The number 1-800-TAXHELP may look good on a business card, but the concept of vanity telephone numbers has serious drawbacks for professional services firms, according to one consultant.Writing in The Urbach Letter e-newsletter, consultant Victor Urbach said that vanity numbers "have their place, particularly in radio advertising. But I believe their value is overrated." He adds that some studies have shown that full-alpha[betical] 800 vanity numbers actually reduce response rates. "They claim it's because people think they'll remember the number, and thus put off calling until later," he says. "In marketing, later often means never."

Urbach recommends using vanity numbers only in cases of direct response radio ads and signage, and notes that, "There's a big difference between a 'good' number and a vanity number. A good number, such as 777-1234 or 800-333-1010, is easier to remember, at least for a few moments after hearing, than a totally random or unstructured number, and will increase response."

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