Using Digital Marketing to Increase Group Dining Bookings

Group dining bookings are an essential source of revenue for many restaurants. Here’s how to maximize group bookings through smart restaurant marketing.

The restaurant game isn’t for the faint of heart. Roughly 60% of new restaurants fail in the first year, and 80% fail within five years. That’s the kind of math that will momentarily subdue even the giddiest new restaurant industry entrepreneur.

Developing a significant and sustainable pipeline of corporate and group bookings is one of the best methods for ensuring your restaurant beats these grim odds. Yet, many restaurant owners simply have no idea how to implement this strategy.

Let’s take a closer look at how smart digital restaurant marketing can jumpstart your group bookings business.

The Power and Reach of Digital Restaurant Marketing

Digital technology has radically disrupted countless industries and altered consumer behavior in innumerable ways. Streaming services, for example, allow people to enjoy on-demand films in the privacy of their living room — something that has led to US movie theater attendance dropping to a 25-year low.

Restaurants, however, have been insulated from this trend. While there have been efforts to let consumers have meals prepared by chefs in their own homes, these concepts haven’t gained much traction. Right now, people still enjoy eating in a communal setting.

Digital tools, however, have changed the playing field for how restaurants secure business. Major platforms such as OpenTable transformed how reservations are handled; Yelp now acts as a critical guide for consumers looking for new places to dine; platforms such as Instagram are bursting with photos and videos of plated food.

Savvy marketers take advantage of the new digital paradigm by doing the following:

  • Building a robust online presence. This includes a dedicated website and accounts with major reservation and aggregation sites.
  • Social media outreach. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are all critical channels for engaging with customers and advertising and marketing new menu items, discounts and specials, etc. 
  • The creation of a valuable online brand. Today’s diners are looking for experiences, rather than just meals, when they visit higher-end eateries. Digital branding plays a key role is promoting awareness and establishing cachet in a local market.
  • Taking advantage of the latest digital marketing tools. One example is geo-fencing, a mobile marketing technique that allows restaurants to push notifications to the smartphones of people within a pre-defined geographical distance.

Gobbling Up Group Booking Revenue

Most of the above techniques are also useful in terms of stimulating more group bookings. Digital marketing plays a crucial role in surfacing your restaurant to the people who determine where to schedule their bookings.

Another sound idea: Designating a dedicated person to help with group dining outreach. Many restaurants use a similar model for organizing group meals onsite by hiring an event planner. Should you designate someone to handle group business development, that person can use digital marketing tools to identify corporate decision-makers, and to engage with regular restaurant patrons prior to birthdays and other celebratory milestones.

Taking an active approach and contacting potential group clients in advance of these milestones is a great way to increase bookings, as people generally dislike having to search for group dinner locations. By taking the initiative through digital outreach, you can remove this task from their plate.

One note: When reaching out to corporate customers for holiday-related group dinners or other special events, it’s essential to do this well ahead of time. Corporations often begin planning such affairs weeks, if not months, ahead of time.

Why Bigeye is the Perfect Restaurant Marketing Partner

At Bigeye, we have an insatiable appetite for designing compelling group dining marketing campaigns — and we have all the right ingredients on staff to make it happen. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your grow your group dining business.

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Tips for Starting a Skincare Company

As the skincare market continues to expand, the time is right for starting your own company. You’ll never reach the level of success you desire, however, without establishing a disruptive brand that stands out from the completion.

A 2019 study by the independent market research company the NPD Group singles out the prestige beauty market as one of the fastest-growing sectors in United States retail sales with an annual growth of 6 percent. And, with an annual growth of 13 percent, the skincare category stands out as a particular achiever, comprising a full 60 percent of the prestige beauty market’s total industry gains.

“If I had to use one word to characterize the state of the U.S. beauty industry today, it would be disruption,” says NPD Group executive director and beauty industry analyst Larissa Jensen. “Whether we look at categories, brands, or retailers, there are sweeping changes taking place in the market landscape.”

Jensen proceeds with a warning to skincare entrepreneurs everywhere, stressing the fact that “brands and retailers must not only be cognizant of these transformations and act upon them, but identify new white space opportunities to captivate consumers and further differentiate themselves from the crowd.”

Leveraging Areas of Disruption in Skincare Industry

Prospective skincare company owners and chief executive officers should pay close attention to the specific growth areas within the skincare industry if they want to capitalize on areas of disruption and establish a distinct, unique, and valuable brand.

The booming popularity of natural beauty products, for example, represents a dramatic sea change in terms of the qualities and characteristics that customers have come to expect. Reflecting this change, the top contributor to the $5.6-billion skincare industry are natural skincare brands. The NPD Group reports that natural skincare products accounted for more than one-quarter of annual skincare sales, up 23 percent from the previous year.

The NPD Group report goes on to identify lip treatments, toners/clarifiers, facial sprays, and alphabet creams as the fastest-growing skincare product classifications. Customers are also increasingly purchasing skincare for the body, protective sunscreens, and self-tanning products.

Legal Requirements to Operate a Skincare Business

Before starting a skincare company, it is absolutely imperative that you understand all the licensing and regulatory issues that you will face. In general, the legal requirements that you must meet to operate a handmade cosmetics business are similar to the legal requirements that other small business must meet. However, as part of the cosmetic/beauty industry, you must ensure that your skincare product(s) pass muster with the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

Regulated by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, all skincare products must be deemed safe for consumers for indicated conditions of use prior to their release. They also have to be labeled properly.

It isn’t against the law to make cosmetics in your home, but it is your responsibility to ensure that this is accomplished safely. In his article “How to Start Your Own Line of Skin Care,” Houston Chronicle contributor Michael Flanagan suggests accessing the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice Guidelines/Inspection Checklist before designing your manufacturing space. This is the best way to prepare this space for its required FDA on-site inspection.

Manufacturing Your Skincare Products

The Houston Chronicle article goes on to offer a number of skincare product manufacturing tips including cutting down on overhead costs by looking for bulk suppliers to secure all necessary raw ingredients. It recommends accessing online distribution networks such as MakingCosmetics and Admix to meet both your supply and equipment needs.

If you choose to start your business with a manufacturing space on your residential property, you can often use your kitchen as your main hub of activity. The equipment that you will need depends entirely on the type(s) of skincare product(s) that you want to make. Skincare companies that plan to make clay facials, for example, can probably begin by using existing household mixing bowls and spoons. Those who want to make soap, however, must first buy soap molds and a few other essential pieces of equipment.

Skincare Company Marketing

No matter how great your skincare products happen to be, you won’t get far in the skincare sector without a comprehensive and outstanding marketing campaign. Here are just a few elements that you’ll want to include in your unified skincare company marketing efforts.

  • An official website – In virtually any industry, a high-quality website is absolutely essential. Your website should reflect your company’s core values and commitment to excellence. Even if you don’t plan to sell your skincare products online, customers will inevitably turn to your website for answers to important questions as well as information about your company and what it does best.
  • A strong social media presence – Reach your target consumer base on the social media platforms that they already frequent. Depending on your target demographic this might mean maintaining compelling, informative, and up-to-date company pages on multiple platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Social media outreach is a great idea for a wide range of reasons, but its ability to engender both consumer-to-company and consumer-to-consumer interactions is simply unparalleled.
  • Email newsletters – As a skincare company, you’ll want to turn each buyer into a repeat customer. Email newsletters are a great way to drive consumer loyalty. Although you don’t want to bombard customers with constant messages of little value, occasional newsletters can be a great way to make customers feel valued. Share content that will command attention, announce the release of new products, and motivate consumer action with various sales and promotions.
  • Non-digital marketing efforts – Don’t forget that the majority of people still buy their skincare products in brick-and-mortar stores. Consider visiting regional beauty salons, spas, and health/beauty stores to offer free samples. If these establishments express an interest in buying your products, you should provide them with attractive wholesale pricing. Other traditional sales techniques that continue to work well include the staging of at-home skincare parties.

Skincare Branding

While all of the techniques outlined above can effectively reach your target demographic of existing and prospective customers, you simply won’t get far with a bunch of disorganized and unconnected advertising efforts. In order to be truly successful, your company must unify all of its marketing activities under the banner of an overarching brand that is both captivating and exceptional.

Your branding efforts must begin with the creation of an effective company name and logo. Don’t take these steps lightly! Both your name and your logo must be carefully designed to resonate with your audience.

Keep your name simple, catchy, and easy to spell, Pay close attention both to how your name looks when read and to how your name sounds when spoken. If possible, choose a name that conveys some sort of strategic meaning.

The uniqueness of your name is also a paramount concern. To see whether or not a favored name is already in use, check online with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Your name and logo should lead the way when developing a brand that projects a distinct and desirable set of characteristics and values. These specific characteristics and values will depend entirely on your target demographic.

For example, a “macho” brand is perfect for companies in the fast-growing men’s skincare product sector. Other skincare companies have found success with socially conscious branding messages and company affiliations, offering products that are responsibly sourced and supporting a broad spectrum of charitable causes.

Best Skincare Packaging

A recent report by the leading corrugated packaging company WestRock shows that more than four in five American have tried a new product due to its packaging. And packaging is particularly important in an overcrowded skincare sector that has products desperately competing for attention on store shelves everywhere.

Like all other facets of your marketing operations, your unique product packaging must align with the characteristics and values of your brand as a whole. This is absolutely essential if you want to connect with your chosen consumer demographic.

Although no two skincare companies should wrap their products in similar packaging, there are a few universal guidelines that companies must generally keep in mind. For example, a highly important part of presenting a professional image is ensuring that all your brand-name products follow a constant design style.

Skincare Video Production

In today’s marketplace, a business that fails to use video as part of its comprehensive branding and advertising efforts is bound to fall behind. The 2020 State of Video Marketing Survey by Wyzowl reports that 85 percent of companies use video as a marketing tool and that 92 percent of marketers who use video rely upon it as “an important part of their marketing strategy.”

When you stop to consider the fact that beauty product videos are the most searched-for video type on YouTube, the tremendous potential of video marketing in the skincare sector should be immediately obvious. In addition to producing and releasing traditional video ad spots, your skincare company can benefit from motion graphics infomercial content, instructional how-tos, and recorded customer testimonials.

Get Professional Guidance

Unless you happen to be a seasoned marketing professional, you will want to secure the assistance of a professional skincare marketing agency well before establishing your company and beginning to distribute your products. At Bigeye, we know the supreme importance of founding your skincare company with an extremely powerful, unified organizational image and a highly compelling, targeted marketing message.

Let us help you launch your brand right the first time, so you don’t have to contend with the significant cost, hassle, and wasted time that go hand in hand with subsequent company rebranding efforts.

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What Changing Seasons Mean for Apartment Complex Marketing

If you want to win in the apartment marketing game, you need to be a “brand for all seasons”. Here’s what that designation means.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old joke about auto mechanics telling new drivers that they need to add more “blinker fluid” or replace the “summer air” in their tires with “winter air?”

If you tell someone who doesn’t understand the apartment rental space that you need “summer marketing” and “winter marketing,” they too might feel that you’re having a bit of fun at their expense. The truth, however, is that apartment marketing is highly seasonal. To do it effectively, you need to be a brand for all seasons.

Let’s take a closer look at why apartment marketing is seasonal, and some relevant strategies you can employ each time the weather changes.

Why Apartment Marketing is Seasonal

If you’re wondering why marketers need to vary their approach by season, the answer is simple: Because buyers vary their behavior. Most leases end in the spring and summer, which means that the market experiences its highest volume of prospective buyers during the warmest months.

If you’re a savvy marketer, you prepare for this influx of interest. It’s also important to understand why rentals peak in warmer months. The start of a new college year, for example, results in a rush for new rental accommodations. Marketers need to be aware of this and tailor some of their offerings to the college demographic.

Other reasons rentals spike from May to September include:

  • Wedding season
  • Better weather
  • Higher birth rates, necessitating new living spaces

Marketers who are ahead of the curve consider all of these elements and calibrate their campaigns accordingly. Additionally, when interest drops off in fall and winter, marketers can adjust their approach as needed. If too much inventory remains unrented, marketers can design campaigns with special incentives to encourage prospects to move sooner than they were planning to.

Some On-trend Ideas for Apartment Marketers

360 degree videos and virtual reality. Today’s apartment renters are extremely tech savvy. They use popular real estate platforms to explore properties and neighborhoods from the comfort of their couch, taking full advantage of tools such as Google Maps and Street View. Smart marketers understand that “couch browsing” has become an unofficial national pastime. 360 degree walkthrough videos show off a property in a way that static photography simply cannot match. By providing 360 degree videos and VR/AR walkthrough content, you can differentiate your offering and give browsers exactly the type of experience that excites and intrigues.

Offer seasonally targeted marketing initiatives involving your complexes. Is it spring? Then partner with a local college to co-sponsor a gardening class. Is it fall? Then organize pumpkin carving or trick or treat experiences within your complex. Is it winter? Then build a massive snowman outside of your complex and add an advertising sign to go with his corncob pipe and button nose. No matter what season it is, be fun, creative and relevant. 

Create a YouTube channel with interesting content and do-it-yourself tips for renters. This is a great way to engage with people and build awareness, but it’s important to make a commitment to produce strong content on a regular basis. Additionally, you should make an equal commitment to optimizing your video content so it’s seen by large (and geographically relevant) viewers.

Finding the Right Apartment Marketing Partner

At Bigeye, we’re the apartment marketing specialists. Contact us today to learn how we can help you maximize your marketing potential — in any season.

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How to Make Brand Videos That Move Audiences

If you aren’t taking advantage of the power of brand video, then you’re ceding an important edge to your competitors. Here’s what you need to get started.

Let’s say you’ve got an exciting new product and you want to introduce it to consumers in the most impactful way possible. How would you go about it? If you’re not immediately thinking “brand videos,” then we urge you to keep reading.

Why Brand Videos Have Become an Indispensable Marketing Tool

Right now, you’re reading a blog — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Blogs are a tried-and-true medium for short, informational content. Yet the blog should be merely a single arrow in your quiver. Audiences don’t always have the time or inclination to read, yet they can almost always find time to watch a short video — provided it reaches out and wrests their attention away from the other dozen things competing for it.

That’s one reason you’ve likely been deluged lately with explainer videos and all other sorts of branded video content. Videos simply work. People engage with them at higher levels than seen with ads or written content.

There’s another factor motivating the brand video proliferation: The learning curve and production costs associated with professional video creation have declined radically in recent years. This means that brands have no reason to avoid joining the revolution.

So How Do I Tell My Brand Story Through Video?

Here’s the good news: Connecting with audiences via video is relatively simple, provided you can follow a few smart practices. When creating brand videos, here are some key things on which to focus:

Story is paramount — and so are people. Creating brand videos simply because “everyone says people prefer video” won’t accomplish much. You still need a compelling narrative that audiences will relate to. Think about a simple yet effective way you can frame your brand story around human characters. Any newspaper editor or photographer will tell you that images of static buildings or landscapes don’t reach people or move copy. As humans, we are naturally drawn to each other, and this extends to our engagement with photos and video. Forego the facts, figures, and product features (or at least consign them to secondary status) and put people front and center in your videos. By focusing on one person, brands can make larger and more complex issues more relatable.

Our Approach

Take a deep dive into how we approach our work. Learn about our creative thinking and our strategical approach

Forge an emotional connection. Savvy brands have long known that a true emotional connection with audiences is the gold standard in advertising and marketing. Nothing converts and builds long-term loyalty like sparking a visceral, emotional reaction. Fortunately, brand videos are a fantastic format for forging these kinds of connections. By using images, dialogue and music to full effect, a great brand video can tell an emotionally resonant story in as little as 30 seconds.

Reach for the original. Remember how we mentioned that proliferation of video? That’s why it’s essential that you take creative risks and push for something original. Audiences today are extremely savvy and cynical about brand messaging. Yet you can penetrate their defenses by delivering something that delights or inspires. Here’s one great example. It’s important, however, to understand your limitations — nobody is looking for an avant-garde HVAC brand video.

Maintain your messaging. Your brand videos are ultimately an extension of your overall brand messaging. They should speak with your voice, project your values, and be calibrated to appeal to your specific audience. While it’s important for your content to reach for creativity and originality, this must still occur within the larger context of your brand messaging.

Don’t skimp on video production. This one is easy — there’s no excuse for a cheesy (unintentionally, at least) or cheap-looking brand video. The cost and skill needed to produce respectable content has plummeted.

The Benefits of Working With the Right Brand Story Agency

At BIGEYE, we’re experts at both brand story and video production, and we can help you take your brand videos to the next creative level. Contact us today for more information. 

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Apartment Branding: The Missing Piece of the Marketing Puzzle

Most multifamily marketers know the importance of promoting the features of their communities, but fewer fully grasp the importance of apartment branding.

Multifamily marketers tend to spend a lot of time highlighting their available vacancies, touting structural and functional details that range from vaulted ceilings and granite countertops to scenic views and smart appliances. While this marketing approach is certainly valuable, trying to implement it without first establishing a solid apartment brand is like trying to put a coat of paint on a building before pouring its concrete foundation. 

Real estate industry statistical research firmly supports this view of apartment branding as supremely important. The Harvard Business Review, for example, reports that 64% of people cite shared values as their principal motivation for developing a consumer relationship with a particular brand. Covering the other side of the consumer/business coin, the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report has shown that 57% of small business owners regard strong relationships with consumers as the chief force behind ongoing/repeat business.

In short, it is absolutely essential to create, institute, and cultivate an apartment branding strategy that says something powerful and unique about your multifamily community. Furthermore, it is vital that you continually monitor the overall effectiveness of your exiting brand to ensure that it is squarely connecting with your chosen audience.

Building an Effective Brand from Scratch

When it comes to establishing a brand that reflects your company priorities and values, creative and strategic apartment naming and logo design are key…but they are only the beginning. Your name and logo will serve as a launching pad for all of your subsequent marketing strategies from overall messaging style and content delivery to the development of specific promotional efforts and advertising campaigns.

Want to optimize your apartment branding process to make a tremendous impact on the marketplace? By following the three steps outlined below, you can ensure that your branding efforts get off on the right foot and continue down the path to success.

1. Research

Surprisingly, this important first step in the apartment branding process is one that many multifamily marketers fail to invest in. This is, quite frankly, ridiculous. In the absence of adequate preliminary research, your branding efforts will be little more than a shot in the dark, and you will have little chance of hitting that elusive branding bullseye. Key areas of branding research include consumer demographics/psychographics, consumer behavior/lifestyle choices, and geographical/financial market analysis.

2. Brand Identity

After conducting in-depth research, you must give extensive thought to your proposed brand identity. Keep in mind that this identity must extend throughout every element of your comprehensive marketing efforts, from the color of your chosen logo to the tone of your written promotional copy to the videos and images that appear on your social media page. The two keys to brand identity are relevance to company values and consistency across all media channels.

3. Implementation Strategy

The final step in the brand-building process consists of positioning your fully developed brand within the marketplace. This necessitates a comprehensive implementation of all brand elements (signage, letterheads, promotional messaging/events, website/social media design, etc.) with a firm focus on lead generation and positive public relations. It is absolutely essential to develop a prudent implementation strategy that fits the specific characteristics of your brand. As Executive Magazine contributor Samantha Chalmers puts it, “when promoting a LEED-certified community with composting stations and community gardens, it wouldn’t make sense to place a print ad in a Range Rover catalog” or “serve coffee or water in Styrofoam cups in the leasing office.”

Brand Optimization and Rebranding

No matter how much time, effort, and care you took to develop your initial apartment brand, it is important to realize when, in the words of Multifamily Executive Magazine contributor Jamie Matusek, “your brand becomes more of a liability than an asset.”

When this occurs, it is time to optimize your brand or rebrand entirely.

A successful rebranding effort requires marketers to follow the same comprehensive steps that drive the initial branding process. But when is the right time for your apartment complex to rebrand? Events and situations that often trigger a rebrand include planned remodeling or structural capital improvements, a floundering reputation in the consumer marketplace, and a general desire or need to expand your overall audience base. 

Your specific brand optimization or rebranding strategies will depend entirely on the events that necessitate them and the weaknesses in your brand as it currently stands. If your apartment complex is plagued by poor resident ratings, for example, you will want to reach out to existing tenants to precisely identify key areas of concern and then reformat your brand to address those areas specifically. In this case, your new brand should reflect a distinct break with the old brand, clearly stressing the value of a fresh start. As part of your rebranding efforts, it will be absolutely essential to communicate what, exactly, will be different about your company as you move forward. Furthermore, it will be even more important to honor those messages through conscientious action. 

For more information

Bigeye is an apartment branding agency that places a supreme emphasis on creativity and forward-thinking business strategy. Whether you’re looking for a multifamily marketing agency to build your brand from the ground up or to optimize the brand that you’ve already developed, we can help. Don’t hesitate to contact Bigeye today.

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Why Package Design is a Critical Decision for CBD Brands

Your CBD package design could be the difference between a lawsuit and increased profits. Work with our creative & production team and save your chances.

Think package design is relatively unimportant? One billion unboxing videos on YouTube would beg to differ. Great packaging has become an ever more important differentiator — and CBD package design is no exception.

Why brands need to get CBD package design right

The CBD market is experiencing propulsive growth, as consumers use oil-infused products for everything from health and wellness applications to beauty and skin regimens. As one of the fastest-growing consumer markets, many businesses are eager to jump into the fray and claim a slice of that ever-growing pie.

While that urgency is understandable, elements such as package design should not be de-emphasized in the race to get to market. Why? It’s simple:

  1. Great CBD package design is a competitive differentiator in a highly crowded market.
  2. CBD marketing ideas are subject to laws and CBD marketing regulations, and all designs must stay compliant. 

For years, CBD sat inside a “gray area” in terms of legality. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill provided more clarity, legalizing CBD products on the federal level. Yet many restrictions remain in place, and some of these restrictions involve marketing and advertising.

First, it’s important to understand that CBD companies are under much greater regulatory scrutiny. If there is a misstep, fines and penalties may be assessed. This means that brands must exercise caution when determining what to include on their packaging.

CBD products need to be designated as either a food item or a health supplement. This may sound straightforward, but it’s not — many CBD products exist in the space where foods and supplements overlap. Once this determination is made, an FDA-approved food or supplement label needs to be affixed to each package.

Sellers must also include many of the standard labeling items:

  • Product volume
  • Ingredient list
  • Nutritional breakdown
  • Potency
  • Brand information

It’s also important to be aware that packaging and labeling requirements vary by jurisdiction. Indiana, for example, requires CBD package design to contain QR codes that can be used to reveal information about batch numbers, lab results, expiration dates, CBD / THC content, etc.

One more critical consideration: Brands need to be exceedingly cautious about making medical claims. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have been cracking down on CBD brands that make unsupported health or medical claims about their products. The FDA alone targeted more than 450 CBD websites in 2018 for making unsupported marketing claims. 

This means any claims found on packaging need to be fully vetted and beyond dispute. Language that emphasizes words such as “natural,” “sustainable,” “healing,” etc. is far less likely to draw regulatory attention than language that makes a claim such as “CBD oil can be used to treat / cure” a specific disease.

CBD package design aesthetics

In addition to compliance, it’s also important to consider aesthetics. In this case, it’s essential to consider your audience. CBD brands that target a market where there is significant carryover with cannabis use will generally use product designs that are established within that space — think aggressive, not especially refined, and full of cannabis-related puns.

On the other hand, brands that incorporate CBD within their existing product line tend to follow current designs. An upscale skincare brand may use elevated design elements with an understated “infused with CBD oil” tagline included at the bottom.

For brands targeting a more general market, it’s advisable to avoid design elements or language that ties too closely to “4/20” culture, as this will have negative connotations for a sizable audience segment.

Instead, focus on natural and sustainable themes and a premium feel, as these elements are aligned with current consumer preferences.

The takeaway

Great CBD package design is an imperative for brands, both in terms of compliance and aesthetics. Our experts help clients realize their marketing objectives by creating visually stunning product designs, supported by innovative ad campaigns. Ready to take the next marketing step for your business? Reach out to us today! 

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