Men’s Health Magazine: 5 Ways to Remember a Phone Number

Men’s Health Magazine

Step 1: Repeat. Ask the person to slowly repeat the number. This gives your brain time to split the digits into manageable chunks and begin making connections with numbers that are already stored in your memory

Lesson: Marketers must break their toll free numbers down into chunks because this is how the brain processes short-term memory. But it also imperative that when the phone number is enunciated by a tag reader at the dub house, that you are explicit about how you want that script read and the number “chunked.” For example, the number 1-800-480-1492 should not be read “one, eight-hundred, four-eight-zero, one-four-nine-two,” but, rather, “one-eight-hundred-four-eighty, fourteen ninety-two.” This may seem obvious, but if you don’t spell it out, you are leaving it to chance.

Step 2: Divide. Don’t think about the individual digits, because your mind needs more substance to help you remember long-term. Group them into two-, three- or four-digit chunks; doing this reduces the number of items you have to remember.

Lesson: Don’t leave the chunking to chance. Break your numbers into three or four memorable chunks, the most that the typical short-term memory can hold.

Step 3: Associate. Link your digits to numbers you already know. Try sports jerseys (for 2399, think Jordan chilling with Gretzky) or years in history (for 7644, the American Revolution and D-Day). For a 314 area code, think pi. Or 258 is you at age 25 holding a 6-iron.

Lesson: Think about chunking your numbers in numerical terms that have some universal or easy-to-remember property. In other words, everyone knows that 1976 was the bicentennial year, so you would have the announcer recite it as, “Nineteen, seventy-six.”

Step 4: Speak. Repeat the number back to the person.

Lesson: Repeat your number at least twice, three times if you can, especially in short-form DRTV and radio spots. And if you are after a senior demographic, definitely strive for three times.

Step 5: Visualize. “Dial” the number on an imaginary keyboard. You may be able to remember the motor sequence better than you remember the individual numbers.

Lesson: The fewer chunks you break your number into, the easier it will be for consumers to visualize it as they imagine dialing it.

Men’s Health, the venerable men’s monthly prides itself on giving its readership tips on “How To Do Everything Better.” Among the topics in the November issue is how to “Remember A Phone Number ” contained on page 96. It then lays out five steps that contain useful Lessons not only for its consumers, but for direct marketers as well.

Source: Alan Castel, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at UCLA’s memory and cognitive aging lab.