Correctly used, marketing numbers make compelling business sense, but it is, however, essential that they form part of your overall marketing strategy.

Consider what you want to achieve by providing a marketing number for customers to contact you. You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I trying to increase awareness of my company, products and services?
  • Am I trying to improve the quality of my customer service?
  • Am I trying to broaden the reach of my business?
  • Do I already have a solid customer base and want to generate a revenue stream through each customer interaction?

You also need to think about what you can afford. From the customers' point of view, providing a freephone number removes barriers to call, and positions you as a listening company. It is however the most expensive number to implement. Decide how many calls you need to receive, the number of sales leads and the number of sales you need to generate in order to make a return on your investment. In a high margin business, extra calls that lead to a couple of sales leads a month will justify spending money on a freephone service. In a low margin, high volume business, the number of calls generated will need to be significantly higher, but the need to reach as many potential customers as possible will be even greater. If you can't justify a freephone service, then consider offering a local rate number. If you are going to use a marketing number to extend the outreach of your customer base, or to generate revenue, you need to make sure that your customers and prospective customers know about the number in the first place. Arrange for re-prints of all stationery, business cards and so on, ensuring only the new numbers are used. Use your new marketing number to re-think your telecoms and telemarketing strategies and consider it as an opportunity to contact key customers and suppliers. Once you have installed your marketing number, you need to make sure that it is working. Monitor the number of calls received and the outcome of each call. Compare it to the number of calls received to your normal phone line.

Does the income generated justify the expense of a marketing number? If your marketing number is not meeting your expectations, then you need to analyse your approach. See who is calling and, more importantly, who isn't calling. Consider how you can work at reaching those people and encourage them to call you.