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December 7 is 'Vanity Day'- Are You Ready?

December 05, 2013

Although I have taken a bit of liberty with the headline by unofficially calling December 7th “Vanity Day,” in actuality, for people interested in obtaining a vanity Toll-Free telephone number, you need to appreciate the importance of the day and act on it.

For as long as there have been toll-free telephone numbers in the world, companies have implicitly and explicitly understood the value of creating memorable ones.  Think of the value of 1-800-FLOWERS, and you get the point.  These are, to put it succinctly, invaluable marketing tools. And, despite all of the hype around multi-channel touch points for customer interactions, reality is that most people still use the telephone to get their issues resolved and to gather information that may not appear on company websites.  They want to talk to somebody, and giving them a means to easily remember how to call you can have profound impacts on the bottom line.  Simply put, vanity numbers are proven means for increasing customer response rates.

But, I digress. Why is December 7th so important?  It is the day the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), who has numbering oversight for the U.S., Canada and certain Caribbean countries, releases numbers in the 844 code for public consumption.  The reason to act is that numbers will be available on a “first come, first-served” basis. History says these numbers will go fast.

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First introduced in the 1960’s, toll-free numbers were designed as a means for companies with large call volumes to reduce the costs to their customers for reaching out. Almost immediately, the rush to get mnemonic phone numbers (i.e. ones that spell something memorable, aka vanity numbers) began and has remained a constant precisely because of their tangible value. As with people squatting on domain names, it has not been uncommon for competitors to obtain what they view as competitive toll-free number threats just to keep them out of rival hands.

For those who might think that, because of the Internet, the value of toll-free numbers has diminished, you might wish to look at the keypad for dialing on your smartphone.  The three or four letters associated with the numbers 2-9 remain critical.  This is true not just for 800 dialing, but also for navigating company directories when you reach an auto attendant.

The reason the 844 block is coming to market, so to speak, speaks to the continued popularity of the services. All the current toll free prefixes that have been used—800, 888, 877, 866, and 855 – have reached their exhaust point. More are needed and the NANPA already has reserved 833 and 822 in the expectation that demand will remain strong.

Without going into promotional mode for any given company, it should also be noted that there are several firms out there who would like to help you secure the vanity number you desire.  These companies buy numbers in bulk, and many of them, in anticipation of the 844 availability, will allow you to “reserve” your desired number with them based on the fact that they have a track record of getting most of the numbers they seek.  It is an interesting twist on the old saying that, “There is safety in numbers.”

However, since this really is a matter of “first come, first-served,” the security you are getting from dealing with one of these entities as your agent is that nobody else who is their customer will be allowed to reserve the same number as you.  Google (News - Alert) is a good place to find these organizations by typing in “844 Area Code.”

My advice is a mnemonic (and not a real number): 844-PHONEIN (844-746-6346).

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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