The secret is toll-free numbers. And here’s why it’s a secret.
Opinions all over the Internet are announcing the death of toll-free numbers. They say with so many ways to get in touch, 1-800s have lost their importance. They say long distance doesn’t cost anything anymore. They say they don’t work for international calling or a local presence and feel. They say web pages have all the answers. They say there’s no caché now that “everyone’s doing it.” They say other technologies are coming to take toll-free’s place.
Let’s not get carried away. Even posts that signal the end of the usefulness of toll-free numbers offer pros that seem to win the battle. Besides, demand for toll-free numbers is growing so much that a whole new 844 area code was added late last year, so businesses are obviously finding value in paying so customers can get in touch. There is a very strategic place for toll-free numbers in small business. And it actually has to do with new ideas in marketing.
The tide of “human to human” marketing is rising. We’re realizing, “hey, we’re all people, so let’s just talk.”
A 1-800 number lets people know you’re available, open (in the open for business sense and the approachable/honest sense), and willing to work with them. It’s a sign that says, “Let’s chat, my treat.” On top of that, it is universally accepted that toll-free numbers contribute to a more professional image, creating an illusion of largeness that makes small businesses seem more like a bandwagon worth jumping on.
Toll-free numbers open up your business to a national audience, especially because it does not associate your business with any particular location so you avoid any Springfield/Shelbyville rivalry issues.
But not all toll-free is created equal.
Studies show that vanity toll-free numbers make an impressive difference in how numbers are remembered. Fourteen times more people remember vanity toll-frees over straight up numbers read in a 30-second radio spot. Plus, vanity toll-free numbers are another place for you to deliver your message. E.G. instead of your business name, the number for your exterminator service could be 1-800-DIE-BUGS, memorable and reinforcing for your brand. Most participants in a discussion on Small Business Forum, agree custom toll-frees are the way to go.
It’s true that times are ‘a changing’. Technology has opened up a mess of ways to get in touch. More than a few pundits have claimed WebRTC signals the end of the toll-free number. But I argue the two will work hand in hand for years to come. The fact of the matter is, you can’t limit your communications to just one channel. Toll-free numbers are still a great way for you to make it easy for people to reach out and touch your business.