30 minutes | Nov 9th 2020

Episode 52: The difference between MSP marketing strategy & tactics

In this week's episode
  • It's a common problem in the world of MSPs. Time and time again Paul talks to business owners about their marketing, and the conversations are focused in the wrong areas. Being clear on your marketing goals, strategy and tactics is fundamental to the growth of your MSP. This week Paul spends a chunk of the show looking at just that
  • Also on this week's show; your MSP is not going to grow unless a) you've got the right kind of people around you, and b) YOU can lead them in the right kind of way. Paul welcomes a special guest with 7 core principles for being a better leader
  • Plus why it's easier to focus on selling 'outcomes' than "technology' (and how to do that). And a guest joins Paul to suggest a brilliant book that combines two rarely matched themes; software and spirituality!
Show notes Episode transcription Voiceover: Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: Hello, and welcome to this first anniversary edition of the MSP Marketing Podcast. Here's what we got coming up for you this week: Andy Edwards: They don't trust their leadership. So the question here is, are leaders delusional, or are staff complete and utter liars? Paul Green: We're also going to be asking the question later on. Do people really buy technical services from you or are they only interested in outcomes? There's a brand new free live monthly webinar series that I want to tell you about. It could give you a real insight into even more marketing ideas for your MSP. Plus, we've got a great book suggestion from R. Michael Anderson, who's going to finish off today's show for us. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: Quite often when I'm speaking to an MSP for the first time, we start to talk about what specific actions they're taking on their marketing. And inevitably we get drawn into tactical conversations about what they're doing. So we'll talk about what they're doing on LinkedIn, what they're doing with emails, what they're doing with websites, all of that kind of stuff. And I want to explore in today's podcast, the critical difference between your marketing strategy and your marketing tactics, because they are two completely different things. Paul Green: Now, before we talk about strategy and tactics, we actually need to go up a level and talk about goals. So you cannot have a marketing strategy for your business, unless you've got a marketing goal. And I would suggest that your marketing goal is revolved around outcomes. It's things that you want your marketing to achieve. So it could be for example, that you want a new client of a minimum of let's say 10 users every single month or every other month. And most MSPs will be delighted to have a new client starting with them every single month. So let's just say, that's your goal. Your goal for your marketing is not about numbers of likes. It's not about engagement. It's not about building big numbers of people to talk to. The ultimate goal for your marketing is in this instance to onboard one new client every month with a minimum of 10 new users. Paul Green: Now, when you've got a very, very clear goal, such as that, your marketing strategy and the tactics actually kind of sort themselves out. And I'm going to talk about the difference between the two. Let me, first of all, come out of marketing and look at something outside of marketing, just an analogy to help you understand that. Let's imagine you were in your car and you were driving to a destination that's about five hours drive away. So your goal is that destination, let's call it Destinationville. And we don't tend to sit and make these decisions. We certainly let the sat maps do it for us, but you could then set the strategy for how you're going to get to Destinationville. And you might decide that your strategy is to use the fastest roads available, which in the UK would be motorways, in the US would be freeways. So that's your strategy. The strategy is the fastest roads available. Paul Green: Once you've set that strategy, the tactics become easy. So in this analogy, the tactics are the specific roads that you would use. So for example, where I live in the UK, I live just off sort of the main motorway that goes from South to North. It's called the M1, and I actually live about two miles away from M1. So for me, the tactic to get to Destinationville would be to get onto the M1, get onto the M6, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I would just jump from motorway to motorway to motorway until I got to Destinationville. So just to recap there, the strategy is to use the fastest roads. The tactics are the specific roads. Paul Green: Now let's say I'm on my journey and actually the M6 is closed for some reason, in which case I could switch to a different motorway. So I might find myself going out of my way a little bit. I might add 20 or 30 miles to my journey, but all that I've switched is my tactic. I haven't switched my strategy. My strategy remains fast roads. I'm just switching my tactic. I'm not going on the M6. I'm going on a different motorway. Do you see the difference now between strategy and tactics when you look at it that way? Paul Green: Now let's imagine that the M6 was blocked, but there were no other motorways available to get me to Destinationville. That's when I would have to change strategy because my strategy of using the fastest roads is no longer available to me. So instead, I'm going to have to switch to slightly slower roads. It's called the trunk roads, and I would have a plethora of those available to me. That's the difference between switching strategy and tactics. Paul Green: What we typically find in marketing is that once you've got a goal and once you've set a strategy, it's very rarely the strategy that changes. It's the specific tactics that change. Let me give you an example. So the goal is to onboard one new client every month. And we might set out that the marketing strategy is to build multiple audiences of people who are willing to listen to you and what you've got to say, and your marketing and your education pieces, and you're going to build those across different platforms. So, that is your marketing strategy. You're going to build multiple audiences. You're going to build a relationship with them. And then you're going to commercialise that audience. And that, by the way, is in a nutshell, the marketing strategy that I teach and that I helped to implement with virtually all of the MSPs that I'm working with. Build multiple audiences, build a relationship with them, and then commercialise those audiences, commercialise those relationships. Paul Green: So to onboard one new client every single month, to build those multiple audiences, we need to pick our tactics. And in this instance, we're going to say, tactic number one is we're going to build an audience on LinkedIn. Tactic number two is we're going to build an audience on Facebook. And tactic number three is we're going to build an audience on email. So we've got three specific platforms there, LinkedIn, Facebook and email. Those are three specific tactics. So off we trot, we go and get started and we start to build up our audience across those three platforms. Now we've got our goal, we've got our strategy and we've got our tactics. Paul Green: Let's say that something changes at a tactical level. Let's say the MSP suddenly decides that it wants to move into hospitality, so it wants to be the MSP for hospitality businesses in the area. And the review of the marketing that hospitality businesses do reveals that actually they don't use LinkedIn. They use Instagram because these are predominantly consumer-driven businesses and they're using Instagram to reach consumers. Now often when someone's using a platform to reach their own customers, you can use that platform to reach them because you'll find typically the decision maker is the one that's on that platform. So now we have a tactical shift. We're still trying to build audiences, but instead of trying to build them on LinkedIn, we're going to stop using LinkedIn and we're going to start building that audience on Instagram. The goal hasn't changed, the strategy hasn't changed. It's just the tactic that's changed. Paul Green: Can you see how simple this is when you break it down like that? So long as you have a very clear goal for what it is that you want from your marketing, then it's a lot easier to put together a good marketing strategy. And once you've done a marketing strategy, it is almost so easy to get the right tactics. And this is why you have to start with the goal in mind. You have to know what it is that you want to achieve. And I'm chuckling because the vast majority of MSPs don't do that. They don't formally sit there and think and say, "Hey, what actually do I want my marketing to deliver?" Even when they're hiring marketing people, they're talking about the wrong metrics, about engagement levels and about this and that, and how many leads generated. The ultimate measurement of any of your marketing is whether or not you achieve the end goal. So you've got to figure out that end goal. And you've got to figure out your strategy before you even start to think about which tactics you're going to use. Voiceover: Here's this week's clever idea. Paul Green: Here's a loaded question for you. Do you think that the decision makers that you want to reach, those business owners and managers, do you think they buy technology services or do you think they actually buy solutions? Do you think they buy peace of mind? I call it a loaded question because it's kind of obvious isn't it? Of course, they buy outcomes. They buy solutions. They buy peace of mind. That's what they want. They want to go home on a Friday afternoon knowing that their IT is just going to work again on a Monday morning. They want to go to bed of an evening and know when they're lying in bed comfortable and warm that there's very little chance of them being hacked because you've got their back. That's what these people buy. No one, but no one buys technology and buys technology services for the sake of the service themselves. They buy it for the outcomes. Paul Green: And yet across the world of MSPs, we see marketing that sells stuff rather than outcomes all the time, even in sexy things like data security and yes, data security is sexy because it's a big ticket high in demand service right now. Even something like data security, the marketing for it is far too focused on the specific things that you will do rather than the outcomes that they get from it. And I appreciate, it's very hard for technical people to sell a technical service to non-technical people without getting down to describing exactly what's going to happen, but that's not what these people buy. Paul Green: All of the marketing that works best for influencing ordinary people is emotional marketing and emotional marketing talks directly to their feelings. It talks to their heart. It makes them want something so much that they've got to pick up the phone or they've got to fill in a form or request an appointment with you. This is the very best kind of marketing. The worst kind of marketing talks at such a technical detailed level that it's only of interest to their brain. The brain remember doesn't make decisions about stuff that we want. The brain only makes decisions about things that we need. And most people don't buy MSP services from you because they need them. They buy them because they want them. Well, actually let me qualify that. They buy stuff from you because they need it. They need basic support, but they buy enhanced packages because they want them. They buy premium stuff because they want them. And a lot of your marketing has got to feed into that emotional stuff. Paul Green: For example, let's say you're offering a good, better, best package, which we talked about in the podcasts a number of weeks ago. It's a great way of allowing people to select the package that suits them the best because they have the perception of choice. They can look at the three packages and decide which level is best for them. You would be crazy just to call those bronze, silver or gold or even good, better, or best. Now don't get me wrong. That's better than no label at all, but the very best label appeals to them at an emotional level. So you might call your bronze package, the basics or all the basics you need. And you can say, "Look, to keep your business safe, to keep your business supported, these are all the basics you need." Paul Green: You might call the middle package, the growth package, and you say, "We've got some more services here which will save you more time, provide extra levels of security and service and convenience and productivity. And it's designed for businesses that are in growth and want to continue that growth." And then you might rename your very best package as the entrepreneur package or the high growth package. And you say, "This is designed for those businesses that are really going somewhere really fast. We've added in some extra services, extra levels of protection, extra safety, the world's best productivity, collaboration and communication tools. The things that every fast growth business needs and every entrepreneur needs to have. This is designed specifically for business owners who are going somewhere in a hurry." Paul Green: Now even just changing the descriptions of those three packages suddenly appeals to people at a very emotional level because some people will look at that and say, "Do you know what? I just want the basics. I'm happy with the basics." It's a choice. And they are satisfied. Emotionally they're satisfied to make that choice and go for that package. Others will look at it and say, "Do you know what? We are in growth. Even in these difficult times, we're growing, we want...", here's the thing, "We want to grow." Often people will buy things that are where they are going not where they currently are. They might not be in growth right now, but they might buy something to be in growth. That's why they would buy your growth package. Paul Green: And then you've got people who, again, they might not really be an entrepreneur right now, but they consider themselves to be entrepreneurial. They consider themselves to be in high growth. It's what they want. It's why they got into business. And even though they've been five, 10 years slowly building up the business, it's always there in their heart that, "I want to be a high growth entrepreneur. I want to really do this." And those people would really, really like to buy into that extra package because they're not buying the stuff. They're buying the outcome. And it's up to us to make sure that the outcomes are so desirable, that the right people match themselves to the right package. Paul Green: And you can do this across everything. You can do it with your data security stuff. You can do it with your telecoms, with your support. You can do it with even your hardware as a service. However you're doing stuff, you can do it in different ways where it appeals to people and it gives them a greater outcome. You might supply a real top end laptop as part of your hardware as a service delivery. And it might be a £2000, $2,000 laptop that really most people don't need, but it's not about whether or not they need it. It might be about whether or not they want it. Paul Green: And you might say to the people you're talking to, "Look, most of the laptops we do, £500, $500." That's suffice for most people. Because you are a high growth entrepreneur, you need a better machine that's higher quality, that's more future-proof, that's better suited for the incredible demands that a high growth entrepreneur such as yourself, places on their technology. You never want to lose your time because your hardware lets you down. So we recommend XYZ machine, which is a $2,000 machine." But, of course, it is a service, so you're just renting it anyway, because let's be honest, most people buy by looking at the cashflow rather than looking at the actual price, which is why "as a service" is a great thing to do to any kind of hardware. You should take any kind of hardware and just put "as a service" on it. Paul Green: So some homework for you to do, a little job for you to do. Look at your packages, look at your services, look at your offerings, look at your website, look at all of your marketing materials. Are you selling stuff or are you actually selling outcomes? Voiceover: Paul's blatant plug. Paul Green: Thank you for listening to my podcasts, whether you're a new listener or you've been listening for a number of months or even right back to that very first episode back on the 5th of November last year, which is just crazy, isn't it? How much has changed in the last 12 months. But thank you so much. I really appreciate your time listening to me and my guests on this podcast. And if you do enjoy it, we actually have something new and something extra, which is available to you right now. Now don't worry, the podcast isn't going anywhere. We're going to keep putting this out for the foreseeable future, certainly at least for another year or two. Paul Green: But I also now have a live monthly webinar. I've just launched it a few weeks ago. It's called the Live MSP Monthly Profit Booster. And the idea behind this webinar is once a month for roundabout an hour, I jump on a webinar and I present brand new content. And in that content, I look at a whole range of things. So I'll look at things that are happening right now in the world of marketing. And obviously in a one-hour webinar, I can go into a lot more detail than I can on a podcast. We look at trends. We look at what some of my clients are doing right now. We look at the outcomes that people are interested in and what outcomes people are getting. We're looking at frustrations, what's not working right now? We look at a whole number of different things. Paul Green: And do you know what? It's not just about MSP marketing. We're starting to look at net profit issues. We're starting to look at monthly recurring revenue services that you can sell. There's a whole plethora of things in there. So if you want to see the details of that and register, you've just got to go onto my website. It's paulgreensmspmarketing.com/webinar. Again, it's called the Live MSP Monthly Profit Booster. It's a free webinar series, one brand new webinar every single month at paulgreensmspmarketing.com/webinar. Voiceover: The big interview. Andy Edwards: Hi, I'm Andy Edwards and I'm a behavioural psychologist. I work with corporates and individuals basically to help them play nicely together. Paul Green: And you're back on the podcast for the second time. You were actually the guest in the very first episode, which was back in November 2019. And we recorded that in London. We're now sat in your garden in sunny Bournemouth in the UK. And it's a beautiful day today. Your dog's running around in the background, like a crazy spaniel, which of course it is. I want you to answer the question for me, Andy, of why do MSP staff whinge? Andy Edwards: Because they do of course. And in fact, not just MSP, staff generally. People whinge, and that's a classic situation that you'll find all over the workforce across the UK and beyond. They whinge largely, and this has been researched quite carefully, because they don't trust their leadership. A recent survey of 2018 done by Glassdoor, they found that 95% of leaders believe themselves to be trusted by their staff. When you actually research this within the staff, only 16, that's one-six, 16% actually do trust those leaders. So the question here is, are leaders delusional or are staff complete and utter liars? And it sort of doesn't matter which, because it's down to the leader to do something about that of course. Paul Green: As the owners of small businesses, which the vast majority of people listening to this are, they've got even up to, I think, 10, 20 staff, it still counts you as a small business owner, essentially. So we hear about the word leadership and we know that's something we should be dedicating more time to, but it's quite difficult to find the time to actually focus on improving that. Andy Edwards: Leadership is a funny thing. A lot of courses, a lot of books, a lot of information out there is based on leaders telling leaders how to be better leaders. And I don't think that works so much as when you think about it. Leadership is only a title you can claim. In fact, you can't claim leadership. Your followers have to call you leader. You're their manager up to that point. And until, and unless you do the right thing whereby you're trusted, you're believed in and you're respected, then nobody's going to call you leader. It doesn't matter what you call yourself. They're not going to call you leader. So how do we improve leadership? But then by definition will be, well, what do the followers want? And that's where I think we've got to start. Paul Green: And before we started recording, you were telling me that you think communication is the major area where leadership goes wrong. Andy Edwards: Yes, the C-word. Communication is the first and foremost complaint that followers have with their leaders. And we get that almost delusional gap again, whereby people at a given level will say, "Whilst I communicate well with the people below me, the people above me are rubbish at communicating." So you go to the people above them and they have exactly the same story to tell. So something's going wrong with this communication. Andy Edwards: So when I've researched this and looked at the many thousands of followers with whom I've had the privilege to talk, I find that the gap is based on not just the word communication. It's too easy. The symptoms are derived from about seven particular areas where communication fails between leadership and staff. And that of course, leads to mistrust, it leads to retrenching, leads to all sorts of symptoms that leaders then blame their followers for. But in fact, it is their leadership behaviour that is inspiring that behaviour in those followers. And thus, they can do something about that. Paul Green: So briefly tell us what the seven areas are, Andy. Andy Edwards: Well, the main communication is what are we here to do? So many leaders believe they have already communicated that. And by the way, they might be right in as much as they've said it, or they've put it in an email or it's up on the wall somewhere. But to actually viscerally communicate our raison d'être, our purpose for being, most teams, in fact, every definition of teamwork... Just go and stick it in Google. What's the definitely of teamwork? It will include some version of the words with a common purpose. And then unless leaders are really clear about what that common purpose is, then they haven't got their followers in any way, shape or form because they'll go off in different directions or assumed directions. They'll start to squabble over the priorities of what they're supposed to be doing first. Andy Edwards: Whereas if initially, and then again, and then often, and then repeatedly, especially if there's been a change of staff or circumstances, you go back to remember why we are here. We are here to, we will achieve that by. And you can put all the key performance indicators and the measurements there afterwards. But I, as a team member need to know, as a follower, need to know what the hell I'm doing there. And it's your job as a leader to ensure I understand that. That's the first one. There are a few others. Andy Edwards: Number two, from a communication point of view is, and I think this is incredibly important. The failure to meet with me formally for between 10 and 20 minutes every single month. Now, if you've never done that, I would suggest every single week to start off with. But that ring-fence time, an opportunity for me as your follower to let you know how it's going on for me and you as a leader to make sure I understand that I'm still on track and I'm doing well and what I need to be looking at differently. Many leaders say, "I do that on a day-to-day basis." I said, "Great. And so you should, but it's not a ring-fence time, which denotes that you have value in who I am and what I am and what I do." So have that ring-fence time. Caveat here, if you arrange that ring-fence time and then say, "I can't make it tomorrow, I've got something more important to do," you've basically given that follower the message, you're not that important. I don't value that much. So be very careful. Andy Edwards: During COVID, for instance, I've known the best leaders I know. They're on the phone to these guys. They're saying, "I'm know I'm missing out on speaking to you. I'm not going to miss out on the communication." So one-to-ones, ring-fence time with everyone single one of your charges, which brings us to a sub point around suddenly to say, "Oh, I lead 50 people." No, you don't. You don't. If you're leading more than a team of about eight to 10 people, then you are going to be pulled apart. You're not a leader. Maybe you have some authority over them, but that's not leadership. So absolutely make sure that you're meeting with your staff at least once a month. Andy Edwards: Number three is part of that is when they bring something up, a concern, a worry, a moan even as that will certainly start off being is, do you close the loop? Do you say, "It's really interesting. I'll get back to you," and not bother? Do you say, "All right, we need to do something about that," and then fail to go back? No, there's only four answers you give to somebody with a concern or a problem. The first answer is this. "Yes, we'll sort it. Well, how much do you need? Go buy one of those things now?" So you can say yes and immediately. Close the loop. Second answer, by definition the second issue will be a slightly bigger answer than the first one, which will be, "Yes, I agree. What's the first step we need to take? Are we sure we've got the business case in place first?" So it's still a yes. Of the four answers you can give, the first two were yes. As is the third answer. Andy Edwards: The third answer is, "Yes, I understand why you would say that. I might see there's some other priorities in place that we need to be addressing first, but do ask me again in three months time, six months time," what have you. So you're still saying I value your judgment. I value your opinion. And I value the fact you've brought me this issue, this concern, this idea, this goal, and there are other ideas and priorities first. By the way, if they don't know what those priorities are, then as a leader, you need to ensure that they now understand why that is a lesser priority. So that's part and parcel. So you've got to close the loop as well. Andy Edwards: The fourth out of seven is failing to elicit or even be open to challenge from your followers. The idea that a leader thinks they've got to know best, or be the boss or in charge in some sort of matcher or matchess sort of way, no. You're as vulnerable as anybody else to the vagaries of the world. We've certainly seen that as of late, haven't we, of what else is going on. So absolutely you must be open to the idea of somebody can turn around and say, "I don't know why we shouldn't be doing it this way," or, "how about if," or, "Boss, that doesn't serve me when you do it in that way. It would be better if," and for you not to turn around and say, "Well, I'm the boss. You get on with it. I pay you. I'll tell you when you're doing a bad job and move on." No, absolutely. And my suggestion as a leader, not only do we accept challenge, we mine for challenge. We seek challenge. We almost demand challenge, but in a non-scary way would probably be the best way of doing that. Andy Edwards: The remaining three, which probably I haven't got time to go into. Let me just give you the headlines on that. First one is failing to be specific in your positive or constructive feedback. We need feedback as followers. Are you being positive or constructive, but being specific with that? It's quite a big section to look at as to how to do that. The worst case scenario is you don't give any feedback at all. Andy Edwards: Number six of seven is failing to appreciate or give credit for an individual effort. Okay, let me simplify that. Say thank you sometimes. In fact, say thank you a lot. It's a validation, it's showing that you're valuing it. It's the cheapest and easiest thing to do. And probably out of the seven, it is the easiest one to do, and probably has the most disproportionate positive effect. Andy Edwards: And the last one, failing to maintain visibility and general communication. This is the charge that you might get if you're not around, that you are locked in an ivory tower and out of touch with people. So the continuation of those fails is in my new book and I go into it in quite some more detail. Paul Green: So tell us about the book. What's it called and where can we get it from? Andy Edwards: It's Leadership, but with the last letter T instead of P because from a very clear feedback point of view, I often get followers say, "My leader is not very good," but they'll use that sort of language. So it'd probably be more polite to give you the subtitle to be honest. Yeah, it's What your followers really think of your leadership and how to change their minds. And that gives you a real big clue as to what's contained within the book. Paul Green: And where do we get it? Andy Edwards: It will be on Amazon at some point, but go to the website. It's www.andyedwards.biz. An d it'll be reasonably obvious where you can get hold of the book on that website. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. This week's recommended book. R. Michael Anderson: Hi, Paul. R. Michael Anderson here. I'm a leadership expert and trainer. And I wanted to think of a really cool book, sort of off the beaten path that people might not have heard of before, that would give value. And it's called The Surrender Experiment by Mickey Singer, Michael Singer. But it's about this hippie who really, all he wants to do is go and meditate. But what he tells himself is anything that comes around his life, he's going to say yes to. And I won't spoil the whole story for you, but he buys one of the first PCs. He becomes a programmer. He comes up with this software package and it turns into he's a CEO of a billion-dollar public company. And it just goes through a really interesting path. It really resonated with me as a software guy, who's a little bit spiritual as well. So anyway, it's called The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer, or Mickey Singer out there. Voiceover: How to contribute to the show. Paul Green: What's a book that you've read that you think, "Hey, Paul's audience would find that book fascinating." I'd love to get you on the show, giving your book suggestions. You can actually do it without even having to speak to me. We've set up a special page on my website, paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcastbooks. And on there, you can see the details of how to leave me a book suggestion. There's a little script there if you want to use that script or just use your own words, completely up to you. And I've even listed all the books that have already been suggested. Paul Green: Now you can make a book suggestion, whether you're an MSP, whether you're a vendor or whether you're not even in our world, but you've stumbled across this podcast and you're finding it quite interesting. We'd love to get your book suggestion. So you can leave it and send it to me very simply at paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcastbooks. Voiceover: Coming up next week. Chris Duggan: In the future, we could see some more technicians come onto the market as companies struggle with their customers coming back to normality. Paul Green: That's Chris Duggan. He's an MSP recruiter based in the UK and next week, he has got some cracking ideas for you to make recruitment easier. Whether you're finding it easy or difficult right now to get the staff that you want, my experience of most MSPs is that they find it quite difficult. Chris has got some amazing ideas about building up pipelines of staff, so that when you've got a vacancy, you've got a whole bunch of people that you've already talked to, that you can go and see, who's ready to join you at your business. So Chris is going to be here as our guest next week. Paul Green: We're also going to be talking about a podcast that's about hacking and it's about the criminal underworld. It was recommended to me a few months ago by one of my clients. And I've quite enjoyed dipping in and out of it. And remember, I'm not a tech. So if I enjoy it, it should be something that you would enjoy as well. Paul Green: We've also got a book suggestion next week from Heather Harlos. Now, it's a book that I read about 20 years ago. It's one of those that you can read in one sitting, and it really does give you food for thought. Paul Green: And the final thing we're going to talk about next week is why you must have a live calendar on your website. As we start the second year of the MSP Marketing Podcast next week, I'd love to see you then. Have a great week. Bye-bye. Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.
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