When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, his objectives for long distance communication surely did not include the uses we’ve seen for his invention during the past several years.
The telephone has emerged far beyond a mere communications device, and the future will undoubtedly bring even greater uses for this audio marvel. One of unique conveniences of phone communication has been the use of the 800 or Free long distance lines. free, that is, for the caller, not for receiver.
THE 800 LINE SALESMAN
Look through any magazine, newspaper or other periodical and you’ll see advertising, public service messages, even articles that include an invitation to call an 800 number for information about your health, your government, your job, your pets, your future.
Many of these “Free” calls are offered by legitimate businesses, corporations and government agencies as a true public service. Others, after fulfilling their obligation by providing you with the information you called for, will make a pitch to sell you their wares. Sometimes you will be connected with a real, live person when you call, but the majority of 800 lines today are hooked up to a pre-recorded message, and the voice you hear will either try to make a sale or ask you for your name and address so they can send you additional information.
These technological pitchman (or women) are helping companies boost business, just as you can in yours. If you wanted to sell your product to someone a thousand miles away, chances are you would run an ad in a magazine and ask that readers write for information. This is the conventional mail order follow up procedure. But it means that readers must fill out a coupon (or write a short letter), hunt for an envelope, address it, find a stamp to put on the envelope, then take it to their nearest mailbox and wait for several days before you received it.
Suppose a reader could contact you immediately, simply by dialing an 800 number. It costs them nothing, not even a postage stamp. They reach your recorded message, hear a brief pitch about what you have to offer., then leave their name and address. Within a minute or two, they have requested your information which you can mail immediately or the next day,.and they will have it in their hands within a few days from the they first saw your ad.
Fast? You bet. Convenient? Yes. Worth while? Unquestionably! There may not be any hard statistics on this yet, but it is estimated that for every reader who will write for information, at least five will call an 800 number. This means you will receive at least five times as many inquiries than normal. It also means you can reduce your original ad cost because, instead of spending a lot of money.
for large space, you can spend less for smaller space…because your recorded message will bridge the gap,
providing the additional information.
JUSTIFYING THE COSTS
Although calling an 800 number is free to the caller, it is NOT free to you the receiver. Although costs may vary according to the exact type of service you contract for, and whether you contract for diversified costs by day, night and early morning hours, or straight flat fee, the average cost per call will be about 23 cents each. Is it worth it to you?
Let’ look at this closer …
If you run a conventional ad (classified or display) at a cost of $150 and it produces 150 inquiries, each name is costing you $1. By using a toll free 800 number in place of (or in addition to) your address, if the response follows our estimate of ( at least) five times the normal inquiries, this means you will receive 750 inquiries instead of 150. But since you will also pay an additional 23 cents for each of them, this adds another $172.50 to your promotional expenses.
Your Original ad cost was &150
Additional inquiry cost is $172.50
Total promotional costs $322.50
Now, if your normal conversion rate (customers resulting from inquiries) is 10%, this gives you 15 new customers from your 150 inquiries…but it produces 75 new customers when they are produced by your 800 phone calls.
Will your business benefit by those increased orders? Most likely, the answer will be “yes.” If you normally net a minimum of $10 per order when sales are made in the conventional way, That gives you $150 net profit…but your profit zooms to $750 when orders are obtained through 800 line inquiries. Big Difference.
COMBINE 800 CALLS WITH CREDIT CARD OPTION
We live in an instant society. At the flick of a switch or the push of a button we can get everything from pulsating music to a microwave dinner. If yours is the baby boomer market, then your prospective customers want to know about your products…now!
That’s why the 800 toll free call can be important to your business in getting the information to these people instantly. If the listener likes what he hears, then he wants to have you’re selling as soon as possible. He doesn’t want to wait a few days to a week to read more information, then fill out orders forms, write a check, find a stamp and mail it back to you. That’s not only more work, it’s time consuming.
If you are not already offering credit card options to your market, consider doing so. It’s the perfect companion to the 800 call. When your prospect sees your original publication ad and calls your toll free number, he’s as hot as he everwill be for what you have to offer. When he hears you sales message, he’s poised to buy on the spot. He can do just that simply by providing you with his credit card number. Sales can literally go through the roof when you provide this double whammy of the toll free call to hear tour sales pitch combined with the credit card ordering privilege.
Alas, it is not always easy to obtain a merchants credit card status from banks, but it certainly is worth trying for. As for your 800 number, there are many companies who now offer to set up with your own number, so check them out. Look in the classified sections of many magazines under Business Opportunities to locate a few such companies and get their information.
THE 900 PAY-PER OPTION
The primary difference between an 800 toll free number an a900 number is who pays for the call. An 800 call is charged to the receiver, but the caller pays for the call to a 900 number. Another major designated about a 900 number is that the charge can be either on a straight designated amount per call or a specific amount per minute.
While the 800 number is primarily used as a convenience to the caller, the 900 number is actually a self-contained business. People might call an 800 number for assistance from a company they are doing business with, to acquire information, provide information, to place an order, or any number of other uses.
Those who call a 900 number do so (usually) to obtain specific information instantly, which they might otherwise have to purchase, if available to buy at all. There are 900 line available to obtain the latest weather information, sorts scores, horoscope, current surfing conditions, movie reviews, current skiing conditions, and there’s even a 900 line to hear jokes.
As with all new technology that finds its way into the business world, it attracted many scams and scum operators right from the start, mainly because it offered little regulation. A prime example: the phone sex that turned up on late night TV for a few years, and is now all but non-existent.
TYPES OF 900 LINES AND WHICH WILL BENEFIT YOU
The earliest 900 lines were passive in nature. You simply dialed the 900 number and listened to a specific message. It is still used today for accepting votes or taking polls, but it has limited capabilities and is not flexible for use in business.
A more attractive option is one with a live operator. If you offer help, advice or other personal assistance as your primary profession or in conjunction with product sales, this would benefit you. What kind of help are we talking about? Examples: Financial, medical, legal, business, etc.
Here’s how it might work in actual operation:
Let’s say you are financial field and your primary business sells books, manuals, instruction courses and other material for investors. You are also considered an expert in your field, so you set up a 900 line for clients and customers who may call you for specific advice, assistance or consultation about their current investment problems. For just $4.95 per minute, a client can talk to you, personally, and get the advice he needs. For ten minutes of your time he will be charged $4.95 per minute or $49.50 which will appear on his next phone bill. After billing and collection fees are deducted, plus the fee to the service bureau, you will receive your payment. Your net check will be less than the original $49.50 charged to your client, but $30 to $40 for ten minutes of your time is still a considerable amount.
Another option is called Passive/Voice Capture
This is used when you want customers to hear a specific message (passive) and leave their name and address at the close (voice Capture). How can you apply this?
Let’s say you are selling a line of merchandise, books,video tapes, etc.,and you normally sell a leader item is a brief report or booklet that provides good information on a specific subject in your line and is worth the $5 price. Along with his report you usually send descriptive material offering you other products.
To apply this to a 900 number, instead of asking for $5 in the ad, simply instruct readers to call your 900 # to learn about the designated subject, informing them that the call will cost 95 cents or $1.95 (or whatever price you set) per minute. When prospects call your 900 # what they hear is the actual contents of the $5 booklet you have otherwise sent them. In other words, they are getting the contents of that material instantly by phone rather than waiting a week or more to receive it by mail.
In all fairness, however, you should establish the per-minute charge based on the length of time it will take for the listener to complete the call and hear your full message. If it’s a five minute call, set your price at 95 cents per minute; if it’s only three minutes, then you can set the price at $1.95 per minute, etc. You don’t want to cheat callers by making them pay more than $5 because that’s your normal retail price for the booklet information they will hear.
At the conclusion of the message, be sure to ask the caller to leave his/her name and address so you can send them something of value. This can be an extension of the original material they have just listened to, or something else related to the primary subject, but be sure that it really is something of value that the customer will find useful. Naturally you will include details about another product on your entire line when filling the order.
The 900 business is relatively new, but the applications to business are limited only by the imagination and ambition of those who choose to enter this field. This brief article is but a grain of sand on the beach of this expanding field, so if I have piqued your interest in using 800 or 900 numbers in your own business, don’t stop now. Learn all you can because there is much to be learned.
Here are two sources of wisdom to help you:
“HOW TO GET FILTHY RICH IN 900 NUMBERS”- by Michael T.
Glaspie Available for $19.95 (plus $2 S&H) from J. Stewart
Caverly 216 Mclean St.,Wilkes Barre, PA 18702
“900 KNOW-HOW” By Robert Mastin Available from Aegis
Publishing Group, 796 Aquidneck Ave., Newport, RI 02840
$19.95 (plus $3 P&H)
Earning Internet Income – A FREE resource!