A-Head for Success

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A-Z of Business: M – Marketing for Success

Marketing for Success

Marketing is the activity which creates awareness of your products or services and brings new business in.  However, it does require you to spend time on your business rather than in it.  This means, creating a cohesive and sustained marketing strategy to create awareness and desire for your services or products.  A mistake a lot of people make is to try something once and, if it doesn’t yield the desired result, drop it and move onto something else.  That’s understandable but means that you are never leveraging off that effort.

Imagine that you decide on an advert.  You spend a fair amount of money, but nada.  Not one single enquiry.  Is advertising wrong for you?  Not necessarily.  There are lots of factors which could affect its success:  Was it the right publication?  Is your branding attractive and in keeping with your product or service?  Was the advert professionally designed?  Is your USP clear?  Is the wording enticing?  Does it have a call to action?  Does it clearly state how they can contact you?  Is it on the right page?  Does it lend itself better to radio or TV?  Is the timing right for you?  With advertising, one insertion is rarely sufficient.  It needs to be part of a campaign, but before committing to that, you need to make sure you have everything right.

Advertising is just one of many different marketing methods from seminars to networking, newsletters to referrals, direct mail to PR, internet to telemarketing, direct selling to alliances.  Social media is extremely popular but it is so easy to waste a lot of time if you don’t do it right.  How do you know which will be right for you?  How do you know where to invest your hard earned cash?  Marketing is an art, not a science, and it very much depends on your product, your competition and your available budget.

There are certain areas that you shouldn’t scrimp and save.  For example, I have seen many businesses who describe themselves as selling a quality product but whose business card is cheap, flimsy and ill-designed. Yet others who have hired telemarketing people who do not understand their product at all, and who follow a script which does not fit the conversation.  And yet more who spend a lot of money on a beautiful website, only to have no-one see it because it hasn’t been optimised.

Points to consider are why someone should buy from you?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?  Where can you differentiate?  Who is your ideal customer?  What problems are you solving?  Remember that people don’t want a washing machine – they want clean clothes.  Speaking directly to your customer and their needs makes all the difference – you want to inspire them to buy and have a brand which is suitable for your target market.

Once you have your campaign in place, it is important to monitor all your enquiries to see which effort is yielding the best results for you.  This lets you know what works and why, what doesn’t and why, so that you can refine, refine, refine.

Of course, once you have attracted a customer into your business, it’s essential to keep them happy. Happy customers bring more prospects to you.

If you would like help in navigating this minefield, do call me on 0845 130 0854.  I would love to help you make a success of your business.  After all, my success is your success!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: L – Leadership-v-Management: Are You a Manager or a Leader?

How do you know if you are a manager or a leader? 

There are few job titles with the word “leader” in them.  Manager or Director (depending on your level of seniority) seem to be the titles of choice – Customer Services Manager, Finance Director, Marketing Manager, Human Resources Director, etc.  Yet, the title is not an indication.  Being a manager is as important as leadership.  However, without leadership, you are missing a crucial element in business success – winning people’s hearts and minds.

Management can be thought of as being the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your role, with duties such as:

  • Planning
  • Allocating resources
  • Organising and co-ordinating
  • Controlling and directing
  • Measuring and evaluating
  • Solving problems
  • Short term thinking for managers, medium-term thinking for directors
  • Managing systems and procedures
  • Maintaining
  • Concerned with the “when” and “how”

All of these are absolutely essential and create a framework, structure and systems to achieve results which are monitored and course-corrected on a regular basis.

A leader, by contrast will be more of a visionary and will motivate and inspire people to follow.  Their focus will be on the long-term and they will be concerned with:

  • Establishing a vision
  • Inspiring co-operation and trust
  • Developing ideas and people
  • Concerned with the “what” and “why”

Creating a vision will usually require change and a good leader will inspire the team to be motivated for that change which might otherwise be met with resistance.  A leader paints a picture that people want to be part of and want to help make happen.

Managers deal with “shoulds” (the realms of necessity) while leaders deal with “coulds” (the realms of possibility).

Of course, leadership and management are not mutually exclusive.  There is a lot of overlap between the two.  A good leader will need good management qualities.  A good manager will require good leadership qualities.  If you tend to be a good leader but are not good at the planning, implementation and problem solving, it’s essential to have a very good, reliable and loyal team to do this for you.  If you are a good manager without the leadership qualities, you will need a good leader managing you to help you pass on the vision to your team.  Both skills can be learned and, with both skills, you will be a rounded professional contributing fully to the success of your team and your business.

And, to close, off, the wonderful Stephen Covey said “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”  You have to have your vision right, otherwise you are managing the wrong things.

If you would like to have greater insight into your leadership and management skills, book a psychometric profile session.  This helps overcome blind spots and highlights development opportunities for you.  Call 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: K – Knowledge – Your Competitive Edge?

It is estimated that 15% of success is from your technical skills whereas 85% is through gaining trust and respect.  So, what has knowledge to do with this?  Plenty, as it happens.  Knowledge covers the whole spectrum.  Good technical skills are, of course, important.  But not if the knowledge is out of date.  Technology is changing all the time – as are trends – and it is essential to keep abreast of what’s going on in your market place and in your profession.

Solicitors and doctors go through years of training in their profession before they are able to practice.  Yet, how much training have you had to run your own department, or your own business?  How much knowledge have you acquired to help you be successful?  Whether you are running a department or a business of your own, the knowledge you need to be effective is extremely broad and most people simply muddle through.  In the meantime, what happens to the trust and respect essential to 85% of your success?

The following table helps you to understand some of the fundamentals for trust and respect and the kind of knowledge you need for them:

TRUST AND RESPECT KNOW-HOW
Good people and rapport skills Influencing and leadership
Doing what you say you will do Planning and organising
Doing an excellent job Technical and delegation
Managing complaints effectively Problem solving and conflict management
Meeting your obligations Business acumen and resource management
Emotional intelligence Understanding of people and yourself and how to manage yourself and your relationships in times of stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business knowledge – such as sales, marketing, finance, operations –  is important whether you run your own business or manage a department as you need to see how everything fits together.  These will help you to exploit strengths, minimise weaknesses, seize opportunities and handle threats from a point of strength.

So, how can you increase your knowledge?  Through coaching, training, reflective learning and study.  Often, you don’t know what you don’t know (in the case of business, ignorance is not bliss) and it is helpful to have someone there who can help you see your blind-spot. Having your own coach and mentor is an excellent step to take to help you stay on top of your game.  For more information call 0845 130 0854 for a no obligation chat.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: J – Judgement: The Key to Effective Decision Making

 

Judgement is your ability to assess a situation and to draw sound conclusions.  This is a key factor in your decision making process.  How do you judge whether something is right for your business or not?  And how do other people judge you and your business?  When you understand this, it can really help you:

a) make decisions which serve your business well
b) help you to help other people make judgements in your favour

There are various ways in which we may be convinced of something-

  • Number of examples – ie the third time you see something, you are sure it’s right
  • Automatically –  you don’t take too much convincing, you just automatically trust that something is right
  • Period of time – you need to think about something for a while before deciding, even if it is an obvious solution
  • A trusted source – if you hear it from someone you trust, or know they are doing the same thing, that’s enough to convince you
  • Logic – you need to evaluate the facts before deciding if something is right for you
  • Emotion – you tend to trust your gut
  • Impact on the bottom line – you will not be convinced of anything unless you see how it will affect the bottom line
  • Tried and tested – you need to see something working somewhere else before you think about it for yourself
  • Cynics – you are never truly convinced of anything

None are right or wrong in themselves.  However, it’s possible to rely too much on a particular method which could leave you vulnerable.  For example, going on gut instinct without checking the effect something has on your bottom line could affect the profitability of your business; relying on a period of time may mean that an opportunity is lost; being automatically convinced can be dangerous as there is no evaluation of the possible impact something may have; cynics can fail to take opportunities because they always find fault; depending on tried and tested methods can mean you are behind the curve in terms of your competition; relying on logic alone can mean that you are ignoring the not inconsiderable power of your intuition; depending on a trusted source requires that the trusted source be right 100% of the time or that their circumstances are the same as yours.

Ask yourself, what other factors do you need to consider when you are formulating your decisions?  Do re-read the decision making part of this series.

Finally, what to do with this information when considering your customers and prospects?  You will be well-advised to consider an example of all the above criteria in relation to your products and factor in where appropriate.  For example, Jack has a strong gut instinct but likes to back it up with number of examples, so you might want to either find three ways of proving your product, or expect to make your case over three appointments, and follow that up with “What does your gut tell you about the suitability of our product for your business?”

Or, Sally may make her decision solely on the bottom line.  So you may want to take the approach of showing the cost savings your product will give her, or the revenue potential, or perhaps some other way of impacting the bottom line.

If you aren’t sure about what someone else’s convincer strategy is, ask them how they decided to buy their latest car, computer system or even holiday.  This should give you a lot of clues.

Even the most successful business people have made bad judgements in their time. However, you can minimise yours by considering all of your options to make a more informed decision.

If you would like to discuss you own business decision making strategy, or change the way others judge your business, please contact us on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: I – Influencing Skills

The ability to positively influence others with integrity is a key skill in business.  It affects your ability to have people buy into you, your business, your product and your ideas.  It impacts your leadership style and your ability to build constructive relationships.  It can also be incredibly stressful if you are unable to influence people constructively, impacting your productivity, your sales and even your profitability.

Influence is about your ability to have a positive effect on someone.  It differs from manipulation in that it is undertaken with integrity and regard to the interest of the other party.   It’s about having people buy in to your ideas and perspectives, so that they say ‘yes’ to you more.

 

The talent for influence requires flexibility in style, clarity of outcome, the ability to understand a situation from several perspectives, and creating and maintaining a resourceful state, particularly during times of conflict, or when the stakes are high.

It is not about imposing but inspiring someone to take a particular action, while maintaining strong rapport and building positive relationships.

There are numerous language patterns which enhance your capacity to increase your powers of influence which are too numerous to go into in this short article but which I teach to many of my clients and which I include on my Influencing Skills training course.  The issue, though, is not what the skills are, but the effect that they can have on your success.  They can help you deal with objections and concerns so that you are able to transform potentially negative situations elegantly. It’s the YES factor!

 

Whether your intention is to create change, elicit support or diffuse potentially contentious situations, influencing skills can be a real boon to you in your business.

For further details, please contact Tricia Woolfrey on 0845 130 0854 or see www.pw-consulting.co.uk.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: H – Health – How Can Your Business Be Healthy If You’re Not?

 

To succeed in business you need to be firing on all cylinders.  In fact, you could say that the health of your business is a reflection of your own health.  If you are tired all the time, or run down with frequent bouts of colds and flu, suffer frequent headaches or if you are at the mercy of IBS, can you really be functioning at your best?

Health is more than just an absence of symptoms.  When you are healthy in every sense of the word (physically and emotionally), you will have more stamina and energy to deal with the stressors of business life; mentally you will have clarity of thought and direction, the ability to solve problems quickly and your memory will be more reliable; you will feel more motivated and less irritable; health will also mean that your immune system is strong to safeguard you from colds and flu as well as more serious illnesses.

If you’re feeling tired-all-the-time, or low motivation, it could well be as a result of your body needing to be stronger and healthier.

Your health can be affected by many factors including:

  • Food choices
  • Depleted nutrition in foods
  • Cellular health
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Cigarettes
  • Stress
  • Negative emotions
  • Environment
  • Lack of exercise

Taking care of yourself is taking care of business. We take great care of our cars:  fill them with petrol, make sure there is enough oil and water, take them for a regular MOT, but are you doing this for yourself?  For a health MOT, call 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: G – Goals: Your Targets for Success and a Solution to Overwhelm

One of the things which hinders your ability to achieve results, to maximise performance and to increase productivity, is a lack of clarity around goals.  Goals help you establish priorities and are the foundation for actions which lead to success.  But they aren’t enough on their own. In this article, I will share with you how to set goals which move you forward, and what else you need to do to make it all happen.

A well-known acronym – SMART – helps to make your goals more tangible.  Without this, it is simply a to-do item in a sea of competing items in your cluttered mind.  When you set well-defined goals, your unconscious mind is more able to organise itself into acting on them – you will have increased control, decreased stress and greater focus.  If you have seen it before it will serve as a useful reminder.

 

Goals should be SMART:

Specific – vague goals produce vague results
Measurable – how will you know you have achieved it?
Achievable – not based on hope but reality with a contingency built in to deal with the unexpected
Relevant – how applicable is it to your business, your life, now and in the long term?
Timebound – what time scale do you want to achieve it within?

A poorly defined goal would be “Launch product”.  A better goal would be “To create and execute a project plan for the January 5th product launch of Profit Serum to existing customers, our prospect database and industry media.”

Goal Considerations

  1. It should be stated in the positive (what you want, not what you don’t want)
  2. Identify the resources needed to achieve the goal – human, financial,  physical, etc
  3. Consider whether you can genuinely start the goal and maintain it
  4. Look at the wider consequences of the goal
    • Time and effort required
    • Do you have buy-in from stakeholders?
    • Whether anyone else is affected and how to deal with it if they are
    • Does this goal impact the achievement of other goals?  Which is more important?  What can be done to achieve both?
    • What you will have to give up in order to achieve it?
    • Are you willing to give this up in the pursuit of the goal?
  5. Is the goal is in keeping with your values?  If not, can it be changed so that it does?  If not, why do you need/want it?

Making It Happen

Finally, a goal, in itself, is nothing without a plan of action. List the steps to achieving your goal and have a system to monitor your progress and to keep you on track or adjust your course as necessary.  Last, but by no means least, factor in a celebration when you have achieved it!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: F – Finance – 5 Tips to Help Your Business Succeed

 

1.  Cash is King

Cash flow is the main reason for business succeeding or failing.  An apparently successful business may have a full order book, and even good levels of projected profit, but if funds cannot be collected from customers in a reasonable timescale the business will fail.  You should ensure your customers are aware of your payment terms before carrying out tasks and where possible advanced payments, should be requested.

Tip – Get paid on time by ensuring you have regular communication with your customer and that you have an effective credit control procedure.

 

2.  Overtrading

This is where a business has a full order book but struggles to convert turnover (sales) into profit.  This situation usually develops when tasks are taken on at a cheaper rate when compared to competitors in order to secure orders.  Subsequently, the business becomes very busy but the income generated is not sufficient in order make a profit, and so the business fails.  This strategy can be used carefully in order to try and build a reputation but for small businesses it should not be used in the long-term.  Remember “turnover is vanity, but profit is sanity”.

Tip – You are usually in business to make money so ensure you do not under-sell your products or services unless you have a clearly defined plan.

3.  Control the Controllable

Fixed costs – these costs do not vary regardless of the business activity undertaken, i.e. rent and rates.

Variable costs – these are dependant on the level of activity, i.e. heat and light or staff overtime.

Tight control and effective monitoring of these costs is essential.  Whilst fixed costs by their very nature are easier to control, effective negotiation with suppliers is an important step.  Variable costs can often get out of control if not properly managed, i.e. buying stock recklessly can tie up cash and may lead to unforeseen losses.

Tip – Ensure there is an efficient method of recording  and managing costs.  Monitor them on a regular basis.

4.  Supplier Relationships

Negotiating with your suppliers is important in order to gain value for money but when evaluating a potential supplier do not focus solely on the costs.  You should try and build a close working relationship with your suppliers and also consider the following:

  1. Product efficiency – do they have a good reputation for supplying reliable products?
  2. Delivery – can delivery be made in a timely manner?
  3. Payment Terms – extended terms can often ease your own cash flow concerns.

Tip – Ensure you question potential suppliers to ensure they meet your key criteria.

5.  Initial Funding

Many small businesses often underestimate the amount of necessary funding needed to commence trading or start a new product line or service.  This lack of funding will immediately restrict any business capacity and will greatly threaten the potential growth and stability of your business.  Always identify and try to properly estimate the amount of money needed to launch your business and to cover the costs for at least the first year which should include both running expenses and capital investment.

Tip – Take time to plan the financial implications of your business plans.

With thanks to:

Colin Bentall FCCA
Ford Bentall LLP
www.fordbentall.co.uk

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A-Z of Business: E – Employees: The Ten Fundamentals for Motivated and Productive Staff

Employees can make or break your business.  Finding the right ones, putting them in the right roles and keeping them motivated can feel like a full time job in itself.  Making poor hiring decisions and mismanaging your employees is alarmingly expensive, and can influence the morale of the rest of your team, as well as having a detrimental impact on your business and your time.  Here are my ten fundamentals to get you started:

  1. When hiring, be clear about the skills, knowledge, attitudes and motivations you want from the individual.  If they don’t have the right attitude, no matter how skilful a leader you are, keeping them focussed, productive and positive will be a drain on your energy, your team and your business.
  2. Being clear about what motivates an individual helps you match them to your vacancy.  An extrovert will not thrive in an isolated role; a big thinker will make expensive errors in a job requiring lots of detail work.  Their motivation will drop quicker than you can say “job satisfaction”.
  3. An effective interview process ensures that you treat every applicant equally, you leave no stone unturned and that you are making a balanced business decision, rather than reacting to their charm at interview.  Charm over substance is never a good hiring strategy.  In addition, many hiring decisions are based on urgent need – consequences are not considered until they are experienced in glorious and painful high definition.
  4. Make sure you involve the right people in your interview process.  Having input and feedback from people who will be working with the new recruit is invaluable – not just to have a second opinion, but also to make sure they buy into the hiring decision.
  5. A comprehensive induction process will make sure your new hire gets up to speed and feels part of the company as quickly as possible.  Things to consider are:  computer, phone and desk (yes, some people forget to plan these for new recruits!); meeting work colleagues, other departments, learning about the company, it’s products, values, processes and procedures, what to do and where to go if there are any problems.
  6. Make sure your new recruit is pre-announced to the rest of the team so they are expecting them and can extend a warm welcome.  I have seen new-hires feel shunned because their team-members were not expecting them and didn’t understand the reason for them joining.
  7. Have regular 1:1s to discuss progress, plans and projects.  It is also a good time to discuss any concerns they have and, do please make sure you take action promised – it can be very demoralising otherwise.  1:1s, well run, are hugely motivational and can be a great way of increasing confidence, productivity and motivation.
  8. Delegate well.  To do this, you need to understand the skillset and motivation levels of each individual member of your team.  Some people need a lot of support and direction, others will require more autonomy.  Delegation is not about abdication, nor does it involve micro-management.  It’s about giving them what they need to perform well.  This is a complex and important area that could benefit from a several blogs in its own right.
  9. Know when to take remedial action.  A disciplinary – formal or otherwise – is about improvement.  Inaction can make a bad problem worse as the employee believes that poor performance is acceptable.  Worse, fellow-employees may also see that this is the new standard they can relax into.  Worse still, if you decide to dismiss someone after a period of inaction, it may be difficult to prove your case in a tribunal.  Dealing with problems as they arise is essential.
  10. Develop your individuals.  You need to develop them in the right way, in the right things.  You can develop them through training, coaching, increased responsibility, new projects, and secondments.

Hiring and managing employees is highly rewarding when done well.  It is, however, a minefield.  If you are even slightly concerned, or are not getting the results you want, do seek support.  With the right structures and skills in place, you can experience the rewards on several levels:  a better relationship with your staff, an empowered and motivated workforce, happier customers, greater profit and a reputation as being an employer of choice.

To your success.

Tricia Woolfrey

PS For help with hiring the right people and effective people management and development call 0845 130 0854.  This is not something you want to leave to chance.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: D – Decision Making

 

Of all the things you have to do in business, making effective decisions is probably the most important.  Decisions can vary from a simple yes” or “no”, or between a variety of options or even to determine what the options are.  The subject of the decision can also be varied from hiring and firing, appointing the right supplier, deciding whether to increase your product portfolio or consolidate, expand or downsize, borrow or cut costs.  Each of these decisions can have long term consequences so it’s prudent to make sure your decision-making is pretty robust.  Delay can be as destructive as the bad decision.

Here are my top ten tips to effective decision-making:

  1. Clarify the problem you want to resolve – different people may have a different perspective on what the problem is.
  2. Include relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process – if the right people are not involved, they can adversely impact the implementation of your decision.
  3. Brainstorm all the options – don’t judge them yet, just put all the options down on paper.  Essentially this is about becoming aware of what you could do before you decide what you should do.  If you go into the shoulds too early, you cut yourself off from creativity.
  4. Determine what will let you know the decision was a good one.
  5. Make a list of the pros and cons of each option and for each stakeholder including:
    • Costs involved, especially whether the solution outweighs the problem it is intended to resolve
    • Effect on profit
    • Effect on customer relations
    • Impact on employees and workflow
    • Ability to support the decision in terms of skills, time and resources (a lot of good decisions don’t work out because of the lack of infrastructure to make them happen).
  6. Ask yourself whether it is line with your personal and business values – if it is not, it is bound to lead you into hot water at some point.
  7. If you are not at peace with the decision ask yourself what the concern is.  Is there a way of addressing this concern whilst going forward with the decision?
  8. Make sure the solution is treating the cause of the problem rather than the results.
  9. Consider any negative outcomes which may result from your decision and minimise those as much as possible – even the best decisions can have negative consequences – sometimes the best decision is not the most popular so it’s important to think of the short-term and long-term implications and how you can mediate those.
  10. Last, but by no means least, develop an implementation plan – no point in going through all of this if it isn’t going to bear fruit.

Finally, problems to avoid:

  • Analysis paralysis – you can spend too much time gathering data to make your decision – get the balance right.  Often the information being collected is to provide comfort rather than to influence your decision either way. Gather only what you need.
  • Procrastination – the enemy of success and the refuge for those who fear failure.  Procrastination can cause missed deadlines, missed opportunities, wasted resources, delayed projects, and frustrated customers, vendors, employees and co-workers .  It can often cause a loss of respect.  The worst thing is not to do anything.  Much better to anticipate problems and plan for them.
  • Impulsivity.  This is often the curse of the enthusiast.  They often rely on their “gut” but the decisions are not backed up by critical thinking around consequences and implementation issues.  Make calculated decisions and then your gut will tell you if it’s right or not.   A “niggle” can tell you that there is something you’ve overlooked.
  • Ignoring different viewpoints.  Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places and if you are filtering information through your ego, you are closed off to this.  At the same time, you don’t want to pander to people’s ideas if they don’t work.  It’s important simply to be open and receptive. Sometimes someone else’s idea might not be right in itself but is the seed for something which is.

I can’t resist one more tip:  ask yourself whether it will feel like the right decision a year from now.  This often flushes out any unconscious concerns or validates a difficult decision.

To your success,

Tricia Woolfrey
© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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