February 13, 2017
I'm sure there have been many instances where you heard a radio advertisement while driving someplace. During the advertisement, a special vanity toll-free number is repeated numerous times, which goes something like 1-800-443-8124 or 1-855-COOKIES, or something like that for example. This is simply a strategy to help potential customers remember the number and the associated business, by creating a phonetic link between the vanity number and the business or its services.
By using vanity toll free numbers businesses intend to make their contact numbers more memorable. By using a phonetic link between the numbers and the business actually, helps to remove barriers. It is considered to be a crucial business strategy for emerging businesses to make a lasting impression on potential customers.
According to a study conducted in 2011, it was found that vanity numbers, compared to normal numeric numbers, have an astounding 75% better chance of memory recall. Here’s what cognitive neuroscientists had to say about the effect and its business implications of toll-free vanity numbers.
According to neuroscientists, whensoever an individual listens to or sees a string of numbers that they want to memorize, they use their 'working memory'. It is a key element of human consciousness and is where the unexplainable 'voice inside our heads' dwells. That same voice uses a certain strategy when we try to remember a string of random numbers which scientists have termed as 'phonological loop'. We often use this strategy without even knowing about it when we repeat a number again and again inside our heads to either remember a random string of numbers or while recalling it from past memories.
With that being said, the phonological loop is only good for short term memory, as stated by Professor of Psychology, Dr. Daniel Schacter of Harvard University. He also states that to memorize random strings of numbers with the help of long term memory, people need to create associations or relations. This helps such random strings of numbers to transform into something comprehensible and memorable. This is why toll-free vanity numbers are more memorable and can be retained in your long-term memory.
In simpler words, numbers with no context or association are simply just numbers and somewhat abstract for our brains. One might memorize such numbers for a while but it starts to deteriorate with time and thus are so hard to remember.
Vanity toll-free numbers, on the other hand, are way easier to remember, simply because they are associated with relevant words. This makes such numbers create an inherent meaning in our heads, thus becoming more memorable, compared to random numbers. Vanity numbers stimulate the working human memory to use a different memorizing strategy, which is an association.
Memory association takes place whenever human memory can create a relation between information and previous memories that are relevant to the new information. This is the reason why so many us can generally remember or recall historical dates and years of great significance, as we already have relevant previous experiences or memories to relate them to.
Usually, the working memory of an average human being is adept at handling four numbers or bits of information at a time. This is typically handled by the human memory's phonological loop strategy. But if a memory association is created, then our brains treats the entire information as a single entity. Once this new information has been associated with a relevant experience or memory, it no longer stays in the short-term working memory. It slowly fades away from the working memory and is stored in the long-term memory, from where it can be remembered or recalled whenever needed.
This is what makes vanity toll-free numbers so easy to remember over longer periods of time. They exploit the way human memory functions by simply creating a suitable and appropriate memory association. This is 'magic' of vanity toll-free numbers which make them stick to the minds of potential customers from the very first time they hear or see it.
After decades of research and studies scientists, neurologists, and psychologists have come to a very vague conclusion that the human minds work in a very strange and inexplicable manner. Ironic isn't it? The human brain is hardwired with a plethora of strong and natural tendencies, which are outstandingly arduous to modify or override. With that being said, all successful advertising campaigns tend to work with these natural tendencies of the human brain and not clash with them.
In the case of a visual advertisement, all the graphical elements used are meant to help create a strong association of the audience's memory. In the case of radio advertisements, businesses advertising their vanity toll-free numbers will usually repeat the numbers numerous times. This is done in the hopes of imprinting the number onto the listener's memory, regardless of their intent to ignore the advertisement or otherwise. Some advertisements even use songs or melodies to exploit the same nuances of human memory.
Vanity toll-free number advertisements merely try and create a situation where the human mind, intentionally and unintentionally, acknowledges the number and creates an association. This helps vanity numbers to inscribe itself onto the long term memory of the human mind, even without the audience's conscious cooperation. This is why and how vanity numbers work wonders for businesses by subliminally acting on the potential customer's mind and memory.
To summarize, we can all say that numbers are nothing more than abstract bits of information, without any comprehensible context or meaning. Because of their lack of meaning, they become harder to memorize for the average human being. Vanity toll-free numbers, on the other hand, provide an associative meaning to a random string of numbers and helps the human brain to create a relation between our memory and the numbers. This is what truly them so easy to remember and how it helps businesses create a longer lasting impression on potential customers.