Studies are showing that many small businesses are cutting back on their advertising to save money during the recession. When reducing your advertising budget it is vital that you are getting the most from each and every dollar spent. This is actually a good practice regardless of the state of the economy but is especially important now. The only sure way to know how a small business's advertising pieces are working is to track the calls and sales coming in from each of those pieces. This can be a trying task since many customers don't even remember where they heard about a business. This makes any information from them unreliable. A more reliable way is to have a different phone number for each ad. However, that can be cumbersome and expensive to have multiple numbers and/or multiple lines. So to overcome those obstacles small businesses are turning to virtual PBXs.
A virtual PBX is just what the name implies. It is a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) like one that you might find in most offices today except that it is virtual. This means that it has all the same features of a standard phone system such extensions for departments or employees, caller on hold, the ability to transfer a call, and more. What makes it virtual is the fact that all of the equipment is maintained and housed off site by your provider. There are also features that can be found in a virtual PBX that are not available with a standard PBX. Two of these features are the ability to use extensions to track advertising and run reports on those different extensions. Small businesses are using these two features to save money and to streamline their advertising efforts.
Because most small businesses use a number of different advertising mediums - phone book, fliers, radio, online - they are using the virtual PBX tracking extensions to see which of those ads are producing the most calls and sales. Not unlike a standard PBX, a virtual PBX allows these small businesses to forward calls based on extension dialed. This means they have one number that comes into their business and any number of ways that those calls can be handled. Here are a couple examples of how these virtual systems are being used.
1. Some businesses use the virtual PBX phone number to direct callers to a recorded message about their services. They want everyone to hear the same message but they also want to know where people saw the ad that prompted them to call. They use the same number in each ad but different extensions. They can then run reports based on the extensions that were accessed. Those reports allow them to track which ads are working and which are not. By only putting money into advertising that works, they save money and increase profits.
2. In another example, a small business wants to have all their incoming calls directed to the same person. However, they also want to be able to run their ad in different mediums and track the results. The virtual PBX has unique call forwarding so that regardless of the extension dialed, the calls can be forwarded to the same place. Now they can place their ad in different mediums and use different extensions for each. The calls will still be delivered to the same person and now they can run reports on the extensions dialed. Again the ad tracking abilities of the virtual PBX are saving money and increasing profits for the small business.
These are just two examples of how small businesses are using the virtual PBX and its ad tracking extensions. Others are using them in ways that best fit their specific business needs. During a recession it is especially important to make sure small businesses are getting the most out of every advertising dollar spent. Being able to separate out the good ads from the bad will allow them to do just that.
Brandi Cummings is an expert author on the unique issues facing small and home based businesses. If you are looking to get the most from your ad dollars she recommends checking out Freedom800.com a leading provider of virtual PBX systems.