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What are Mnemonics?

Simply put, a mnemonic is something which helps you remember some piece of information (such as a phone number). Here is what Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary's 10th edition has to say about mnemonics:

¹ mne·mon·ic \ni-'mä-nik\ adj [Gk mnenomonikos, fr. mnemon mindful, fr. mimneskesthai to remember - more at MIND] (1753)    1 : assisting or intended to assist memory;    also : of or relating to mnemonics    2 : of or relating to memory - mne·mon·i·cal·ly adv
² mnemonic n (1858) : a mnemonic device or code
mne·mon·ics \ni-'mä-niks\ n pl but sing in constr (ca. 1721) : a technique for improving the memory

Mnemonics and Phone Numbers

Most people find it easier to remember a catchy phrase than a 7 digit number. Unfortunately, not every number contains a catchy phrase. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Not all numbers have letters associated with them, i.e.: 1 and 0 do not map to any letters.
  2. Relatively few of all possible character combinations are actually meaningful words (in the dictionary).

Still, most numbers do contain words which may help you remember at least some of the digits. DialABC will show you these words and you can string them together in whatever way is easiest for you to remember.

An Example: 843-2273

For instance, imagine you learn that the 800 number for your highly successful silk tie cleaning shop happens to spell out 1-888-TIE-CARE. You could then use this mnemonic in your ads to attract business and to help your existing customers remember your phone number.

This is because, in an emergency requiring immediate cleaning of a silk tie, 1-888-TIE-CARE is easier to remember than 1-888-843-2273 (for most people). This "tool for remembering" is also a "tool for communication": it will make it easier for you to get referrals from satisfied customers since they can communicate your phone number to their friends without having to scribble it onto a napkin.

Quite often, there is more than one mnemonic for the same number. Some of these mnemonics may not be useful for your business (or worse). Likewise, a different mnemonic may be worth a lot of money to somebody else. In the case of "843-2273", you may instead choose to "sell" this 800 number to a large credit card company for more money than you could ever earn cleaning ties.

Why would a credit card company want to buy this phone number? Because this number also "spells" 1-888-THE-CARD.

Key Pad Pit Falls

Beware of key pad translation issues! Not all phone dials and key pads are alike in the ways they associate numbers with letters. If you are accustomed to dialing a vanity phone number using letters, you may find yourself dialing the wrong number if you use a different phone.

For example, if you dial the letter "Q", you would actually dial 7, 0, 6, or no number at all, depending on which of the many phone key pads you are using.

This is why it is a good idea to keep the actual phone numbers handy in addition to their catchy letters-only mnemonics. If you look closely, much advertisement and product literature featuring vanity numbers also include that same phone number in pure numeric form.

Last updated Tuesday December 11 2012
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