DM Companies - My bad experience & how to find a new one

12 replies
A while back, I engaged a digital marketing company. It all sounded really great, we had web traffic already, we just needed to up our conversion rate.

Over a few months, between 2 companies we ended up with
- A new web site (not the DM company)
- A new sales page
- A new landing page that gets people into our list
- An Infusionsoft sales funnel for our 'offer' (free video course), with a series of sales emails
- Facebook ads, with the 'mystical' re-targeting

All in place and the impact on our business... well - that was interesting..

The web site was a flop, so we asked a recommended consultant what he thought. He said we'd gone from a high information site to a low info site and he pointed out what was missing. He said he'd write new copy for the home page but in the meantime I should try adding stuff from the old site...
- me adding stuff from the old site - worked a treat
- his new copy for the home page - flopped completely - upped the bounce rate to 80%

By the time the DM company did all the above, we'd had them on retainer for 3 months. In that time, we'd not seen a single report on performance. They gave us an outline of what they wanted to do in month 4 and it was all 'new stuff' and my reply was. "Is the stuff we already did actually doing anything for us?". They couldn't reply, so month 4 goals was to implement tracking, so we knew exactly which emails, web pages, ads were getting response and which weren't.

2 months later, they were still trying to do that... in the end, they just dropped out of contact...

Finding new DM companies hasn't been easy after that. Mostly, they all talk the same cookie-cutter spiel about how to do this, so it's hard to discern what they will do. They talk talk about 'stuff they will do' but not results. "we can't guarantee results" they say - well, of course -but have you increased anyone's revenue??


They want fairly sizeable up-front commitments but the worse thing is - they don't sell, they don't try to convince. The very nature of their job is to help convince people to buy my products - so surely, they should be using some of those sales techniques on me, right?

It's looking more & more like an industry of people that have all read the same books and are declaring themselves experts. From a customer perspective, it's a minefield. You know you want it - but not who has it.

Perplexing.

Pete
#bad #companies #experience #find
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
    Originally Posted by jigsawtrading View Post

    It's looking more & more like an industry of people that have all read the same books and are declaring themselves experts.
    In many cases, that's exactly what it is.

    We run into these types on the forum all the time. They go out and get a contract to do some marketing related skill and then they come here to ask how to do it.

    There is a whole sub-industry of selling internet marketing techniques to brick and mortar companies. Many of these guys get all their "expertise" from a $20 book or a $7 video and then they go and try to sell it.

    There are some real pros, though, in our own subforum for offline marketing. You'll see pretty quickly who can walk the walk versus just talk the talk. I don't want to name names because I'll forget somebody.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    Hey Pete,

    I'm not trying to sell you anything, here. But I've been helping small businesses improve their copy, and conversions, for a number of years now. So you can take my advice... or not (entirely your choice).

    For starters... Yes, it sounds like you may have picked an amateur DM company (or two) that simply read a book, took a course, and claimed to be experts. Then they begin the process of fumbling around (with your money) hoping it all works.

    Don't be too hard on yourself over this. There's thousands of marketing companies out there, and it's often difficult to separate wheat from the chaff.


    And while it's true, there are no guarantees in marketing. There absolutely are certain foundational processes that need to be followed, if we want to increase the chances of success.

    One "red flag" is if they tell you what they're going to do for you, before they ask you a ton of questions about your business, (and more importantly) your target market

    And if they haphazardly throw the term "best practices" at you, just remember... often times, the latest "best practices" are little more than "pooled ignorance"

    And when the last guy waited 4 months to start tracking results? That's another red flag. We need to start tracking and measuring right away. Otherwise, how do we know what's working, and what to test?


    Anyway, on to your website...


    I just visited your site (jigsawtrading . com) and I've got a bit of advice for you. This advice is free. So you can take it for whatever it's worth to you (but I guarantee it's worth more than I'm charging you for it )


    As of right now (Sunday 2/11/2018 @ 8am EST), your site is difficult to look at (much less read)

    The clutter is intense. And the flow is difficult to follow.


    First... There's a header picture (with the person writing equations on a chalkboard) that's very distracting, and it doesn't make it easy (or inviting) to read the header copy.

    Then it goes right into a cluttered page from there.


    All this clutter could explain some of your bounce rate. When people land on your page...and get overwhelmed with the clutter... many will simply click away.


    Next... Most of the copy format is written in big blocks of paragraphs (I didn't actually read all of it, because I didn't figure many of your visitors read it either... so it doesn't really matter much what it says) But the parts I did read, are NOT "salesmanship in print."

    Now, I don't know who your target market is. But the thing that immediately struck me is, most of your copy seems to be talking "at" people... about stuff. And it's not talking "to" anyone... about what you're going to do for them.



    Finally... You've got 6 or 7 different colors on this page (and some of those colors just don't belong on the same page together)


    I don't want to overwhelm you here, Pete. So I'll just finish with one last bit of advice for your consideration...

    If your old website was doing OK, maybe you should switch back to it. And then start testing (and measuring, and tracking) incremental changes to increase your conversion rates.


    Anyway, I wish you the best of success with the next marketing company you engage. And to end this on an up note... At least now you have a better idea of what to avoid in a marketing agency?


    All the best,
    SAR
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    What's up, Jigsaw. I'm taking the time to reply here for three reasons:

    1. What Mark had to say is very true. Bring your question into Offline and you'll get some answers from a good dozen genuine marketers with real experience. It's the only reason I look in once in awhile, interacting with those folks. I've met most of them in real life at events.

    2. Your problem seems interesting. You've taken action, real action, which is far beyond where most here get. You have tried a few things and seen some results.

    3. There are a few others like Rubin who are fun to interact with that aren't always in Offline but are in the Copywriting subforum, and that place used to be much busier. I mean, it was always one of the least-visited parts of the forum but that's because nobody had the brains to scroll down that far. Seriously, I've lost count of the number of people I've messaged about subforums and gotten the reply of, "Thanks! I had no idea those existed!" So we may get some good interactions here.

    OK.

    Back to your problem.

    See, here's the thing: we don't know where your problem is, really.

    Is it in Traffic?

    Or is it in Conversion, where you've been putting your effort lately?

    If the wrong people or an insufficient number of people are visiting...it doesn't matter what the copy or layout of your website is.

    I have done consultations for many years with people who had the building blocks of a real business. They actually had something. Time and time again, this issue would come up as their biggest problem: they did not have enough traffic, and based on their plans or lack thereof they never would.

    They were beaten before they began. And they had no idea.

    Does that make a pit start to open in the bottom of your stomach? It should.

    So I don't know. You say you're getting traffic, but how much? From where? How pre-qualified are those visitors, really?

    I have worked in the stock trading field. One of the launches I ran made my client over $600,000 in a week. Life-changing money. He never looked back. And he had the education and all the elements of success before I got there. He had the traffic: 50,000 people on his list. I reactivated the most hyper-ready to buy, about 2000, and we converted on a $2000 product so you can do the math. After that, we raised the price to $5K and turned it into an evergreen funnel. (There's a hugely profitable reason I got the traffic narrowed down to those 2K people, in case you were wondering why I didn't just email all 50K.)

    That guy knew online marketing. I didn't have to explain a thing to him. He was well funded and when I said, "I need this, and I need that," like an orchestra conductor, he went and got it. We had the supply of excited people, an awesome and unique product, and clarity on what we wanted to do.

    Which brings me to your site.

    I agree with Rubin that it is so cluttered the only option is to leave. No one is going to stick around to put in the effort to dig their way through all that.

    Who is the site for? What situation should they be in that you can get them out of? What should they do to easily start the process?

    In my glance through the site the way it is now, I didn't see those things. And I left.

    Now let's talk about copywriting for a minute.

    Here's where you and the writers you've hired have fallen down: you didn't figure out a way to stick with each other for awhile. You need to do this.

    I have been studying copywriting and writing for over 20 years. Glazer Kennedy recently interviewed me. And yet, with all my experience and skill, my first plans usually fail.

    Why? (And the "10X, Crush It!" crowd are always shocked to hear me say this...they're in love with the dishonesty of saying everything's going to be perfect.) It's almost never perfect. It's almost never an instant home run.

    My client I was talking about above? We failed with our first attempt to draw the truly excited minority out of that 50K pool. My first two emails were duds. We had to rethink the entire thing.

    And that's NORMAL.

    But nobody tells you that's normal. Most of them lie. Why shouldn't they? The arrangement with copywriters is usually, "I'll pay you to write some stuff...we might edit it a little, but then we're done." And off the writer goes. This is what I call the "Throw the copy over the wall and run" approach. The writer has no incentive to stick around. The buyer is expecting a home run from the first draft. Ha ha!

    Absolute nonsense. And yet this the way the majority of these kinds of relationships work.

    So you hired a company and they gave you their first draft.

    From what I read, you had some traffic and some conversion beforehand? If so, why did you agree to a wholesale change? Remember high school science? How many variables do you change at a time to test things?

    ONE.

    How many did you end up changing? Dozens, hundreds!

    Even if you and the DM company had succeeded...how would either of you have known what exactly worked? How would you duplicate that success, learn from it?

    You couldn't!

    Now if this DM co. had been experienced, they would have had a procedure to give you. They would have said at the beginning, "We'll make this one big change to what you've got, so we can test it. We need you to provide this much traffic, and we'll measure the results over this period"--30 or 60 days, say--"and then we'll decide what we should do next." Instead, you got no reporting for months. That shows me they didn't know what to do in the first place.

    Wholesale changing of copy is fine if your results have sucked so far and you want to try a completely new direction. But that's new "zero", then. You're throwing everything you learned until then out the window, and as long as you're conscious of that, fine.

    Then you hired another consultant.

    This consultant played by the same rules, and so did you, of the "Throw The Copy Over The Wall And Run" approach.

    I'm not quite sure what to make of your final comment, the one that essentially says, "People buy how they sell." That they didn't pressure you and so that's weird to you. I don't know. The sales trainer in me says that's correct: people DO buy how they sell, or sell how they buy. But a no-pressure approach is totally valid.

    You can't hire me to write, by the way. I run a high ticket closing-as-a-service company with a partner, a Done For You sales department. We use a no-pressure approach and we won't take on someone as a client if they use predatory or highly aggressive sales tactics. So this the other side I'm seeing. People are free to sell as they please.

    But I'm thinking what they should have done was find out YOUR preferences about tone and tactics before taking you on as a client. Doesn't make sense? How could they duplicate your style otherwise?

    Maybe you're not interested in that; maybe what you want is results...however they are arrived at. I don't know. We're just talking here ;-)

    So from my perspective:

    -You essentially hired a copywriter who didn't really understand project management (the DM co.), while not knowing you'd be throwing everything you'd learned so far out the window

    -You probably don't know the amount of traffic you really need...and that's not insult: as I said above, it's the most common problem I've seen people have over the past six years of doing consultations

    -Both you and the writers unconsciously adopted the "Throw The Copy Over The Wall And Run" approach, which again is ultra-commonplace. It's the de facto role arrangement in lower ticket copywriting engagements...all the high ticket writers I know are well aware theirs is an iterative process, and to get to the home run you and they are going to have work together for some time.

    Not fun to hear, I'm sure, but if you take this to heart as a business owner you'll learn a lot.

    Clarity on The Plan is critical.

    Develop the conditions for a baseline.

    What's a baseline for you? Unqualified Leads >>> Qualified Leads >>> Sales. That's the revenue equation.

    What I just shared, most business owners have never done. Figured out how much traffic they need as a baseline to get the money they want over the period they choose.

    Estimate to begin with. Take your best guess. Use the writer's experience to help with the estimating if you like. Then run real traffic through the funnel and see how it goes.

    Measure planned vs actual performance.

    And that'll tell you, instantly, whether Traffic or Conversion is your problem.

    I could write a book about this stuff and kinda already have, here. My hope is to get your eye on the ball, on the real issue. It isn't the copywriting. Not really. It's The Plan: how you apply, stick to, and learn from it.
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  • Profile picture of the author jigsawtrading
    Thank you all for the replies.

    Some great comments so far, so let me throw in a few replies. As for me being overwhelmed - don't worry - I have just gone through a lengthy period of being underwhelmed!

    - we can't go back to the old site - it's a different set of products now - so we'd go back & then have to start changing it. The old site is here: Jigsaw Trading - Day Trading tools, day trading methods,day trading community

    - I agree on clutter on the new page - it's there partly as a result of me trying to bring across 'feel' from the old page

    This was the first edition of the home page after paying for the new site: https://www.jigsawtrading.com/homeold/ (although some items on the first which section are global and so my updates for the new page changed them)

    What's there now was my edit after a copywriter said we'd lost touch.

    This was what the copywriter came up with (which flopped): hhttps://www.jigsawtrading.com/home-day-trader/

    The landing page/sales page developed by the DM company are here:
    http://www.jigsawtrading.com/go
    http://www.jigsawtrading.com/go/love

    In terms of stats - in January 60,000 page views, 46,000 unique page views. 8.5k views of the home page - so not overly busy but that's been our run rate for a while. We see about 250 people a week go into the funnel but who knows where they end up after that!

    As this has been fairly constant, I presumed traffic was not the issue but conversion.

    Traffic comes from various places - banner ads, hosted webinars, listings on broker sites, youtube videos. Google analytics isn't something I really understand how to read but our biggest 2 sources of traffic there are listed as "google/organic" and "(direct) / (none)", then Infusionsoft and then "jigsawtrading.com/Referral" - so the top 4 sources on Google Analytics seem to be quite non-specific.

    I do agree that failing in copywriting is fine - but on the other hand, when someone says "give me money and in 30 days, I'll give you copy that works" - as a marketing layman, you sort of expected it to work. It wasn't a "give me money and we'll get it right" - the guy was SO SURE he'd nail it first time and used that as a "proof of concept" project to then roll into a monthly deal. Needless to say, I didn't go for the monthly deal.

    Like Jason said - he threw it over the wall & washed his hands of it.

    The new site was part of us wanting to launch a new set of products - along the same but lots more. So it needed a new site - plus - who doesn't think their web site is fugly after looking at it for a couple of years? We changed everything in one go - duh.

    I agree on low pressure sales too - our industry needs it - but there are still techniques to use. But ultimately - I do want someone to sell to me because they have to help me sell.. Just this week we had a chat with one DM company and I gave them big clues about what we'd done, where we needed to focus and they just went back to their standard spiel.

    In terms of my plan, I have just finished a customer survey which gives us a much better idea of our base.

    I think the plan for the next consultant/company is:
    1 - implement tracking of.... everything - so we know what's working & what isn't
    2 - focus on conversion - both web site, landing pages, FB ads - get the messaging right across the board

    ONLY THEN

    3 look for more sources of traffic

    It's not like we are doing badly or anything - revenue is up - but gut feel is that this is because of the new product range and that the money sunk into digital marketing has been a wash so far.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
      Originally Posted by jigsawtrading View Post

      Thank you all for the replies.

      Some great comments so far, so let me throw in a few replies. As for me being overwhelmed - don't worry - I have just gone through a lengthy period of being underwhelmed!

      - we can't go back to the old site - it's a different set of products now - so we'd go back & then have to start changing it. The old site is here: Jigsaw Trading - Day Trading tools, day trading methods,day trading community

      - I agree on clutter on the new page - it's there partly as a result of me trying to bring across 'feel' from the old page

      This was the first edition of the home page after paying for the new site: https://www.jigsawtrading.com/homeold/ (although some items on the first which section are global and so my updates for the new page changed them)

      What's there now was my edit after a copywriter said we'd lost touch.

      This was what the copywriter came up with (which flopped): https://www.jigsawtrading.com/day-trading-home/

      The landing page/sales page developed by the DM company are here:
      http://www.jigsawtrading.com/go
      http://www.jigsawtrading.com/go/love

      In terms of stats - in January 60,000 page views, 46,000 unique page views. 8.5k views of the home page - so not overly busy but that's been our run rate for a while. We see about 250 people a week go into the funnel but who knows where they end up after that!

      As this has been fairly constant, I presumed traffic was not the issue but conversion.

      Traffic comes from various places - banner ads, hosted webinars, listings on broker sites, youtube videos. Google analytics isn't something I really understand how to read but our biggest 2 sources of traffic there are listed as "google/organic" and "(direct) / (none)", then Infusionsoft and then "jigsawtrading.com/Referral" - so the top 4 sources on Google Analytics seem to be quite non-specific.

      I do agree that failing in copywriting is fine - but on the other hand, when someone says "give me money and in 30 days, I'll give you copy that works" - as a marketing layman, you sort of expected it to work. It wasn't a "give me money and we'll get it right" - the guy was SO SURE he'd nail it first time and used that as a "proof of concept" project to then roll into a monthly deal. Needless to say, I didn't go for the monthly deal.

      Like Jason said - he threw it over the wall & washed his hands of it.

      The new site was part of us wanting to launch a new set of products - along the same but lots more. So it needed a new site - plus - who doesn't think their web site is fugly after looking at it for a couple of years? We changed everything in one go - duh.

      I agree on low pressure sales too - our industry needs it - but there are still techniques to use. But ultimately - I do want someone to sell to me because they have to help me sell.. Just this week we had a chat with one DM company and I gave them big clues about what we'd done, where we needed to focus and they just went back to their standard spiel.

      In terms of my plan, I have just finished a customer survey which gives us a much better idea of our base.

      I think the plan for the next consultant/company is:
      1 - implement tracking of.... everything - so we know what's working & what isn't
      2 - focus on conversion - both web site, landing pages, FB ads - get the messaging right across the board

      ONLY THEN

      3 look for more sources of traffic

      It's not like we are doing badly or anything - revenue is up - but gut feel is that this is because of the new product range and that the money sunk into digital marketing has been a wash so far.
      Yay! Feedback! Numbers! Actual traffic flow!

      (You have no idea how rarely we see this stuff here. Or maybe you do.)

      Build your plan. Develop the baseline. Measure one thing at a time. Expect--EXPECT--the funnel to fall down at every stage, and that you'll have to fix it so leads can move on to the next conversion point...and then fail there. It's fine. When you have it all figured out and it flows, and you know you can dump X amount of traffic in at this cost, and the machine will turn out Y amount of sales at this revenue level, man it feels great. That's power.

      2nd landing page link isn't working btw.

      Yeah, I see why the first one doesn't convert.

      What are you using for an autoresponder? ActiveCampaign will let you tag based on actions taken by the lead, and that'll help you track where they got to.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

        Build your plan. Develop the baseline. Measure one thing at a time. Expect--EXPECT--the funnel to fall down at every stage, and that you'll have to fix it so leads can move on to the next conversion point...and then fail there. It's fine. When you have it all figured out and it flows, and you know you can dump X amount of traffic in at this cost, and the machine will turn out Y amount of sales at this revenue level, man it feels great. That's power.
        One of the reasons I like seeing Jason weigh in on posts like this is that he gets it. That's not exclusive, but it isn't exactly common, either.

        Before I got involved in marketing, particularly online marketing, I was a design engineer for a small manufacturing company. Got up close and personal with the concept of continual improvement and statistical process control. The fastest way to improve our manufacturing processes was to measure each stage of production and look for the bottlenecks. Solve the bottleneck, and reevaluate. 8/10 times, a new bottleneck surfaced. With repetition, the effects of the bottlenecks got smaller, and they became fewer in number.

        Another insight was that hunting for the absolute optimum solution could be counterproductive. Usually that happens when a business focuses solely on the optimum solution and mothballs other solutions that produce positive results at less than optimum levels. When trying to scale production, adding the optimum output to the output from these other processes made greater throughput possible.

        I was pleasantly surprised at how well these concepts translated to the marketing world. Especially online, where measurements are much easier and more precise. With today's tools, you can track your response from ad to landing page to email and even to phone calls. And what you can measure, you can improve.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
          Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

          One of the reasons I like seeing Jason weigh in on posts like this is that he gets it. That's not exclusive, but it isn't exactly common, either.

          Before I got involved in marketing, particularly online marketing, I was a design engineer for a small manufacturing company. Got up close and personal with the concept of continual improvement and statistical process control. The fastest way to improve our manufacturing processes was to measure each stage of production and look for the bottlenecks. Solve the bottleneck, and reevaluate. 8/10 times, a new bottleneck surfaced. With repetition, the effects of the bottlenecks got smaller, and they became fewer in number.

          Another insight was that hunting for the absolute optimum solution could be counterproductive. Usually that happens when a business focuses solely on the optimum solution and mothballs other solutions that produce positive results at less than optimum levels. When trying to scale production, adding the optimum output to the output from these other processes made greater throughput possible.

          I was pleasantly surprised at how well these concepts translated to the marketing world. Especially online, where measurements are much easier and more precise. With today's tools, you can track your response from ad to landing page to email and even to phone calls. And what you can measure, you can improve.
          What a surprise, my training is in process engineering and operations improvement.

          I joke with our business coach, who reintroduced SPC to us from a sales perspective, that while I was trained in SPC over 20 years ago, none of my bosses ever asked me to use it--even those who had had the same training I had. Much easier to be reactive and not take the time to think ;-)
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  • Profile picture of the author jigsawtrading
    2nd landing page link should have been: http://www.jigsawtrading.com/go/live

    The above stuff is all fantastic and it's given me a better idea of what I'm looking for.

    I don't have time to do it myself - I wear enough hats in this company already, hence the need to outsource it. I don't mind being heavily involved...

    If people on here want to get involved with this, I'm more than happy to have that discussion. I do still have a couple of firms to talk to but I've heard more sense on this page than I have from most of the other firms...
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  • Profile picture of the author jigsawtrading
    Update - one of the DM companies sent a quote for around $140k - of which around $1000 was for website development & $1000 for funnel development. In other words, not much on where we think the issue is...

    $40k was for PPC....

    At this I told them - "we have traffic, but we have a conversion problem and a busted funnel that if fixed, could see us increase revenues fairly quickly".

    So they came back with "OK - then we'll work on your web site first, a new web site will cost between $30-$40k".

    Upshot is they didn't listen to me the first time we spoke.

    And there's no "dip your toe in the water" with them - even though I do think that 'fixing' what we have is probably the best way from a number of perspectives...

    - let's them prove themselves
    - let's us see a return on any investment

    There is no guarantee that stylistic changes to the website will do either - but that's where they want to start and with a fairly lengthy process at that.

    So for now, I have retained a consultant who has spoken my language
    - implement tracking
    - find out what's up
    - commence the process of re-writing copy to find out what works

    I see this as a never ending project anyway - but it's interesting how this plays out with the DM companies. I do understand wanting to lock in revenue but the leap of faith people expect you to take is quite huge.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rose5546
    I worked with a company that was like this (xorlabs) they basically wanted play money to run adds for their own business. Be careful
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  • Profile picture of the author ecoverartist
    Hi jigsawtrading,

    I do conversion rate optimization for a living. From funnel optimization to copywriting to site audits and everything in between. I'll tell you that while you've got a very slick and fast-loading site, and you've won some great awards, they still tell me nothing about what your product/service is, or why I should care.

    Everything is so "in your face" that I left the site even more confused than when I started.

    I will tell you that conversion optimization IS a never-ending process. It's ongoing - BUT - the fact that this company didn't give you any kind of report, or plan, or anything that says "this is where you are and this is where you need to be, and this is how I'd suggest we get there". That's just SUCH a huge red flag.

    Lesson learned, I suppose! But remember that not all direct marketing companies are conversion optimization companies and vice versa!
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  • Profile picture of the author kate50
    Unfortunately, what I get from this experience of yours is that you only focused on people who read more books. However, you did not focus on the quality of the experience that these people had. Therefore, you had to go through all this trouble. When you engage a DM company or a consultant, please make sure to see their previous work experiences.
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