Piggybank News

April 7, 2008

Non Geographic Numbers for SOHO’s

Non Geographic numbers (NGN’s) can be a very useful tool for any business but they are not all the same and as with any business service its important to get the right type for the job. If you don’t not only could it cost you a lot of money, it could literally drive your potential customers to your competitors!

Advantages of NGNs..

1) NGN = big business

The general perception of a NGN is that they are only used by bigger business. This can be particularly useful for start ups trying to compete with more established businesses.

2) National service

The number does not indicate a local affinity – if you are marketing any kind of product or service outside you local area then this can be very useful. In particular, I have been told that businesses in London are very reluctant to phone suppliers outside the city -but they will call NGNs!

3) Protection

If you work from home using a NGN protects your personal number.

4 ) Flexibility

Unlike a landline number you are also guaranteed to be able to take your NGN with you – if your business relocates to a new office or even a different area entirely your phone number remains unchanged. This last aspect also makes NGN’s very useful for clubs and societies where the contact person may change regularly.

Different types of ngn

090/0870 numbersrevenue v/s bad feeling

I’m not going to talk about these in great detail – they have very specific uses which I’m sure we’re all aware of and as are regarded by most consumers as unreasonably expensive to call. There is actually a very active internet based campaign called “say no to 0870”. In addition Offcom are changing the way these numbers work which is likely to reduce their availability from April and many businesses currently using them are being forced to look at alternatives. They do however potentially bring in a large amount of revenue for each call made to you.

0845/0844 numbers – flexible and cheap to run. Low level income generator.

These are nominally “local rate” to the caller and because of that there doesn’t seem to be the same consumer resistance to calling these numbers as with 090/0870. They are usually 5p a minute though which is actually more than most local calls and of course are not included in “free” call packages.

These are probably the most useful general numbers for small businesses or clubs etc. They are extremely flexible and cheap to set up. It is also possible to get extra services attached to these numbers such as having them divert to different numbers at different times of day or days of the week. Calls can be split between numbers in a set ratio (eg in a sales environment) or diverted automatically if the preferred number is busy. Call management can be as personal as you want and monitoring call volumes etc is also very easy to do.

You can get these numbers in one of two ways – either by purchasing the number outright for a small fee, or by taking one on a contract basis. Which you do depends on the use you are putting the number to and whether you want to benefit from revenue sharing or other specific services.

E.g. a gifted kids club I volunteer for has an 0845 number which directs to the secretaries home number. It protects his home line and meant that when the secretary changed we didn’t have to throw out all our leaflets and start again – I just switched the number to the new secretary. This number we bought outright and the company we bought it from gets the revenue created. We didn’t want the complication of a monthly bill, call volumes are pretty low and we had a grant which enabled us to spend just in that one year. It cost us about £20 initially and re directing cost about £9 – no call logging or anything else is possible though.

A local surveyor has a similar 0844 number – this is on a monthly contract at £2 per month as he wanted to benefit from the revenue sharing aspect of these numbers and be able to divert it at certain hours to an alternative number. He gets 1-2p per minute from each call depending on volumes. He has the kind of service which is in high demand and very specialized so it made sense to get a little extra benefit from the calls he received.

NB The cost to the caller in both these cases is exactly the same.

0845 Numbers, 0870 Numbers and 0800 Numbers for your Business.

0800 – freephone. – advertising response v/s running expense

These are the most expensive to run as the cost of the call is borne by the owner of the number rather than the caller. It costs about 1-2p per minute for each call plus the monthly contract cost which can vary enormously from supplier to supplier.

However research has shown that 64% of consumers will call a Freephone number first. The Chartered Institute of Marketing has found that using a Freephone number on an advertising campaign can increase response by up to 40%.

This makes 0800 numbers the NGN of choice for any advertising campaigns or marketing materials, especially when working in the domestic market. It is also now possible to get 0800’s at special rates designed for those who work from home, making them affordable for the smallest business. As an example – My own 0800 costs me around £2 per month to run as the monthly fee is waived if call volumes reach a certain point.

0800’s and 0844’s also both offer an excellent and simple way to monitor an ad campaign. Just put one number on ad style a and a second number on ad style b and your bill will clearly indicate which ad has pulled in most response. You can get both types of number with no minimum contract so having more than one for a few weeks is a perfectly reasonable option.

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