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Need to Buy a Phone Number? Make Sure It's a Local One

By Marlene Cosain

Small businesses have a lot to worry about, with getting leads and customers at the top of the list. Unfortunately, if their marketing was  just a little bit better, they wouldn't have to worry so much. For example, 60 percent of small business websites don’t have a phone number listed on the home page. Why not? What is a prospect supposed to do if your email link or your contact form isn't working? As it turns out, 75 percent are lacking an email link on their home page, and 66 percent don’t have a contact form to enable consumers to request information. So, we really don't know what they would do.

Bad marketing aside, if we really think about mobility and the technology changes that have taken place over the past few years, it's so much easier to start a small business or an online business than ever before. That means, someone can easily use a home phone number or a cell phone for business, something that they might not want on a website for all to see for the sake of privacy. Some might think it's not that big of a deal, that the email link or contact form is enough, or that those who visit the company website may not even be interested in making a phone call. However, they may be mistaken.

Over 60% of consumers are more comfortable looking for companies and service providers in their general area, versus a national brand or an out-of-state provider that may happen to server your area. The best way to indicate that you are local is with a local telephone number. A PO Box address is shady and unprofessional, while even a professional address could mean that you simply have a local branch or office. An 800 or an 888 number is great for out-of-town customers because its toll free, but its also a faceless number, the type of number that shows up on the caller ID to indicate a telemarketer is calling. Local numbers are just more trustworthy upon first glance, plain and simple.

By local, it can be a state or city area code, or an area code of a nearby. In St. Louis, for example, the city has a 314 area code, but 636 is of St. Louis county, and is still considered a local number to city folks (and vice versa). I can personally attest to the power of the local telephone number In my case, I had an out-of-state number, and although I didn't have qualms about putting it on my company website, it wasn't a local number and that might have been weird for folks. I had a lot of trouble finding local clients, and I still do, even though we've switched to a local number at the beginning of the year.

So, how do you make the switch? How do you buy a phone number, and a local one at that? The easiest way to buy a phone number and to make that switch is to utilize a service like ours. We can not only get you a local phone number, but we can also set things up so that when folks call your new local number, it can forward to your home or cell phone if your a home-based business, or even to an out-of-state number if you simply want to establish a local presence. This way, no one has to know what your cell or home number is, so your privacy is protected. Also, no one has to know that you simply have a virtual office or a few virtual workers in the area. A local number makes you look like trusted, local provider in no time flat.

Tags: Small Business & Entrepreneurs

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