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ICB Toll Free (800/888) News by: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News
Wednesday October 15 1997 at 10:59:05 AM EDT

1 800 SMALL BIZ

Here are a few unique tips toward minimizing cost, and maximizing utility and revenue, from your toll-free service.

New York, NY 10010 - New York, NY October 15, 1997 (ICB TOLL FREE NEWS) It. s not too difficult to find such marketing mavens as 800 FLOWERS, MATTRESS and COLLECT sharing their toll-free success stories, with eager new 800 marketers hoping to learn from the masters.

But smaller businesses, particularly service companies, have different needs, revenue streams and customer relationships -- and certainly much smaller ad budgets with which to maximize their 800 marketing. For small businesses, the pros and cons of using toll-free service have some relation to the size, geographic location and client base of the company -- for example, local versus national.

But one thing is certain -- the benefits of having an 800 number are undeniable as long as you tailor it's use to your business. Following are a few unique tips we. ve accumulated toward minimizing cost, and maximizing utility and revenue, from your toll-free service.

1. Use an 800 number to get prospective out of state clients to return your calls.

2. Have employees on the road use your 800 number -- it. s cheaper than calling collect.

3. Use an 800 number to make your smaller company look bigger and more impressive.

4. Use a toll-free number on your fax to increase response from government agencies that might otherwise not do so if they had to pay for the call.

5. Use a toll-free number on your pager so clients can reach you no matter where you are.

6. 800 numbers generate a higher response than 888 numbers - something you want on your sales line, not your pager. If you have the option, use your 800 numbers for advertising and customer service, and 888 numbers for fax and internal use. The rule of thumb is, 800 for many-to-one communications, 888 for few-to-one.

7. Where possible, use a vanity number for your 800 applications. Response rates can increase 25% or more.

8. Vanity numbers can be "generics" (FLOWERS, MATTRESS), brand names (PRODIGY, FIDELITY), or calls to action (APPLY NOW, PICK UPS.) Choose carefully - if your company name is unknown or difficult to spell, a brand vanity may not be your most productive choice. Avoid numeric/alpha combinations - 1 800 764-BOOK is unlikely to differentiate you from your competition. Exceptions are numerics which "speak the language," such as 1 800 4 A BUICK. 9. If you are offered an 888 number for your sales or customer service communications, call the 800 version first and see where and how it's being used. If the 800 version is in use by a large, national or otherwise active advertiser, reject the 888 and ask for another. The cost of misdials alone can put you out of business.

10. If you. re a Sprint Business customer, you can make important clients feel special that you'll spend half an hour with them on long distance just chewing the fat. They don't know the call is free on Fridays. Offer one hour of no-charge consulting or tech support as a prospect incentive or client perk, if they call on Fridays only. The call costs nothing. It. s a great relationship builder, and can help you upsell.

Author/Correspondent's Profile: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News


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