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Stupid marketing idea: Vanity Phone Numbers

A vanity phone number that spells out your company name is memorable, but it is a nightmare for customers to use and costing you leads and sales.

Nothing makes me madder than good companies making stupid marketing moves that hurt their sales or reputations.

One of those stupid marketing moves is using a cutesy phone number.

Numbers like 1-800-Flowers or 1-800-Got-Junk are called vanity phone numbers, which is the perfect way to describe them because the only good thing they do is make the company memorable.

But, you don’t want to be remembered for being hard to reach.

Unfortunately, a vanity number is a nightmare for customers to use. Try calling one, and you will instantly understand why. Hunting for the numbers that correspond to the letters will annoy the hell out of you!  

Dr. Rick, the Progressive Insurance spokesperson, is sitting in a chair saying,

The most ridiculously stupid vanity numbers I’ve seen are for attorneys. Sure, you might remember it, but if you need to call an attorney, you probably don’t have time to hunt for the letters!

Over 83% of the world’s population own a smartphone today, so we don’t need memorable numbers. We program numbers into a phone, not letters. And if we don’t have it programmed in, we search for it online and click a link to call.

If the competitor is easier to contact, you lose.

When the customer has to do anything they perceive as work or frustrating, it’s a friction point. That’s often when they abandon their cart or call a competitor, who might be more expensive, but if it’s easier, the expense is rationalized. Humans will ALWAYS choose the easiest way. It’s not laziness – it’s programmed into our DNA. 

Respect your customers.

Don’t make it hard to do business with you.

No company intentionally creates barriers to making money, but to eliminate them you have to be curious and open to feedback.

You can discover friction points by:

  • Asking for and reading customer reviews
  • Checking in with your front-line teams to see what they are hearing or seeing
  • Getting outside perspective from consultants

Having your processes and policies reviewed by someone who isn’t part of your team at least once a year is crucial. Every CEO and business owner has blind spots because we’re so close to the business. Getting an outside perspective will help you find and fix anything that is messing with your customers’ experience and your profit.

If you want to be memorable, then celebrate, cater to, and champion your customers. They will love you for it and keep coming back!