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KAI RYSSDAL: There are a couple of keys to building a successful brand. One of them is that the message be reasonably simple. And what could be more straightforward than the Better Business Bureau? You think clean business practices, right?
For some, though, the BBB’s become the place to go to complain about business. So today, it launched a nationwide re-branding campaign to let people know it does some other things, too.
Steve Tripoli has more from the Marketplace Entrepreneurship Desk.
Steve Tripoli: Complaints, they’ve got — a record 1.2 million from consumers last year, says Steve Cox of the BBB’s parent organization.
Steve Cox: But we also found that only about 22 percent of adults had actually come to the Better Business Bureau for pre-purchase information at any point over the past three years. So we’ve got a record number of complaints, but then low usage on the pre-purchase side.
Which leads to that re-branding message:
Cox: Come to the BBB first before you make that purchasing decision.
They’ve got buying tips, info on scams, help finding trustworthy charities and more. But Charlie Mattingly of the bureau’s Kentucky branch says a lot of other folks push that kind of information these days.
Charlie Mattingly: The Internet has changed the entire environment for BBB over the last several years. You’ve got everything from services like Angie’s List to Consumer Reports, and they certainly drive home for us the need to be competitive and be agile in how we provide information.
So what’s the Better Business Bureau’s advantage? Steve Cox says it starts with three million individual reports on businesses — plus a giant good-guy list.
Cox: We’ve got nearly 400,000 BBB-accredited businesses all across the United States and Canada.
It’s those members that fund the bureau. But Charlie Mattingly says there’s no conflict in that, because the whole reason the bureau exists is to monitor businesses. And he says consumers would notice kid-glove treatment.
BBB folks say all their offerings, plus a spanking-new Web site, make them the best source of consumer information. And if the re-branded bureau doesn’t live up to those claims? That’s simple: Just file a complaint with the… wait a minute, who would you complain to about them?
I’m Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.
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