Trust Your Business Swing

golf swing

When I speak to entrepreneur groups and get asked what helped my businesses be successful (and what I wish I had done better), my answer is one in the same – “Do everything right.”  That may seem obvious, but the emphasis is not on the word “right”, it is on the word “everything.” If you play golf or have attempted golf, you know that everything must be done right – your body position, timing, flexibility, etc. If you’ve ever taken a golf lesson, you would quickly be shown a video of yourself in which you would see everything you’re doing wrong. Then you would step to the ball and swing again, the same old way.

Why can’t we change our swing in golf or in business? The answer is simple, we don’t trust ourselves. We are cautious in our decisions. We worry about the negative impacts more than the positive benefits that will results from any change. Even when we do attempt a change, we don’t commit 100%. This is just as bad for our golf swing and our business. We can’t do things half-way and expect the best results.

Business operations and marketing are also victims of lack of trust and commitment. By way of example, let’s chat about your business operations. Regardless of whether you’re a one person, two person or 50 person business, make sure you address everything in that business. Someone needs to be responsible for administration, finance, human resources, product development, sales, etc. Within each of those areas, you must do “everything” right.

Marketing is even more impacted by the lack of trust. If you have ever debated which media channel is best to drive revenue or what message will resonate or where dollars should be allocated, then you already know where I’m going.  If you don’t commit to a strategy, and instead you fragment your budget and message, your results will suffer.

I’m not saying spend all your dollars in one spot. I am saying that you need to wisely invest those dollars, and realize that there is a minimum investment needed to yield a response. Also, some media channels make better pairings than others. Let’s take SEM (Search Engine Marketing) as an example. Placing ads within the Google search network requires a lot more than just deciding keywords, ad messages, targets, and budgets.  You must ensure your analytics are setup and will provide important feedback for continual campaign improvement. Your click-thru destination, most likely your web site, must also be prepared for your campaign. Is there a landing page created to capture data? Is there an enticing offer to further the conversation and encourage the “clicker” to delve deeper?

You must commit to the channel and all the related requirements in order to be successful. It’s like building a puzzle. You can’t tell what the image is until the pieces are in place. However, we all think because we saw it on the box, we can put it together, much like looking at our golf swing on video. We see what we’re doing wrong, but will we commit fully to changing it?

In golf, we learn that our swing will ‘break’ when we start to make the change. This is  because we are mentally only ready to commit to one change at a time. Once we’ve committed to that change, and we realize that yes the ball is going in a new wrong direction, then we start to trust the pro and make the additional changes necessary to reach success. Changing everything at once is tough to trust, but in business, you won’t waste your budget if you do “everything” right with marketing.

Commit to your message. Commit to your channels and the required investment Commit to driving your marketing and sales. Limping will not win the race.

Twitter’s Front Door

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I remember many years ago a friend of mine telling me that she painted the front door to her house a strong green color. She did this because she was told by her psychic that it was the color of money and would bring good fortune. Well, I think Twitter has the opposite idea.

If you’ve ever placed Twitter advertising you will be well familiar with the first screen you see when you login or when you hit the “Home” button within the system. It lists your credit card. That’s it. Just a line with your credit card. A constant reminder that you are currently spending money. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say that is all it shows. There are a few more columns to the right of the credit card – your budget, your spend, and start/stop dates of the overall campaigns. One would think they would at least show the progress you’ve made on this screen. If you consider progress dollars spent then they do. If you want to know success metrics, clicks, engagements, follows, please click past the front door.

My point – do not make your front door a potentially negative statement. User experience can oftentimes be a very simple exercise.

Tools Don’t Make You Talented!

baseball_bat

Grab the baseball bat – now play in the Majors.

Here’s a scalpel – go operate.

Last night, I purchased a baseball bat. I’m very excited. Now that I have the right tool I’m going to play in the majors. Did you just chuckle? OK, maybe that’s farfetched. Perhaps, I will go purchase a scalpel. Then I can be a doctor. These may be extravagant examples of how having a tool doesn’t make you an expert, but think closer to home. What tools do you use everyday as a professional? If I purchase those, can I do your job?

Digital advertising works the same way. Yes, Google will tell every business owner that they can easily place ads with AdWords. Facebook will get in on that action too. What they fail to share is that these tools don’t make you an expert. Sorry, Charlie.

Strategy and Leverage. These are two words my office is singing every day. You must be exceptionally smart in today’s digital world. The number of media options and their complexity is overwhelming. Not to mention they change literally every day. We see clients waste time, energy and budget dollars, trying to execute digital campaigns in-house or candidly engaging the wrong talent. If you do not live in digital world, and I mean live there, you cannot do it well.

This world is still relatively new and is definitely still evolving. You must have a very well defined strategy when you start. Occasionally, a conversation will get struck up at a social gathering where some business person (or even marketer) remarks, “We tried Google advertising, but it didn’t work for us.” I casually sound surprised, and inquire a bit further, “Really? What part of AdWords did you use? PPC only or did you try display network ads? What about remarketing? What did the analytics show for conversion levels and where were the prospects dropping?” This is where the other party usually asks an important question, “Can I get anyone a drink at the bar?” as they slowly depart.

Damn, I didn’t even get to ask about impressions vs. clicks. vs. conversions. Let’s not even start chatting about mobile advertising. The tools supplied by Google or any platform are great. We love them, as professionals. If you’ve tried digital ads and they haven’t worked, ask yourself one question. “Do 99.9% of my target audience never go online, never use Google, never search, never use mobile devices?” If you answer yes, I will agree – digital advertising will not work for you.

There are tools beyond the platform itself that you use in advertising. Beyond Google’s AdWords or Facebook’s Ad Manager. Tools such as Google Analytics, SproutSocial, SocialBro, Hootsuite, HubSpot, Zuum, Raven, Radian6… and the list goes on. Every tool has a unique purpose, and is extremely valuable. Here are a few areas to consider when selecting tools:

–       Identify target markets and where they live online.
–       Measure sentiment and response rates based on messaging not numbers.
–       Measure activity beyond click.
–       Determine the buying habits as driven by digital ads.
–       Review cross-channel changes when running digital ads.

Tools don’t make you smart, and they don’t give you talent. You must still have exceptional knowledge on creative, copywriting/messaging, user behavior, audience demographics and socialgraphics, numbers and analysis, and much more. Frankly, you must also know what’s possible in the digital world. Here are two examples that I’ve encountered in the last month:

REAL ESTATE – A high-end builder had several properties they had constructed near a lake region. They were targeting individuals who would most likely purchase the homes to be used as second homes or vacation spots. The sales cycle for these homes was anticipated to be long. They were targeting affluent purchases out-of-area (within reasonable drive), and knew that given the remote area, seasonality, etc. it would take quite some time from inquiry to purchase and sale. What they did wrong:Remarketing was not being employed. They were driving people from their PPC campaign on Google to the web site. That’s great for step one, but what about all the people who did not complete a form? Remarketing allows the builder to target their ads across a network while the user surfs other sites on the web. A constant reminder that they were interested in this luxury lake property. Simple and effective, yet the builder had no idea.

MANUFACTURER – A very specialized commercial equipment manufacturer was attempting to drive leads for its salesforce through PPC advertising in Google and Bing. The statistics were very disappointing. They were successful getting visitors to the web site, but yielded no conversions in the form of inquiries. A closer look revealed that the messaging was targeting users of the service of the equipment they manufactured. The ads were not speaking to the businesses which would purchase and use the machinery to provide that service. The campaign message was not correctly drafted to target the right audience.

I’m sure I would have encountered these people at a networking event or social gathering and they would have said, “We tried that, but it didn’t work for us.”

To be strategic in this realm you must have exceptional knowledge and talent. It is highly complex and still evolving. The reason you see some businesses knock it out of the park is because they leverage their assets. We firmly believe that every action should yield a measurable reaction, and every great action creates a series of subsequent actions. Leveraging your campaigns and the efforts you invest in developing and executing these campaigns is essential to getting yielding even greater return on the investment.

We believe tools provide leverage. Perhaps it’s the ability to distribute content further and faster. Maybe they provide measurement and reporting which then improves campaign performance. These are great assets to increase efficiency and information gathering and use.

Tools fail to give you the strategy and talent you need to do marketing well. Just as a surgeon cannot operate without a scalpel or MRI, marketers cannot be successful without our tools. But you better be smart and talented to be any good. You do what you do best, and we’ll do what “wedu” best.

Engagement Drivers Haven’t Changed

E Reaction

E ReactionSocial media may continue to evolve, but frankly – humans don’t. Well, at least not nearly as fast. For years people have heard me say, “Consider the E-Reaction to your posts.” Open any social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc. Look at all the posts. I bet each and every post will fall into one of the following 5 categories – Ego, Emotion, Entertainment, E-Currency, Education. Those are the 5 ways to get solid engagement.

Since I’ve said every single post will fall into one category you may think, well, then everything gets engagement. NO! Of course not. You must still match the type of engagement to your audience. You probably have various audience segments, and you need to appeal to all of them at some point and time. Non-profits may tend to use the emotional driver. Retailers may use the E-currency or coupon driver. They all work with the right mix of message and audience.

Focus your efforts on identifying how your E-Reactions compare over time with your various audience members and you’ll learn to execute even better.

Digital Marketing is NOT George Foreman Style

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easelly_visual (3)You cannot set it and forget it when placing digital advertising. Whether it’s pay-per-click (PPC), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization  (SEO), Mobile Ads or even social media platform advertising – IT IS COMPLEX!

You must constantly be placing and testing, measuring, revising, and repeating the same exercise. Yes, you can fine tune advertising by finding a sweet spot that works, but you will not stop there.

The opportunities are incredible – place ads targeted at your email list. Yes, you can truly do that. Remarket advertising targets users who have been to your site and already perused products or services. At our fingertips is a world of demographics socio-graphics, lifestyles choices, and much more.

If your ads aren’t performing – don’t say “digital ads didn’t work for us.” Instead find a better agency.

Nurturing the Undeveloped Market – Your Customers

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How’s your Lead Scoring system working? Oh, you don’t do that yet? Ok. How’s the CRM utilization in your company? I see. Well, that’s too bad because you’re spending a lot of money trying to win new customers when your current customers would love to buy more.

In preparing our 2013 Financial Industry Digital Marketing Review we came across some very surprising and disappointing statistics. The sad reality is that these statistics are similar across industry sectors.

The number one goal of surveyed American Bank Association members was to widen the relationship with current customers. In short, sell more services and products to current customers. Yet, #10 on their marketing objectives was customer retention.

Let’s get this straight – I want to sell you more, but I don’t care if you stay. There are many reasons a company may not concentrate on upselling current clients. Most commonly is a focus on marketing to and bringing in new faces. After all, we will most likely have a bigger win with someone new than an incremental increase with someone existing.

Let’s run some simple math. If your business has a growth goal of 15% this year, without considering natural attrition rates for your industry, you need to gain 15% NEW customers. How about the other option – can you get 50% of your clients to by 30% more than they do today? What about focusing on your top opportunities? Can you get those currently small, but potentially large relationships to double?

The reality is that it’s easy to do. Properly structuring a nurturing campaign will generate significant inbound leads from current clients. Challenge number one is data. 50% of projects fail to even start because CRM data is out of date or incomplete. We better know something about our customer before we try to sell them more.

What are the basic objectives to these campaigns:

  • Test interest – your clients will express indirect interest through email campaign clicks and a variety of other mechanisms;
  • Be creative – show a connection between existing services and new services your customer should know about;
  • Make it easy for your client to inquire, learn more, and even estimate the cost and return of using a new service;
  • Be human – follow-up with a live phone call to customers who show an interest in products or services through clicks, web visits, surveys, ROI calculator usage, etc.
  • Incentivize – if you are convinced this is a win-win for your clients then give them an incentive to sign-on

Knowing what your client may wish to purchase next is not enough. You must measure and identify a likeliness to change. Their propensity for moving an existing relationship, acquiring a new service or product, or simply reaching a proposal stage may be triggered by industry or market changes, competitor movement, or opportunities. Be sure to identify these for yourself to know when an interest will convert to a sale.

Nothing replaces constant communication. Today, communication can also be considered service to your customers when executed right. The disconnect between sales, marketing and client service is what causes the phenomena of minimal growth with existing relationships.

Be sure you don’t rely on one group to execute well. Sales teams don’t stay in touch as much as they should. Service teams are busy executing for today, not planning for tomorrow. Marketing is typically focused on new relationships. Support all three through automated communications programs that provide invaluable data back.

Consider how an effort to better service and retain existing accounts can also mean realized sales gains for your business.

Google Continues to Improve the Power of Advertising

google-adwords

Yesterday, Google Adwords announced enhanced campaigns. Cutting to the point, Google has added greater targeting ability. They realize that users are more receptive to advertisements which target them based on location, the type of device they are using and even the time of day. Google realizes what many networks do not yet get. They know the target of the ads (you and me) actually appreciate relevant ads. Imagine that? Welcoming advertising into your digital world?

I know that if it’s raining in NYC and i forgot to bring my umbrella, my like for Uber (the black car app) or the guys selling umbrellas on the street corner goes up exponentially. If I happened to be looking at my mobile device when 5:00 somewhere hits, say, perhaps near a beach, I may be looking for an appropriate social zone to hydrate. Now, Google advertisers just may help me find that place.

I appreciate advertisers (to a degree). When a company advertisers, I believe they take their business more seriously. The message, the creative, the method of advertising all contribute to forming my opinion of that company. Good ads get more respect from me too. Surprised?

The Google AdWords enhanced campaigns give advertisers and brands a great new opportunity. With great power comes great responsibility. Thanks google. Learn more here: http://ow.ly/huxFr

Chasing Emotions for Commerce and Wealth

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You can trace every single business transaction back to an emotion. If you’re in the non-profit world, but still responsible for fundraising, you especially know what this means. Whether you’re an entrepreneur searching for your next big idea, a business owner trying to grow or a marketer responsible for promoting a product or services – pay attention.

My office mates have coined some of the phrases they hear me say often in our strategy sessions. Every few months I introduce a new concept for them to think of as marketers. These apply to any and all media – tradition, digital, etc.

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Follow the money.
  • What can we leverage?

Each of these helps us test the effectiveness or increase the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. Well, chasing emotions does the same thing. And my office better prepare to start hearing me say – Where’s the emotion?

Think about why people make purchases – the special egg yoke separator will save me time in the kitchen, this sports car goes fast, this printer/fax/scanner combo machine will take up less space, cool magazine cover, attractive label on the bottle of wine. Granted, these are mostly consumer purchases, but who makes the buying decisions for companies? People of course, so this is true in the B2B world, as well.

Go beyond the physical product world into professional services or intangible technology such as apps and you will still find emotions driving purchasing decisions. Whether it’s the in-person interview with an attorney or downloading a an app for reading news each and every interaction is based in an emotional response. Marketers must realize the vast array of personalities they are dealing with.

A conversation with a professional coach the other day raised a question regarding the sales process. As a business development person should you try and match the style of the person you are selling in order to win over their trust? Ironically, in my years of training, I quickly said yes. The coach differed. He said that today it’s about being aware of the mix of communication and how to best interact, but that it’s not always mimicking the style. I will agree with that more detailed answer, especially in an age of authenticity and transparency.

If that’s true, how does an online purchase or app download or product sitting on a retailer’s shelf interact with you to ‘mix’ with your style?

It’s important to first note that you will not satisfy or attract everyone so don’t try – otherwise the old adage of “You better stand for something, otherwise you’ll fall for anything,” comes true. If you look at the most successful companies you will find their toughest market adversary has a different personality. Think about what these companies represent and then how that compares to their competitors:

  • Apple vs. Dell (or Mac vs. PC – thanks to the TV commercials this is easy)
  • Axe Body Spray vs. Old Spice
  • McDonald’s vs. Wendy’s
  • TOMS Shoes vs. Cole Haan
  • Google vs. Yahoo
  • Facebook vs. MySpace

If you go to the heart of these products or services you will find there is an emotion that fits. MySpace was developed for musicians and music enthusiasts. Now, did Facebook steal the audience or provide a new home? MySpace is attempting a comeback and ironically, to many music enthusiasts it never failed. It was simply a different audience.  Axe Body Spray is most likely not purchased by the same gents purchasing Old Spice. Not that the latter is seeking a fox hunt in the English countryside, but they certainly aren’t believing a body spray will win them the attention of beautiful woman.

I felt it was important to put in Google and Yahoo and some of the others to show that the emotional charge doesn’t go away just because a product or service is free. If anything, it’s probably more predominant. Swipe the screen of you smartphone and think about all the app choices you have for each and every app you are using. There are a hundreds of apps for investing, expense management, news consumption, etc. Perhaps it’s features you liked better in one or another, but it could also be that emotionally, you preferred how one app interacted with you – simplicity, complexity, visual appeal, shared audience, whatever the case may be.

If you chase the emotion you will find the sale. Just don’t be a paranoid, bi-polar, schizophrenic because then no one wants to hang out with you.

Killing Time Creates Marketer Value

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There was an article in the NY Times today. (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/banned-on-wall-street-facebook-twitter-and-gmail/?ref=technology) It covered the ban on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like from Wall Street’s corporate firewalls. The reasons are somewhat obvious – they want the employees 100% focused on the work at hand and are hyper sensitive to security. Let’s face it, information is equal to profits in this world.

The article got me thinking though. First, the old-school in me says, “I understand.” The new media age dude in me says, “Oh, Please. You can’t stop it so don’t fight it. Find a way to embrace it.” Regardless of whether you agree with these policies, there is a reality here that marketers have realized. A few minutes can be a successful engagement.

As one of the workers mentioned in the article, they oftentimes have to sit around and wait for a supervisor. This may be just minutes or longer. In the interim, most people – pop online. This is true for a lot of things – waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting for a subway, waiting for a boss, waiting for lunch, ….

Waiting equals an opportunity to have an engagement that yields a sale. The impulse buys of Giltman, Rue La La, and these daily special sites is not so much riven by the email at noon and great discounts. Oftentimes, the discounts aren’t discounts at all and these savvy shoppers know that. However, it’s an instant offering of an appropriate product for the audience, with an easy mechanism to purchase and ship. Click, click, click, done. Box arrives.

Mobile strategies must embrace this type of sale. Online strategies can help promote related products, entice you with further deals, and drive further filling of the cart. Mobile strategies can tackle this only so far, but the important step is to get that first sale. Win the client. Share a positive experience. Have the opportunity to engage yet again, another day.

For mobile – KISS is the best approach. (Keep it Simple Stupid) in case you didn’t know. Here’s the test… What can a person achieve in 3 minutes on your mobile app? If they can’t easily complete a sale – you lose.

Feeling Good as a Customer From Marketing Automation

Automated Marketing

It’s important for customers to feel wanted. This creates loyalty with a brand. In the Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) markets there is certainly a drive by large brands to create this loyalty.

Consumer brands connect with consumers through cause marketing activations supporting non-profits, by providing education and tools that help consumers with their diet, money management, child safety, etc., and even by connecting them with other like-minded individuals while satisfying their competitive edge Examples of these would be BMW’s support for women’s breast cancer, Proctor & Gamble’s Mom’s Club and MapMyRun.

Due to the activities of these brands, the consumers become engaged and connected. It’s no small feat to create this brand loyalty, but it is possible when the brand exhibits the same core principles and beliefs as the consumer.

The Business to Business (B2B) market is equally able to utilize this approach, but there is generally one significant difference. In the B2B space, it is oftentimes individuals buying from sales people, not buying from a faceless brand. This represents a challenge for companies. A B2B enterprise typically relies heavily on the sales channel to engage their client and develop the relationship. In B2B marketing, there has been a strong move toward automated marketing platforms.

These platforms act as relationship nannies. While they do, to an extent, watch over the activity of a sales channel partner, sales team or even individual sales person, they are generally structured to supplement their activities. Contact with clients is influenced by many factors:

  • Size or value of account / relationship
  • Frequency of purchase
  • Length of sales cycle
  • Potential for account growth

Unfortunately, the influence is typically greater from the individual responsible for that relationship, and not strictly the factors above. Many sales individuals know what they should do, but that doesn’t mean they do it. An automated marketing platform helps sustain the relationship in the absence of personal activity. The key to a successful platform is the ability to create authentic touch points, be consistent, and ensure you support the individual relationship as much as the corporate presence.

The B2B market recognizes that individuals are typically loyal to other individuals. If a commercial lends leaves bank ‘A’ the customer will most likely follow that individual to bank ‘B’. If that is the case, why would a company even consider fostering a stronger relationship between the sales person and the customer? Simple – everyone wins.

If the client is enjoying a great relationship with their sales person, and also partly realizes the company is causing “some” of that activity, they are still extremely happy and engaged. This will create more sales. If the relationship generates more sales, the sales person is happy. They are compensated on performance and thus happy with the increased revenue. Of course, they also recognize the company’s valuable input in the relationship making them more loyal. And last, the company is happy because they’ve maintained a customer and increased sales, their salesperson has more time to concentrate on new business development, and their salesperson is well compensated, thus loyal in their employ.

Automated campaigns are extremely simple to structure especially with a bit of creativity. Here are a few examples that can be easily implemented:

  • A thank you email auto-generated to a customer after an order. This email should have a specific trigger point – length of time since last order, size of order, etc. The content should appear personalized – from their sales rep, identifying the specific order, including a thank you. Success will be in the details – Do you have the client’s name or nickname correct? Does the email appear authentic because they don’t get too many?
  • The New Year letter – this can be a review of the client’s account from the previous year sharing some successes that the salesperson individually reached as a result of the client’s commitment. (i.e. I was recognized as favorite salesperson for ABC Company because of your growth and input.) New Year’s letters that are printed and delivered in a first class envelope, and personally signed, can be very effective for an overall relationship.
  • Birthday cards – yes, the under executed, but still widely known to be effective, birthday card. Data mining for client birthdays is very easy these days. They can be captured as a security question for web site account access, they can be data mined from free, public, online sources. Printing a personalized card that embeds the individual into the brand or company visually can be a very strong and fun message showing dedication.
  • Smaller businesses may tweet or Facebook post recognition of a client on an automated basis.
  • We Miss You – emails are generated to clients who are outside of their typical ordering cycle.
  • Pre-vacation emails are sent from the salesperson personally to share alternative contact information and personal assurance of the company’s commitment is included.

There is also an opportunity to semi-automate marketing processes that drive even greater loyalty. Imagine a few of the

  • A system automatically sources x clients each week and provides links to their LinkedIn profiles for their salesperson to the ‘endorse’ or ‘recommend’ on the network.
  • Integration with Salesforce.com or other CRM system prepares an email message to all clients of a salesperson based on recurring contact requirements set by the company. Messages are canned, but provide the opportunity for a custom message to be inserted by the salesperson.
  • Related product emails are generated to promote a product the client has not purchased prior, but aligns with other services or products they have purchased. These must be held for the salesperson to review ensuring the information is appropriate.
  • Care packages – these are not done often enough by salespersons. Is your company structured to expedite a care package for a client’s new baby, marriage, or business achievement? Create a system that let’s your salespersons easily execute these needs.
  • The corporate anniversary card – wouldn’t it be nice to receive a note card in the mail, personally signed by the salesperson saying thank you for the anniversary of your very first order on xx date? Utilizing information that is readily available makes communications personal and appreciated. Including a ‘thank you’ in the form of a gift card or coffee card can go a long way.

These automated marketing systems are NOT expensive to implement, and the return is exceptionally high. Your company should determine the appropriate number of client contacts per year, and the recorded contacts in you CRM system. The average differential is what you should automate. For example, if the company feels a client needs to be touched every 2 months (6x/year) based on the type of product or service, consumption, competition, etc., but the average CRM report shows less than 4 contacts per year, then automate 2-3 communications.

The fully automated systems are obviously easy to execute. We oftentimes hear that companies can’t rely on their data in the CRM from the sales team or the sales team won’t sign birthday cards and get them in the mail. Guess what, your right. Today you may not be able to, but tomorrow you will.

The automated systems are effective tools and your top performers will recognize this. They will utilize the system to the maximum extent possible. When a pile of birthday cards lands on their desk, they will not only sign them, but insert personal notes and comments of their own. Your ‘B’ team will start to see their success. If the automated system uses incorrect information; such as a nickname, it will only take a few client comments before the salesperson is attentive to the CRM system content. Your ‘C’ team will be more easily identified so you can, well, fire them.

We would all like to think we have an “All Star” sales team. The reality is that we have few rock stars and some groupies. Help make your groupies look and even act like stars.