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Pink Headphones: Pirates and Digital Marketing (W/ Volney Cortes)

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

Berta

So welcome to today’s episode of The Dreamers Succeed Podcast.  We’re joined today by Volney Cortes, an amazing entrepreneur and guru of all things digital marketing. He is the CEO and founder of Total United Marketing. Hi, Volney!

Volney

Hi! Oh my God, a pleasure doing this with you.

Berta

Yes, I’m so happy that you’re here.

Volney

It’s amazing, we just spoke, what, a week ago?

Berta

A week ago

Volney

And we’re doing this and it’s a total new experience for me.

Berta

Well I’m so happy that you’re here. Guys, you’re in for a real treat. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Volney for several years now and still count my blessings that I get to call him a friend. So, Volney, how are you doing, how were the holidays?

Volney

Very good, actually amazing. With what you just said: it is absolutely reciprocal. You changed me, Berta. You are amazing and I love the opportunity to do this with you.

Berta

Thank you, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be fun. So… 2020, you ready?

Volney

Super.

Berta

You in?

Volney

Super ready.

Berta

What’s going to happen this year that’s going to be different?

Volney

I asked you once in one of your presentations for your book, The Why Is the Way, if you had planned it. You said something that is so remarkable to me: that you did but you didn’t. That there’s no way to fully plan things. I do have a plan for 2020 but I’m open for everything. And I think for most of us it’s going to be an amazing year.

Berta

Yes, I agree. Thank you for remembering that because I may not have remembered. I think that’s how you operate. too and we’re both like that. We’re going to talk about your book coming up. Published by July, no pressure here, but we’ll talk about that a little later.

Volney

Yes, July 9th.

Berta

So I did want to talk to you, Volney, because we have so many listeners that are business owners. I know the importance of digital marketing and I know that is your forte, that is your life blood.  You see things from a very different perspective as far as what we can see when we’re in the business.

Volney

Correct.

Berta

Now tell me a little bit about what motivated you to start your company to help business owners grow in that digital marketing space.

Volney

At my core, I’m a sales rep.  I love to sell. For whatever reason it’s sexy to me. So since I was 17 years old my Mom taught me. She got me into her own business.  The best sales rep I’ve ever known is my Mom and if you see her you would never guess that she sells that much.

Just the way she carries herself was imprinted into me and it built up organically. Now we have this new era [of] digital marketing, the best thing that could happen to all of us, and we need to take advantage of it while we can. It is amazing.

The statistics that we have right now for business owners… I think this was at the end of last year, they came up with a number that only 44% of businesses are on Google.

That is just extraordinary!  That means that there’s a lot of room for growth, so we need to get into this. Every business owner needs to take advantage of this opportunity and it’s super easy.  By the way: many people don’t know this, but for you to be on Google and to show up on Google, it’s free.

But you need to know what are the gravitational forces around that, that way it works for you.  And that became my experience. In every industry that I’ve seen it, be it staffing, construction, insurance, real estate… it is amazing.

One business alone can account for millions. Just for one of my last experiences, just by being in there, $1.3MM contract

So who doesn’t want that? Everybody [wants it]!  And it’s amazing that a lot of business owners still don’t believe in it.

Berta

And I think that what it could be is that we’re just not educated, we don’t know what is available.  We hear a lot of talk about social media and what you can do; Facebook and Facebook ads and things like that but we don’t know.

So I really would like to pick your brain during this podcast just so that you can take us through the organic way that you can bring a company to be know.  Can you take us through just a little bit of the process?

Volney

The first thing, how would you find what is not visible?  It is nearly impossible. The first step, the most important step, [is to] show up. Be there, be available, be visible. Present yourself. Be that your brand, your products, your services, initiatives. 

Even if it’s a non-profit or for profit business, show up.  And people miss the opportunity to do that. They shy away from it.  And they don’t take advantage. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the word impressions in this digital world?

Berta

Sure.

Volney

You know it’s just simplifying that expression is just be there, be known. So the first step is the one where I like to go a little simple on it. Show up even in the soup. Everywhere! Just plaster your name all over the place. Use every tool possible.

And that’s what I squeeze out of the web or internet, just be everywhere. That’s the first step.  Once you do that, then you can move into the next step which is owning the click.

People go through different search options, alternatives and you want to be able to be part of that as you slide through their screen, be that a phone, a tablet, a computer.  You want your image to slide through it and be able to capture that moment.

To me, timing becomes a synonym of destiny. You know you just show up at the right time and then you own the click. That doesn’t mean that it’s a client, that is already a step away from it.  Owning a click only gives you a lead.  And this is when a lot of people try to go too fast.  They need to slow down and understand this portion.

First you show up, then you own the click, then you get the lead. With the lead, the person is going to want to call you. Sometimes people just go too fast through the process and go all the way to lead.

That lead, they’re going to look at your information and they think the person is going to stay there and read and read and read. I don’t know but lately a lot of media experts talk about content - content, content, content. Yes of course it’s important, but don’t overdo it, don’t go too large on it.

You know -- try to minimize it to make it easy because people don’t have that much attention span or time.  Everybody’s busy and you want to capture just the right amount of attention. That is when they’re going to reach out to you and then you figure out if there is synergy and if you can supply what they are looking for, then they become a client.

So that journey, it’s amazing. People were doing it in a legacy marketing world. In a traditional marketing world, they were doing it over the phone. 

But 88% of people first look at their phones or tablets before they make any types of purchases, they don’t go over the phone. And they look at 4 different sites. These are the statistics that have been gathered by different types of institutions so people have become smarter at buying stuff. They’re researchers and there’s a nice little feeling about researching.

You feel that after going through different sites, you found the one. It’s such a powerful feeling when they call and they immediately hear yes, I have the solution for you. I call that the pirate experience. They were just looking and looking and looking and they feel smart about their decision. You want to be there. But it takes 4 steps to be at that location. 

Sometimes it’s very very fast but sometimes it takes months to get there but the results are always the same and it’s such a beautiful thing.

You know… selling -- it’s just sexy.

Berta

Yeah, just sexy because you’re good at it. Now, Volney, let me ask you because I know that there are parameters and we’ve talked and I have some of the statistics that you’ve shared with me.

I remember when you and I spoke last week - I love the way you talk about owning the click… I know that for you it’s an art, it’s a gift that you have, but you just love it and you’ve embraced it to the benefit of your clients.

But we talked a little bit about the space, depending on what industry you’ve in and how much noise there is out there.  Does that play a major role in the length of time it takes, when you say for some people it may happen faster than for others. What does that mean?

Volney

Yes, there are industries that already understand what this digital marketing is about and they figured it out so well and it’s very competitive. Those three markets are cars, insurance and real estate. So those are very competitive markets to be in. 

I know that from experience, I’m a realtor myself and I can see it.They also found out that there’s a faster way to go about it as with ads. But evidently someone that has a start-up doesn’t have that much capital to go right away into ads.

So there are smarter ways to go about it. You need to find the platform that best goes along with your industry and then take advantage of it. You don’t need to go right away into ads. Yes, it is definitely a fast process when you go into ads but before that, there are a bunch of things you can do to make yourself known and capture the attention of your target market.

Berta

Right. So would you say that there’s a point where if you’re well enough positioned, that the ads are almost unnecessary because you’re always going to be showing up like you say?

Volney

Correct. You’ll be surprised.  Let’s say art. You would think that artists would have figured out how to show up. No. By the way, one of my dreams and this goes back to the question what’s 2020 going to be for me. I would love to connect with all the artists here in Florida.

I think that – and  people don’t know this -- but it’s such an amazing market and we don’t come up that strongly. I don’t understand why… we have this beautiful area, this beautiful weather. 

My invitation, my biggest invitation in this conversation that we’re having is for all artists. We can make Florida flourish. It is a multi-billion [dollar] industry. We have Art Basel, and it’s great for us, but we can get a lot more.

Berta

Wow, that’s amazing. I think Miami and South Florida are considered hubs for art. So why is there not more movement, I guess, is what you’re saying. You’re seeing what’s not out there.

Volney

Yes! Traditionally everybody thinks that you have to walk into one of these shops to see art. There’s an easier way. Just be digitally known. It’s right there. It’s so easy to do it and that’s my invitation. Reach out to me. I want all of them, I want all of them.

Berta

I’ll be sending a few mutual [introductions] and I’m sure they’ll be listening to this, but tell me: what is probably one of the most eye-opening things that you’ve seen already that’s happened that you’ve been able to do for your clients; something that you’ve seen that you say, “I’m telling you, this works.”

Volney

There are two types of marketing strategies.

One is global, like the entire US.

And the other is local marketing, which is a county or a few cities. The two go together, hand in hand, but there are different ways to go about them. 

So on the global side of strategies, this company didn’t believe in digital marketing.  And after 4 months of setting up the whole structure (you know website and social media) they have their first contract. It was 2 projects.

The contractor was from another state but they were building the apartments here in Miami-Dade. And it was 2 different contracts: one for 125 units and the other for 57. You would think “I have to own the local market first to get business.” But, no, these people were from outside the state of Florida and they saw them.

There were no ads, just the set up. Actually, the website was kind of empty. It was just the shell. They didn’t have that much content. I was just beginning to work on it and in just four months they got the invitation for that. So that was a great experience.

The other one is regrading local marketing. People don’t know much that Google Maps or (actually for that matter MapQuest), any of these map apps, they can get business from there. 

So this gentleman was needing some installation of 64 units for a brand new hotel they were building.  And they just happened to drive by close to the office and just because they were in the area, that business was top of page.

Berta

So it picks it up if they are looking for something near them?

Volney

Correct, and he didn’t even have to write down Miami, or Miami-Dade. You know normally when you are doing any type of search, you want to narrow it down to the city or the location you are in. This is another statistic you’re going to love: normally 90% of people do business within 50 miles but only if the marketing is local marketing.

So it’s amazing.  People don’t know this, don’t know how to take advantage of it. Sure enough, he called. Before he called he looked at the website and two other sites we had set up with our information, he called and that was it $437,000 right there. All within 3 months of setting it up.

Berta

And that’s just organic, that’s not with ads?

Volney

No paid ads.  That’s just absolutely organic.

Berta

Positioning!

Volney

Correct.  That is all.

Berta

I think there are people who are in business, you even mentioned people who are starting out, who may not have the marketing budget for ads. I know that ads can get expensive, I know that they can be effective. Would you say that if they are putting their money into this organic way of growing just the way they are showing up, what would you say to these people who might be on the fence and they don’t know?

You know a lot of people are on the cusp of this new year and they’re saying this is the year it’s going to happen. And listen folks, I’m going to tell you right now, you’re going to have to invest in your business.

You want your business to grow and make you money, you have to invest in your business.  There is no way around it. I work with a lot of people, I work with a lot of coaches, I work with a lot of business owners and you’re not going to get anywhere.

If you’re nickel-and-diming your business to death from the beginning, you’re going to be nickel-and-diming your life forever because there’s just no way around it.  There’s such a thing as being smart with where you’re putting your dollars, but we do have to be willing to invest in our businesses if we want that return. 

That’s just a public service announcement for anybody out there who’s walking on their elbows and thinking, you know, I’m going to do this on my own. Good luck and I wish you well, but I’m telling you there’s just no way around that part of it.  So we talked a little bit about the importance of getting that professional advice. So what is the return, just spiritual, mental… this is being done for me and I will see the light at the end of the tunnel, what would you say, how important is that, would you say?

Volney

As I was telling you before, showing up on any of these platforms is actually free. But knowing how to do it is what’s not free. So evidently you have to pair yourself up with someone that not only has been successful but that has also made mistakes so they know what are costly mistakes.

What works fast and what doesn’t? Some of the opportunities or alternatives that we have work slow [but] work really well. For instance, a regular website can take up to 4 months to be captured by any of these search engines so sometimes it can be a long wait. So customers and business owners get stressed.

They really get anxious about what is happening or why it’s not moving along. There are other options.  One of them is for sure they call it GMB, Google My Business. It’s super-fast. It’s extremely fast and it allows people to make mistakes, small mistakes, and correct them right away. 

With a website, if you made a mistake, it takes 3 or 4 months to be captured. So it’s slow but once you’re set up correctly it works really well. Definitely a website is something valuable for any business. And sometimes people don’t pay attention to it, they don’t build into it.

I like to call this a virtual sales rep: VSR. It’s basically selling up a salesperson there, it’s silent, it’s working for you all the time. How bad is that?  How much does it cost any business to bring in a business development manager to try to bring new business and do account management for the existing one? It is costly.

Berta

And they’re not going to work 24 hours a day.

Volney

Correct.  There’s no sleeping on this. It can happen all the time. And I love that you mentioned that. Many of the businesses that I’ve seen happening, go into the websites on the weekends. For whatever reason, let’s say someone is looking for any contractor, you know plumbing, electric, whatever and during the week they have so much noise in their head that it’s difficult for them to concentrate on just one thing. 

And maybe on the weekend that’s when they do it, so this is the next step.  Evidently when they call you have to be available. 77% of people that call a brand new website that they’ve never done business with, if they call and they don’t get an answer, they won’t call back.  77%!  Only 33% call back.

Berta

Wow! So what do you tell your clients when you’re setting them up?  And I know you set them up for success and you’ve got some great success stories already. I mean… you want to talk about the master in over delivering in value? This is Volney sitting right across from me. And I know that you look at a very holistic view of your customer, their business, their mindset - you put so many of these things that not your average digital marketing firm is going to be out there doing.

So what do you tell them? Let’s say, for example, they have a static phone line in their office. What do you tell them in a scenario like this based on those statistics that are very in your face? 77% of the people are not going to call you back.

Volney

If you don’t answer the phone at that time probably you’re never going to see them again.  You have to be available. You know, for a business owner -- and I know most business owners are going to agree with me -- they want to grow their business. They’re doing anything and everything possible to make it work even if it’s working through the weekend.

Answering a phone call through the weekend, many times, it’s just going to be an informational call but at least you’re going to capture their information, a name, a phone number, an e-mail, and then you can follow up. That’s all it takes. And people would understand, “Hey I’m with my family but can I take your information and I’ll make sure to follow up with you.” People will honor that and they will wait for you because you picked up the phone. 

Berta

I love that.  I’m a firm believer in the fact that all this digital stuff we have to make life easier is great, but we still have to put in the work. I mean, that’s never going to go away. So I love that you mentioned that because that’s something you know a lot of people want to work a 4 hour work-week and that’s great when you eventually get there.

But to get to a 4 hour work-week you’ve got to put in 20-hour days most of the time at the beginning. So tell me a little bit about this Google My Business because I had never heard of it.

Volney

There’s something that October of last year it was estimated that only 44% of businesses show up on Google My Business and it’s linked to Google Maps. Google Maps is basically a search engine on its own like YouTube is, and it’s just as powerful. 

Now the good thing about Google My Business is that you’re really not showing up on one platform, you’re really showing up on two platforms: you’re showing up on Google Maps and besides that they give you a free website, customizable. How bad is that for any business? 

And it’s free. And you’ll be surprised. Think about this: you would have to wait on a Facebook campaign to come up in 3 or 4 months, if you’re lucky it will show up sooner than that. That’s what we all hope for. 

Okay we’re going to do it and the Google system is going to read the page and it’s going to pop up on the first page if it’s relevant. But with Google My Business you don’t have to wait that much. Many times, it happens instantaneously, if you make a mistake, if you want to do any type of optimization to it, sometimes it happens right away, instantly.

So that’s beautiful, there’s no other way to say it. But then, for me to get to this point, I have to spend years. Google My Business has been around since 2017 really.  Before that it was just Google Maps but evidently they figured out this was such an enormous force, and they turned it into Google My Business.

To give you a perspective on just how much of a force it’s becoming, before when you set it up, they would send you a code. If the company was already settled for 5 or 10 years, they would easily find out information about you and you could do the confirmation over the phone with just a text message.

But if you’re a brand-new company, they have to send you a post card. So the postcard normally was said to arrive in 2 or 3 days. That was at the beginning. Today, it’s posted as 5 days but can take about 3 weeks. A bunch of people are jumping in. I have two clients in Columbia and theirs took 3 months. So it is growing, it is the time to jump on it and to get the best out of it.

Berta

And is this something that you do when you get a new client and you do the on boarding process? Is this just one of the steps that is part of your offering or is this a separate one?

Volney

My company is Total United Marketing, so I try to do all of it. I have a package that’s $20,000 per year but I have broken that down into 7 different packages if you want to call it that, one of them is this one and it just works.

Berta

So do they each work independent of each other? I’m sure the more you’re doing the better the results.

Volney

Yes, they entangle one into the other. They need to.

Berta

I love that you talk about the little guy having a chance now because their money goes a lot farther and there are so many tools available to them, as you mentioned, for free. If someone has a very tight budget and they say, “You know what? This year I want to start my business off on the right foot and I want to get things done,” and they come to work with you, where would you recommend that they put their first marketing dollars [in]?

Volney

I have two solutions. One is for an individual: let’s say someone who sells insurance, retirement, life…  they on their own can own that 50 mile radius. All the neighbors should know about them.  Evidently, I have the solution for businesses and it also deals with owning that 50 mile radius. This is one of the best solutions they can start with.  This would be the starting point.

Berta

So, Volney, tell me a little bit about who your ideal customer is.

Volney

Everyone.

Berta

Everyone, yes because every business needs this.

Volney

I just had a conversation with someone who sells torches, you know? It can be anyone. You have an idea, you want to put it out there, a non-profit business, anything. Oh, I have a beautiful story. This is actually very close to my heart. It’s with my nephew. Camilo… Juan Camilo.  He wants to become an engineer. He’s finishing high school in May.

I told him, most of the students, they want to graduate from college or university and then they want to put their names out there. I told him we are not going to do that. We are going to reverse the process. I’m going to connect you already with everyone. You’re not even in school, college or university, and I’m going to sell you already.

During the weekend I set up his LinkedIn Profile, that was my gift to him. And I sent out 120 invitations, all civil engineers. I showed who Juan Camilo is, what he’s doing, he likes to play soccer, he’s an excellent soccer player, all these things in his profile. 

And I sent out 120 invitations. 27 of them already responded and one of them wants to bring him to do an internship at his firm. I sold him. Why wait until you finish your bachelor’s start now, build your network now, let yourself be known, show up. Don’t be afraid, don’t shy away.

Berta

Man, that’s genius. That’s really good advice.That applies to college students, it applies to someone who’s thinking of starting their own business, who has an idea for a 5 year plan and that’s their retirement to get out of their 9 to 5.  You have to really start, I love that you said that, showing up now, so that by the time that you get there, if you had to start building it at that time, it could take you forever.

Volney

Don’t shy away into a corner of life.  Make sure you are putting yourself under the light.  Let everybody see you. SHINE!

Berta

Now that you mentioned your nephew, tell me a little bit about this trip you just took to Columbia with a bunch of young ones.

Volney

Yes, this was my first time with my two nephews and my daughter. I love adventure, safe adventure of course. I love the outdoors. We all live in cities and we’re looking at a wall all the time. When I found out that we were going to be able to do this trip, I was just so excited.  The first thing that I did was have them jump from the mountain with a parachute, they call it over there a parapente.

Berta

Yes, that’s paragliding.

Volney

Yes, that’s the correct term.  And they couldn’t believe it. That was the first strike to their perception core. Then we went out into the mountains. There was a little concern inside of me because probably 15 or 20 years ago there was a lot of guerilla presence in those mountains.  There’s not any more, fortunately, and we did that. We went up the mountain, then came down.  Swimming in the river, cold water, it was just amazing. I love adventure and I wanted to show them that life is way more than what we think. We need that thrill.

Berta

And the kids need to know that that’s normal. If we can get them used to that being normal and adventure and being outside and just living the way we’re meant to. I think what’s beautiful about your business is that it’s sort of a laptop lifestyle, you can do it from anywhere, you’re making tremendous strides and impact in the businesses of your clients, but you’re not confined by time and space which is just beautiful.

So, Volney, tell me a little bit about what I would find if I looked you up in the dictionary, what would it say?

Volney

First of all, I asked God one day did I want to be surrounded by women. He responded, but not in the way I was thinking. He gave me an amazing Mom, I’m the product of a single Mom and I’m a super proud Dad of a wonderful daughter and my world starts there. Then my brother and my nephews. I’m just feeling lucky that I’m all of those things inside family.

If they looked me up in a dictionary [it would say], just a happy man. Life is beautiful.

Berta

And I know that that’s you at your core. Tell me a little bit about this book. Guys, July 9th, the date is set! Tell me a little bit about what we’re going to find in that book?

Volney

Dreams. That was one of the things that I immediately connected with you at Dreamers Succeed. Dreams are something that we definitely have to have in our minds every day, every second of our lives. It’s about dreams, it’s about the connection between dreams and life and how mysterious and marvelous and sometimes terrifying it can be. It’s about that. I’m going to leave it just at that.

Berta

Good, because I got a little bit of an inside scoop but we’ll leave it there and leave the tease.

I think one of the most beautiful things about you is your realness, you know? You have this aura about you and what comes out is that you know what you see is what you get. It’s just that you’re all good so people might be wondering, “Oh is this [him]?” But you’re very real. 

And in that realness, there’s always a sense of vulnerability. I meant to make a note of it but I know you mentioned that one of the things you do with your clients is to help them and listen with the vulnerability where these companies want to seem like everything’s always been perfect. We don’t learn if we don’t make mistakes. 

So you talked a little bit about what that’s going to do with your clients and how you run the gamut and you know what works and what doesn’t work. You could only have learned that from those mistakes. And you and I talk a lot about the importance of those mistakes and the struggles that we’ve had. You know for me I had a crazy heavy 2019 but there are always lessons. What’s been one of the biggest lessons that you’ve had that you think has contributed to this mindset that you have of just moving forward and following your dreams?

Volney

I know that there is great good in people. Sometimes they forget it and they make mistakes and end up hurting other people. Just don’t listen to that, don’t come back too much into the hurting of the memory. Come back to the memory but not to feel hurt again, rather to feel empowered and it’s amazing. 

I met wonderful people last year that have gone through way more than I have in my life and they’re smiling and they’re happy and they’re striving and they’re moving forward. I look at my little dramas and think, why do I have to hold back, why do I feel stuck?

No, I’m going to follow that lead and that’s what I want my daughter to learn. That’s what I want to share with my family, with my mom and my family. There are so many beautiful things to do.  Make mistakes and once you make a mistake own it and learn from it. Once you own it say, yes, I made a mistake, I did the wrong thing and I’m going to correct it.

Going back to businesses: reviews. That’s where a lot of people think that they need to hide away from reviews. You want reviews. And if you get a really bad review, you want that review.  Public relations most of the time are built on conflict. You have to tap into it, don’t shy away! Confront it, be truthful.  Yes, we messed up.  Give us another opportunity. Move forward.

Berta

Wow, and see that I hadn’t heard that because I think most people are allergic to bad reviews. There’s  a way to rebuttal and shine like you’re saying on that PR side. Saying what you’re really made of and saying, listen, we’re owning it, we’re taking responsibility and we’re going to fix it.

That’s a great angle.

Volney

I’m going to give a secret of digital marketing strategies. At the beginning when businesses get a bad review to show up what they wanted to do was create more reviews to bury that bad review and get a better average, let’s say if it’s 5 stars get 4.5 or 4.3, whatever it is. My mindset is totally the opposite. Show that bad review and show that you are taking care of it.  That you respect people. We’re emotional human beings and people react out of emotions and sometimes that’s reflected on that review. They did really bad for us, the language gets really crazy. 

Respond to it with education, knowing that we’re human beings and we make mistakes. Be real. We’re not perfect. And it makes much more sense to do that than to try to make things appear to be perfect.

Berta

Yes, and that’s a great angle. I think what happens is that there’s so much fear. You said statistics: there are so many people not showing up and maybe that’s because they’re afraid ‘well if I show up and get a bad review then it’s all over’.

You know what? It’s all over if you don’t show up and you’re not getting business anyway, 

Volney

Correct.  Many people use Yelp as a platform. They know what I’m talking about. And evidently Yelp knows this and they’re very well known to leave the bad reviews up and not show the good ones. Well, don’t be afraid of it. You know, if you cannot address it under that platform, there are a lot of other platforms where you can address it. You know you can do a screenshot of it and show up, we’re taking care of this, we can handle this, we’re that good.

Berta

Really great information. See, guys, this is what I mean: super service; let me give as much as I can give and use that information. I pray that you will be able to use that information to grow your businesses. Volney, tell us how we can find you.


Volney

239-699-2008 that’s my personal number. I always answer my phone, I’m always available.

Berta

It’s true guys: he really does. Volney, if you were giving advice to your 18 year old self, what would it be?

Volney

Be bold.  I was very shy. Very shy. Be bold, you can do it. You can handle it. 

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