’t really tune out during the commercials. Make your vanity phone a central part of your radio campaigns. Incorporate it into a catchy jingle and your number will be stuck listners heads all day.
Most will see your ad on a billboard in passing. That is unless you’re in a city where your apartment view is Flo from Progressive or the latest blockbuster movie. Most people will see your billboard for less than a few seconds – Make it count with a vanity phone number.
4. Social media campaigns
Your cover photos on your social channels such as Facebook and Twitter are prime real estate to promote your vanity phone number. Everyone who visits your page sees your cover image. If you’ve done your job making that number memorable, the calls will roll in.
You can also add your vanity number to your Facebook Ads. Especially if you’re paying per clicks on your ads, you can get them to call you before they even have to click!
When done correctly, anyone seeing your vanity phone number on any of your marketing channels will begin to associate your business with your vanity number and using it to make a purchase will become second nature.
First and foremost, the reason to use a vanity phone number is because they are memorable. They may only see your marketing for a short moment in time. Capitalize on it.
A vanity phone number also makes you appear more professional. It’s like using a private domain in your email address, ie YourName@YourCompany.com, versus something like YourCompany@gmail.com.
You will also appear more credible with a vanity phone number. Locking up a vanity number with the perfect phoneword will make it seem like you own a certain space in your market or industry. Even if your vanity phone number is 1-800-DOG-POOP, you are owning your space.
Lastly, a vanity phone number is a great tool for marketing and branding. If your business needs a phone number, then why not choose one that is going to work for you?
Have you encountered a vanity phone number that makes you laugh or that you’ll never forget?
Share them in the comments!