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Quick: Recite your spouse’s phone number without looking at your cell phone. Can you do it? What about the numbers for your child, parents, or best friend? Could you call in sick to the office if you didn’t have your smartphone in hand?
If you come up blank, don’t worry. You’re not the only one wondering, “Why can’t I remember a phone number?” A study by Kaspersky Lab shows that 71 percent of participants couldn’t recall phone numbers for their children, and 49 percent couldn’t remember the number for their partners without looking at their cell phones. The phenomenon affects many people, and it is associated with the very device we use to make phone calls. We’re not losing brain cells, but we are losing the ability to remember phone numbers, thanks to the increased reliance on technology.
Remember when you had to dial each digit in a phone number individually? Some of you probably recall the days of the rotary phone when you had to wait for the dial to return to its position after each number. In the good old days, you could rattle off several phone numbers without hesitation — your best friend, your favorite pizza joint, that cute classmate you hoped to date. Instead of saving a phone number to your smartphone’s memory, you wrote it down for reference. Eventually, you memorized those numbers you dialed frequently until they became second nature.
The digital era makes writing down or memorizing numbers obsolete. We enter phone numbers into our smartphones, where the digits stay safe and sound. After that first entry, you don’t need to know the actual digits ever again. When you need to make a phone call, you simply select the lucky recipient from your smartphone contacts list and the phone handles the dialing. Can you imagine the devastation most people would feel if they lost access to those stored digits?
Digital amnesia is the name given to this lack of mindfulness caused by heavily relying on technology. The Kaspersky Lab survey revealed that 91 percent of the adults surveyed feel dependent on electronic devices and the internet to remember information. The device essentially becomes an extension of your brain. It serves as an external memory device that stores and recalls the information for your brain.
Digital devices give you instant access to information, but they can also change the way your short-term memory works. This keeps you from memorizing phone numbers the way you once did, but the digits of all your contacts aren’t the only thing you’ve forgotten, thanks to technology. A constant connection to electronic devices makes us rely on them to remember birthdays, anniversaries, directions, and basically any piece of knowledge.
The brain uses two types of memory: short-term working memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory lasts about one minute — sometimes less. Your long-term memory takes over for pieces of information you want to remember longer. Long-term memory generally lasts from an hour to years or even a lifetime. The two memory systems work together but feature numerous differences, including the capacity for holding data and the detail of that stored data.
New information you encounter starts in the short-term, or working, memory. Think of it as a temporary holding ground for the data until your mind decides what to do with the information. Some pieces of data spend a brief time in the short-term memory before leaving. Other information makes it into your long-term memory.
The short-term memory system holds a very small amount of information about the few things that are currently on your mind or that you are currently experiencing. When you meet someone new, the person’s name, appearance, and other information you learn about him go into your short-term memory during and shortly after the interaction, for example. Short-term memory is thought to hold sharp, clear detail about the few pieces of information that are there. You can generally hold a set of around seven numbers in your working memory at once.
Your long-term memory is almost unlimited in terms of capacity. It holds memories from your entire lifetime, from pieces of data to past experiences. Your long-term memory tends to be less precise than your short-term memory. The details may be slightly fuzzy. As information moves to the long-term memory, the extra details tend to get left behind. So while longer-term memory can hold much more information, it tends to condense the information down to the big picture rather than including every last detail.
Data stored in your long-term memory is often deeply entwined with other experiences, memories, and pieces of information. Unlike a computer, which stores pieces of individual data with the ability to recall a single bit of information at will, the human brain weaves intricate, complex connections between all the pieces of information.
When you recall a piece of information from your memory, you likely think of those other related bits of data. If you recall an old friend’s name, you likely think of experiences you had with that friend. You might picture the friend’s face or hear the friend’s voice in your mind. In some cases, you have to search through your memory to recall the information. A computer simply pulls the data from the designated storage spot.
In our tech-driven society, we often reach for a computer or smartphone to search for information instead of recalling the information from memory. The computer spits out the data without making you think of those other connections. While efficient, this takes away from the social aspect of recall and gives you fewer chances to remember all of those intricately connected memories.
Many pieces of information make it from the working memory into the long-term memory. When you first encounter the information and it enters your short-term memory, you need to reinforce that information to move it to long-term memory. Humans have different ways of reinforcing data, including:
Engaging multiple methods of reinforcing the new information makes it easier to push the data into long-term memory. In terms of marketing your business, a vanity number works into several of the reinforcement methods, giving your potential customers a better chance of moving the data into long-term memory until they can use it to contact your company.
As the information shifts from short-term to long-term memory, it goes through a process called consolidation. This means the brain removes the distracting information about the situation to retain the most important parts. Your mind might forget the flashy distracting parts of a commercial and only retain the name and vanity number of the business presented in the commercial, for example.
Why do you remember some things easily and forget other pieces of information? It’s all about what matters to you and how much attention you put toward remembering a particular piece of data. Committing a piece of information to your long-term memory requires focus and attention on the task. In a world full of distractions, it’s easy to get sidetracked before you memorize a phone number.
Working memory has a much smaller capacity than long-term memory, so you can only hold so many numbers and other pieces of information there. As new data floods your short-term memory, previous information gets pushed out. Details also slip out of the working memory very easily. One small distraction can make you completely lose that telephone number from your short-term memory.
Motivation is also a factor. If you aren’t motivated to commit a number to long-term memory, it probably won’t happen. When it comes to phone numbers, motivation isn’t necessarily related to whether or not you actually want to call someone. It’s more a matter of whether or not you have to memorize the digits in order to be able to make the call. The ease with which our smartphones allow us to store data is why phone numbers are hard to remember and why people don’t have the motivation to memorize them. We don’t need to put our attention toward remembering those numbers because the phone stores them for us with simple recall by pushing a button.
With so many distractions working against us, how do we commit anything to long-term memory? Aside from motivation to remember something, people need associations or connections to the numbers. They need something that is meaningful in order to transfer those digits into long-term memory.
The brain generally does not perform well at memorizing random numbers or arbitrary pieces of information. It isn’t until that information is linked to something meaningful that the numbers become easier to remember. Everyone recognizes the number 867-5309. You’re singing it right now, aren’t you? You might recall a number with part of that iconic phone number easier than other digit combinations because it relates to something you know.
Similarly, you might easily recall a phone number with the last four digits 1492 – assuming you remember that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in that year. You already have those numbers seared into your memory, so connecting a new number with that stored information is easy. While you might get lucky with a phone number that has a widely known set of digits in order, more than likely, you’ll have a random phone number that isn’t so easy to recall. A vanity number helps you cover up that randomized phone number with something much more memorable.
Another example is associating the digits in a phone number with letters, which are often easier for people to recall. It makes sense that vanity numbers for businesses become easier to commit to memory because those digits are already associated with letters and words. You take the work out of creating associations by presenting an easy-to-remember connection delivered in a neat package.
Yet another way to spark recall of data stored in long-term memory is a visual reminder or visual connection with the idea. When the brain processes an idea, it forms an image of that concept. For this reason, a vanity number featuring a word or phrase is easier for the consumer to visualize than a set of random numbers. That visual representation helps you search your brain for the specific details surrounding the piece of information. Connecting your vanity number with a memorable visual image may also help potential customers better recall the information.
The primary reason to purchase a vanity number for business use is the memory factor. The human brain finds numbers difficult to remember because they are completely abstract without a connection that makes them memorable. Vanity numbers move your business contact from a series of random and abstract digits to a memorable word that allows for associations and connections. Simply put, vanity numbers are easy to remember. Easy recall increases your call volume, which puts your company in a position to increase sales.
Still not sure you need a vanity number? Check out these reasons for getting a vanity number for your business:
You understand why an 800 vanity number is a good thing, but now you’re concerned that all the good numbers are taken. After all, someone else has definitely thought of 1-800-NEW-CARS or 1-800-ROOF-PRO, right?
Coming up with a unique vanity number is a challenge, but a shared-use 800 vanity number expands your possibilities significantly. By using a service like 800reponse to select a shared-use number, you get the prestige of a catchy, memorable vanity number in your particular region. This is the ideal solution if your company operates on a local or regional basis.
When choosing a vanity number, consider these pointers to make the number more effective:
Now that you know why vanity numbers are easy to remember, it’s time to act and secure one for your business. At 800response, we offer the largest selection of shared-use 800 vanity numbers. This gives you more choices for finding a true 800 number with the benefits of a vanity number. We also offer call-tracking metrics, call-monitoring applications, and customized services to fit your needs. Contact 800response today to find out more.