Business Gift Giving on a Budget.

Posted December 7, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Branding, Marketing
Tags: , , ,

  1. Give a donation with a twist. Donations in honor of your customers aren’t novel, but getting them involved in the act is a fun twist. Select four or five charities and establish a pool of money (you don’t need to reveal the size of the pool). Send a letter explaining the program and ask them to designate the charity of their choice from the list. Customers can respond through a postage-paid postcard, an email or a personalized URL that takes them to their own landing page. You simply divide the money by the percentage of votes and have the charity send a recognition letter to each participant without stating the amount of the gift. Low cost. Multiple touches. Customer involvement.
  2. Send a product. This doesn’t work so well if your product is cement, but lots of companies make consumer or business products that are appropriate for gift giving. Or perhaps your company makes a range of products where the customer can make a choice. One of our favorite examples was an ad agency with a client that manufactured a line of high-end “arty” coasters that looked really cool on your table. They came in a wide range of choices, and the agency let each of their customers select a set from the brochure the agency had created for its client.
  3. Get intellectual. A popular business book (especially one on marketing) can make a thoughtful, moderately priced executive gift that doesn’t break the bank. It also gives you an opportunity to personalize the selection based on what you know about your client and provides future opportunities to discuss the content. If you’re not sure what book they would want or you’re afraid you’ll buy something they already own, then give them a few choices and benefit from the interaction.
  4. Gift the group. You can save money by sending a share-the-gift food item to the entire department in care of your lead contact. These types of group gifts tend to fly under corporate radar and can save you money if you’ve been providing a lot of individual gifts. You might also score points by paying attention to your customers’ employee health objectives. If they’ve been making a big push on the health and wellness front, try to find foods that are tasty but are also reasonably good for you.
  5. Do a service day. Don’t have any budget at all? Donate a service day (or morning or afternoon) to an area charitable organization. Your local homeless shelter, food bank or no-kill animal shelter are especially appropriate for the season and the economic climate. You can add to your time by having employees collect items from the organization’s urgent needs list. Whatever you do, be sure to take your camera along and share the story with your customers. Communicate that you performed the service in their honor in lieu of business gifts.

So what’s our holiday gift to you?

The second edition of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s and Don’ts is hot off the press. It’s a full-color, illustrated collection of the popular “Do’s and Don’ts” that accompany each issue of PrintStrategist.

We would love to mail you a gift copy in appreciation of your loyal readership throughout the year. Just send an email request to Larry Bauer. And if you have time, let us know what you did for corporate gift-giving this year.

Then relax, turn off the digital devices and enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

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The Growing Case for Video Marketing.

Everything today is about adding value, and that’s the number one reason to use video marketing. It plugs interaction — including face-to-face interaction — into your website, print promotions and events. You get a unique opportunity to blend your company’s personality and message into either an online or offline experience.

Still not sold? Here are 10 additional reasons to use video marketing:

  1. Raises your website’s search engine results — web crawlers recognize video.
  2. Improves the potential for your message to go viral through the social networks.
  3. Increases the average amount of time visitors spend at your site.
  4. Makes you stand out as an expert since not as many sites — especially printers’ — use video.
  5. Offers opportunities to provide a tremendously rich offline media experience — stuff a disk with MP3s, video, personal messages, mobile apps, high-res product photos, web links and free downloads — and include it as part of a direct mail package.
  6. Augments and supports your existing online strategy when used with direct mail, providing a seamless physical/digital experience that encourages double-digit response rates according to research studies.
  7. Appeals to people who like to see something before they read it.
  8. Provides an opportunity to educate customers about a product or service.
  9. Puts a face on your company and builds your brand.
  10. Engages your customers’ senses, triggering emotional reactions that influence buying decisions in ways that static content can’t.

Professional vs. Homegrown Video.

The nice thing about digital video is that it doesn’t always have to be high end and expensive. The key is to know when you can use your flip camera and when you need a professional team.

And really, the rules are pretty simple:

  • Homegrown video is fine for website demos, new product intros, how-to presentations, brief commentaries and the like. For example, interLinkONE, an integrated marketing solutions provider, has a media page that features short videos covering topics ranging from using QR Codes in a printed catalog to live reports from their booth at GraphExpo 2010. Homegrown solutions work great for these purposes where immediacy is important and viewers don’t expect premium content with high-end production.
  • Professional video is a must when the production represents the official, animated face of your brand. That’s when you need a quality script, title slides, smooth transitions, excellent lighting and sound, multiple shooting perspectives and top-notch editing. It can also be a good investment when the video will have multiple purposes — website, direct mail, trade shows—and a longer life span. You also need to consider professional video whenever your audience is more sophisticated and has high expectations.

What’s the Right Length?

 

Everyone wants to know how long is too long. And the general consensus for the appropriate length of online video is one to four minutes. Attention spans seem to grow shorter everyday, especially online.

But purpose means a lot, too. So a one- or two-minute product intro is not the same as a four- to six-minute in-depth case study.

You can also cut longer videos into segments that allow people to access only the parts that interest them — digital storefronts, distribution, etc. In general, you need to think of the video as an overview from which you can then link buyers to more detailed information in print or electronic form.

Regardless of length, relevance dictates how long people will view the video. Provide information that people want to know, and they’re far more likely to stay for the duration. When you’re trying to keep their attention, it pays to be tactical in selecting content and forget the broad-brush stuff.

Video Media Types.

Video is definitely an evolving medium, and different media types are emerging including video:

  • Product demos
  • Product overviews
  • Testimonials
  • News releases
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Corporate presentations
  • Commercials
  • Trade show and event previews
  • “How-to” demos
  • Blog posts

As these media types mature, more specific standards for length and other factors will emerge as well. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to experiment. Viewership will tell you quickly enough what’s working and what’s not.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

Bauer Associates helps printers of all sizes develop and execute effective integrated marketing strategies. For more information, email Print Strategist Larry Bauer.

You can connect with Larry Bauer on LinkedIn. Or follow him on Twitter. Or join Print Strategist on LinkedIn.

Explore posts in the same categories: Branding, Video, eMarketing

Do’s and Don’ts of Video Marketing.

Take advantage of video’s remarkable ability to add value to your marketing program. Here’s how to ensure that videos will gain the positive attention that helps set your printing company apart from the competition.

Do

  • Display your brand logo occasionally throughout the video to help build recognition.
  • Offer both low- and high-resolution options to accommodate different connection speeds.
  • Select content with a tactical perspective.
  • Experiment with different media types.
  • Break longer videos into segments with the ability to move from one section to the next and to jump between sections.
  • Connect people to more in-depth print and online information.
  • Include rich media video with direct mail packages for added lift.
  • Invest more in videos that will serve multiple purposes and have a longer life.

Don’t

  • Assume that everyone has the video player you choose — offer a link to a free download.
  • Forget that relevance rules in keeping peoples’ attention.
  • Overlook the value of a DVD or CD to support your online strategy.
  • Use homegrown videos for corporate branding purposes or with sophisticated audiences that expect more.
  • Hesitate to use homegrown video for a product, service or event that has a short timeline and lower ROI potential.
  • Neglect to post your videos to YouTube and other video sharing sites in addition to your company’s website.
  • Fail to take advantage of the many free and low-cost video publishing, editing and post production services that are available online.
  • Make excuses for not creating videos—go out and do it.

By Larry Bauer

Missed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We printed plenty of copies, and we’d be happy to connect you with one. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the eight most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our PrintStrategist newsletter to date including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply email Larry Bauer your postal mailing information and we’ll send you a complementary copy.

Explore posts in the same categories: Branding, Video, eMarketing

Making Your Brand Memorable in Video.

Video creation is really only limited by your creativity, communications expertise and production ability of your team, whether you’re creating a professional marketing video or a low-end social media style video. Most video software tools allow for the inclusion of graphics, sound tracks, specific brand colors and a myriad of special effects. Even though the tools may allow you to create exploding logos, flames, and wacky transitions, try to restrain yourself and use only techniques that support the brand. Using too much cheese can look rather… “schlocky” and even a little desperate. Talented video teams are able to find brand-appropriate ways of grabbing attention while supporting the brand personality.

Tips for Incorporating Your Brand into Any Video.

Here are some video tips and examples that work whether you’re creating a high-end, $20,000 video or a low-end ad hoc video shot to share a quick-hit message on your company blog.

Graphics: The most obvious method for incorporating your brand into your video is with graphics, starting with your logo. Be cautious how you treat your logo and ensure its integrity is not lessened by any special treatments. Subtle logo treatments can include slight motion of a single element, having the logo enter from outside the frame or change color. Even incorporating a shine could work. Should you do all at once? Of course not. Choose carefully and wisely and don’t overdo it.

 

Other graphics can be incorporated to ensure your video supports your brand’s style guide. Fonts, color fields, tables, graphs, charts and text like testimonials can be used in the same way as your printed literature. Stick to your corporate fonts and you’re already partway there. The only limitation may be if you’re creating low-end ad-hoc video on your PC or iPhone, you won’t have the same graphic capabilities that a professional video studio will have. That’s when you resort to the Web fonts listed in your brand’s style guide.

Color: Color is incorporated into video in two ways:

  1. Graphics
  2. Scenes and people that are videoed

Adhere to color values from your style guide when incorporating graphics into your video and ensure they are applied appropriately. In the Ripon Printers video we created, each service area segment utilized the corporate color assigned to that service area: spice for Premedia, green for Printing and Bindery, burgundy for Mailing and Fulfillment, etc. Likewise, use these colors in graphics used in your video.

Color can also be used to provide brand cohesion when filming people, places and things for your video. For instance, all the employees interviewed for the Ripon Printers video were instructed to wear shirts that reflected the four corporate colors. No other colors were allowed. This kept everyone looking like a cohesive team.

Imagery: If you need stock images to convey specific messages, try to use images that are consistent with your brand look and feel. It’s also good to steer clear of clichés like shaking hands and obviously young models conducting important meetings. We always try to use shots of people who look authentic, not so pretty or handsome that they’re unbelievable.

Keep in mind too that you can use still photographs to great affect in a video. There were some instances when shooting the above Gourmetceuticals video where shooting with a still camera was the only option because of the plantation’s terrain. But by incorporating subtle motion with still shots, it still works.

Sound: Just as there are royalty-free and rights-managed stock images, there are many libraries of sounds for video production. There are different types of sounds used in video:

  1. Introduction background.
  2. Transitions between segments.
  3. Closing background.
  4. Brand punctuation. (Remember the simple jingle associated with Intel’s “Intel Inside” campaign? Or NBC’s 3-note jingle?)

If you’re creating a series of videos over the long haul, consider incorporating the same sound into the files. This becomes another feature that customers will learn to recognize as your brand.

 

Script: If your video is professional quality, of course you’ll have a scriptwriter on the team. This is not a standard copywriter, but rather someone who understands flow, audio, and most importantly, the spoken versus printed word.

If your video is just you or you’re shooting at a trade show, you’re less likely to have a formal script. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least draft your points and practice speaking first. Remember, while creating friendly, social-media oriented videos is affected by the tools you use, your comfort in front of the lens and your friendliness are going to affect the video’s success more.

Tools for Ad Hoc Videos.

 

Even the tools for shooting on-the-fly, low-end videos range in price tag from $100 to hundreds of dollars. But if your goal is to simply capture a quick moment at a trade show or share a quick thought on your blog, your iPhone or camera built into your computer will do the trick without a lot of fuss. Of course, limit the length of these type of low-end personalized videos. Their purpose is different from the polished video you hand out on DVD or post to your website.

iPhone: This is the easiest, while the mic on the phone itself leaves oodles to be desired. When shooting someone else, you can easily use the mic on the ear buds to get much better results. @jonathan360 created a great sample video to show you the difference when shooting with background noise.

You can also purchase several external mics that offer various quality options. Here’s a quick video from @DizzyDougTV comparing three models of mini-mics that ranging in price from $15 to about $100.

Consumer Flip Cameras: Now if you want to do an even better job but still don’t want to spend time scripting and shooting a pro-level video, my pal Heidi recorded her review of the Flip Ultra HD versus the Kodak Zi8. Yes, it means another gadget to haul around, but these models are a step up from your iPhone’s capabilities. Heidi points out the pros and cons of each in her quick video shot from her computer.

Before Hitting Record.

Remember that whether investing in a high-end production or a low-end recording, don’t lose sight of your brand. Even if you’re shooting low-end, remember to incorporate appropriate colors, sound and graphics. Most of the consumer-level tools allow you to at the least add your logo without flames ;-) and control transitions (don’t give your viewers a migraine, eh?)

But primarily, I’d like you to consider both types of video and use them where appropriate for your customers.

By Julia Moran Martz

Check out additional videos from folks referenced in this article:

The Big Fish — video production studio that created our Gourmetceuticals videos

Absolute Vision Productions — video production studio that created our Ripon Printers videos

Heidi Thorne, Promo with Purpose — Master of all things promotional

@jonathan360 — photographer

@DizzyDougTV — technical guru

Explore posts in the same categories: Branding, Video, eMarketing

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Drumming Up Leads with Dimensional Mailers.

Posted August 24, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Branding, Direct Marketing
Tags: , , ,

The best thing about a small target of high-potential customers is that marketers can afford to spend more money on them. In fact, they better, because everyone else is trying to reach them too. If your customer doesn’t have something different to say, and a different way of presenting their offer, the mailing will get quickly tossed aside.

That’s why elusive, premium prospects are perfect candidates for three-dimensional packages. So put on your creative hat for a few minutes, and let’s look at how you can make dimensional packages pay off for you and your customers.

Why Dimensional Packages Work.

One of the big challenges in moving up the prospect food chain is getting marketing materials past the admin-assistant gatekeepers. The odds of a postcard or self-mailer making the cut are pretty slim. And electronic alternatives such as email are almost unthinkable unless there is a preexisting personal relationship.

What you need is a package that looks personal and stands out from everything else that hits an executive’s desk—or tries to. A box, a tube or other dimensional package that comes personally addressed to the executive, along with a really good headline, is very likely going to get opened. Human curiosity gets the best of all of us, no matter what position we hold. And everyone likes something that seems like a present.

So How Can You Miss?

Easily. Dimensional packages might seem like no brainers (How can you fail with a cushy budget, right?), but just the opposite is true. They need lots of thought and solid creativity to work effectively. To avoid a disaster, let’s look at the two main ways that marketers bring dimensional doom upon themselves:

  • Getting caught up in clever. Dimensional campaigns can go down the tubes (no pun intended) just like the entertaining TV commercials that people like but then don’t buy the product. Remember that there’s a business point to be made, and it can’t get totally lost in the fun.None the less, a dimensional mailer is a big opportunity to be creative. Just remember that your customer still needs to make a case for people wanting to do business with them. It’s your job to help them out if you truly embrace the role of advisor.
  • Coming across as a bribe. This can be a really fine and dangerous line, but encourage your clients to error on the side of caution. My personal guideline is $25. As soon as someone perceives the contents to be inappropriately expensive for a promotion, the campaign is in trouble. Sometimes it’s best to stick with things that relate directly to the marketer’s business.Let’s use an example from the printing industry. I developed a dimensional package campaign for a major printer that wanted to reach marketing executives in different sectors. The campaign was multi-stage and went out during the summer with a “grilling” theme. Sales reps got to pick a certain number of prospects that were high potential but contact resistant. Here’s how the program worked:
    • Prospects received three envelope mailings over a short period of time with each consisting of a personalized letter and a one-page case history appropriate to the market and service being promoted. The mailings also included a favorite grill recipe from an executive at the printing company, including a picture of the person and a little personal history behind the recipe.
    • The final mailing came in a box set and included the popular How to Grill cookbook by Steven Raichlen, a product the printer also happened to print and distribute for its publisher client. So the campaign offered a little fun, came across as executive-to-executive and included a useful tie-in premium that demonstrated the printer’s capability. It also was dynamite at getting the attention of difficult-to-reach executives without overstepping the gift-value component.

Are Dimensional Mailers Strictly for Business-to-Business?

 

Most are, but that’s primarily a function of being able to more easily whittle down a target in the business sector. But again, dimensional mailers are all about creativity, so don’t necessarily think they’re out of the question for consumer marketers.

A quick, simple example is the Republic of Tea catalog, which always includes (or at least mine does) a sample tea packet attached to the cover. It gives the catalog a third dimension, puts it at the top of the pile and gets people to try teas they might never have bought otherwise.

Companies with high-ticket products are also obvious candidates. Manufacturers of luxury automobiles and other premium products can afford to spend more on customer acquisition and have smaller target audiences.

The Time for Dimensional Packages Has Never Been Better?

Although it might sound contradictory, slow economies are ideal for dimensional packages. They force clients to do the all-important database work and follow up, help them stand out even more as their competitors cut back on marketing expenditures and tend to have much higher ROI than conventional direct mail and other marketing efforts.

So why not help your customer develop a creative brief today?

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

Bauer Associates helps printers of all sizes develop and execute effective marketing strategies. For more information, email Print Strategist Larry Bauer

You can connect with Larry Bauer on LinkedIn. Or follow him on Twitter. Or join Print Strategist on LinkedIn.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Dimensional Packages.

Posted August 24, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Branding, Direct Marketing
Tags: , , ,

You can create a buzz with dimensional packages, to say nothing of generating valuable leads. Here’s how to ensure that recipients will not only open a dimensional package, but will open it first.

Do

  • Put something inside that is valuable, fun—or preferably both.
  • Make the sales message simple, to the point and easy to find.
  • Use a parcel delivery service rather that the USPS, if possible.
  • Tie the contents into what you are selling, though you don’t always need to be literal—copy can make a strong tie-in.
  • Use a standard size box if you want to minimize costs.
  • Think beyond paperboard if you have the budget and really want to stand out—try wood or fabric, for instance.
  • Incorporate other channels—a pURL or a QR Code on an enclosure can add more involvement and personalization.
  • Demand accountability from the sales force—involve them as much as possible.

Don’t

  • Use a dimensional package with the intention of closing a sale—it’s a lead generator.
  • Make the contents so expensive they look like a bribe, though you can get by with a bit more if your target is owners of independent businesses.
  • Think that boxes are your only alternative—tubes as well as lumpy mailings or sturdy, gusseted envelopes can also work.
  • Get lost in cleverness at the expense of an action-generating message.
  • Do anything that would make your package look potentially dangerous or prankish.
  • Forget to use a stringent pre-qualification process—dimensional mailers are too expensive to waste.
  • Send more mailers than your team can follow-up with promptly.

By Larry Bauer

Missed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We printed plenty of copies, and we’d be happy to connect you with one. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the eight most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our PrintStrategist newsletter to date including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply email Larry Bauer your postal mailing information and we’ll send you a complementary copy.

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Creating Clutter Busting Dimensional Direct Mail.

Posted August 24, 2010 by Julia Moran Martz
Categories: Branding, Direct Marketing
Tags: , ,

I know it sometimes seems that you have to do something REALLY BIG to break through the mailroom clutter. But honestly, size doesn’t matter. You don’t need to build a Taj Mahal for your prospects. Even those C-level folks.

What you MUST do is make sure your mailing’s message supports your goals and is relevant to your target market. And above all, match the quality of your 3D object to your brand.

For example, if your key marketing message is about protecting your clients, don’t mail something like the cheapest umbrella that’s going to break after the third or fifth use. That will reflect poorly on your key brand message. Likewise, don’t overshoot your brand. Sending out gold-plated key fobs could be perceived as bribery if your brand is all about affordable office supplies, for instance.

The best way to start is with your creative brief: define your goals and targets, and THEN your message will naturally follow. Assuming you’ve written your creative brief, here are some examples of 3D mailing types to get your creative juices flowing.

3D Campaign Types.

I categorize 3D mailings into three types:

1. The fun gadget:

Stromberg Allen direct mail series: Even though Stromberg Allen gained approved vendor status with several new clients, they still needed to snag the attention of the clients’ internal buyers. As a printer of K-12 learning tools, they have the capability to produce very complex dimensional products using many components, and they wanted to demonstrate this expertise. We created a campaign of four boxed items that displayed their ability to produce fun, yet educational tools by marrying a gadget with a marketing message and booklets inside the boxes. The sales team then received instructions to send these to their specific targets one week apart until they snagged a meeting. Without sales’ cooperation and follow through, an expensive campaign like this would be wasted. Be sure to train your entire team before implementation of any campaign.

Benefit Downside
Fun to receive; if done right, can be memorable AND get your message across. May end up with kid at home if it’s TOO fun, which defeats your purpose of having it stick around as a reminder on the recipient’s desk.

2. The helpful tool:

Ripon Printers printing tools series: Ripon Printers’ capabilities include practically anything you’d want in a printer: digital/offset/web, cold and heatset, fulfillment, custom ink jetting, list hygiene and maintenance, catalog/education/direct marketing expertise, and web-storefront capabilities. To spread the word of their wide range of expertise, MondoVox concepted and designed a series of handy Tips Books (one per service area) and a video that would serve multiple marketing tasks. Not only do sales representatives distribute these tools to their existing customers, MondoVox also created a multipart direct mail campaign targeting new prospects. We created a handy book box for the tips books and a disc mailer for the video DVD. Ripon uses these 3D mailings along with a personalized introductory brochure to complete a three-part campaign for all new prospect lists.

This is a great example of how you can be 3D even if using relatively flat objects like books or DVDs. No need to throw in a pen just to get a bump on your envelope. It’s also a good example of a series within a series; the tips books can be mailed individually with the first one going out with the book box and the others arriving one week apart until the recipient fills the box.

Benefit Downside
If it’s truly a great tool, it will have a high sticky factor. In fact, don’t be surprised if prospects take your tools from job to job if they find them particularly valuable. Can come off as matter-of-fact and serious rather than providing any sort of clever gotcha moment. BUT if concepted carefully, a tool series can accomplish both.

3. Custom product samples:

Gourmetceuticals Taste Test Kit: Being new to the market, Gourmetceuticals needed to quickly convince food ingredient buyers that their nutritional ingredients did not impart negative flavors in final products but did offer all the benefits of nutritional supplements. We created a Taste-Test Kit using a granola product developed by a partnership between Nuts Are Good and Gourmetceuticals. The granola packs were designed to resemble grocery-ready food items while containing technical information directed to the buyer. Accompanying the samples was a cover letter and instructional booklet that walked the buyer through tasting the product, ultimately convincing them that Gourmetceuticals’ ingredients provide added nutrition while not imparting negative flavors or aftertastes. Careful pre-qualification of a limited number of targets allowed us to mail the kits via a parcel delivery service.

These kits were so successful that we expanded to include a print ad + landing page kit request to attract additional buyers.

Benefit Downside
By carefully controlling the message with a custom product sample, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your product AND get the meeting. Seemingly the most boring of all options, BUT could actually be quite effective if matched with a catchy message and the right target market. Also more labor intensive than just ordering a box of pens, but the potential payoff is much greater.

Don’t Be a Joke-in-a-Box.

While everyone wants to do the fun, gadget-type of campaign, that’s not always the most appropriate or most effective 3D object to incorporate. Consider carefully your brand reputation and key marketing messages to determine what type is best for you.

By Julia Moran Martz

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Upcoming Newsletter Topics.

Posted August 24, 2010 by Julia Moran Martz
Categories: Marketing

Just a few of the topics we’re working on for future newsletters:

  • What’s the big deal about QR Codes?
  • Evaluating illustration vs. photography.
  • Choosing the right personalization strategy.

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