4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

Everywhere we look lately, from entertainment to business, what’s old is new again. Well established franchises are selling out movie theaters, the toy aisle is straight out of the eighties and businesses everywhere are turning back the clock to stand out in this fast-paced, digital world.

Clearly Conveyed Communications -- We give you a voice.

How can you go retro to connect with customers and grow your business today?

Make it personal with a handwritten note. When you receive a handwritten note, card or letter, it feels more personal. The recipient will appreciate that you took the time to put your thoughts on paper. The next time you want to thank a loyal customer or employee, don’t send an email. Jot down why you appreciate the recipient and how much you value the relationship, job he’s doing, etc. A little writing will go a long way!

How House of Cards is Winning the Marketing Game

Develop long-term relationships. Relationship marketing is a buzzword today, but the concept is straight out of a bygone era. Take the time to get to know your clients and employees, business partners and vendors. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul, not just a short-term sale. People want to do business with people they trust and that takes time to develop.

Give your audience your undivided attention. Viewers loved the alcohol carts in offices on Mad Men, but many of them missed the point. The ad men (and few women) would sit down and spend time with their clients when they stopped in. They weren’t too busy running from meeting to meeting to listen to their clients’ challenges and concerns. Many creative solutions were born over Old Fashioneds with no outside interruptions.

Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Embrace paper in the digital age. In an age of email and the cloud, using paper is one way to grab recipients’ waning attention. Feature direct mail in your next marketing campaign, and reorder your physical business cards. In fact, go old school — embossing, engraving, bold lettering and colors set off with white space — to stand out from your competition. Going all digital removes your audience’s sense of touch, which limits their sensory experience while interacting with your brand.

In Summary

Handwritten notes, developing long-term relationships, giving your undivided attention and embracing paper will help you connect with today’s audiences. Don’t be afraid to be different, even if that means being inspired by a bygone era.

We’re grabbing our fedoras to head out for Old Fashioneds and Vodka Martinis with clients. Care to join us?

Embracing the future with help from the past,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about building relationships, your communications needs or otherwise):
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4 Tips to Communicate Clearly With Emojis

When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?

Are you communicating clearly with emoji or being misunderstood?

Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author

Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.

Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.

These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:

  • Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
  • Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Same Emoji + Different Smartphone Platform = Different Emotion

Graphic courtesy of grouplens

  • Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
  • Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.

Warning: Appropriate Hashtag Usage on Instagram Will Result in Major Traffic Increase

 

Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.

Does Your Brand Speak Emoji?

What are your favorite emojis? What emojis would you like to see introduced?

Does your brand utilize emojis in its communications? Have you ever had an emoji miscommunication?

Speaking emoji (when appropriate),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about emojis, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Evaluating Feedback: How to Listen to What’s Not Being Said

In our last post, we talked about how the gift-giving process makes you a better marketer. The final similarity discussed was evaluating your feedback, which is crucial to your success in marketing.

Local Call by Wes Peck via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Local Call by Wes Peck via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The problem is that it can be difficult to evaluate your feedback. Prospects and customers are human, so they’re complex. Perhaps they fit your buyer persona except for one crucial aspect, which is causing your marketing to miss the mark.

Another issue is that human beings want to position themselves in the best light possible. Said another way, peer pressure never goes away. Focus groups can lie, surveys can mislead and customers can tell you they want things that they really don’t.

How can you evaluate feedback from prospects and customers?

  • Develop Buyer Personas, Not Stereotypes — Buyer personas are a fantastic (and necessary) way to attract the right leads, but don’t rely on stereotypes. Research, research, research. You may find subtle differences between members of a persona, so you can adjust your message accordingly.

Why Consumer Intent Is More Powerful Than Demographics

  • Know Your Customers —  Once someone becomes your customer, go beyond the persona. Get to know your customer as much as possible. What keeps her up at night? How does she go about her day? Knowing her hobbies, personality and routine can be the difference between servicing a customer and creating a loyal client.

The Art of Follow-Up

  • Listen (and Pay Attention) — When you’re talking to a customer, listen to what he has to say. Don’t check email or mentally prepare your to-do list for the next day. Focus on your customer. If you’re meeting face-to-face, take in non-verbal clues, such as body language and facial expressions. Listening is an art form that can strengthen relationships and develop trust.

Trust is the most powerful currency in business

  •  Study Psychology — Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree. But understanding basic psychological concepts can help you develop relationships, business or otherwise. Learn about the different types of personalities, how the human brain processes various types of information and how emotions play into our decision-making process.

5 Quirks of the Human Brain Every Marketer Should Understand

Evaluating feedback can be difficult but is a necessary part of the marketing process, especially during the Close and Delight phases. (Huh?) So remember to stay away from stereotypes, get to know your customers, listen and pay attention to them and understand the psychology that drives how human beings think and act. You (and your customers) will be glad you did.

What tips would you add on evaluating feedback?

How do you get to know your customers?

Do you use psychology to do your job?

W’d love to hear your feedback!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about evaluating feedback, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Art of Follow-Up

It’s an integral part of the marketing process yet most marketers don’t do it. Unfortunately, not following up on your marketing efforts leads to missed opportunities and sales.

"Over Coffee" by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Do you excel at the art of follow-up?

We get it. You’re busy. You meant to follow up on the leads from the tradeshow or a marketing campaign or your latest email newsletter, but other things got in the way. Your boss called. Your kids got home from school. Life happened.

What’s the big deal?

The business-to-business (B2B) buying cycle is longer than business-to-consumer (B2C) and typically involves more people. You have to spend more time nurturing prospects and may have to touch them 7, 8 or 9 times (or more) before getting a sale.

How Many Touches Make a Sale?

While you would love to send out an email newsletter and have your website flooded with orders, that rarely happens. However, with the analytics available today, you can see who opened your newsletter the most and what links they clicked on, along with other data. Follow up with these prospects! They’re interested and may have been interrupted by life before reaching out to you.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  -George Bernard Shaw, author

Now here’s the fun part. How do you consistently follow up with people without being annoying?

  1. Get Social — It’s helpful to be connected to your customers and prospects on social media (business accounts at least), so you can engage with them. Each like of a post or retweet is a soft touch and reminds the person that you’re available.
  2. Note Communication Preferences — You have a slew of communication options at your fingertips today, but your customers and prospects probably have a preference. If Bob prefers Facebook Messenger, send him a message. If Sally would rather talk on the phone, give her a call.
  3. Be Customer-Focused — Yes, you want the sale but that’s not your customer’s or prospect’s issue. Let them know why you’re following up: so they don’t miss incredible savings or show up at their tradeshow next week empty-handed. How is closing this sale going to help them?
  4. Be Flexible — If you’re not hearing back, offer to schedule a quick call or visit when it’s most convenient for your customer or prospect. Let them know that you value their time and will be brief. It may be easier for your customer to meet you at a coffee shop for lunch or talk on their way to pick up their kids after work.

Following up is extra work but it also leads to more opportunities and sales, especially when done right. Use your data to decide where your best opportunities lie, but be human when reaching out to your customers and prospects. The art of follow-up is one of those things that computers just don’t understand, and that’s a good thing. 🙂

Feedback on Following Up

How do you decide when to follow up with customers and prospects?

Have you noticed your customers’ communication preferences?

Do you need more targeted leads to follow up on? CCC is Inbound Certified and we make marketing that people love. Let’s talk about how we can help you. 

Pic credit: Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.o

Happy Follow-Up Friday!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about follow-up, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Facebook’s Next Stop: World Domination (and That’s a Good Thing)

When I was growing up, my friends and I used to talk about what we wanted to achieve. No matter what occupation came up or what route someone wanted to take, it always ended with ‘world domination.’

Planet Facebook or Planet Earth?

“Planet Facebook or Planet Earth? by Paul Butler” via Duncan Hill via CC BY 2.0

That’s what Facebook wants too, and it may get there. The stats are already ridiculous, but the social giant continues to incorporate itself more and more into our everyday lives. Earlier this year, one billion people used Facebook in a single day. Think about that: 1 in 7 people on Earth logged into Facebook in one day. That’s incredible! And the social behemoth isn’t stopping now.

“On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family.” –Mark Zuckerberg

Here’s what Facebook has been up to this summer:

We already talked about how Facebook wants to be your news source, and the largest social media platform continues to strengthen its standing with journalists, publishers and public figures. It allows you to keep in touch with friends and family and even share private moments via Messenger and Moments. Now it’s looking to enter your work space and help those without the luxury of broadband Internet access stay connected.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous on Earth. (Source: Huffington Post)

The social behemoth has 1.49 billion monthly active users (as of 6/30/15) and approximately 83% of its daily active users are outside the US and Canada. More than 40 million small businesses have active Pages, and the social leader employs nearly 11,000 people in 48 offices around the world. (Source: Facebook)

Do you see what I mean? Facebook isn’t comparing itself to Twitter or worrying about what Snapchat is doing. It’s trying to help people in need, bring Internet access to the whole world and connect people in every generation, in every country and in every language.

One day Facebook may touch nearly every aspect of our lives, from work to school to play, and it could change the world.

Read: Facebook Pages: Now Open for Communication

What’s the Future of Facebook? 

Do you see Facebook moving beyond a social platform in its future?

Is Facebook’s potential worldwide power good or bad?

Planet Facebook or Planet Earth: Where will we live in the future?

Tipping my cap to Zuck,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Facebook, world domination or otherwise):
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Peanutized: How to Encourage Fans to Engage With Your Brand

Have you been Peanutized?

Get Peanutized: The Peanuts Movie's interactive promotionI took the plunge this afternoon. After seeing the fun creations in my Facebook News Feed the past few days, I couldn’t resist anymore. (Ah, the power of social media…)

Get Peanutized is a cool microsite that 20th Century Fox is using to promote the upcoming release of The Peanuts Movie on November 6th. You can turn yourself into a character in the movie by selecting everything from your hair style and color to the shoes on your feet. So 20th Century Fox provided the site and is now sitting back and watching people promote their new movie for them. Genius!

People will share their creations and promote the movie, because it’s fun and engaging. At our core, we want to socialize with others, even brands. How can you encourage fans to engage with your brand?

  • Give out swag: For CCC’s 3rd anniversary, we threw a week-long party and invited our fans to join in the celebration. By engaging with us (and therefore spreading our message) on social, fans were entered to win cool swag with a special retro look. It was a success! In addition to increased engagement on our networks, we developed some new advocates for our brand.

 

  • Hold a contest: Ask people to post photos of your products in action to be entered to win a prize. Remind them to tag you and/or use a special hashtag, so you see the photos and others can too. This is also a great way to share tips or helpful hints about your products. No physical products? No worries! Utilize the aforementioned fun swag and ask fans to post photos of themselves (or others) showing off your promotional products wherever they are — on vacation, at work, etc.
  • Join the conversation: Don’t just respond to messages and comments directed to you; reach out to people when appropriate. Search relevant keywords and hashtags to find conversations you can join and people you can help. The key is to provide helpful information, not to sell. Nobody wants you to bust into their conversation with a sales pitch. But if you have helpful DIY tips, writing advice or relevant experience to share, they may end up becoming a customer down the road.
  • Open all lines of communication: Communicate with your customers where they’re comfortable, whether that’s Facebook Messenger or over the phone. Let people know the myriad of ways they can contact you, and you’re much more likely to hear from them. According to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s Ad Chief, “messaging via Pages has doubled year-over-year-over-year, and some companies have told Facebook that it is now the primary place for them to receive customer service requests.”

However you choose to engage with your fans, put some effort into it. Don’t create an app that doesn’t offer any value. Don’t set up presences on every social network and then forget about them. If you don’t have the bandwidth to be everywhere, choose what fits your company the best and will benefit your customers the most. Consider bringing in outside help to manage what you can’t.

And always keep an eye on the future. You never know when you’ll be able to share your first virtual reality (VR) ad or beam up fans to your event location. How cool would that be?!

Engage With Us on Engagement

How do you encourage fans to engage with your brand?

Do your fans show a preference in how they contact you?

What cool technology would you love to utilize someday for your brand?

Who’s your favorite Peanuts character?

p.s.Looking for some ideas to spice up your marketing? We can help!

Peanutized and lovin’ it,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about engagement, the Peanuts gang or otherwise):
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Facebook Pages: Now Open for Communication

Facebook for Business announced updates to Pages’ messaging capabilities earlier this month, and we’re all for making communication between brands and their audiences easier. But can it be too easy?

“Over a billion people visit Pages every month looking for more information from businesses.”

-Facebook for Business

Are you utilizing the enhanced Pages messaging capabilities?

Picture courtesy of Facebook for Business // text & thumbs up added by author

We’re always fans of helping brands and consumers communicate more clearly, so we love a number of these updates.

Send private messages to a Page from a local awareness ad.

You can now add a “Send Message” call-to-action button to your local awareness ads. What a great idea! Encourage prospects to initiate a private conversation with your business to learn more about your products or services, RSVP for an event or to place an order. A private conversation fuels a more intimate connection between brand and consumer. We’ve already begun brainstorming ideas on how to best utilize this new feature for our business and clients alike.

Reply to comments privately with a message.

We love this one! If a customer (or prospect) posts to your wall, you’re now able to respond privately in Messenger. The message links to the original comment, so the person who posted the question understands why he’s receiving a message from you. Plus, a notation is left under the person’s comment on the page letting others know that you responded privately and didn’t ignore him. This new feature applies to many situations, including order tracking and quoting.

Is the "Very responsive to messages" badge helpful to small businesses?

Picture courtesy of Facebook for Business

“Very responsive to messages” badge

Here’s the new feature we’re not sure about. We love prompt responses and timely communication, but does every question require an immediate answer? Pages that respond to 90% of messages with a median response time of less than five minutes will now showcase a “Very responsive to messages” badge.

As a small business owner, are you glued to your social networks 24/7? Whether we’re waiting on customers in our store or working on a client project, sometimes its best to give our full attention to the task at hand (like driving, for instance). Is it even advisable to jump at every social notification during these times? We’re interested in hearing from small business owners and professionals on this one. Will this new feature help or hurt small businesses?

“Messaging has become a preferred communication channel for people, and now people and businesses on Facebook can start real-time conversations with each other in more ways.”

-Facebook for Business

Page admin tools for managing messages

As a Page admin, how can you handle the increase in messages these updates should deliver? Saved replies, for one. While your communication with clients and prospects should be personal, it will be handy to save replies to common questions for easy retrieval later. Only save the replies you’ll use most often though. Otherwise, you’ll be digging through so many saved replies to find the one you want that this cool feature won’t be helpful. You’ll be able to edit saved replies, so you can still personalize your message.

Related reading: Facebook Messenger Is Now a Platform — And Open For Business

Comment on Facebook Pages’ new messaging capabilities

Which one of these updates will most help your business?

What do you think about the “Very responsive to messages” badge?

Do you manage your company’s Facebook page or do you delegate it to someone else?

p.s. If you need help making Facebook work for you business, we’d love to talk!

A fan of communication,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on Facebook, a new project or otherwise):
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Is Gossip Good for Business?

"Gossip Girls" by Art G. via CC BY 2.0

Gossip is a dirty word. It’s condemned by parents, community leaders and business professionals the world over. Yet, here’s an interesting tidbit: it’s essential to our way of life. What?!

“Even today the vast majority of human communication — whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns — is gossip. It comes so naturally to us that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.”

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Harari, PhD, argues that Homo sapiens (that would be us!) survived and even thrived when other human species failed due to our unique language capabilities, including the ability to gossip.

It’s not as crazy as you may think. When you break it down, gossip is conversation about other people. Who to trust, who has the best fresh vegetables and who is unsavory. As a small business owner, I want to know about a customer of other businesses who doesn’t pay their bills or a potential business partner who doesn’t know what ethical means. That’s knowledge that may save me lost revenue, lost time and serious aggravation down the road.

“The new linguistic skills that modern Sapiens acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end. Reliable information about who could be trusted meant that small bands could expand into larger bands, and Sapiens could develop tighter and more sophisticated types of cooperation.”

It’s similar to the proverbial ‘water cooler’ in the office. You may not want to get involved in office politics but that decision can derail your career. How often do employees label a manager or supervisor aloof or out of touch when he or she doesn’t have a beat on the pulse of the office? You need to know what’s going on — to some extent — in your coworkers’ and employees’ lives. As a business owner, I would even extend that to business partners and clients. It allows you to understand a situation, show empathy and act appropriately.

Is Gossip Good for Business?

Are you familiar with the gossip theory (in relation to evolution)?

Have you been affected by office politics — positively or negatively?

Is gossip good for business?

p.s. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a great read for history buffs and business professionals alike. Want an inkling into what makes people tick? You’ll get it here. Both quotes in this post are from this book.

p.p.s. Love this post’s featured image? Learn more about “Gossip Girls” by Art G. here. It’s used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on gossip, business, a new project or otherwise):
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Are You Being Heard? Communication Tips For Your Brand

Communication. It’s so simple, right? We learn to do it at a young age, and it’s second nature. So why is it so difficult to communicate effectively with your customers, business partners and employees?

"The biggest illusion in communication is that it has taken place."  -George Bernard Shaw

Sure, you blast out emails to your customers and employees, blast out promotional social updates and blast out glossy hyperbole in your monthly newsletter. But what are you actually saying?

Before you send another email, post another update or publish another newsletter, read what you wrote — as a recipient. Who are you trying to reach? What would a person in your target audience think of your communication? Even if it’s only an email to a colleague, employee or business partner… would you understand what you’re trying to say?

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand.”  -Benjamin Franklin

How do you know what your recipients need and want (two different issues)? Ask them. Observe them (in a non-stalking manner). Put yourself in their shoes. Spend a day in their life handling their challenges and looking for opportunities.

When you take your customers’ needs and wants into consideration, and involve them in your solutions, you stand out in a sea of information overload — and tend to be heard. Which would make one of my heroes, the late, great Gabrielle Bonheur (Coco) Chanel, proud. And that works for me, and CCC. Are you being heard?

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”  -Coco Chanel

Communicate with CCC

What is your most effective type of communication?

What type of communication would you like to improve?

Do you have “miscommunication” issues often?

Do you have a communication question? Leave a comment or ask us on social media.

p.s. We’d love help you communicate with your target audience(s)! Check out our marketing, writing and social media services, and contact us to discuss your needs. Each project receives personal attention at CCC!

Your Captain of Communication,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
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Email Overload: 4 Ways to Win the Fight

Email. It’s revolutionized the way we communicate, but it can absolutely take over your life and disrupt the best laid plans. Haven’t we all been here before?

boy covering ears

More email?! Make it stop!
“Ruído Noise” by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

When I left corporate America to start my own company, I made a major change with email. First, I got down to Inbox Zero, which was downright exhausting, and then I vowed never to get buried again. How? A Swiss Army knife, some duct tape and a paperclip.

OK, not really. Here’s how:

  1. I subscribed to Unroll.me, an email solution that combines all of your favorite subscriptions into one email. Read what you want, when you want, and don’t be overrun with all of those necessary subscriptions to online trade journals, news sites and your favorite retailers. (OK, the last one may not be ‘necessary’…)
  2. I unsubscribed en masse (which is much easier with services like Unroll.me). It’s amazing what had ended up in my inbox over a period of time. If I didn’t receive value from a newsletter subscription or brand’s emails, I cut the cord. So many companies blast you with the same specials and information you can receive via social media or other channels.
  3. Speaking of other channels, I found alternatives, such as RSS feeds, social media networks and mobile. I love subscribing to blogs via the WordPress Reader as it’s easier for me to manage. I can follow my favorite brands and companies on social media for exclusive offers, the latest specials and hot, new products and services. I receive coupons and discounts via mobile, where companies aren’t as likely to bombard you (yet).
  4. I stopped sitting in email. When I’m working, I don’t even have my email program open, let alone receive those distracting notifications that flash onto your screen (and into your peripheral vision). My clients can all contact me in a variety of ways (and do), including phone, Facebook messenger, text, Twitter DM and the like. I monitor the push notifications on my phone to stay on top of what’s happening instead of spending massive amounts of time in my inbox. Basically, I don’t use email as IM (instant messenger) and don’t expect others to either.
Alder Pond at Gorge Metro Park

This is how you’ll feel when you get your email under control.
“Peace & Serenity” // author’s personal collection


What about you? How have you battled email overload? Do you agree with my tips? 

Share YOUR tips and experience to help us all maximize the effectiveness of email and communicate more clearly!

p.s. I’m always checking out what’s popular, so I can write about what you want to hear. Here’s the most popular posts on the CCC blog during 2013:

p.s.s. On Thursday, we’re starting a special series on SEO (search engine optimization) by a guest host. Don’t miss it!

Communicating clearly since ’12,
Jaime

It’s on like Donkey Kong. Let’s connect! 
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