The word "vanity" doesn't come close to describing the importance of vanity 800 numbers for many small businesses. It's not about having your company's name integrated into a telephone number (although that is kind of an ego boost). It's about maximizing the conversion rate of your advertising and establishing your brand in the marketplace.
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Since toll-free numbers were launched in the '60s, entrepreneurs have looked for ways to burn their digits in the psyches of American consumers.
Vanity 800 numbers have traditionally been a way to achieve consumer recognition, but they have also created a competitive environment in the toll-free industry. Companies that were late entries lost a competitive advantage.
For example, 1-800-FLOWERS was a major catch for a national florist. So much so, that they adopted it as their company name, web address and logo. Competitors secured their own 1-800 numbers, but none of them have the selling power of 1-800-FLOWERS.
Establishing a vanity 800 number can be an important step for your business. But before you get too carried away, it's important to understand how toll-free numbers are distributed and how to maximize the visibility of your vanity 800 number.
How Toll-Free Numbers Are Allocated
Toll-free numbers are always allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Toll-free service providers have access to the SMS/800 database that contains the status of all toll-free numbers. Although the FCC regulates the use and distribution of toll-free numbers, 800 numbers (including vanity 800 numbers) can only be purchased through a qualified toll-free service provider. In some cases, it may be possible to purchase a vanity 800 number from another company or individual.
Selecting the Right Vanity 800 Number
There are no hard and fast rules for selecting the right vanity 800 number. The idea is to choose a number that is closely tied to either your company or your products, and can be used to enhance your visibility in the marketplace. In a perfect world, your 800 number will dovetail with your branding initiatives, clearly linking your contact information with your company identity.
Since many vanity 800 numbers have already been taken, you might have to apply a little creativity to the process. Generally, it's easier to find a vanity number that correlates to your unique company name that it is to select one that is identified with a generic product offering.