Better Business Bureau and other red herrings

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Your reputation is your most valuable asset in business – as well as personally.  It’s something you want to protect and enhance as much as you can. But apparently, not everyone sees it that way.

As a writer and marketer, reputation is one of the areas I’m constantly monitoring for my clients. One of the ways to ensure a great reputation is to say what you mean and mean what you say.  Seems pretty simple.  But not all businesses see the importance of being straight forward.

Recently I’ve come across a few examples of less than straightforward behavior – and I have to admit, it’s disturbing. You get used to questioning everything a politician, a car salesman and an MLM organization tells you – but when the word ‘guarantee’ suddenly means ‘we sometimes guarantee’ or when an organization that has huge credibility is found to be just a little… not so straightforward, it’s disappointing.

Just in the last two days I have had two examples, both of which left me feeling concerned.

In the first instance, the ‘champion of the consumer’, our beloved Better Business Bureau appears to have been ‘exposed’ by a 20/20 investigation as granting accreditation grades on a ‘pay per grade’ basis.  Check out these video’s here and here.

In the second instance, a client of mine was approached by a company who ‘guaranteed’ first place position with Google Adwords in a local area without doing any geographically based placement at a specific, low rate of $250 per month giving them ’24/7 first place exposure’ for their primary keyword.  This was a flat rate and not tied to the number of clicks.

On further questioning, the representative admitted that if they got a lot of clicks they ‘would have to have a conversation about raising their rate’.  When pressed on the ‘guarantee’, he then qualified it by saying, “Well we don’t ABSOLUTELY guarantee first place – but you’ll be somewhere in the search results.’

Okaaay then…  I guess that it’s definitely a case of ‘Buyer Beware’ until you truly investigate the organization you’re going to be dealing with.  In my book ‘guarantee’ means ‘guarantee’.  But apparently for this company ‘guarantee’ is different to ‘absolutely guarantee’.  It’s very sad.  Actually, it’s very offensive that for many,  ‘truth’ is so relative these days.

However, it does reinforce the importance of establishing integrity throughout every level of your business.  It may be difficult to convince a prospect of your trustworthiness initially, but, once they’ve tested it and found it to be true, you’ll find that your rating will be a triple ‘A’ with your client regardless of how the Better Business Bureau or any other organization may rate you.

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