How to Market to Offline Business Owners

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I changed this title to better reflect the post. The original post is below:


I hope this helps when talking to small business owners...

As an offline business owner I get a lot of sales calls and sales people stopping in my place of business. Everyone from stockbrokers, real estate brokers, carpet cleaners and sales people selling internet marketing strategies. In fact, I had two different IM'ers drop in last month alone.

I am a firm believer in talking with every salesperson that comes in my door (even if it is for five minutes). By following this mindset, I have not only made very good friends but also I have made great business contacts that I still have today.

Although my company runs almost all of our IM in-house I especially make it a point to talk with IM'ers walking in my place of business. Because I may end up hiring one in the future J

Anyway here is a quick overview of what I look for in the IM's that walk in my door. I hope this helps when talking to small business owners...

- They must be polite to everyone they met at my place of business. A salesperson should never think they can be rude the receptionist at the door and polite to the business owner. In many small businesses, the receptionist may be a family member or the spouse of the owner.

I had one guy come in demanding to see the owner of the business and said he didn't want to talk to anyone but the owner. The reason he was so demanding was because he said he was an IM'er who could teach us how to double our sales by following his Internet marketing advice. (Little did he realize he was already talking to the owner.)

One thing IM'ers should keep in mind when they walk into the door of a small business is it is as if they are walking into the home of the business owner. Many small business owners (SBO) live at their businesses 10-12 hours per day. Many don't appreciate it when a person they have never met before walks into their business who is impolite or rude.

- If the owner of the business tells you they are busy and asks you to leave a business card and a brochure, please don't continue to try to sell them. The SBO may be very busy. You may have caught him/her in the middle of an important meeting or just walking out the door. Leave a business card and make a note to follow up.

- Make the sales appointment early in the morning. I really like it when a sales person says she will meet me in my office at 7:00AM. It not only shows me she is an aggressive sales person but she also understands how hectic late morning or afternoon hours can be at a small business.

By meeting the SBO early in the morning you will have a better meeting. The phones aren't ringing off the hook or their store isn't packed with customers. This will allow the SBO to really listen to your presentation and fully understand what you are offering.

- If an SBO asks you the call them or meet with them at a specific time...don't be late. Just like you, SBO's have very business schedules. Nothing is worse than waiting for someone who is 15 minutes late for a call or meeting. If you are going to be late, give them a call and let them know.

- Don't oversell your services. About six months an IM'er walked into my store and after five minutes of talking with him, I agreed to meet him later in the week to further discuss his IM services. Unfortunately, he oversold his services.

Within fives minutes of our meeting he pulled out his presentation binder and all that he was going to do for my company was to install McAfee Anti-virus on my computers ($350 charge) and charge us $500 per month (a six month contract) to tell us how to use Google Adwords (he wasn't even going to manage our keywords account, because he said he didn't know how to). He simply oversold his services.

I hope this helps, let me know

Thanks,

Andy

-- original post --


If you are in the process of creating a product that teaches offline business owners how to market their businesses and products online; Or if you are looking for guests to interview for your blog talk radio show, etc. for this niche maybe I can help.

You see, I have owned an offline store since 2001. My offline business sells gourmet food products locally, nationally and internationally. I have experience in distributing products via distributors, wholesalers and brokers.

I can offer valuable firsthand insight to your readers/listeners to what offline business owners are looking for when they are contacted by Internet marketers selling internet marketing and consulting services.

Thanks,

Andy
#business #interview #offline #owner
  • Profile picture of the author I.M.Retired
    I'm listening.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
    Posted above....
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  • Profile picture of the author John2Doe
    Those were some really good tips, I liked the point you made about going in early as well as politeness.

    Patience might also be highly essential if you're dealing with older business owners that are not tech savvy as they might have questions or doubt things you're saying due to the lack of knowledge. So you'll have to show patience and friendliness when dealing with them so that they are comfortable.
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  • Profile picture of the author melanied
    The point about not treating the rest of the staff any differently than you treat the owner is a very good one. When I've been in management at various times in my life, I would never tolerate someone speaking in a way to the people that reported to me than they did when they spoke directly to me.

    It shows even more disrespect for me that you'll be rude to my team and not to me than it would if you were rude directly to me - it just shows me you're trying to manipulate me!
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  • Profile picture of the author kosmo101
    these seem so obvious but im sure are overlooked. I have sold to some local biz.. and most didnt go for it at first meeting. Thats fine by me. Id rather be the one who wasnt pushy but helpful and confident so they remember me. I try to do something to make them remember me but by offering some sort of help even if its later on.

    Kevin
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
      Kosmo101,

      Many of the initial tips are obvious but often overlooked.

      Originally Posted by kosmo101 View Post

      these seem so obvious but im sure are overlooked.
      It is the small things that make or break a sale.
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      • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
        Josh,
        Great insight,
        Here are few additional points...

        The potential age factor was brought up by John2Doe - In fact, it was one of my additional points...

        - During the presentation, keep in mind some of the business owners may not be familiar with internet marketing. So don't talk down to them or use industry buzz words like SEO, keywords, article marketing, etc. This may cause the business owner to pull back from the conversation because they may think they are being talked done to. A good way to over this is to make it a habit to give a quick definition of each buzz word you use during the presentation. This shows you are helping the SBO to understand IM better.


        - Create presentation binder. This includes all of your sales material and your brochures presented in a logic manner. This would walk the SBO through the entire sales process.


        - Practice your presentation upside down. This is a really cool way to skill to learn. The best to learn this skill is to practice with your presentation looking at upside down. Take your presentation and turn it 180 degree and read it upside down. This will allow your sale material and brochures to be in front of the SBO without you having to keep rotating your binder.


        - OR

        - Better yet, to reduce the tension in any sales presentation is the sit beside the SBO rather than across the table from them. When they sit down behind their desk, simply ask "Do you mind if I come around to your side of the desk" more often than not they will say sure. Once the SBO does, simply drag your chair around the desk (make sure to make a bunch of noise J by dragging the chair) and sit right next to the SBO. Once you get on their side of the desk, you'll find the objections are almost eliminated and you'll make more sales. The reason this works is the barrier of the desk is eliminated.

        Let me know if this helps...

        I look forward to your reply,

        Thanks,
        Andy
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        • Profile picture of the author Andy Fletcher
          Originally Posted by Andy LaPointe View Post

          - Better yet, to reduce the tension in any sales presentation is the sit beside the SBO rather than across the table from them. When they sit down behind their desk, simply ask "Do you mind if I come around to your side of the desk" more often than not they will say sure. Once the SBO does, simply drag your chair around the desk (make sure to make a bunch of noise J by dragging the chair) and sit right next to the SBO. Once you get on their side of the desk, you'll find the objections are almost eliminated and you'll make more sales. The reason this works is the barrier of the desk is eliminated.
          This is fantastic advice and not just applicable to selling to people. Interviews, teaching, sales, anything that involves that kind of communication, you'll immediately see improved results if you remove physical barriers and sit/stand next to someone rather than in front of them. It's not always possible, but when it is make every effort.
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          • Great points! My wife and I own a high-end linen and drapery company as well as a couple of other businesses. I'm always amazed how little follow up I get from sales reps and IM'ers coming through the door or haphazzardly finding my email online. It's usually one-touch marketing at best. Rarely am I going to move ahead with any of these reps, but the fact that they never follow up is appalling.

            I would say the bottom line with trying to get in the "thought path" of a retailer or offline business owner is to become a welcomed guest. This takes time and a lot of touches in a lot of different formats.
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            • Profile picture of the author dejoliet31
              Thanks for a great post.

              As an offline businessowner, I am constantly contacted by IMers (and other salespeople) who are arrogant and "all-knowing" who can purportedly show me how to improve my results. Most of them show little real regard for my bottom line. Their purpose is to get a sale, not create a win-win situation.

              The ones who get my business are those who show an interest in helping me achieve results for my business and then for themselves. I am all of them making a profit. In fact, I want them to succeed so they can stay in business in case I need their services again.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Bartlett
    I agree with many of the points you raise above and as an ex offline business owner I know how important it is that people entering your office are polite to everyone!

    We used to deal with courier companies quite extensively and it always amazed me the amount of courer reps who would arrogantly walk in and treat everyone like a waste of time except me. (the business owner) That lack of respect would immediately make up my mind that I would never deal with their company. (Especially because on a day to day basis, those people they had been rude to would be the people they would deal with should they win the contract)

    One really important point to remember as well is that if you are successful in gaining an appointment to give your sales pitch, dont treat this as an all or nothing event. Sure give your best shot, let them know whats in it for them and actually ask for the sale but if the business owner isnt ready to say yes right then, bear in mind that you have already jumped the first hurdle and you are beginning to build a relationship with the business owner and that company.

    Time and time again I saw sales people give up and put me in the "waste of time" box because I wasnt ready to commit on that specific meeting. If they had remembered that I obviously was impressed enough to give them my time for the meeting (which like every business owner is more often than not, extremely scarce and valuable) so even if we ended on a no, there was still a strong possibility to grow the relationship from there, overcome any objections and keep in touch.

    Basically, dont be pushy but dont take no for an answer.

    As we all know, business is alot about relationships. If you have the chance to build them, do so!
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  • Profile picture of the author Star Riley
    Amazing points Andy :-)

    For anyone else who looks at adding value to their offline marketing venture FREE works just as good offline as online. I have had success providing a FREE service or help to a local business owner on several occasions it has not only resulted in a future upsell (I mean sale).

    The referrals came without any request on my part. Also while many people who sell offline services wish to charge 50k thousand dollars for this or that I find value in making sure I can provide value and doing so in a way that does not make me have to charge high prices just because the business owner is in need or desire with less knowledge.

    $1000 bucks to set up an Aweber auto-responder is one of the reasons I do not post much when other offline marketers in this forum talk about (fleecing) helping offline clients.

    I often do business with the mind from of what if this was a friend of my family?

    Also if a person says no don't act like their business will die because they have no website, that is not as true as we believe. Some people actually use word of mouth quality and customer service to build their business.

    Thanks for the insights hope I added some value.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    Originally Posted by Andy LaPointe View Post

    They must be polite to everyone they met at my place of business. A salesperson should never think they can be rude the receptionist at the door and polite to the business owner. In many small businesses, the receptionist may be a family member or the spouse of the owner.


    One thing IM'ers should keep in mind when they walk into the door of a small business is it is as if they are walking into the home of the business owner. Many small business owners (SBO) live at their businesses 10-12 hours per day. Many don't appreciate it when a person they have never met before walks into their business who is impolite or rude.



    Make the sales appointment early in the morning. I really like it when a sales person says she will meet me in my office at 7:00AM. It not only shows me she is an aggressive sales person but she also understands how hectic late morning or afternoon hours can be at a small business.

    By meeting the SBO early in the morning you will have a better meeting.


    There's some really great stuff in here.

    So true about being polite to everyone you talk to regardless of who you are or who you think they might be.

    A gatekeeper can sell you to the business owner or kill your chances with just a few words.

    It pays to be nice to everyone.


    My father had a pet store (as well as many other small businesses) and when a customer annoyed him just a little he'd fling open the glass sliding door at the entrance and tell them to leave and never come back.

    When they got offended he'd say something pleasant like "I don't need people like you in my store. Goodbye."

    Now that's really not good business but remember business owners are running their own show for a reason...they're independent minded and like the freedom to choose their own course in life.

    You really need to understand and respect that.



    A high percentage of business owners ARE best to talk to early in the morning but also keep in mind that some business owners are better after their business has closed or is close to closing time.

    Either way most successful business owners are working way beyond opening hours...a fact that can make it far easier for you to set up a time to talk to them when you won't be interrupted.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
      Morning meetings or afternoon meetings - 6 of 1 or 1/2 dozen of another. I think it's more a personal choice.

      Afternoon meetings are also good, but I have found that many SBO's including myself are usually burnt out by days end and I using take 4 - 5 to begin to slow down for dinner time and then get back into work after dinner.

      Morning meetings are usually better for me.


      Originally Posted by AndrewCavanagh View Post


      A high percentage of business owners ARE best to talk to early in the morning but also keep in mind that some business owners are better after their business has closed or is close to closing time.

      Either way most successful business owners are working way beyond opening hours...a fact that can make it far easier for you to set up a time to talk to them when you won't be interrupted.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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      • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
        Originally Posted by Andy LaPointe View Post

        I have found that many SBO's including myself are usually burnt out by days end and I using take 4 - 5 to begin to slow down for dinner time and then get back into work after dinner.

        The point I was making here was that most business owners work way beyond their opening hours and setting appointments outside those opening hours can often work very well for you.

        Business owners who are good to talk to in the morning are more common but there are some very serious exceptions you should be aware...restaurant owners and some cleaners for example.

        You can really piss off people who are trying to sleep by calling them in the morning so be aware that some businesses trade different hours to the usual!

        Kindest regards,
        Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author artwebster
    Common sense it may be but this is the mourning period for common sense - it died with the advent of 'me too' marketers and the plethora of off line scams.

    Do as you would be done by is a great maxim by which to live and know thine enemy is a great philosophy to work within. (For those of you who do not know, thine enemy is thine own self!)
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  • Profile picture of the author Treece
    How about learning about the business you are approaching before you try to sell to them? I can't begin to tell you how many sales people have promised to "increase my Google ranking" and "get me onto the first page." Not one has actually looked to see where we currently are in the search engines. If you can't be bothered to do a simple 20 second search, why should I give you time for a sales pitch?
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  • Profile picture of the author ayolov
    Understand the needs of the potential clients. This is why a relationship is most important; build trust, know what they actually need (maybe you are offering google rankings and what the company needs is to manage their ppc campaign more effectively), for a business owner it's frustrating to hear a pitch for a product they have no need for.
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  • Profile picture of the author rushindo
    Andy,

    Thank you for making this post. This information was right on time. I find it very valuable and it is going to help me out a ton. It's always great to have a small business owner in our midst willing to give us some "inside" information ;-)

    Brandon
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    • Profile picture of the author oleskool
      This has been a good read and a good reminder that we do need to build a relationship with the business owner before we start the pitch to get the sale.

      Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Bartlett
    Alot of good advice here. Its great to remember some of these points as I feel alot of people forget them whilst being so caught up in the "sale".

    My own two cents would be, if you are a rep, offer to take the owner to lunch. That way, again it reduces the tension of the pitch (Assuming it is something you can pitch in public and the place suits that sort of meeting of course!)
    and keeps you both on the same level.

    Even busy business owners have to eat, and if you put the offer across in the right way, arrange it in advance, arrive early and keep it local, there is a good chance they will say yes. (A much bigger chance than walking in and asking if you can pitch to them!)

    It is also quite a quick route to getting to know the person and building a relationship. You find alot of the guards go down because of the setting. (The same as in an interview the most important time to gain an insight into the true personality of the interviewie is when the interview has officially finished and they relax whilst you walk them through the office to the exit. Asking questions at this point usually give a great insight!)

    Lastly, there is the age old rule of reciprocity at work!.. You have given them something for free (the meal) and never underestimate the power of that simple fact. If they are in the market for what you sell, and you do a good job selling it, that simple change of setting combined with the rule of reciprocity can make all the difference!

    (Its worked on me!)
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
      Originally Posted by Josh Bartlett View Post


      My own two cents would be, if you are a rep, offer to take the owner to lunch. That way, again it reduces the tension of the pitch (Assuming it is something you can pitch in public and the place suits that sort of meeting of course!)
      and keeps you both on the same level.
      Josh,

      You are right on the money. The two most pleasurable activities are #1 eating and #2 (well I won't write it here, but you probably know )

      In my old job, I used to take my clients out to lunch 2 - 4 times per week
      and dinner at least 2 -3 times per week. People really open up when they are relaxed, enjoying a good meal and good company.

      Here is a little secret helped me close countless deals...

      A great way to do this is to approach a local restaurant and tell them you will be taking clients out to lunch a few times a week and would really like to take them to their restaurant.

      If possible, ask the owner of the restaurant to greet you and your potential client at the door when you arrive, just to say hi and welcome you. This goes a long way to not only impressing your potential SBO client, but you may also get the restaurant owner as a client too.


      Thanks,

      Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author Al Andrews
    Great information and comments. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Profile picture of the author j hogan
    Andy thats really good advice. I own an offline business and there are so many opportunities for IM'ers there, so long as they are not trying to rip people off. I've also had the experience of people offering hugely inflated prices to do very simple things online which I can do for nothing in five minutes.

    Most of my colleagues have paid large sums of money to have static, boring 5 page websites built that don't even rank, as they aren't optimised for local searches. Mine cost me $10 hosting and is the first or second site for every one of my local business keywords and has resulted in a lot of good business.

    I think there is an absolute fortune to be made setting up business websites for offline businesses with maintenance and also setting newletters with autoresponders, already filled with content. I've thought of doing this myself but just don't have the time.

    You point out about how they talk to, and treat other staff which is really important! You can be sure that my receptionist is going to comment on how you presented and interacted with staff so it matters.

    The idea of a presentation folder showing some well presented brochures and samples is also important so they can see what they are getting. And also asking the client what they are trying to achieve, most people know they want more business, or sales, but exactly who is their customer, how does that customer shop or search and what action do they want them to take?

    Until those questions are answered it's hard to design the project. So start with the end in mind if you want to do a good job, don't assume you know the clients needs till you've listened to them.

    But yes, there really is a fortune to made here!
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    • Profile picture of the author timmykins
      Andy,

      Thank you for providing the business owners point of view to salesman.

      I take a slightly different approach that's working well. I don't sell! I educate.

      Most of the business owners I talk to have very limited knowledge of either computers or the Internet and how to use it to their advantage, so I have found that by helping them understand it they are more likely to use my services, than other web designers that go straight for the sale.

      I got one of my frst clients this way. I 'met' him on the phone, and we talked for about 45 minutes. He knew the web could help him with his business but didn't know how. All I did was educate him. When we actually met, at his house, he said that he had had several calls from web design companies selling their services, but he had already decided to use my services because I was the only one that had taken the time to educate him.

      So, you are right in saying that politeness works wonders but also genuinely taking an active interest in helping them works great too.

      All the best

      Tim
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    • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
      Most people overlook the intimate surrounds of many small businesses. Sometimes people forget the staff of a SB is usually family. If you mistreat the staff you may be mistreating family. A big No-No.


      Originally Posted by j hogan View Post

      You point out about how they talk to, and treat other staff which is really important! You can be sure that my receptionist is going to comment on how you presented and interacted with staff so it matters.
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      • Profile picture of the author John Cussons
        Andy,
        Great thread, one of the best I have read on the Face-2-Face with the SBO
        thanks for your candid sharing and others


        Cheers
        JC
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  • Profile picture of the author Darrel Hawes
    Andy,

    Thanks for sharing! Some truly helpful pointers here.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
    Hi John,

    The only way to work with a SBO is to really take a step back and look that what they need to grow their business. Not from the point of view as a product or service, but as a partner.

    An SBO don't have the deep pockets or heavy resources as a multi-national, so they need to partner with people who can help them increase their business. Not only fast, but consistently.

    That is one of the secrets to working this niche.

    Thanks,

    Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
    Darrel,

    Thanks, I hope this provides some insight into the mind of SBO's

    Thanks,

    Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author Waterways2k8
    Hi Andy

    Thanks for sharing your advice and offering your help. I too operate an offline business but it's to do with Direct Mail Order and information publishing, so any other advice you have is most appreciative.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
    Hey Waterways2K8

    It sounds like you are in an excellent position to market into the online marketplace. With the direct mail business you already has, you should be offering your direct marketing business to internet marketers working in the offline business world.

    I would recommend your reposition a part of your direct mail business to JV with IM offering offline services.

    In addition, you can use your information publishing division to offer PLR material for IM's in this niche.

    I'm sure you can find a lot of IM's here at WF that would be interested.

    Hope this helps,

    Thanks,

    Andy
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    • Profile picture of the author Waterways2k8
      Originally Posted by Andy LaPointe View Post

      Hey Waterways2K8

      It sounds like you are in an excellent position to market into the online marketplace. With the direct mail business you already has, you should be offering your direct marketing business to internet marketers working in the offline business world.

      I would recommend your reposition a part of your direct mail business to JV with IM offering offline services.

      In addition, you can use your information publishing division to offer PLR material for IM's in this niche.

      I'm sure you can find a lot of IM's here at WF that would be interested.

      Hope this helps,

      Thanks,

      Andy
      Hi Andy

      Thank you for your wonderful reply and advice - your ideas about JV and offering PLR products are excellent and it would be something I would seriously consider looking into once I have developed and established my IM Side a bit better and have everything in place.

      At the moment, I am currently dealing with an Video Marketing email eZine as well as a few IM ebooks.

      Thanks again for your suggestions

      Best Wishes
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy LaPointe
    You are sitting on a goal mine IMO :-)

    Offer your services to IM working in the offline market to create this same information for offline business owners.

    Thanks,

    Andy
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