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As with anything done well, your business success will generate people who want to feed off or piggyback on your success. This situation is especially true for web domain names and business phone numbers.
On one hand, you certainly can’t blame competitors for maximizing their own marketing ROI with this smart strategy. But it can be extremely frustrating and may mean losing potential deals and clients despite all of your hard work and dedication to growing your organization. Fortunately, you have the ability to stop the situation before it even begins!
First, you must understand how competitors can feed off your business phone number. Just as with having similar Internet domain names, other businesses can feed off your advertising, reputation, and marketing budget by acquiring similar business phone numbers to yours. For numeric numbers, this situation could mean obtaining similar numbers that could be incorrectly dialed. In terms of vanity numbers, competitors may try getting their hands on the same vanity numbers with different prefixes since dialing the wrong prefix is a common mistake by customers trying to call you, especially if you do not have the 800 number version. Worse, if you have a well known company name, but you do not have the matching vanity number that spells out your name, competitors might acquire it and be able to take large amounts of prospects and even current customers who were actually attempting to call your business phone number.
To protect yourself, begin by making sure you have a unified brand, including an easily recognizable vanity number. Then just as with reserving a domain name for your website, try to reserve as many variations of your business phone number as you can. Start with the 800, 888, 877, 866 and 855 prefixes and then move on to any other obvious combinations.
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Toll free numbers, at their core, are simply numbers that allow customers to receive and make outbound calls without paying for the calls themselves. The toll free industry has experienced a surge in demand in recent years as more companies realize the benefits of having toll free numbers for their customers. Even today, the demand for toll free numbers shows no sign of abating. Such numbers usually begin with 800 but can also start with 888, 877, 866, or 855.
Did you think Google Voice was simply a tool for professionals who had entirely too many ways for people to get a hold of them? Well, it is that, but it’s also an opportunity for you to get the word out about your business. With a little ingenuity, you can create your own “Google Voice 800 number” that will go a long way toward helping your prospects find you.
If you haven’t heard of Google Voice, it’s a service from Google currently being tested that gives you a single point of contact and has a number of neat features as well. One of these, and perhaps the most important one for a small business, is call routing. This will allow you to answer only those calls that come in on your forwarded toll free number and route other calls to different locations. For example, if you’re in your home office, and someone calls your cell number, which rings through to your Google Voice number, you can route the call to any of the numbers in your Google Voice profile, such as your main home number, where someone else can answer the call. If you’ve got a bigger operation, you can even have calls from your 800 number forwarded to other parts of your business or to the phones of individual employees. The possibilities are endless.
Of course, there are some down sides as well. You’ll just have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in your particular situation. One thing’s for sure, a Google Voice toll free combination could be a life saver for a small business.
To get things up and running, you’ll first need a toll-free number that you can forward to Google Voice. After that, you’ll need an invitation to join the service, at least until Google launches the full version later this year. I’m working on getting an invitation for myself, so I hope to have a first-hand review of Google Voice in the near future. I’ll also be highlighting other features that small business owners will find particularly useful.
Sales, customer service, and survey research — all these departments in your company can boost their effectiveness using toll free numbers. And a vanity toll-free number that helps prospective callers remember your company’s name, services, or products, will have an even greater effect.
Quite simply, vanity numbers are easy to remember. A distinctive toll free number, or even a funny toll free number, sticks in people’s minds. Whenever your product or service in mentioned, your custom toll free number is right there with it.
The prescription for success is not difficult to follow: While many 10-digit 1-800 numbers are already taken, there are a wealth of great toll free numbers available that begin with the newer prefixes 1-888, 1-877, and 1-866. Check out our Available Tollfree Number Search, and contact us at our own vanity toll free number, 1-800-CUSTOMIZE. We can help you find a memorable, effective number that will maximize your return on investment.