Better Business Bureau: Yea or Nay??
Earlier today, I received a call from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about whether a client of ours should participate in the BBB program. Yes, it was a sales call and the BBB rep was pretty good about the value of their proposition. His goal was to get me to advocate the BBB so he could close the sale.
I gave the rep about fifteen minutes of my time before cutting to the chase and asking the price. The price quoted was over $700 for a twelve month subscription, which I choked at…. The conversation ended quickly as I explained how absurd this fee was with the number on online review websites which are free.
By all means, the BBB is a long standing institution with great values. Their goal is to provide consumers with an outlet for unfair business practices and investigate disputes between buyers and sellers. I believe their service is most effective in businesses that lack transparency and more entrepreneurial, which there are many in today’s online world.
That being said, the general public does trust accountants holistically. It is rare to find an accounting firm that is unethical and/or incompetent. Yes, there is a bad apple in every barrel but it is rare. As a result, the role that BBB plays within the accounting industry is very minute.
From a marketing perspective, I believe that it’s critical to obtain reviews for your business in Yelp, Google Local, Yahoo Local, and online yellow page directories (Citysearch, Insiderpages, etc.). I believe that online reviews help consumers avoid negative experiences. Personally, I never see a movie at the theater without reading reviews on Yahoo Movies, never buy a book without reading Amazon’s reviews, and like to see what people say about restaurants and hotels when I’m travelling. Yes, I’m too cheap to pay for Zagat but would love it if it was free.
Online reviews are important and directly influence your local reputation. However, don’t pay for BBB.
Hint – Google acquired Zagat in September 2011 after being turned down by Yelp on a couple occasions. As we speak, Google is in the process of buying Frommer’s travel brand from John Wiley & Sons to enhance it’s review service. Online reviews will take on an increased role as Google integrates reviews underneath the Google+ service.