Imagine you’re at work and you realize you forgot your anniversary. A quick solution? Dialing 1-800-Flowers. That number is easy to remember and it takes the hassle out of looking up a local florist’s phone number. That’s the goal with vanity numbers—quick recall for potential customers.
Now, imagine a potential customer stranded on the side of the road because his or her car broke down. What’s a potential customer going to remember: 1-800-MECHANIC or your shop’s actual phone number?
“There’s a lot of bad radio spots that have some local number,” says Brian Macklin, vice president of the advertising agency Tipping Point. “There’s no chance of remembering that.”
Vanity numbers can work for all types of small businesses, including mechanical repair shops, and they can lead to more phone calls—58 percent more, according to a study done by Creative Broadcast Concepts. Macklin, who uses Ignition Toll-Free to get vanity numbers for his clients, says that he’s seen this success firsthand with his clients, including one in particular: Ideal You, a weight loss company. After signing up for a vanity number (1-800-Ideal You) the company’s sales increased eight times.
According to Macklin, getting a vanity number is “like taking whatever advertising you’re already doing and injecting it with steroids.”
Generate New Leads
Believe it or not, the best way to get a new customer is for him or her to call directly, Macklin says. According to a study conducted by D&M research, eighty-four percent of customers prefer to make first-time appointments by phone, so providing an easy-to-remember phone number will attract more first-time customers to your shop.
The reason a phone call is a better method of contact is because if that person searches online, there’s a chance that he or she might end up with your competitor, Macklin says. The competition might have bought the shop’s name in Google AdWords, a bad review for your shop could pop up, or the potential customer might just get distracted by a paid ad.
Book More Appointments
A person that calls a shop is 10 – 15x more likely to turn into a customer than one that’s searching online, according to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review.
“I’d say the value of a phone call is worth 10 online searches. You’d be surprised how many people will go on a website and submit information only to never respond. They’re dipping their toes in online. A phone call means they’re far more serious than someone submitting through a website,” Macklin says.
In fact, the data backs up that last point: callers book appointments three times faster than web leads and are three times less likely to cancel appointments. Callers are also less likely to be rock-bottom price shopping than web searchers are.
Appeal to Your Customers’ Senses
Because vanity numbers are inherently easier to recall, utilizing them opens up a number of different advertising platforms—from TV to radio to print.
“We’re always open to using any medium that will work,” Macklin says. “Vanity numbers work for radio. If you don’t have a good recall mechanism, you’re going to have obstacles when it comes to promoting yourself on the radio.”
The nature of radio is that it’s in one ear and out the other, so if the phone number isn’t memorable, you’ve already lost your customer, he says. This is also the case for television spots.
Not only is it appealing to hear a catchy phone number, it’s also appealing to the eye. A shop’s location is often its biggest underutilized asset. One way to leverage drive-by traffic and catch the attention of those drivers, Macklin says, is by painting 1-800-MECHANIC on the side of the shop. A study conducted by Infosurv showed that advertisers saw a 110% improvement in consumer recall when they featured a vanity number in visual media campaigns such as television, outdoor, and print advertising.
The same can be said of a direct mailer. Even if your mailer goes right in the trash, 1-800-MECHANIC has the potential to be remembered in that flash second before it’s thrown out.
Elevate Your Brand
Macklin says that vanity numbers can be beneficial to shops of all sizes. A small, one-man operation will carry more authority as the expert with a vanity number.
“Instead of just having a local number with an area code, it [vanity number] makes it seem more professional,” Macklin says.
Another advantage is that 1-800-MECHANIC only allows one shop in a market to have the number, so having it could be a huge competitive edge for smaller shops looking to get their name out.
One very important item to note is that the results mentioned here only apply to complete vanity phone numbers. Numbers like 855-422-AUTO or 303-321-CARS do not produce comparable results and data shows these types of numbers may even perform worse than random phone numbers.
“I would recommend any company—automotive industry and beyond—to look into getting a vanity number,” Macklin says.”
Ignition Toll Free connects shops with the 1-800-MECHANIC vanity number with no commitment. Shops can cancel at any time. Price varies based on market.
Ignition Toll Free can be reached by calling 1-800-STRONG-SALES (800-787-6647) or visiting www.800itf.com/1800mechanic