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How Business Numbers and Alpha-Numeric Phone Numbers have evolved

October 7, 2019
Sam Diamond

Summary: This article explores the history of phone numbers, including alpha-numeric prefixes, and the current potential for using an alpha-numeric suffix for marketing purposes. 


How memorable business numbers and alpha-numeric phone numbers have evolved over the years

“Thank you for calling 0800 REPAIR. Free Call-outs for Appliance Repairs Across the UK”.

The memorability of this simple phone number has helped this company to become the leading UK repairer of white goods for the home.

Similarly, 1 888 523 9582 is not a straightforward string of numbers to recall. But dialling 1 888 LADY LUCK will get you through to the Lady Luck casino in America.

It’s commonsense that words are much easier to remember than numbers. Especially when printed on the side of a van or stamped across the heading of a website. Why make your clients have to check their address book or store your number into their phone contact list? If you would like your customers to remember your details quickly, you can just choose a descriptive memorable range or alpha-numeric number.

Short digit personalised number plates say something about the driver, personalised phone numbers say something about the organisation.Strangely, this marketing technique has seen greater traction in America compared to the UK, but it is slowly becoming more popular to make a Business Phone Number part of the brand message.

There are various online alpha-numeric ‘calculators’ where you can enter a string of numbers to find the matching words or enter the word/s of your choice to locate the matching numbers. Use the simple method below to see the numeric equivalents:

ABC = 2

DEF = 3

GHI – 4

JKL = 5

MNO = 6

PQRS = 7

TUV = 8

WXYZ = 9 

You’ll notice that the numbers 1 and 0 do not have corresponding letters due to their similarity with the letters I and O and because 0 was the number used to call the Operator (leftover from the days when a human Switchboard Operator connected all calls).

This article explores the history of phone numbers

Example of usage

From the list above, you can see that 0800 0437637 spells out 08000 HEROES. This is an example of a smart marketing campaign based around a number could be suitable for the right business!

In psychological terms, most people can remember 7 +/- 2 item sat a time. That’s why phone numbers used to be in form 123 4567. However, with so many people and so many phones, we could soon run out of numbers! So standard dialling codes (STD codes) were added as a prefix, such as 020 which is currently used for London.

The best way to remember numbers is to ‘chunk’ them, which is why phone numbers are usually presented in the form XXXX XXX XXXX. The spacing is important! 

Although we can’t change the prefix these days, we can choose the suffix. So isn’t it time we started to use phone numbers intelligently again?

Telecoms World has a broader range of alpha-numeric numbers than any other online provider, with an easy-to-use online tool to help you select the number that’s best for you.

For more information call our specialist memorable numbers team on freephone '0800' 774 '7772' see what we did there!