Client Consultation: How to Move From Contact to Contract

One of the challenges for freelancers is closing the deal and securing work. It’s a crucial step, but how you do it can also set the tone for the rest of your project. If you’re dealing with unresponsive clients, out of control demands, or off-the-rails projects, you might need to go back and reconsider your initial client consultation.

client consultation

A client consultation is an initial meeting with a client to figure out what they need and to sell your services. At the end of the meeting, you should know if this client is a good fit, exactly what they need, a rough price point and whether or not you’re going to put together a proposal.

Not every freelancer has a specific, organized consultation with a client. Everybody has their own process. But it can be a way to streamline your sales process and waste less time with prospective clients that never pan out.

In this post, we’re going to explore what a client consultation meeting looks like, why you should do them, and how to conduct them.

What Is Your Current Process For Landing Clients & Securing Projects?

Before exploring the ins and outs of a client consultation meeting, it might help to consider your current process first. How exactly do you land a client and secure a project?

Some freelancers don’t have a formal process. They make first contact with a client, maybe from a website form or a referral. They trade emails, answering some questions and asking others. A back and forth dance ensues, and it may stretch out over weeks or even months. Eventually, they get enough clarity about what the client needs to make a proposal and the project moves forward.

That may be the best case scenario. A lot of times those conversations peter out and nothing comes of it. That’s one way to land a project. It can work, but it’s not very efficient. Not having a process wastes time with prospective clients who may never pay you a dime. It’s also prone to missing important details or forgetting to ask questions that can cause problems down the road.

We talked about the importance of creating critical freelance systems, and that starts with how you secure clients and land projects. If you formalize and streamline that process, right from the beginning, you can be more efficient, more productive, and more profitable.

First Client Contact

You should have a formal process for what to do when you connect with a new prospective client. You need to figure out what they need, how serious they are and if you want to work with them. A good process will help you weed out bad clients and avoid nightmare projects.

A helpful part of this first contact is to mention a dollar amount: “Our minimum price for a website is $ X.” You’ll find out quickly how serious they are. You’ll also scare away bargain hunters.

Mentioning a minimum project cost is an initial client screening. You might have a script of a few preliminary questions to ask. Maybe you put together a short online form you ask prospective clients to fill out.

The end goal of this first contact is to schedule a client consultation meeting. If this sounds like a project you’re interested in, with a client that seems reasonable, and the budget is workable, then you need to sit down together and have a serious conversation.

What Is a Client Consultation Meeting?

A client consultation meeting is a focused meeting to move a prospective client from first contact to a proposal and, hopefully, a signed contract.

  • Get the details: It’s a limited, streamlined meeting that should tell you everything you need to know about starting a project with a client.
  • Work toward a proposal: It’s a chance to gather all the important details to make a proposal.
  • Know the client: It’s an opportunity to get to know the client and find out if they’re someone you want to do business with.

Let’s talk about what the consultation is not:

  • It’s not a sales pitch. OK, yes, you’re trying to sell your services. But more than that, this is a first date. You’re testing the waters of a relationship to see if this is something to pursue. Spend more time evaluating the client and less time pitching yourself.
  • It’s not to refine the client’s business plan. If the client doesn’t know what they need or what they’re doing, that’s a red flag. They don’t need a developer to build a website, they need a consultant to refine strategy. You can still do that work, but propose a discovery phase and not a website (or refer them to someone else).
  • It’s not to explain how. This meeting is to discover the client’s goals. Talk about what those are, don’t talk about how to meet them. How to meet those goals is what you get paid for.

Why Have a Client Consultation Meeting?

OK, so why is this meeting so important? A number of reasons:

  • It formalizes your process. If you want to be more efficient, more productive, and more profitable, you must have a specific freelance system. This is how you efficiently move clients from first contact to signed contract.
  • It lays the groundwork for a good project. A client consultation meeting is where you can set all the expectations for how the project is going to go. You’re setting up guidelines for the project that will keep the client on track (see more on the Terrible Client Protection Plan).
  • It can save you from trouble. Keeping the client on track can save you from costly detours, but some clients just can’t help themselves. A client consultation meeting will help you spot those red flags and avoid monster clients.
  • It can save you time. Ever spent hours agonizing over a proposal only to discover your price wasn’t even in the client’s ballpark? A client consultation puts a budget on the table. Ever spent hours in meetings with a client but never landed a project? A client consultation can help you push those vague meetings into a discovery phase where you get paid.
  • It gives you a script. If you’re nervous about meetings or worry about forgetting something, a client consultation meeting gives you a script. You don’t have to think about what to ask next, because it’s all spelled out.
  • It makes it easier to sell ongoing maintenance. While this meeting is primarily about vetting clients, it’s a chance to talk about the need for ongoing maintenance. It’s better to sell ongoing maintenance before a project than to spring it on a client afterward.
  • It shows your professionalism. All of this illustrates that you’re a serious, organized, professional developer. That should put clients at ease and make them more willing to sign a contract and get started.

How to Do a Client Consultation Meeting

So how do actually conduct a successful client consultation meeting? Nathan Ingram shared how he does client consultations during our recent Freelance Summit. Nathan uses the “SCOPE” acronym to define what needs to happen during the consultation meeting:

  • Scope: Learn enough about the project to create a proposal. This is where you ask questions—lots of questions—and it should take up the bulk of the meeting. (See more on 65 questions to ask during your next freelance client meeting.)
  • Chemistry: Determine if this is a client you can work with. This will happen throughout the meeting as you watch for red flags.
  • Ongoing: Explain the importance of your ongoing services. Take the opportunity to stress that a website needs ongoing maintenance and the client should plan for it now, either by hiring you to do it or being prepared to do it themselves.
  • Process: Set expectations by walking through your process. Let the client know what the next steps are and how you work.
  • Estimate: Provide a ballpark estimate and get client buy-in. You need to have a rough budget. If a client isn’t willing to talk about the budget, that’s a red flag.

You should be able to walk through these steps, including all the questions, in about an hour. That should give you enough information to understand what the project entails and create a proposal.

Remember that this is your meeting. You run it. Take charge and run through your agenda to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to. Don’t let the meeting drag on or get sidetracked. If a client is all over the place and doesn’t know what they want, then it might be more appropriate to propose a discovery phase where they pay you by the hour to sort out strategy as opposed to bumbling forward with a rudderless website project.

You want to minimize time spent with a client when you’re not getting paid. Yes, answer their questions, explain how your process works. But don’t get sucked into giving free consulting advice.

More Freelance Training

If you want more help for conducting client consultation meetings, check out the Freelance Summit. Veteran freelancer Nathan Ingram offers 11 hours of video training, including more detail on client consultations. The Freelance Summit videos cover process, profit, and productivity, and include sample files and templates.

Once you’ve finished a client consultation meeting you should know whether or not you want to do business. You’ll know the scope of the project, you’ll know if it’s in your wheelhouse and if you’re in the client’s budget. You’ll have a measure of who they are and if you’re willing to work with them.

If all is well, the next step is to put together a proposal. This is where you put everything in writing and get your client to sign a contract. For help with proposals and contracts, check out the Freelance Summit.

Learn more about the Freelance Summit

The post Client Consultation: How to Move From Contact to Contract appeared first on iThemes.

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Benefits Of Customizing Your WordPress Blog

With more and more new blogs on the rise, every one wants their blog to be unique and different from others. And to be different, one should be able to customize the blog as they want it. It is the ease of customizing ones blog as per their needs that makes WordPress a favourite among bloggers every where. WordPress offers constant updated services and products, that too, absolutely free of cost. There are several benefits of customizing your WordPress blog. Let us look at some of the most important benefits of using WordPress platform to create a blog on.

Hosting on WordPress

There is no dearth of CMS applications across the World Wide Web, but choosing WordPress over the others has its advantages. Building your blog on WordPress gives you access to numerous features for free. There are several widgets that you can design your blog with, great templates to pick from and the fact that it allows easy customization for all kinds of blogs makes it such a big hit among all.

Customizing WordPress

If you want to customize your blog through and through, then you must opt for WordPress. WordPress is so much customizable that you can convert any PSD into the WordPress theme. The fact that you can explore every feature and use it for your blog makes it a popular choice among all. All you need to do is start the download and install it for absolutely no cost. WordPress has a simple installation procedure that can be used by any beginner who isnt very technologically sound. This platform allows a free hosting for your blog and it doesnt need you to install it. It is almost like PSD to XHTML customization, you can convert and PSD in to 100% standards compliant, cross browser compatible and search engine friendly WordPress theme. With this process, however, there are a few functions that might not be available such as:
Complete Customization Customizing your blog with plug-ins and themes via third party lets you enhance the functionality and productivity of your blog.

WordPress and SEO With a free-hosted WordPress platform, there is a limitation of not being able to change the Search Engine Optimization capability of the blog. It is because on a free-hosted platform, one cannot install a third party plug-in.

Possibility for Advertising A self-hosted blog doesnt not really support advertisements.

Domain Name In case you already own a domain name, you might not be able to use it for free in your free-hosted blog. With the free WordPress blog, you have the liberty to come up with your own personalized domain name.

Basement Remodeling 101

We all have a favorite room in our home. For some it’s a warm cozy kitchen. For others it’s a sumptuous living room or a comfortable bedroom. When is the favorite room ever the basement? You can transform a boring basement into a getaway room and create a new favorite place. Upgrade that lost space and get more out of your home’s square footage.

Did you know that the cost of remodeling your basement is significantly cheaper than adding on an extra room? The savings are even higher if you are able to start with a dry basement. With the average cost of a basement remodel at about $ 20 per square foot, basement transformations are a real space solution for some. There are a few things to consider before starting a basement remodel. If you are unsure about where to get started, it’s wise to consult a local general contractor. Estimates are usually free.

The Official Basics

Most city and county regulations require basements to have 7-foot ceilings. Without the right ceiling height, you might have a difficult time getting a building permit. If your ceilings come close to that height, check with a local contractor. They will be able to offer you some ceiling solutions that can help you find more head space. Don’t be too concerned about overhead pipes and wiring. Pipes and wires can be moved or drop ceilings can be hung. It’s also great to have a qualified contractor who can educate you on building codes for your getaway room. He’ll be familiar with what’s important to local inspectors.

Damp or Dry?

The next concern should be basement dampness. Some older homes have significant dampness and even occasional flooding. Of course, it would not be wise to remodel your basement without addressing these serious issues first. Flooding occurs mainly because of runoff problems. You’ll have to reroute drainage away from your basement. You may also have to make gutter repairs to keep water away from your home. Any foundation cracks will have to be addressed as well. Cracks in your foundation will allow rainwater to accumulate in your basement. Repairing and installing drains are important too. Also have your contractor check for radon before building. Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas that can be found in settled water like underground pipes. It would be a good idea to check for radon before beginning a basement remodel.

Ventilation in Your Getaway Room

Ventilation is a must in your newly remodeled basement. You’ll need cold air returns and heating. Your contractor will be able to run ducts, set registers and adjust any outflow piping. Or you can purchase a basement ventilation system. Check with your contractor about which is right for your situation.

From Dark to Light

Your getaway space will need some light! With windows out of the question in many basements, recessed lighting is a great way to fake natural light in your new room. Check local stores for lighting fixtures that best suit your overall decorating scheme.

Fabulous Flooring

To fight a damp feeling in your new room, you may consider installing heated flooring. What a cozy way to keep your feet warm! However, there are tons of great flooring choices available from hardwood to tile. Even carpet is a great accent and brings a level of coziness to your new room.

Which Room?

You can change that dead space into a busy family room or create a home theater. Underground game rooms and party rooms are also popular choices! You should also consider a workout room, an extra guest room or just your very own artist’s retreat. Whatever you choose, your getaway room will be perfect with a little help from your local contractor.

Free Science WordPress Themes Where To Find Them

Free Science WordPress Themes

  If you love to blog about anything science related, themes that revolve around the science plateau are very hard to come by.  Now saying that wordpress is the serious player over blogger by far, but they don’t offer science themes, we have put an end to that.  Our team has dedicated themselves in making some serious niche themes in the science field.  By the reaction of the public they seem to love them.  There are countless two and three column themes with incredible graphics.  Now what we did was went a step further, we made sure all themes were SEO’d from soup to nuts.  Not many free themes you see on the web do this.  Coding took much longer but we feel was well worth it.  We analyzed these before we listed them to the public.  The whole process was very time consuming, but we did this for a few reasons, a few years ago we tried a few free themes that we found and noticed that search engines would’nt really crawl the site after an article was published, we disected the coding and found that they were really junk.  So our team went to work and built some of the best free wordpress themes you will ever find.  We also carry premium themes but to be honest the only difference is the graphics and coding of them, they are 5% more search engine friendly.  Not that much of a difference but on our scale the free themes rank at 96% and the premium themes rank at 99.2%  these are much higher numbers then many php premium scripts.  Anotherwords you will NOT find a better seo theme out there.  Professionalism and dedication went into building these. 

 Health Theme Niches Great Themes For Categories

  You will notice on some of the best laid out graphics on any website.  To give you an idea they did’nt come from some photoshop these are paid pics that we initiated into the scenes, as well as made some necessary adjustments to align for better eye candy.  You know if the reader passes you by it’s because of the initial looks of the website.  We took that into consideration before releasing these.  From past experiences as a web designer we’ve seen some of the worst of the worst. Now from a professional standpoint-it does’nt take long to make corrections in this field.  Having a great looking blog is what it’s all about.  Everything was checked and rechecked for inclusion into our site.  We run a beta test on how a theme will perform in search engines before we list it.  The science theme is one of the most particuliar and diverse themes to have accomplished.  We had to take many things in to account,  with so many niches in this category, we had to really study the field before starting this project.  You can consider science being studying the human body or forensics or anthropology.  I think you get where I’m coming from, so we in no way had the time to cover each one so we combined some of the most popular and that’s where the graphics started.  Now we will be adding more on a monthly basis so stay tunes if you don’t see something you like, but keep this in mind, in other categories you will see right sidebar and left sidebar themes as well as widget ready and 3 and 4 column themes.  Check these before you leave as we might have used a specific graphic on these themes.  You will notice the colors are somewhat clearer and crisper then you might see elsewhere.  Remember the Science theme is one of the hardest to develop no matter if it’s paid or free.  Personally I think these are a great selection and we know how powerful the seo capabilities are.  So in lamens terms if you don’t like the graphics you can always change them they are very easy to do and you can do that in the header section.  One tip in getting maximum traffic is you can add many plugins to the site, and twitter tools is one priority you should use.  Once a post is made it will be automatically sent to twitter thus giving you a huge advantage for receiving targeted visitors.  Once your in the admin section of the blog go to where you see plugins and you can add any plugins you would like, we recommend google sitemap and seo plugin!  These will maximize the potential of your blog.  You can do so much with our free science themes.  You can use as many as you like. 

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Car Protection 101

You can’t be certain that your car will be safe wherever you go. You can’t even be certain that it is safe when you are already parking it in your own house. This is because there are people who will, and who can, take your possession away if they really want to. So how will you protect your car from being stolen? Here are a few tips.

Park your car in an attended area. It is hard for potential threats to target a car in attended lots. When you must leave a key with the attendant, leave only the ignition key.

Park your car in well-lighted areas. Never leave your car in a dark place. Potential threats often target those cars that are parked in the dark because it’s hard to identify if the car is being intruded.

Secure the windows and lock the doors. Whenever you leave your car, be sure your car’s windows are completely closed. Also remember to lock ALL doors of your car.

Secure your garage. When at home and you park your car in your garage, make sure your garage is well-secured. There are three ways to secure your garage.

1. Add another bolt and padlock on the opposite side.

2. Install a pair of cane bolts to the inside. These bolts should only be operable from the inside.

3. Add a top center hasp. It must be of hardened steel and installed with carriage bolt through the door or gate.

Use a minimum standard exterior padlock for your garage. Never hide the key outside as most hiding places are obvious to the burglars.

Finally, never leave your padlock unlocked at all times. When a potential threat sees an unlocked padlock, he might remove the padlock so that a key can be made and then return the lock to its position. When no one’s home later, the burglar returns and enters the garage, using “his” key.

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Pearls 101

When you’re looking for an exceptional piece of jewelry as a gift for that special person, you can never go wrong by choosing a pearl necklace. Although there are many different kinds of pearls, both naturally and human made, the most exceptional and rare as type of pearl is the south sea pearl. As the naturally form the south sea pearl is almost always black or dark blue in color, it is known also as a black pearl. These south sea pearl necklaces will sell for thousands upon thousands of dollars, but if you don’t have that much money, don’t worry, there are many other pearl necklaces available for much less money.

Cultured pearls have been made with the help of humans, who harvest thousands of pearls each year, usually from freshwater or manmade lakes. While we all think of a pearl has rounded perfect in shape, sometimes they come out in a teardrop form or as a flat cylinder. These pearls are either used in different kinds of jewelry that don’t require a perfectly round the oval, or they are discarded.

A common misconception is that all pearls are harvested white, and only then are additional colors added.
In fact there are many different types of freshwater pearls that are harvested in various colors such as gold, silver, black, dark blue, and pink. Often people will say a pearl is one color boat when you get in under a different type of light its tones and shades appear to be another color.

Finding the perfect pearl necklace can be a monumental task, but once the special person in your life seizure gift her eyes will light up and it will all be worth it. You can start searching different online jewelry vendors, look for different discount jewelry wholesalers, or even had your local mall to see retailers there.

Postcard Printing 101

Despite the fast pacing changes in the marketing scene, especially with the help of technology, many people say that they still consider postcard printing as one of the all time best marketing tools. But they should first know a lot of things about postcard printing.

There are four basic and essential aspects of postcard printing that you must know. Each of these four aspects of postcard printing has their significant roles and functions to be able to give you the assurance that you will get a hundred percent of the best quality postcards printed and here are the following:

Design formats- it is very significant that you ask your printing company the different materials they are accepting to complete the job. Some does not just accept files; they use specific software which chooses limited file formats too.
Postcard size- The postcard size does not necessarily mean that there would be only one standard size to fit all the sizes of postcards. It is because there are different sizes required for different printing equipment. Even a slight change in the size of the postcard may have a huge effect on the price, not to mention on your postcard mailing requirements. Hence, it is always smart to get first the printing quotes so that you would not be surprised and overwhelmed when you see the price of the job order after it was already done. By this, you will need help in figuring out how much your printed postcard will cost you. So you should never think twice to ask your postcard printer on the postcard size that would work best on their equipment.
Paper stock- Paper stocks can either be glossy or matte. But the aspects of the stock will also affect the pricing of the postcard.
Coatings- The finishing is as significant as the first two of all the steps in printing postcards. There are two types of postcard finishing or coating – the UV coating and Aqueous coating. The UV coating is the one that could give the postcard with an ultimately shiny look and texture. It is very applicable for colored images which you may want to stress out more. On the other hand, the aqueous coating will be the coat that would provide for just a minimal shine or gloss and it will only have a much faster printing process for your postcard order. The reason for this fast printing process is that aqueous finishing dries up faster and so it gives a smoother printing process.

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How to convert PSD into WordPress template

In the field of website development, converting PSD to HTML can be done in various ways but the conversion of a PSD file into a functional WordPress template is a critical and different matter. Proper and advanced coding and programming skills are required if you wish to use your Photoshop designs as a WordPress template.

With the help of PSD to WordPress conversion services, one can add more creativity plus professionalism in his web portal. Select most suitable marketing strategy in order to secure position of web portal in highly competitive online market. There are several ways to convert a PSD to HTML.  However, the process of converting a PSD file into a functional WordPress template is a different matter.

PSD to WordPress conversion is one of the crucial factors of successful web development. While it might be tempting to think transferring designs from PSD to WordPress is easy if you know a little bit of coding, it is actually much more complicated due to a heavy reliance on CSS and the need to create separate theme files for all the different theme components. But the truth is, PSDs are difficult to manage because they are useless until they are converted into WP.

WordPress is a user-friendly application that can be used easily but if we take professional PSD to WordPress conversion services, we can enjoy additional benefits, such as semantic html markup, valid w3c compliant code and commented style sheets that are beneficial to the website. Moreover, Cross browser compatible coding that enhances the websites performance.

Once we have the perfect design for your WordPress website, we can convert our design – a PSD into a WordPress high quality theme. This is extremely helpful when you have an existing website.

Below is the step-by-step process each theme goes through:

* Analyzing your PSD

* Breaking the PSD into HTML

* Slicing Images and Taking Measurements

* Adding CSS Magic to Our HTML Framework

* Add PHP and WordPress functions to enable the features your theme requires

* Perform browser compatibility testing for all major browsers and their respective versions

* Tweak your code, and Keep Building

At Biztech Consultancy we  provides high quality css slicing service, html coding service and converting PSD to HTML, PSD to xHTML, CSS, PSD to WordPress theme, PSD to joomla, PSD to magento and PSD to drupal conversion services.

WordPress Blogging Tip – Get Known in a Huge Way Using Social Networks

Get your WordPress blog known quickly and in a huge way by using  the Social Networks – like Twitter and Facebook. You can have your posts go automatically to both so your friends and followers will be alerted when you have posted something new. 

Use Twitter Tools in your WordPress blog to have your posts go to Twitter automatically,  Then hook up Twitter and Facebook with the Twitter application in Facebook.  Another great social network to use is FriendFeed.  It’s really gaining in popularity and just recently it was announced that Facebook bought it.  It’s really up and coming and you can set it up to get your tweets automatically – all of them.  Not just your blog posts.  It’s easy to build a presence there too with the auto tweet feature.

Use the WordPress plugin Share This to let your readers send your posts around the net to their favorite social networks and social bookmarking sites.  In Share This your reader can also e-mail your post to their friends!  Three automatic ways to get your posts out on the web and all you have to do is set them up once.

After your post has gone to Twitter and Facebook, go to your account in each network and talk about your post.  Since people are on the social networks at different times of the day, it is fine to talk about what has already been sent automatically.  Even your followers and friends don’t see everything that appears in their stream.

Ask your friends and followers to retweet for you.  When you can get people to retweet for you, you put yourself in front of all their followers too.  A few retweets can get you in front of many thousands of people and get new followers for you too.

Don’t neglect the social networks as time wasters.  They are not. 

Tie Maintenance 101

If a tie could speak, it would implore you to treat it patiently for longevity. A badly treated tie, has a short life and you spend more money than necessary for replenishing your stock of ties.

Proper care of the tie will ensure that there is no wearing of the fabric and prevents damage to the tie. The most common mistake in the caring is at the end of the tie-wearing time period. Most of us have a tendency to just yank off the tie and pull hard to untie the knot.

To avoid damage to the tie while taking it off and untying it, exercise a little patience. Carefully loosen the tie and take it off and then untie the knot. The best way to untie is to reverse the steps used to tie the knot. After untying, loosely roll up the tie and store it.

It is highly recommended that even as a novice tie wearer, you never store your tie without untying its knot. It can lead to permanent wrinkles on the tie. Keep a few days space between wearing the same tie. This allows the tie to return to its wrinkle-free state.

Always store your ties by loosely rolling them. To roll a tie, begin by holding the narrow end against your palm, and then winding up the rest of the tie, with the wide end on the outside. Lay the roll on a flat surface on the coiled side. This will ease out the wrinkles in a few hours, leaving your tie fresh for use again. Same method is used to store ties while traveling. Another way to store ties can be to invest in a tie organizer or a tie case.

If you get a stain on your tie, take it to the dry cleaner and explain the origin of the stain. Silk ties do not fare well in dry cleaning, so the stained tie is either treated by hand or replaced with another one. Do not machine wash ties as it stretches and spoils the tie.

Do not pull any loose thread on the tie; carefully trim it down with the help of scissors.   

You can lightly iron the tie (without steam) at low temperatures to smooth out some wrinkles.  Hot ironing is not good for ties as it weakens the fabric. Use the appropriate fabric setting while ironing the tie.

You can also steam out the wrinkles by hanging the tie in the bathroom during a hot shower, or by holding it over a kettle with steam. You must not allow water to touch the tie though. To dry the tie, roll it up in a clean towel and leave for one day. You will have a wrinkle free tie the next day.

Washing your tie can lead to shrinkage so you must avoid hand or machine washing, instead trust a dry cleaner with your tie. If you dry clean silk ties or they will lose their luster and color. Also keep water away from your silk ties as it will stain them. Keep cologne away from your tie. It is the fastest way to ensure your tie loses color. Blot any stain on your tie, but do not rub it. Rubbing will spread the strain. Some patience and a little careful handling can give your tie longevity and durability.

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