Bob Bly: Cold-calling potential clients is a "terrible idea"...

40 replies
I respect Bob Bly and have a few of his books. I'm also on his email list. Today's email ("The Awful Truth About Cold Calling") says this:

"cold calling to get copywriting clients is a terrible idea - probably the worst way to go about looking for copywriting clients ever devised"

... It goes on to spell out "5 reasons why I urge freelance copywriters to avoid cold calling at all costs."

I hear all the time that cold calling is a great way to get clients.

What gives? What do you guys think of this?

Btw, I'm a fan of Bly's because I like his writing style. However sometimes I think he undermines his stature. For example, I was surprised to find him hawking the AWAI course. It may be a great course -- but I would've thought someone like Bly to be above hawking it.

Also one of his email blasts ("Web designers needed; no experience required") sells the e-book "Freelance Website Design Business" and goes into how the author makes $75k a year and up to $100 per hour. But Bly's landing pages? They're done by an outfit called "Filipino Webmasters Inc." Says it right there at the bottom.

Anyway -- anyone think that cold calling clients is as "terrible" an idea as Bly makes it out to be?
#bly #bob #clients #coldcalling #potential #terrible idea
  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
    Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

    What gives? What do you guys think of this?
    There are dozens of ways to get clients.

    And for every single one, there'll be people who'll tell you they don't work and there'll be people who swear by them.

    If cold calling's something you're happy to do, go for it.
    Signature

    Andrew Gould

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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

    I respect Bob Bly and have a few of his books. I'm also on his email list. Today's email ("The Awful Truth About Cold Calling") says this:

    "cold calling to get copywriting clients is a terrible idea - probably the worst way to go about looking for copywriting clients ever devised"

    ... It goes on to spell out "5 reasons why I urge freelance copywriters to avoid cold calling at all costs." I'd copy and paste the 5 reasons here, but I'm not sure if that's ethical. (...Though the email does in fact invite recipients to forward it to other people... Mods?)

    I hear all the time that cold calling is a great way to get clients.

    What gives? What do you guys think of this?

    Btw, I'm a fan of Bly's because I like his writing style. However sometimes I think he undermines his stature. For example, I was surprised to find him hawking the AWAI course. It may be a great course -- but I would've thought someone like Bly to be above hawking it.

    Also one of his email blasts ("Web designers needed; no experience required") sells the e-book "Freelance Website Design Business" and goes into how the author makes $75k a year and up to $100 per hour. But Bly's landing pages? They're done by an outfit called "Filipino Webmasters Inc." Says it right there at the bottom.

    Anyway -- anyone think that cold calling clients is as "terrible" an idea as Bly makes it out to be?
    Cold calling will ruin your positioning as a copywriter. It's like a heart surgeon cold calling a list of heart patients.

    But if you called about an ad that they put out, or about a sales letter that they put out. You could say "I never cold call. But I saw your ad, and there are two glaring mistakes I see, that are keeping it from making any real money. Would you like to know what they are?"

    And, of course, they do.

    Then you can either tell them, and engage them over the phone, or try to make an appointment (if they are close enough) '"I need to show you the ad. Will you be there tomorrow at 3PM?"

    If they ask if you are trying to sell your services, you can say "I don't sell my services like this. I work with referrals. But you ad just got to me. Let's go over the ad,and I'll give you a coupe of suggestions for free. Maybe we'll work together on a later project".

    Of course, the whole idea is to get them to think that you're a smart copywriter. Just leave openings, where they can ask about your services.

    It's almost the exact script I used when selling local advertising services.
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    • Profile picture of the author splitTest
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      Cold calling will ruin your positioning as a copywriter. It's like a heart surgeon cold calling a list of heart patients.

      But if you called about an ad that they put out, or about a sales letter that they put out. You could say "I never cold call. But I saw your ad, and there are two glaring mistakes I see, that are keeping it from making any real money. Would you like to know what they are?"

      And, of course, they do.

      Then you can either tell them, and engage them over the phone, or try to make an appointment (if they are close enough) '"I need to show you the ad. Will you be there tomorrow at 3PM?"

      If they ask if you are trying to sell your services, you can say "I don't sell my services like this. I work with referrals. But you ad just got to me. Let's go over the ad,and I'll give you a coupe of suggestions for free. Maybe we'll work together on a later project".

      Of course, the whole idea is to get them to think that you're a smart copywriter. Just leave openings, where they can ask about your services.

      It's almost the exact script I used when selling local advertising services.
      It's interesting that you write this, because Bly's email starts with a question from a copywriter considering doing essentially the same thing.

      I hope Bly doesn't mind me pasting the letter here. He invites recipients to forward it, and I presume he doesn't mind his ideas being spread, so here goes...

      Dear Direct Response Letter Subscriber:

      Is cold calling to get new copywriting clients a good, bad, or
      terrible idea?

      EF writes:

      "I did have a question that I thought you might be able to
      answer. I've been receiving a lot of mail attempting to sell me
      credit cards from big names like Discover, Capital One, and
      Chase.

      "But I've noticed the writing is rather poor--it's a statement
      of features, sometimes of benefits, but with no real attempt at
      persuasion. I've done some brainstorming and believe I could
      rewrite these in such a way as to increase sales for these
      companies.

      "My thought was to try cold-calling/emailing these companies and
      attempting to sell them on my idea of rewriting for greater
      persuasion. So I was wondering if you had any advice, ideas, or
      tips on the best way to go about this--or even if it's a
      worthwhile idea!"

      My bad news for EF is: cold calling to get copywriting clients
      is a terrible idea - probably the worst way to go about looking
      for copywriting clients ever devised.

      There are 5 reasons why I urge freelance copywriters to avoid
      cold calling at all costs.

      1-Clients want to work with vendors whom they perceive as busy
      and successful. By logical extension, if you have nothing better
      to do than sit at your desk dialing the phone and asking
      strangers to hire you, clients conclude you are not busy,
      successful, or in demand. So right away you cause the prospect
      to be repulsed by your seeming desperation rather than to be
      attracted to you and your services.

      2-When you quote your fee, the client whom you find through
      cold calling will almost always try to beat you down. Why?

      Because they know you need the work. Otherwise, why would you
      have called them? Cold calling destroys your leverage.

      3-If you tell them you are calling because you have received
      their marketing campaigns and believe them to be ineffective,
      you risk making a fool of yourself, because the marketing you
      say stinks may in fact be working like gangbusters. You don't
      know.

      4-Another problem with telling potential clients their copy
      stinks is that the person you are speaking with may be
      responsible for it and not agree with you. So you start off the
      relationship by arguing with and insulting her. Is that smart?

      5-Cold calling is a form of telemarketing, a marketing
      technique that has slowly fallen out of favor over the years
      because it is overly intrusive and interruptive. Lots of people
      hate telemarketers, so for you to become one does not position
      you favorably with your potential clients.

      The bottom line: cold calling is a bad idea because it violates
      the Silver Rule of Marketing, formulated by my colleague Pete
      Silver, who says: "It is always better to get them to come to
      you than for you go to them."

      Sincerely,
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    • Profile picture of the author blackbodhisattva
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      Cold calling will ruin your positioning as a copywriter. It's like a heart surgeon cold calling a list of heart patients.

      But if you called about an ad that they put out, or about a sales letter that they put out. You could say "I never cold call. But I saw your ad, and there are two glaring mistakes I see, that are keeping it from making any real money. Would you like to know what they are?"

      And, of course, they do.

      Then you can either tell them, and engage them over the phone, or try to make an appointment (if they are close enough) '"I need to show you the ad. Will you be there tomorrow at 3PM?"

      If they ask if you are trying to sell your services, you can say "I don't sell my services like this. I work with referrals. But you ad just got to me. Let's go over the ad,and I'll give you a coupe of suggestions for free. Maybe we'll work together on a later project".

      Of course, the whole idea is to get them to think that you're a smart copywriter. Just leave openings, where they can ask about your services.

      It's almost the exact script I used when selling local advertising services.
      Claude - love the advice - newbie still trying to figure out how to say "Thanks." Go Scots?
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by blackbodhisattva View Post

        Claude - love the advice - newbie still trying to figure out how to say "Thanks." Go Scots?
        Thank you. The book Selling Local Advertising may help. Or my book in my signature on prospecting.

        But I've used the "I'm calling about your ad" approach many times with great results. I don't remember if I picked it up in a book, or made it up myself. It sure seems like someone would have thought of it before me.

        I may have even picked it up here a few years ago.

        One thing I add when I cold call is "I work entirely by referral, but I couldn't get your ad out of my mind." If you are a copywriter, you could add " It's a beautiful ad, but the mistakes are glaring to a seasoned copywriter." And then go on to ask if you could point out the two or three mistakes that were made.

        Again, I'm not a real copywriter. But I know how to sell.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I very much believe in the attraction and 'not running after clients' principle.
    Bob calls it the Silver Marketing Rule. You'll have better positioning if
    someone comes looking for you rather than the other way around.

    When you are new in the business you will have to forget this rule
    until you can establish yourself. Although if you write a proper blog
    or newsletter/white paper, you can still attract clients this way.

    I've never done cold calling and it's not my forte. Some people
    can work the numbers and become successful at it, but I know
    I would starve if I had to use that means of acquiring clients.

    -Ray Edwards
    Signature
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Sure, if you call and you're trying to sell, desperate for clients, calling won't work well.

    But calling to SORT? To FIND OUT if they have an opportunity for you to work together? And not being emotionally attached to whether they do or not?

    I spent time in this very subforum describing how to do just that.

    Bly is not fully informed in this instance because he doesn't know any other kind of prospecting than desperate calling. It's not his area. I should call him, but I own a book of his and know he sends everything to voicemail for screening. Bet you I could get him to call me back, though.

    Here's the deal: if you're sitting around doing nothing, HOPING work will find you, you've failed. It ain't gonna happen. You have to take action and whether that's advertising, prospecting calls, emails, or a mix of whatever you will actually do, that's what it takes. I've seen many posts over the last two years from writers who don't know how to get clients, and are doing nothing to get them.

    (PS. I like what Bob has to say about writing. I enjoy his writing, except for article like these.)


    EDIT:

    Don't anybody say I don't put my money where my mouth is.


    I called Bob.

    He answered.

    We spoke for about 5 minutes.

    I'm doing a phone interview with him on Thursday, which I'll share here. Topic will be ways for new copywriters to get clients. Got a question you'd like me to ask Bob? Post it here.

    I'm also linking him to that thread above, so he can give his opinion on it.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      In 7+ years of being a professional copywriter, I have never once cold-called a prospective client. I also actively discourage my copywriting protégés from doing it as well.

      Why?

      1. Glorified Begging. It's almost impossible to frame it so you don't sound like you're asking them for money or begging for work.

      2. Timing. You're hoping to reach them at a time where the decision maker can talk with you on the phone. Short of setting up a phone appointment time with them, your odds aren't good that you're catching them when they can talk freely and are open to hearing your pitch.

      3. Wrong Skillset. It doesn't demonstrate the right skill set. If they're hiring telemarketers, then great... give them your best phone pitch and show off your skills. But if you're trying to sell them on your copywriting and marketing skills, then you gotta *show* them in writing what you can do. I've interviewed some of the best copywriters in the world and they would not be good at telephone sales BUT they could sell you your own socks in writing.

      4. Time. I won't even get into the amount of time you'll waste talking to unqualified or uninterested prospects... that's time you'll never get back. In the amount of time you spend making a series of cold-calls to prospective clients, you probably could have set up a PPC ad, written a blog post, answered a "copywriter needed" ad, or even written a direct mail piece (shock and awe packages work GREAT) to mail to targeted prospects. Each of these methods will attract prospective clients to contact you. That leads me into my next point.

      5. Positioning. You will have far greater leverage in negotiations if they are pursuing you then the other way around. You can set the terms of engagement for your services. But asking a prospective client for work? No way. You'll either take what they're offering or be forced to walk away empty-handed.

      If you use your marketing correctly -- and that's to pull qualified prospects to contact you -- then you close them with your sales skills to turn prospects into paying clients.

      Hope that helps,

      Mike
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

        In 7+ years of being a professional copywriter, I have never once cold-called a prospective client. I also actively discourage my copywriting protégés from doing it as well.

        Why?

        1. Glorified Begging. It's almost impossible to frame it so you don't sound like you're asking them for money or begging for work.

        2. Timing. You're hoping to reach them at a time where the decision maker can talk with you on the phone. Short of setting up a phone appointment time with them, your odds aren't good that you're catching them when they can talk freely and are open to hearing your pitch.

        3. Wrong Skillset. It doesn't demonstrate the right skill set. If they're hiring telemarketers, then great... give them your best phone pitch and show off your skills. But if you're trying to sell them on your copywriting and marketing skills, then you gotta *show* them in writing what you can do. I've interviewed some of the best copywriters in the world and they would not be good at telephone sales BUT they could sell you your own socks in writing.

        4. Time. I won't even get into the amount of time you'll waste talking to unqualified or uninterested prospects... that's time you'll never get back. In the amount of time you spend making a series of cold-calls to prospective clients, you probably could have set up a PPC ad, written a blog post, answered a "copywriter needed" ad, or even written a direct mail piece (shock and awe packages work GREAT) to mail to targeted prospects. Each of these methods will attract prospective clients to contact you. That leads me into my next point.

        5. Positioning. You will have far greater leverage in negotiations if they are pursuing you then the other way around. You can set the terms of engagement for your services. But asking a prospective client for work? No way. You'll either take what they're offering or be forced to walk away empty-handed.

        If you use your marketing correctly -- and that's to pull qualified prospects to contact you -- then you close them with your sales skills to turn prospects into paying clients.

        Hope that helps,

        Mike
        Those are pretty much the same arguments I commonly see. And if what you're doing is calling up companies and pitching them, yes I can agree that you'll probably get worn out.

        But if you call just to have a conversation and find out if a) they hire outside copywriters and b) they have projects they need help with now, there isn't a positioning problem. And you can qualify in just a few minutes; it's not time-intensive.

        However, most copywriters are not used to selling. They don't have a consistent sales process.

        And if you're not willing to walk away from a prospect, you shouldn't be selling.

        I see a lot of talk in this forum but not always much action. I took immediate action. It was quick, straightforward, and I got results.
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        • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
          Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

          Those are pretty much the same arguments I commonly see. And if what you're doing is calling up companies and pitching them, yes I can agree that you'll probably get worn out.

          But if you call just to have a conversation and find out if a) they hire outside copywriters and b) they have projects they need help with now, there isn't a positioning problem.

          However, most copywriters are not used to selling. They don't have a consistent sales process.

          And if you're not willing to walk away from a prospect, you shouldn't be selling.
          Time is money. In the time it takes to make a single phone call, I can do multiple personalized emails. I use a prewritten form lead generation letter I've already written and targeted decision makers who have already demonstrated that they hire people like me. Hell, I can even inquiry if they have a marketing need in the same manner.

          That's maybe 5% of the time I ever bother to do this form of prospecting. The other 95% of the time, my marketing and promotional efforts bring them to my virtual doorstep.

          I don't want to have to educate a prospect on what copywriting is or what a marketing consultant can do for them. It's a major waste of time. For the wrong prospects. For me as well.

          I do want to talk to decision makers who know they need copywriting or marketing help and are willing to pay to hire an expert to do it for them. It's time well spent for a qualified decision maker and for me.
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          • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
            Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

            Time is money. In the time it takes to make a single phone call, I can do multiple personalized emails. I use a prewritten form lead generation letter I've already written and targeted decision makers who have already demonstrated that they hire people like me. That's maybe 5% of the time I ever bother to do it. The other 95% of the time, my marketing and promotional efforts bring them to my virtual doorstep.

            I don't want to have to educate a prospect on what copywriting is or what a marketing consultant can do for them. It's a major waste of time. For the wrong prospects. For me as well.

            I do want to talk to decision makers who know they need copywriting or marketing help and are willing to pay to hire an expert to do it for them. It's time well spent for a qualified decision maker and for me.
            Again, who's talking about convincing anyone? I'm saying call up and find out if they hire outside copywriters and whether they have any projects they need help with now.

            Have you tried? No.

            And how did I immediately get a conversation with Bob? Did I email him? Advertise to him? Fly a blimp over his house? No. I called him.
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            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
              Part of Bob Bly's response.

              "2-When you quote your fee, the client whom you find through
              cold calling will almost always try to beat you down. Why?

              Because they know you need the work. Otherwise, why would you
              have called them? Cold calling destroys your leverage.


              3-If you tell them you are calling because you have received
              their marketing campaigns and believe them to be ineffective,

              you risk making a fool of yourself, because the marketing you
              say stinks may in fact be working like gangbusters. You don't
              know.

              4-Another problem with telling potential clients their copy
              stinks is that the person you are speaking with may be
              responsible for it and not agree with you. So you start off the
              relationship by arguing with and insulting her. Is that smart?"

              I have enormous respect for Bly's opinion.

              But I cold call, and I sell a high end marketing program. I never sound like I need the work. And in fact, I don't.

              As far as irritating the prospect, critiquing the ads? That just takes skill.
              You have to ask questions before you shoot your mouth off. You have to show respect for what they have done before.

              Saying "Your ad stinks" is an incredibly stupid approach. Saying "your ad isn't working" is also a stupid approach.

              Saying 'I specialize in exactly the kind of ad you have. Whoever put it together for you, knew what they were doing. I could only find two points that I know would increase it's response. Would you like to know what they are?"

              Cold calling isn't begging. Begging is begging. Do you know what shows Ambition? Confidence? Balls?

              A well crafted cold call.

              Saying "Cold calling makes you look desperate." is about as intelligent as saying "Copywriting is evil, because you are just manipulating them"

              To you copywriters...That last quote? It got the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, didn't it? Why? Because it isn't true, and shows a lack of knowledge.

              Just like saying "Cold calling makes you look desperate"

              I'll give you this though, the vast majority of cold callers have no idea how to qualify, built curiosity, and come across as a pro.

              Kanigan knows. And to a lesser degree, so do I.

              If someone tells me about cold calling, they better have some real experience cold calling. Or I'll think they are a fool.
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              • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
                Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post


                But I cold call, and I sell a high end marketing program. I never sound like I need the work. And in fact, I don't.

                As far as irritating the prospect, critiquing the ads? That just takes skill.
                You have to ask questions before you shoot your mouth off. You have to show respect for what they have done before.

                Saying "Your ad stinks" is an incredibly stupid approach. Saying "your ad isn't working" is also a stupid approach.

                Saying 'I specialize in exactly the kind of ad you have. Whoever put it together for you, knew what they were doing. I could only find two points that I know would increase it's response. Would you like to know what they are?"

                Cold calling isn't begging. Begging is begging. Do you know what shows Ambition? Confidence? Balls?

                A well crafted cold call.

                Saying "Cold calling makes you look desperate." is about as intelligent as saying "Copywriting is evil, because you are just manipulating them"

                To you copywriters...That last quote? It got the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, didn't it? Why? Because it isn't true, and shows a lack of knowledge.

                Just like saying "Cold calling makes you look desperate"

                I'll give you this though, the vast majority of cold callers have no idea how to qualify, built curiosity, and come across as a pro.

                Kanigan knows. And to a lesser degree, so do I.

                If someone tells me about cold calling, they better have some real experience cold calling. Or I'll think they are a fool.
                Okay, you sound like you're waffling. You lead with this comment earlier in the thread:

                Cold calling will ruin your positioning as a copywriter. It's like a heart surgeon cold calling a list of heart patients.
                So which side of the fence are you on Claude?

                I will agree with you that the majority of people doing cold-calling (in ALL industries) do not show a high level of skill.

                If cold-calling works for selling your high-end marketing program, good for you.

                But the reality is the vast majority of copywriters, including those who are extremely good at selling in print, either do not like cold-calling or aren't skilled at it.

                How is doing cold-calling a successful client attraction method if it's not one of your most effective ways to land clients? The answer is it's not. It's far better use of your time to use your strengths -- and for most that's salesmanship in print -- to attract qualified prospects and then close them by phone or email.

                For the record, I have found other methods bring me clients faster and easier than cold-calling. But if it works for Kanigan and you, then maybe you two can sit down with a phone book together someday and dial to your heart's content.
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                • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                  Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

                  Okay, you sound like you're waffling. You lead with this comment earlier in the thread:

                  "Cold calling will ruin your positioning as a copywriter. It's like a heart surgeon cold calling a list of heart patients."

                  So which side of the fence are you on Claude?
                  Mike; There is no fence. I should have been clearer, and more concise. I should have said "Cold calling, as people perceive cold calling, will ruin your positioning"


                  Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

                  I will agree with you that the majority of people doing cold-calling (in ALL industries) do not show a high level of skill.

                  If cold-calling works for selling your high-end marketing program, good for you.

                  But the reality is the vast majority of copywriters, including those who are extremely good at selling in print, either do not like cold-calling or aren't skilled at it.
                  And..most don't need to do it. It's almost the antithesis of copywriting. Cold calling takes a completely different skill set.

                  Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

                  How is doing cold-calling a successful client attraction method if it's not one of your most effective ways to land clients? The answer is it's not. It's far better use of your time to use your strengths -- and for most that's salesmanship in print -- to attract qualified prospects and then close them by phone or email.
                  The bolded part is a highly intelligent question, that I'd like to answer.

                  I think that only cold calling, when you have other methods at your disposal, is a mistake. I also use other methods. I have a highly developed referral system that I use to great effect. I'm getting better at networking (mostly against my nature). And I have tons of online content, and 5 books that draw clients.

                  Are you ready?

                  All of that takes maybe 15 minutes a day. Sometimes I just get bored. And you know what is an effective use of dead time? Cold calling.

                  There are only so many referrals I can call, only so many phone calls I can answer. But cold calling? I can do that pretty much any time I want. And I'm pretty good at it.

                  Now, to be fair, I'm a pretty salesy guy. I may hide it a little from prospects, but I have no fear of prospecting, or closing. It's my expertise.

                  I have little expertise in copywriting. So it isn't that I'm waffling. I keep forgetting that most copywriters aren't like me. So, maneuvering in a phone call, to position myself as the answer, is easier for me than most. Probably for Kanigan too.

                  If Frank Kern called you out of the blue....would you think he was desperate? Not if he handles it right. And he would get sales.

                  But Frank Kern doesn't need to cold call. And busy copywriters don't need to cold call. But I do it, because it's better than sitting on my rear, doing nothing. But only after the marketing is done.

                  We probably agree much more than you think.

                  Added a tad later;

                  Ewen's example of Oren Klaff was pretty good. But he's a salesman, a real shark. And I know that it isn't normal to be like that. And I keep forgetting that we're on the Copywriting Forum.
                  Again, a different skill set.

                  I've read your last few posts. Again, we aren't far apart.
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              • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
                If it wasn't for cold calling I wouldn't have the brand Puma and 10 national no1 retail consumer brands as repeat customers. They had never heard of my company or were warmed up before contact. No website for them to check out.

                Did the job once and are now they call me.
                I don't promote to them anymore.

                If you read Oren Klaff's book Pitch Anything, he cold calls investors to have meetings to make pitches. They have never heard of him.

                He ends up selling millions and millions.

                You'd think the people with money have the power,
                not so if done right on a cold call.

                It's not that cold calling is bad, it's how you do it
                is at fault.

                The other thing is it depends on the nature of what you are selling
                and how accessible are your target audience is.

                You wouldn't use cold calling to sell a diet product.

                I've seen cold email work to get into big corporate decision makers
                and sell 12 million dollars worth of software.

                Remember when copywriting was hard when you started out,
                and others quit because they couldn't make it work?

                And cold calling can be like it too.

                Why should it be any different,
                it's a skill that can be learned.

                Best,
                Ewen
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                • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
                  Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

                  It's not that cold calling is bad, it's how you do it
                  is at fault.


                  The other thing is it depends on the nature of what you are selling
                  and how accessible are your target audience is.

                  You wouldn't use cold calling to sell a diet product.

                  I've seen cold email work to get into big corporate decision makers
                  and sell 12 million dollars worth of software.

                  Remember when copywriting was hard when you started out,
                  and others quit because they couldn't make it work?

                  And cold calling can be like it too.

                  Why should it be any different,
                  it's a skill that can be learned.

                  Best,
                  Ewen
                  I agree with you 100%. I even bolded what I felt the best point you made was.

                  If your strength is in cold-calling, then do it. If it isn't and you want to change it, then do it.

                  The vast majority of copywriters are not good at cold-calling. I know of several extremely well-known copywriters (no, I will not disclose who they are) who stink at cold-calling or hate doing it.

                  So they play to their strengths to attract the right prospects: Direct mail, online marketing, networking, referral generation, etc, etc.

                  And then they close the prospects by phone or email. The rare times that I do get on the phone with a prospect I close the deal over 80% of the time... email is about the same closing rate for me and a lot less of a time commitment for me too.

                  I choose not to cold-call for the 5 reasons I gave above. I didn't say it couldn't work for some people. I did say that it's not the best use of time and resources for me. Because it's not the best use of time and resources for me, I choose not to spend additional time honing the skill when there are other areas (i.e. video marketing) that produce better results for me.
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            • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
              Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

              Again, who's talking about convincing anyone? I'm saying call up and find out if they hire outside copywriters and whether they have any projects they need help with now.

              Have you tried? No.
              How would you know what I've tried or not tried? Do you have my office bugged? Ever talked to me by phone or email? Hell, have you ever even ASKED me?

              The answer to all of the above is no, you haven't. For the record, I have done cold-calling successfully in multiple industries over the years.

              For copywriters, I still stick with my 5 points listed above.

              I can find out who wants to hire an expert copywriter/marketing consultant a lot faster and easier without cold-calling. I can subtly demonstrate my expertise through email or direct mail than a phone call. I can get them excited to the point where they're calling me asking me how soon I can write their marketing with a single letter. I can execute the marketing weapon at a time that works for me and NOT when I *think* I'll catch the decision maker in their office.

              A cold-call phone call does not show them that I can sell their product or services in print either.

              If cold-calling is going to work at all, it has to be highly targeted and will require getting past their gatekeeper AND catch them at the right time/mood to have a decent chance of working. I can easily get a targeted direct mail package to a decision maker without having to worry about the gatekeeper (and yes, I've done it).

              Speaking from the experiences of other similar level copywriters (the ones who are consistently getting five figures plus royalties per project), cold-calling a major mailer is an easy way to get yourself black-balled forever with that marketing director and that company as well.

              Mike

              P.S. I get that your WSO and your business website are focused on teaching cold-calling... especially when hunting for work. But if you think you're going to gain any creditability by saying that veteran copywriters like Bob Bly (and other copywriters like the ones who have spoken up in this thread) are wrong, then you're sadly mistaken.
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              • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
                Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

                How would you know what I've tried or not tried? Do you have my office bugged? Ever talked to me by phone or email? Hell, have you ever even ASKED me?

                The answer to all of the above is no, you haven't. For the record, I have done cold-calling successfully in multiple industries over the years.

                For copywriters, I still stick with my 5 points listed above.

                I can find out who wants to hire an expert copywriter/marketing consultant a lot faster and easier without cold-calling. I can subtly demonstrate my expertise through email or direct mail than a phone call. I can get them excited to the point where they're calling me asking me how soon I can write their marketing with a single letter. I can execute the marketing weapon at a time that works for me and NOT when I *think* I'll catch the decision maker in their office.

                A cold-call phone call does not show them that I can sell their product or services in print either.

                If cold-calling is going to work at all, it has to be highly targeted and will require getting past their gatekeeper AND catch them at the right time/mood to have a decent chance of working. I can easily get a targeted direct mail package to a decision maker without having to worry about the gatekeeper (and yes, I've done it).

                Speaking from the experiences of other similar level copywriters (the ones who are consistently getting five figures plus royalties per project), cold-calling a major mailer is an easy way to get yourself black-balled forever with that marketing director and that company as well.

                Mike

                P.S. I get that your WSO and your business website are focused on teaching cold-calling... especially when hunting for work. But if you think you're going to gain any creditability by saying that veteran copywriters like Bob Bly (and other copywriters like the ones who have spoken up in this thread) are wrong, then you're sadly mistaken.
                I have a ton of credibility, thanks.

                And I gave away the method for getting the gatekeeper to help you.

                If it's a bad time for the prospect when you reach them, don't have the conversation. Call back another time. Ask at the start: "Is this a bad time to talk?"

                How'd I get my interview with Neil Patel? I called him. (That's what he wanted, too. Says right there on his site that he probably won't respond to written communication.)

                Once again, there are a ton of people out there wishing for work but having no idea how to get it. This is one way, and I have shared an effective method for doing so that gives fast feedback.
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                • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
                  Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

                  I have a ton of credibility, thanks.
                  Right. As a sales TRAINER. As a TELEMARKETER. As a COLLECTIONS manager.

                  Where is your credibility as a COPYWRITER for any clients besides yourself? Do you have any client testimonials on the results your copy produced for them?

                  I actively speak on what has worked for me as a COPYWRITER. I rarely speak about what has worked for me in other industries unless it's relevant to whatever the present topic I'm talking about might be.

                  And I gave away the method for getting the gatekeeper to help you.
                  Yeah, I saw your video. Jeffrey Gitomer teaches several similar methods in his sales training materials. Same with a number of other sales trainers.

                  If it's a bad time for the prospect when you reach them, don't have the conversation. Call back another time. Ask at the start: "Is this a bad time to talk?"
                  Which double or triples the time it takes to get answer from them. If you get through to them again. They can easily tell their gatekeeper that if you call again to say that they're not available.

                  How'd I get my interview with Neil Patel? I called him. (That's what he wanted, too. Says right there on his site that he probably won't respond to written communication.)
                  Simple. You offered him a free opportunity to promote his business. The vast majority of well-known marketers will gladly do interviews because it's an easy way to promote their businesses. I've done it countless interviews myself for the same exact reason and interviewed A-List copywriters like Doug D'Anna, Carline Anglade-Cole, and many more for my website, even though I had no previous network connection with them.
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              • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                Guys; I have a very strong feeling here that this is an argument about two different things.

                Are there better ways to get in the door for copywriting? I imagine so. Just like any selling I do, referrals and networking are more effective.

                But that doesn't mean a newer (or less busy) copywriter can't cold call.
                And one definition of a cold call may be completely different from another definition. It doesn't have to sound like a sales pitch, out of the need for a sale.

                For example; I finish a project for a mattress store, not I have all that content and expertise on mattresses and mattress store marketing. Calling other mattress stores, is kind of a logical extension of my work.

                Of course, referrals are far preferred, because you have tremendous leverage.

                It's not an either/or thing. Cold calling, if done with skill, can be very professional, and can at least open the door. So can lots of other methods.

                But it isn't the only way, and for the Pro's it's not needed. (I'm assuming. I'm not a copywriter)
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    • Profile picture of the author splitTest
      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post



      EDIT:

      Don't anybody say I don't put my money where my mouth is.


      I called Bob.

      He answered.

      We spoke for about 5 minutes.

      I'm doing a phone interview with him on Thursday, which I'll share here. Topic will be ways for new copywriters to get clients. Got a question you'd like me to ask Bob? Post it here.

      I'm also linking him to that thread above, so he can give his opinion on it.
      A question I'd like to ask Bob: If not cold-calling, then what does he suggest copywriters do to drum up new business? That's a glaring omission from his email.

      I realize there are many other ways to pursue new business. I'd just like to hear Bob's, because I respect the guy as pretty much the leading name in copywriting today.
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  • Profile picture of the author bad golfer
    I cold call because I've done it for years and years and am good at it. Just last week I added three more quality clients.

    That said, one of my top goals for 2014 is to use LinkedIn more effectively. My niche is B2B software and tech firms, so LinkedIn is a perfect platform. I participate in the groups, and research company and decision makers, but need to do more.

    Some copywriters like Len Bailey are doing very well on LinkedIn:
    http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ml#post8638038

    Check out this story--wow (not copywriting but still):
    How did this man land a $4 million contract on LinkedIn?
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by bad golfer View Post

      I cold call because I've done it for years and years and am good at it. Just last week I added three more quality clients.
      Again, I'm not a copywriter, by profession. So maybe I have no right to ask...

      Could I ask what your approach is over the phone?
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      • Profile picture of the author bad golfer
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        Again, I'm not a copywriter, by profession. So maybe I have no right to ask...

        Could I ask what your approach is over the phone?
        You don't want to know, it's that ugly.

        It's a home brew of all-star charm, relentless competitiveness, fear of failure, fear of success, and Skype--all fueled by copious amounts of bulletproof coffee and croughnuts.



        Croughnuts photo courtesy Joyosity via Flickr CC
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by bad golfer View Post

      I cold call because I've done it for years and years and am good at it. Just last week I added three more quality clients.

      That said, one of my top goals for 2014 is to use LinkedIn more effectively. My niche is B2B software and tech firms, so LinkedIn is a perfect platform. I participate in the groups, and research company and decision makers, but need to do more.

      Some copywriters like Len Bailey are doing very well on LinkedIn:
      http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ml#post8638038
      [/URL]
      Networking through LinkedIn does work. Len mentioned in that thread he focused on networking via LinkedIn.

      I recently closed a large project through LinkedIn simply through networking. When someone in one of the groups I belong to asked a question, I contacted them with the detailed answer they were looking for and the end result was a new project in 2014 for me.
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      • Which came first the chicken or the egg?

        Does it really matter? Both taste good cooked unless you're a Vegan.

        My point cold calling is not for everyone. I've been doing it so long that it doesn't feel like I'm doing it. Then again I've always liked meeting people.

        In my career I can't remember a time when a client thought I was begging when I called on them out of the blue. Maybe it's the way I came across. I don't know.

        I'm no expert but I think there are 2 aspects to cold calling that can be broken down into "Cold Calling" and "Cold Inquiring".

        As for customers thinking your begging because you cold called them is an opinion. Personally I think business people are too busy to care what your motives are because they are too busy and have their own problems to even think about the cold caller.


        As for people trying to beat you down in price that's just people in general. There is an old proverb that says: "The buyer says, "It's too much, it's too much", but goes away gloating".
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      • Profile picture of the author Biz Max
        Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

        Networking through LinkedIn does work. Len mentioned in that thread he focused on networking via LinkedIn.
        Linkedin has worked very well for me.
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        • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
          Jay,

          It might be splitting hairs but I'd call your method email prospecting. The OP about Bly's email was about cold-calling via phone.

          IMHO, email prospecting is a better fit for most copywriters because they're using their salesmanship in print skills vs. their ability to sell on their feet/by phone/live without a net. I've done successfully and so have my students. But picking up the phone to cold-call... I still stick my original post in this thread.

          Take care,

          Mike
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          • Profile picture of the author Jay White
            Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

            Jay,

            It might be splitting hairs but I'd call your method email prospecting. The OP about Bly's email was about cold-calling via phone.

            IMHO, email prospecting is a better fit for most copywriters because they're using their salesmanship in print skills vs. their ability to sell on their feet/by phone/live without a net. I've done successfully and so have my students. But picking up the phone to cold-call... I still stick my original post in this thread.

            Take care,

            Mike
            No hairs to split here Mike--you are exactly correct. I didn't catch the whole "phone" part of it. I just thought Bob was calling out cold calling in general. Thanks for clearing that up!
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  • Cold Calling can work if you get the timing right.

    Email is more efficient though, as a cold approach.

    Not ideal for positioning, but it's not an ideal world.

    Even John Carlton talks about how he was on his uppers for a while in "kick ass..."

    One of the first big copywriters I mentored under kick started his career by calling Jay Abraham asking if he could re-do- his sales copy in return for a speaking gig.

    He did the sales copy for free in return for a speaking gig at his london Seminar.

    After he came off stage he got 3 offers to write sales letters at £15 each. Yes...that's sterling!!
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    "Peter Brennan is the real deal, In the first 12 hours we did $80k...and over $125k in the first week...if you want to be successful online, outsource your copywriting to Peter"
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    For 12 ways to sell more stuff to more people today...go to...www.peterbrennan.net
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    • Profile picture of the author Raydal
      Originally Posted by Quality Copywriter View Post

      After he came off stage he got 3 offers to write sales letters at £15 each. Yes...that's sterling!!
      Is that figure right or maybe I just missed the point?

      -Ray Edwards
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      • yep...£15k each
        Signature
        "Peter Brennan is the real deal, In the first 12 hours we did $80k...and over $125k in the first week...if you want to be successful online, outsource your copywriting to Peter"
        Adam Linkenauger

        For 12 ways to sell more stuff to more people today...go to...www.peterbrennan.net
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    PromotionalGuy, agreed.

    My point was: most people are doing nothing to get work.

    I have given them the words to say and an example of calling to get results.

    They can do it too. Much better than sitting on their butts doing nothing at all, no marketing, no prospecting, nothing, and hoping work somehow finds them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay White
    First of all, Bob Bly is a tremendous guy who has been instrumental in my career. His book was the first I ever bought on becoming a freelance copywriter, and the first time I spoke on stage about my email copywriting method, he was there too and had nothing but wonderful things to say about my presentation. It was HUGE to hear that from a copywriter of Bob's stature, and I'm very thankful for his kind words.

    The marketing method I teach my coaching and mentoring students is more of a virtual "handshake" than a "please hire me or I'll die" message. Sort of like meeting someone at an event, chatting for a bit, and giving them your business card. Very simple, but very effective as well. I have a lot of students doing well with this. Here it is in a nutshell:

    --Choose a niche that you're A) extremely knowledgeable in or B) have a passion for (preferably both). What you're looking for here is something that you have more experience or know-how in than most other copywriters. This is what will set you apart and really get the interest of your prospect.

    --Google companies who provide products and services in this niche. Look closely at who's doing Adwords, because they're spending money on marketing and would most likely have a higher regard (and bigger budget) for copywriting services than the guy with the $27 ebook.

    --Get a contact email address from that website and send them a short email. Basically, this is who I am, this is what I do, this is what separates me from other copywriters (this is the niche experience part), and this is how to get in touch with me. Doesn't have to be big or fancy, just a few lines.

    --Send it off, choose another website, and rinse and repeat as often as you like.

    There's a bit more to it, but that's the Cliff's Notes version. The key is to express your interest and experience in the niche (separating you from all the other copywriters). Someone who has more knowledge of the niche knows the products, knows the market, knows what buttons to push to drive sales, knows the lingo, etc. That's invaluable to a business owner, because they don't have to train anyone. They can just basically hand you a project and know that it's going to be killer when they get it back.

    So does it work? Let me put it this way...I've done this in the golf industry several times (my passion) and always came away with projects. Just recently did a "fishing" expedition right before the holidays and now I'm working with a company who's producing an entire video series on an product idea that I had. Yep, MY idea! So I not only get the copy fee, but a piece of the product as well. SWEET!

    Another instance was just last week. I stumbled on a guitar ad (passion #2) for a cool product with great potential. So I sent out a short fishing email and got a reply 5 MINUTES LATER. They want to talk right after the big NAMM show this week in L.A. So another conversation started there that could lead to big things...

    Is it sexy? Groundbreaking? Avant garde? Nope--not by a long shot. It's fishing. You put a bunch of lines in the water with bait and see what happens. Sometimes it's nothing, sometimes you get a little nibble, sometimes you catch a nice fish, and sometimes you catch a REALLY nice fish. But the key here is to keep putting more lines and more bait in the water, every day. It's a numbers game, and if keep doing it every day, your message will end up in front of someone who needs what you do. After that, it's really just negotiation. They're pretty much sold on you, because of your passion/experience in the niche. If you can put a few coherent sentences together, you got a gig.

    Again, there's a lot more about this (including more case studies, email templates, etc) inside my Email Copy Made Easy program, which is available at AWAI (shameless plug). But you can take what I gave you here for free and pretty much run with it as is. I'm telling you, it works. It's worked for me and it's worked for many of my students as well.

    Good luck!
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    • I tested Jay's simple email prospecting formula below. In less than 24 hours here are my results.

      I targeted hardware companies. Title of my email was

      "Freelance Commercial Writer Inquiry"

      I kept it short sweet and to the point. Told them briefly who I was, what I do, my background in their industry. Asked if they hire copywriters to write for them. Gave a link to my SAMPLES page and my contact information.

      I sent out only 26 emails and in less than 24 hours I got 3 responses back and one of them wants to hire someone to write content for his website's blog and social medium platforms.

      The other 2 responses were actually submitted through their contact form at their websites. Later in the day I got 2 very nice replays from two different companies advising me that my emails were sent to their marketing departments. That was surprising to me.

      So from where I'm sitting cold email prospecting works.

      Thanks Jay


      Originally Posted by Jay White View Post

      The marketing method I teach my coaching and mentoring students is more of a virtual "handshake" than a "please hire me or I'll die" message. Sort of like meeting someone at an event, chatting for a bit, and giving them your business card. Very simple, but very effective as well. I have a lot of students doing well with this. Here it is in a nutshell:

      --Choose a niche that you're A) extremely knowledgeable in or B) have a passion for (preferably both). What you're looking for here is something that you have more experience or know-how in than most other copywriters. This is what will set you apart and really get the interest of your prospect.

      --Google companies who provide products and services in this niche. Look closely at who's doing Adwords, because they're spending money on marketing and would most likely have a higher regard (and bigger budget) for copywriting services than the guy with the $27 ebook.

      --Get a contact email address from that website and send them a short email. Basically, this is who I am, this is what I do, this is what separates me from other copywriters (this is the niche experience part), and this is how to get in touch with me. Doesn't have to be big or fancy, just a few lines.

      --Send it off, choose another website, and rinse and repeat as often as you like.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jay White
        Originally Posted by ThePromotionalGuy View Post

        I tested Jay's simple email prospecting formula below. In less than 24 hours here are my results.

        I targeted hardware companies. Title of my email was

        "Freelance Commercial Writer Inquiry"

        I kept it short sweet and to the point. Told them briefly who I was, what I do, my background in their industry. Asked if they hire copywriters to write for them. Gave a link to my SAMPLES page and my contact information.

        I sent out only 26 emails and in less than 24 hours I got 3 responses back and one of them wants to hire someone to write content for his website's blog and social medium platforms.

        The other 2 responses were actually submitted through their contact form at their websites. Later in the day I got 2 very nice replays from two different companies advising me that my emails were sent to their marketing departments. That was surprising to me.

        So from where I'm sitting cold email prospecting works.

        Thanks Jay
        Awesome man--great to hear. I'm telling you, for something so simple and easy to do, this can really get things going. I'll bet you at least get couple more replies as well (my response rate comes in around 20-30% typically).

        Run with this guys!
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  • Profile picture of the author AlexTee
    This point seems to get overlooked in a lot of these discussions about cold calling.

    …. .But only after the marketing is done……

    After you've mailed your post cards and letters, after you have placed ads, after you've sent emails, after you've networked on LinkedIn, and on and on……there will be time to pick up the phone to make cold calls and that act will bring in incremental business that will boost your earnings overall.
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Well, he's writing from a rather tidy position as the
    author of a bunch of books.

    The biggest problem in getting copywriting clients
    in my experience is navigating the tricky terrain
    between the people who are so clueless about
    direct marketing you have to teach it to them,
    and the snakes who are savvy enough to screw
    you over because they know copywriters are
    easy to get. Some of them even know how to
    write and edit copy and will hire and screw freelancers
    to get cheap draft concepts.

    ... in between are the internet marketer type
    clients with no capital.

    A business that has never really tried to use
    copy effectively as part of a cogent strategy
    may be an unhappy client if you bill them for
    consulting/coaching hours. You'll be an
    undercompensated writer if you do it for nothing
    and only bill for the writing.

    ... just fuel for the fire. In the end, it's probably
    best to go after the clients-with-a-clue you want
    (and can realistically have a shot with) and
    eventually you'll get some referrals and carve
    out a workable position you can build on.

    There are copywriters and other service providers
    who figure out how to work with all sorts of
    clients and prosper at it. One question is what
    sort of client you really want, and another is what
    sort of commercial writing you are willing to do in
    working towards establishing your own specialized
    voice.

    ... as in a lot of things, dull work is dull work.
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