CALL ME VAIN

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If you want to make your business line ring more often, get a toll-free vanity number — you know, the kind where the numbers spell words, like 800-NEW-HOME. According to a demographically representative in-house study of 110 adults conducted by Burlington, Vt.-based Response Marketing Group, 58 percent of consumers can recall a toll-free vanity number after hearing it just once in an advertisement. Compare that with “hybrid� numbers (combinations of words and numbers, like 800-555-HOME), which only 44 percent of us can remember, and exclusively numeric phone numbers, which only 8 percent of consumers are able to recollect. Before committing to that perfect toll-free number, however, make sure it's one with an 800 prefix. The study found that consumers are 41 percent more likely to correctly recall a vanity number with an 800 exchange than to remember a number preceded by one of the newer toll-free prefixes, such as 888, 877 or 866. Having trouble coming up with a vanity number of your own? Check out phonespell.org, where you can find out if a phone number converts to a catchy word or phrase.

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New toll-free exchanges have many consumers confused as to which prefixes are toll-free and which ones are not. Only 18 percent of participants were able to correctly identify 866 as a toll-free exchange.

PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS WHO RECOGNIZED THE FOLLOWING TELEPHONE EXCHANGES AS TOLL-FREE:

800 95%
888 80%
877 33%
866 18%
Source: Response Marketing Group
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