800 Vanity Numbers

A vanity toll-free number helps brand your business. Here's how to get one.

An 800 "vanity number" that spells something -- maybe your business name or special keywords -- is a great way to help brand and market your business. Vanity numbers are easy to remember ("an instant recall toll-free trigger," in one company's words) and send a message to customers that you're a "player."

True 800 numbers that spell something business related are rare; most were taken long ago. But catchy numbers for the newer toll-free prefixes 888, 877 and 866 can still be found if you know where and how to look. The right vanity number can give you an instant edge over the competition.

Three things to keep in mind:

1) Unlike vanity license plates that cost a lot more in most states, toll-free "vanity" phone numbers don't cost any more. You pay the same whether it spells something or not. You can also "bank" several numbers now that you might want to use in the future, and pay only a small fee to hold them indefinitely.

2) Sometimes an easy-to-remember number trumps a number that spells a word, name or phrase, so don't automatically assume the "vanity" feature is better.

3) Think beyond 7-letter words. While the number is only 7-digits (i.e., 800-123-4567), the word or phrase you advertise could be longer (but not too much longer). When a caller finishes dialing the first 7 digits, the number will connect. Any additional numbers they might continue to punch in won't matter. Many businesses use vanity numbers that contain an extra letter or two.

Get more free business tips at BizBest. 

Use a toll-free search tool to find your perfect number

Online toll-free number search tools are terrifically helpful. All phone companies draw numbers from the same pool, so you can check availability anywhere, but sign up with a different company if you want.

Use special tools and "wildcards" to make your search easier

Using "wildcards" in a number search tool in place of letters or numbers will make your search easier.

Need help? Hire a vanity number specialist

Toll-free specialty firms help small companies find and set up the perfect vanity number.

Can't find the right number? Try 3rd party providers.

A variety of firms have snapped up batches of toll-free numbers that they make available to small businesses.

Consider "shared use" toll-free vanity numbers

Shared-use services offer vanity numbers for dozens of specific types of businesses, from accountants, attorneys and antique dealers, to veterinarians, welders and window companies.
  • Once you have your vanity number, put it to work. Make it part of your regular branding. Splash it across your website, ads and marketing materials. Incorporate it into every promotion that your business does.
  • Keep track of your toll-free activity, including calls from current customers as well as leads and prospects.