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4 Weeks to B2B Mastery Virtual Workshop Live Blog

4 Weeks to B2B Mastery Virtual Workshop Live Blog

July 14, 2016 | By Charlotte S Hicks | 1 Comment

4 Weeks to B2B Mastery Virtual Workshop Live BlogDate: August 2 – 25, 2016
Topic: B2B Mastery Live Blog
Presenters: Steve Slaunwhite, Bob Bly, Casey Hibbard, Casey Demchak, Michael Katz, Ilise Benun, Gordon Graham, Ed Gandia

In the 4 Weeks to B2B Mastery Virtual Workshop, eight B2B copywriting experts walk though the most in-demand, highest-paying B2B projects, give you inside tips on pricing your services, and show you how you can land clients quickly and easily.

We’ll be there, reporting live on every session:

  • Casey Demchak on choosing your niche
  • Casey Hibbard on writing case studies
  • Gordon Graham on writing white papers
  • Steve Slaunwhite on writing B2B websites
  • Michael Katz on writing blogs and newsletters
  • Bob Bly on ads, direct mail, emails, and more
  • Ilise Benun on how to get top fees for your services
  • Ed Gandia on getting great clients

The live blog includes special updates for B2B Writing Success platinum members. Be sure you’re logged in to access all of the premium content. If you’re not a member yet, give platinum membership a try!

The live blog kicks off at 2:00 p.m. August 2. See you then!

Master Class with Casey Demchak

August 2, 2:00 p.m.

Welcome to the live blog! Platinum members –  be sure to log in to get your extra content.

First up, we have Casey Demchak on Dominating Your Niche.

When choosing your niche, consider your background and experience. You can also consider your hidden interests.

Tip: When entering a new niche, act like a new reporter. Read, research, and talk to as many people as you can in the niche so you can learn about it quickly.

 3:09 p.m.

Back from the writing exercise and break…

Another way to get into your niche is to fall into it. This is what happened to Casey. Getting into B2B medical device copywriting wasn’t a carefully thought-out plan. Instead, Casey was giving the opportunity and quickly became an in-demand copywriter in the niche.

Make sure the niche has enough companies to give you a good pool of prospects. Some niches might surprise you – many are much larger than you might think. Look for events, associations, and other indications that there are plenty of companies in the niche.

3:43 p.m.

The first strategy for dominating your niche is to get very good at your craft. The better you are, the more you’ll stand out among your peers.

Have a clear vision of your ideal client. Focus your business on those clients and you’ll be more successful.

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

Casey answered questions from the participants throughout the event and at the end of the session. It’s one of the many benefits of being in the workshop and on the webinar live.

Next up on Thursday will be Casey Hibbard on writing case studies. She’s the top expert on case studies so the session is sure to be amazing.

See you Thursday!

Master Class with Casey Hibbard

August 4, 2:00 p.m.

Steve Slaunwhite introduces Casey Hibbard who will teach us how to write compelling case studies that sell.

Case studies are one of Steve’s favorite types of B2B content because you get to help companies tell their stories.

Casey wrote her first case study in 2000 and loved them right away. She loved telling the stories and also loved that she was always talking with happy customers.

A B2B case study is one where your client’s client is a business. (There are also B2C case studies, where an individual is featured.)

Even when a company has writers on staff, many times they don’t have the specific expertise needed to write a case study. Often, customers prefer talking with someone outside of the business.

Today, businesses are doing business globally and online instead of only face-to-face so the demand for case studies has drastically increased.

Case studies are used for credibility, education, and validation.

Consultants, professional service firms, and technology companies all need case study writers. (And many, many more!) Casey walks us through some examples of case studies she has done – there’s a wide variety of companies!

In a typical case study, you’ll talk with the marketing manager at a company and sometimes also a subject matter expert at the company. You’ll also often talk with an account representative and of course, the client’s happy customer.

Casey has a very helpful outline of the eight steps of a case study project and highlighted the four steps she’s responsible for. (A process is a sign of a professional – clients love seeing that you have a process.)

How long does it take to complete a case study? For a two-page case study that’s about 800-900 words, Casey will spend about 7 hours for all of her activity with the project.

The first part of the case study explains who the customer is. You’ll also need to highlight the benefit they received as a result of buying from your client.

Casey also gave us the five-step process she goes through before the customer interview.

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

3:53 p.m.

We’re back from the break!

Casey points out that if you miss a key ingredient in your case study it will be “off” just like baking a cake and forgetting a key ingredient would make it taste funny.

When you’re conducting the customer interview, remember you’re a representative of your client. Keep the background noise to a minimum.

When you’re writing the challenge section, look for a powerful quote about the challenge or need the customer had.

Save your results for last – make it a big finale!

In your case study – tell a story! This is what sets case studies apart from other B2B copy.

When you can, add a metric to your case study. Present it in a way that will have an impact on any sized company. For example, a savings of $100,000 might be a big number to a small business, but isn’t to a large multi-national corporation. Instead, you could say the product saved 20%.

Don’t neglect the headline and subheads. Make them count!

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

We’ll be back on Tuesday, August 10 with Gordon Graham. See you then!

Master Class with Gordon Graham

August 10, 2:00 p.m.

Gordon says that many of the white papers he sees could be much better and today, he’ll explain what should be in a good white paper.

White papers are the king of content. They are the most challenging, most complex, most in-depth, hardest-working, and longest-lasting type of B2B content.

71% of B2B marketers surveyed said they use white papers – and it’s gone up every year since 2010!

White papers are logical, not emotional. They use facts and not hype or exaggeration.

Who publishes white papers? Anyone trying to influence decision-makers. 95% of white papers are written for B2B companies.

A few examples of companies that publish white papers are:

  • B2B service providers
  • Business equipment makers
  • Clean tech companies
  • Consultants
  • Medical/healthcare vendors
  • Professional service firms
  • B2B software vendors

White papers help generate leads (#1 purpose), educate prospects, and build credibility.

Here’s an interesting question: Can you include a case study in a white paper. Surprisingly, the answer is yes! (But not the other way around.)

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

 4:17 p.m.

Gordon has reviewed the hands-on exercises and is now explaining the 3 parts of a white paper. First, there’s a start where you tell them what you’re going to tell them. Second is the middle where you tell them what you need to tell them. Then, at the end, you need to tell them what you told them.

Although it sounds repetitive, often someone will read the start, skip to the end to see if they want to read the middle. If you didn’t use the structure Gordon recommends, you may use them.

Your white paper title is very important. It’s one of the ways people will find your white paper online! It also helps people decide whether or not they want to download.

Don’t skip the executive summary – people are busy and it helps them decide to read the white paper. You can write it first, then expand it into the full white paper, or write the draft first and then compress it into an executive summary.

One big no when doing your research, don’t quote Wikipedia  – go to the sources referenced on Wikipedia. Go to the primary source!

Gordon doesn’t recommend jumping in and writing white papers for your first B2B projects. It’s better to get some experience with other B2B projects first.

Gordon wrapped up by helping the participants determine if white papers are for them.

It’s been another information-packed day!

The live blog for Thursday’s session with Steve Slaunwhite will be delayed a day or two. Think of it as a Latergram without the pictures. I’ll be live when I post it, but it won’t be while the session is live.

Master Class with Steve Slaunwhite

Welcome to the “later blog” for Steve’s session on B2B Websites.

Website projects not only pay well, they often turn into many more projects with the company.

Here are two numbers you should know:

67% — “sales-ready” B2B buyers will check out a company’s website before making their decision to talk with a sales representative.

80% — B2B buyers who visit a website but don’t have an immediate need for the product or service but will in the future. This is the time to capture leads! (That means 20% are HOT prospects!)

Website writing is BOOMING. Mobile and tablet use has increased the need to update old websites.

Companies are always debuting new and updated products and services.

The trend toward branding and storytelling is impacting web copy too.

Plus, now that websites are easier to update, companies are more willing to keep their content fresh.

Today, Steve will cover:

  • A quick overview of B2B website copywriting
  • Preparing for a website writing project
  • Strategizing the brand message
  • Writing copy for key website pages
  • Submitting the copy and working with the designer

Your first step is to put yourself into the shoes of the B2B buyer. What will they need to find on the website?

When writing website copy, you have to wear several hats. You need to be a brand strategist, explain the product or service, and be a salesperson. If you don’t do all three, you’ll lose the prospect.

We’re going to focus on the most important pages:

  • Home page
  • Product/Service page
  • About
  • Lead capture page
  • Contact page

There are other pages, but those are the key pages you should be prepared to write.

A web rewrite project might be initiated by the client or by a site audit you do for them. (Pam Foster’s Site Audits Made Simple is a good resource if you want to offer site audit services.)

Design firms may also refer business to you when they are hired to redesign a website. Establish relationships with them when you can!

There are four types of website writing projects:

  1. Rewrite
  2. New website
  3. New section
  4. New or updated page (Beware! The project may be small but the client’s expectations may be big.)

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

As you write your copy, make sure you make it about the prospect — not the company!

And look for opportunities for visuals — they can greatly enhance the prospect’s experience. Infographics can be very helpful when explaining complex processes.

And just like printed copy, make your copy easy to scan.

When a prospect arrives on the home page, they are asking, “Am I in the right place?” Your copy should answer this question right away.

The home page should have a clear, benefit-focused headline and short, impactful copy. And don’t forget to have a call-to-action to take the next step.

All of your copy should be written in a conversational style. Steve calls it “business casual”.

Check out Dianna Huff’s website as a good example of a home page:

On a product/service page, Steve recommends using Bob Bly’s motivating sequence:

  • Attention
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Proof
  • Action

Don’t forget to include both features and benefits!

The About US page is where you have a chance to tell the company’s story and let the prospect know how it benefits them. Team member bios can make the page more personal and more effective.

Don’t make your contact page just a cold form. Instead, make it a warm invitation and suggest a next step such as an offer or demo.

Steve also covered his tips for the lead capture page and working with designers. There were tons of questions too!

It’s been another super-informative session!

Next up: Michael Katz’s Master Class on B2B Newsletters. We’ll see you Tuesday at 2:00 Eastern.

Master Class with Michael Katz

August 16, 2016 2:00 p.m.

We’re live with Michael Katz and jumping into our session on email newsletters…

When you sell a professional service, especially in a high-trust environment, it’s difficult to check them out before you hire them. Because the risk is high, it’s a more difficult sale. A newsletter allows them to get to know you before committing to hiring you.

Michael’s marketing strategy is to “stay in front of the people your know, over and over again, in a way that positions you as a likeable expert. (TM)”

Think of yourself (or your client) as a juicer – squeezing all the information out of your head into the newsletter where potential clients can see what you know.

There are some challenges with email newsletters:

1. Nobody wants more email. But they will read interesting emails!

2. The end user holds all the cards. The recipient must want to open it.

3. You need to keep doing it. The benefits come from regular, reliable publishing.

AND… Harvard Business Review said there’s no better way to build influence than through email.

Your clients know other people – alumni, vendors, friends, former coworkers, neighbors, association members, and more that they could forward your newsletter to. That’s a huge number of people!

One of the ways to make your newsletter interesting is to take a position – especially one that seems to be against the common thought.

You know you’re taking a position if someone in your profession might disagree with you. If they wouldn’t, you’re not taking a position.

Often, your clients will worry about giving everything they know away. But that’s unfounded. After all, everything you know shouldn’t fit in 12 newsletters!

Time for a short break…

2:47 p.m.

We’re back and Michael is explaining his “Two Hippos” formula.

First – what is my (or your client’s) expertise

Second – who is my ideal client?

Your newsletter content is the answer to: What do I know that my ideal client wants to know?

When trying to identify an ideal client. Think about casting a movie… build the character!

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

Now we’re launching into the formatting and layout of email newsletters.

The basic parts of your newsletter are:

  • Header
  • Intro
  • Main article
  • Social media icons
  • Link to archive and sign up
  • Sidebar 1
  • Shameless self-promotion
  • About us (2-3 sentences)
  • copyright, unsubscribe, complete contact information

Michael does a one-column format now since so many people read them on their mobile phones. Keep it easy to read!

Name the newsletter something interesting. Make it feel like it’s a magazine, not a sales email.

Your main article shouldn’t be promotional at all. Keep the self-promotion in that section.

Ask your client if you can put a link at the bottom of your newsletter. Most will say yes – and you’ve just been put in front of hundreds more prospects.

Formatting really matters – make the copy easy to read. Bullet points, numbers, and frequent paragraph breaks will make it more friendly.

An email vendor will help with formatting, layout, delivery, list management , and tracking. Plus, they’ll make sure the mailing is in compliance with spam laws. Michael recommends Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and AWeber.

Michael suggests growing a newsletter list by sharing the newsletter with other publications, speaking to groups, and putting the sign-up in your client’s email signature.

When should you publish?

At least monthly, on the same day of the week. Michael recommends mid-morning, after most readers have gone through their mass delete of overnight emails.

Now for a quick break… then we’ll be back to talk about working with clients.

4:23 p.m.

One of the nicest things about writing email newsletters is that the work is predictable, ongoing work with few emergencies.

Michael recommended a book: The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow.

He recommends charging a flat fee to build the newsletter and send the first issue. After that, there’s a regular monthly fee. Made sure you get a deposit up front – he recommends half up front. He usually bills quarterly for the ongoing newsletter.

I love this quote on pricing: “If you don’t bump into the ceiling once in a while, you’re not charging enough.” Great advice Michael!

Join us again on Thursday for Bob Bly on the topic of B2B sales copy. It will be good!

Master Class with Bob Bly

August 18, 2:00 p.m.

Bob jumps in right away with his motivating sequence:

  • Attention
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Proof
  • Action

Nearly every piece of  B2B sales copy will follow this sequence. Have it in front of you whenever you write.

Always start with the prospect, not the product when you write. What’s their job title? Responsibility in the company? Problem?

Bob shows us several examples of copy he’s written that follows this sequence. He also explains 3 types of offers: soft (free info), hard (sales call), and deferred (not interested now, try me “fill in the date”.

E-newsletter ads work very well – Bob has successfully used them for his own marketing.

Bob has 10 commandments of B2B Lead Generation. Here are a few of them:

1. You must make an offer

4. Have multiple response options

7. Make lead magnets sales pieces, not just content

10. Funnel leads into an automated follow-up system

Some of the hot trends in B2B lead generation are:

  • multichannel marketing
  • big data
  • content marketing
  • reduced up-front lead qualification
  • preselling in lead magnets
  • direct mail driving traffic to the web
  • online video
  • social media

Infographics have become a source of leads. You’ll find them posted on Instagram, Pinterest, and other places online.

There are many, many options for your lead magnet:

  • books and e-books
  • white papers
  • articles
  • video
  • podcasts
  • webinars
  • seminars
  • demos

And anything else a prospect would find valuable.

Adding a lead magnet can double the response rate of an offer.

If you stress the offer instead of the brand, leads will cost 1/10 as much. That’s HUGE!

Content marketing has many specific benefits:

  • It sets the specs
  • Makes the prospects beholden to you (reciprocity)
  • Generates more inquires
  • Establishes you as the expert
  • Educates the market
  • Drives sales

The title of your lead magnet is important too! One type of tile is the “Why” title: “Why Six Sigma Doesn’t Work.”

Increase the value of your lead magnet by putting a value on them. And then actually sell them for that somewhere online!

When writing B2B sales copy it’s critical to know your prospect’s beliefs, desires, and feelings. You must speak to those emotions.

One lead generation source you may not have thought about is a press release. Bob has used them successfully to get leads.

 3:27 p.m.

We’re back from the break…

Bob is discussing the importance of a USP – Unique Selling Proposition:

A USP will communicate a benefit, must be unique, and must be strong enough to “move the masses.”

When you can put the USP in teaser copy, the more likely your envelope is to get opened.

Bob gave us the optimal copy length for several items of copy:

  • Email subject lines – 50 characters
  • Paragraph – 4 lines or less
  • YouTube video – 3 to 3.5 minutes
  • Domain name – 8 characters or less (tough to do now!)

We’re taking a break for the hands-on exercise. When we come back we’ll have a special update for our Platinum members…

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

Whew! Bob Bly packed a huge amount of information in that session. Join us again on Tuesday for Ilise Benun’s session on pricing your services.

Master Class with Ilise Benun

August 23, 2:00 p.m.

Before you event start to figure out your price, you need to identify who is NOT your client and decide who you don’t want to work with.

You also need to develop confidence. When you’re new, your confidence will be different than the confidence you’ll have when you’re more experienced. No one is born with confidence! Be patient with yourself. Treat every experience as an experiment – learn from each one.

Price isn’t set – it’s subjective. It’s what the buyer agrees to pay the seller and will be different between different buyers and sellers. It’s a conversation and often a compromise between two people.

Most clients want value (not necessarily the lowest price).

There’s no such thing as “your price” or even as a “going rate.”

Although not all projects are profitable. Unexpected things happen. BUT, your business should be profitable.

What is your “worth”? It’s also subjective, it depends on industry standards, and whether (and how) you demonstrate your value. And it depends on whether you quote prices before or after you demonstrate your value.

Your goal is to ask questions to find out what they don’t know that you do. That gap is your value. You’re always listening for your value as a professional, insider, quick resource, or someone who can generate results.

Ask value-oriented questions:

  1. What does success look like for this project?
  2. What would make the project a smashing success?
  3. How many new customers could this get you?
  4. How much is a new customer worth to you?

Always take the time to prepare and ask questions relevant to them.

Both Ilise and Steve strongly advise you to talk with the prospect on the phone to discuss the project and pricing.

We start with Part 1: The Science of Pricing. (There will be some math!)

The basic process is:

  1. Figure out what you need
  2. Find out what they can pay
  3. Come to a price together

You should know:

  1. What you own (total assets)
  2. What you owe (total debt)
  3. What you earn (average monthly income)
  4. What you spend (your break-even point)

Be specific about your goals so you know what you’ll need to charge to reach your goals.

Although you won’t price projects by the hour, you need to know your minimum hourly rate.

Ilise walks us through the math. She makes it easy!

When figuring out your billable hours, realize that for a typical 40-hour week, you’ll probably only have 50% to 60% of your time in billable hours. The rest of the time is marketing, admin, and other non-client time.

The rate we calculated is our minimum hourly rate – it’s best to add a cushion and charge a bit more than your minimum. You just don’t want to charge less!

Time for the exercise…

3:36 p.m.

We’re back from the break and Ilise is answering questions from the exercise. Now on to Part 2: The Art of Pricing.

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

Next, Ilise talks about 4 pricing strategies:

First, is pricing hourly – also known as “time and materials”

Remember, your hourly rate isn’t a price until you estimate your number of hours. Then it becomes the floor of your price. It works when you’re doing consulting or it’s a very unpredictable project.

It doesn’t work when things take longer than expected or you over-deliver. It also turns what you do into a commodity and makes it difficult to establish your value.

Second, is project pricing.

You determine parameters, a fixed fee for a specific deliverable. It works when the client knows exactly what they want, has defined deliverables, and you know how long the project will take.

Project pricing is especially good if you work fast.

If you under-estimate or over-delver you can lose money. Scope creep can undermine the project.

Key to make it work: be efficient, build in enough of a margin in your pricing, and have good pre-emptive communication with your client.

Other types of pricing are package pricing and tiered pricing.

In package pricing, you offer standard packages to everyone. Options or tiered pricing are tailored packages you offer case-by-case to prospects based on their needs and your “expert” recommendations.

Package pricing works when you’re a specialist and most clients need the same thing. It doesn’t work when you’re a generalist and every client needs something different. Also a problem if you’re not good at saying “no” to tasks outside of the project.

Package pricing will help you be perceived as an expert and it helps clients understand what they are getting.

However, it can be limiting. If you don’t post your prices, it gives you the ability to change them when you need to.

Keys to making package prices work is to start using them behind the scenes and only publishing prices when you’re ready to use the price to weed out prospects.

Tiered pricing is like package prices with options. The client chooses between options 1, 2, or 3 instead of yes or no.

People naturally gravitate to the middle tier. Ilise also gave us some tips for what she calls the “crazy option” which is a high-value option.

If you present tiered pricing, try to present it visually so the differences are clear.

Ilise answers a few questions.

This has been an incredibly helpful session.

Our final master class will be on Thursday with Ed Gandia.

“See” you then!

Master Class with Ed Gandia

August 25, 1:56 p.m.

I can’t believe it – we’re at the end of our virtual intensive. Today Ed Gandia is giving us tips and strategies for landing clients. I’d say that’s at the top of everyone’s list!

We’re going to talk about using warm email prospecting (WEP) to make meaningful connections with prospects so they can be converted into clients.

We’ll also talk about crafting our value statement.

One of Ed’s handout is a process map that outlines every step of the process. Nice!

What is warm email prospecting?

It’s not about mass emailing or sending out a newsletter. It’s not copy and paste email scripts. Instead, think of it as artisanal marketing. It’s a one-to-one marketing piece.

It will position you as a knowledgeable professional with a relevant and timely message. It’s different from 99% of all marketing emails your prospects are getting so they get noticed.

WEP works only when you have 3 psychological triggers:

  1. Personalization
  2. Relevance
  3. Brevity – 150 words or less!

The basic template is:

Subject line: (Meaningful Connection0

Email Body:

[Meaningful connection]
[Value Statement]
[Credibility element]
[Soft invitation to connect]
[Email Signature]

Ed will dive into each of these in detail.

A meaningful connection is a statement that connects what you do to something you noticed about the prospect.

When you’re sending a warm email your goal isn’t to land a client. The goal is to start a conversation.

There are four types of meaningful connections:

  1. Point to a trigger event
  2. Point to a trigger attribute
  3. Name a relevant client, accomplishment, knowledge, or experience
  4. Leverage a mutual contact

One of the examples of a trigger event (Ed gave us a long list!) is a new product or service announcement.

A trigger attribute is an attribute about an organization that would trigger a potential need for your services.

What if you’re just getting started and don’t even have a website? Use a launch email.

Launch emails are a type of warm email that you send only to people in your personal and professional network to let them know about your new business.

These may not be your best prospects ever, but it’s an easy way to get started.

Make sure you position your new venture as a business, not a hobby. Clearly explain what you’re doing and come across professionally. You want to pave the way for a conversation.

Positioning is the perception you create in the prospect’s mind about your and your services. You need to explain what makes you different and why it matters.

When deciding on your target market, consider:

  • Your background experience, passions, and talents
  • Your network of contacts
  • The topics and the people in that market
  • Their need to explain and marketing products and services

We’re going to apply this for our hands-on exercise a little later.

When choosing your niche, you need to find a balance between being too broad and too narrow. Ed recommends you be broad with the “what” you’re going to write but be more specific about the “for whom.”

Pivot as you get market feedback. Your niche will develop.

We’re taking a break to work on our assignment. Back in a bit…

We’re back from the break with a…

Special update for Platinum Members:

This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

How can you find prospect contact information?

Ed starts with LinkedIn, using the Advanced search feature. You can enter a job title and company. When you get a response back, copy her job title and do a Google search on her job title. It will often give you the person’s full name!

Then you can go back to Google, and enter her name and the domain. Often you’ll be able to find their email address.

Another tool is connect. It’s about $250 a year and it will give you contact information.

His biggest advice is to just get started!

Don’t wait until you feel ready. Most of your learning will happen as you go.

Whew! It’s been a fantastic 4 weeks. We’ve covered a TON of material. This live blog touched on a small portion of what our experts shared with the participants.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the live blog. See you again soon!












































About the Author

Charlotte S Hicks

Latest in B2B Copywriting

One Comment

  • Wow! This was super informative/helpful.. as a novice B2B writer, I get a little overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. This streamlined list tightly focused around the most significant projects in the B2B niche, is bound to get my creative juices flowing. Thanks a lot.

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