Protecting Vanity Numbers

Shapiro, Barry R.
April 1996
Marketing Management;Spring96, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p47
The article discusses factors to consider to protect the vanity or mnemonic 800 numbers of companies. A growing number of businesses are finding that toll-free telephone numbers are an important component of their marketing efforts. Companies often obtain vanity 800 numbers to enhance the impact of toll-free numbers as a marketing tool. A vanity number uses the letters on a telephone key pad to sell an easily remembered word corresponding to an 800 telephone number. Businesses that have vanity telephone numbers typically invest a great deal of time, money, and effort to increase their potential customers' awareness of these numbers. As the owner of a professional hockey team discovered, failure to take the right steps in protecting vanity phone numbers can be costly. There are legal problems that owners of vanity phone numbers have to consider. One significant issue arises in connection with what are known as complementary numbers. A complementary number is a euphemism for a misdialed number that can be easily predicted. This confusion can harm a company because, if a complementary number is not assigned or is not in active use, callers who reach that number will receive a busy signal or a recorded message indicating that the number is out of service.


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