What can we learn from Manchester United's use of Local Numbers?

Telecoms /

As Shaun was saying last week, when you work for a telecoms company you notice phone numbers a lot and are always thinking about why a particular number is being used. Well, this reminded me. I was watching Manchester United versus Chelsea in the FA Cup the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see that the Manchester United Foundation was using local Manchester numbers on their billboards.

Replacing 08 numbers

Now I don’t know this for certain, but I can well imagine that at some point the contact number for this organisation was an 08 number. I imagine that the thinking behind that was that they wanted to present themselves nationally, not just in Manchester; after all Manchester United isn’t just nationally supported but globally. The game I watched would have been seen by millions around the world. That all seems perfectly reasonable but I think that changing to a local Manchester 0161 number is by far a better fit. This is why:

Strengthening the Manchester brand

I appreciate that there’s a blue and red side to the city but currently Manchester United are the biggest English football brand in the world. By using local Manchester numbers it’s like they’re feeding that global popularity and refining it all into Manchester. As a club, despite the accusation that most of their supporters don’t live anywhere near Manchester they are firmly stating, in particular for their foundation, that they are Manchester. For me, the 0161 number does this much more strongly than an 08 number ever could.

Accessible nationally and internationally

As I’ve already said, Manchester United are globally popular. Who knows where in the world their phone calls could come from. If they were using an 08 number, they might not be getting some of those calls from their international supporters as there’s no guarantee that international networks can connect with Non-geographic numbers. Then, something we’re regularly mentioning, there’s the cost to call an 08 number from a UK mobile. Using 0161 numbers removes both these barriers. Nationally, internationally they can take phone calls; they can keep the cost down for mobile users. All this improves their accessibility. For a charitable foundation, that’s a must.

You don’t have to be Manchester United

You don’t have to be Manchester United, you don’t have to support them or even like them, but you can learn from them.

  • For a local service, using a local number should be a must to strengthen your local connection.
  • For a large business, if you’ve got regional offices, use a local number for each of them. Personally I would think that this will be more indicative of the fact that you operate nationally than using one 08 number for the whole of the country.

These basic principles that the Manchester United Foundation have applied in using local Manchester numbers can be applied to any business, large or small. Above are just a couple of examples. Tell us what you think or how you’ve used local numbers to your benefit?