Lately I’ve encountered a number of companies advertising only their 800 toll free number (800, 855, 888, etc.). Numbers like 800-BUY-BEES, 800-GOT-HONY. While these numbers may be easy to remember or even catchy they could be frustrating your potential customers. I know they are frustrating me, particularly when the vanity number is the only number you see on the advertisements.
Why? Every try to dial one on a smart phone? The letters on the phone don’t match up to the actual phone number behind the vanity number. Last time I just gave up and called someone else, the time before that I had to do a web search to find a picture of a normal phone where I could see which number matched which letter. They may be easy to remember, but can be terribly difficult to actually use.
It’s also 2012. Long distance is not nearly as expensive at it use to be. Plus more and more people have cell phones, internet phones, skype, magic jack or unlimited long distance plans. Many people end up paying the same with the 800 number as they would with the normal long distance number. So the value of a toll free number is minimal for many companies. I personally only have received 2 requests for my toll free number in the past 3 years. (including both honeyrunapiaries.com and etcsupply.com)
I’m not sure this is a rant about poorly thought out marketing (by advertising the vanity number first), or with companies that fail to get with the times and realize free social marketing will gain you far more customers than a badly advertised and hard to use vanity number. It is 2012 now after all.