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  • Writer's pictureInge Hunter

Founding a Communication and Marketing Business.

Episode 15- The reality of a Communications and Marketing Expert with Lucy Rennie.

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What do you do? Tell us explain. Could you firstly actually start with what the word COMMs means? And then go from that?

So I'm Lucy Rennie I am the founder of LR comms, which is basically a communications and marketing strategy business. So what I mean by why pick communication and why it's important is because actually, I think fundamentally, to run a business, everything comes down to communications, whether that's selling to new customers, whether it's looking after existing customers, communicating your stories, the way you connect with everybody. For me, it's just massively important. So that's where it comes from. I suppose that's what I do is I work with small business owners to help them to, I'm gonna say future proof of business. But it means really, when it comes down to it, building a business that works for them, and feels good. And I do that through helping them with their communication strategy, their marketing and looking under their business and building real clear foundations. That's what I do.

So what kind of people do you really, really, really love? Like if you had someone who you could just totally change, who's that? Also, second question, a famous person who you absolutely love to work with?

I worked in corporate for 20 years in communications in the steel industry. And I loved it, I love working with people. So that's where my passion is. And predominantly, I was the only woman in a male environment for years. But actually, what I love is getting under the skin of business. And so now I've taken that, and I work with lots of small business owners, all around in different industries. But the thing that makes them exciting to work with is they really care about what they do. And they actually want to do something because they care, they want to make an impact, they want to build something good, they want to do it in the right way. And they don't necessarily have you know, when you start a business, generally, it's because you love the thing that you you know, that you do, it's maybe it's been a passion or something you think, like, you know what, I'm gonna do this myself, but you've no one's really taught you how to do the finance or the HR or the marketing or the communication. And so, that's what I love is working with other people who value my expertise or value, that the fact that they want to do it right, so they really kind of, you can build a real partnership with them when they listen and you can get under the skin of the business, you become part of that team. You're a partner to them. And actually, you can really make a difference because they're willing to try it and listen and trust you and, and can go further with you because they get it and they want to make it they want to do a good job and that gets me excited.

I can feel the passion radiating off you.

Yeah it's for the love of small business. I just think with all the crap that's going on in the world. It's a small business, it's going to change. I think that comes from a background in the steel industry. I was very much working with the teams to really love what they do as well. And I just think it's how craft is it going to work doing something that you don't want to do? Whereas actually if we've worked with small business, then you can do your passion, you can do what you want to do. And you can also then, if you want to recruit other people, and help them to do it and enjoy the jobs or you can work with other businesses and help them to grow and just think it's like a ripple effect that embrace what we do and we love what we do, then, yeah, I just think it all flows from that. And you don't have to try to be something different. You can be who you want to be, and people will come to you, because you've been you. And you've, the trust is there. That's what I love doing.

What is the campaign that you're doing?

For the love of small business. So there's shirts and mugs and an event. And I want to help because I live in the Peak District, so in the middle of nowhere, I'm on the side of a hill. And we're in the countryside, and I grew up here, went off to France for 10-12 years, came back, and I realised that the kids that school, there's no inspiration, there's no careers, kind of, there's no one to tell, it's showing them, they can do stuff. So they go to the kebab shop, or they go in, and it's like, no, you can do anything. And actually, why not start a small business, so it's gonna be linked to that. So for the small for the love of small business, this is a scoop, actually. I want to create a club where we can help these kids, but bring in other small business owners to do kind of mentoring and help them and get them going on projects? And actually, why not start a business? When they're 16-17 Instead of being pushed down an academic line that maybe they don't fit? Or maybe it doesn't work for them? Let's give them the tools now to help it. So to answer your question. I love working with people who love their business and want to do great things.

And what about famous people? What, like business owners that you see that Need? Basically, I was having a conversation with someone the other day about Elon Musk. And they were convinced, yeah. He has got it together. I was like, That man has not got his stuff together at all. He runs from the hip, but he doesn't think things through. He's very emotional in the way that he manages his businesses. And actually, if you look at his track record, it's not great.

And I was talking about it this week with some of my clients. So a lot of what I talked about is that instead of necessarily spending all your money on finding new clients actually spend a lot of your time fixing the leaky bucket and doing a really good job and just looking at doing what you know, the people are paying you for it sounds doesn't mean that we have to do what people are paying for. And then they'll come back for more. But the good example that I'm going to talk about is the World Cup, Qatar. So have you seen the tents that they've set up for the fans? So it's set up this kind of, it's a bit like, what was that festival called

on the fire festival? So what they've done is they've sold all these luxury tents and big festivals for football. They're in full sunshine. They're in these nylon tents with two single crappy beds in a fan with aircon because it's too hot in the day, because it's obviously in Qatar, the water in the communal showers, they showed it running, it's brown. And then they've got like these massive screens where they were going to let people watch the football, but it's in full sunshine. So you couldn't get that kind of heat.

In fact, in my email this week is an example of actually just stop selling something that you're not if you can't deliver it, because they were still doing all the stuff and I don't know what it's like now, but people come in and then leave in because it was that bad guys that have saved all the money. There's one guy in the little clip from the BBC, who'd saved all his money. It spent like three, four grand to go and be part of it. And he actually left because it was that bad that he didn't want to stay there. So yeah, that's where I was going. Just do a good job.

What do you think a common misconception is of someone who's just starting with their idea, and then someone who's kind of just pre building a team, and then someone who's got a small team, and then someone who's good I proper sort of medium size.

What, how do people see them? Or what are they seeing? And where are they? What are they getting? I guess what are they? Because you're just, I feel like you're a master in making things real. And actually making people do the work and actually making people see the problems and solve them and stuff. So I guess in those four points, like, what do you think if I'm a, like, really, super startup person?

So as a superstar, stop worrying about your logo, your website and all that rubbish, just actually go and sell your product, or service and check that it works and test it and do as much as you can. selling that product or service doesn't have to be perfect. So you can go and say you're trying it out. It's a beta version, but you want to get feedback. And that's the only way you're going to improve it or know if it works for anything is asking people does it work? What could you improve? What you know, what's good? What's bad about Bob? I'm myself, I was the same when I started out. I was part of these big hubs, entrepreneurial hub things and it was, do they scale up investment? And we weren't, we didn't even have enough money to pay the bloody, the food for the week, let alone actually go in, you know, that no, get investment for something, because you've got to get your MVP, which is your minimum viable product, check it first. So for me that would be because I think we spend so much time you have to because you think from the outside looking at anything, when you start out, you have some shiny business card and a logo and a spanking website. And it's comic, you just people just want to go ahead. Because if you haven't got it, if you're not selling and you haven't got business. So you can't, you can't learn from that either.

You were saying pre getting a team.

So pre getting a team is about building the foundations. So for me, it's kind of like you've proved your concept, it's working, but actually, you can be ready to go to the next level. But you're going to save so much time, if you can just maybe take it up. But I think a lot of people I worked with in my membership are exactly at that stage. So kind of in the middle of sort of, they've gotten this work, but they're not the kind of starting to recruit or whatever. And actually, they've not necessarily got the foundations in place. So then when they do recruit, it's difficult because they've got it, they don't have the clear processes, or they don't have the clear message or vision to be able to share with somebody else. And it's really important if you're going to recruit and get people on board, that you know exactly where you go in and that you can give them real clear direction. So getting real clarity, it's no framework really, but clarity on what you do, Be who you want to work with, who you add value to, and what the vision is getting really under the skin of that and getting really clear on that. And then communication in terms of how do you communicate with your customers at the moment what the process, if you've ordered something, when you're gonna get it, or just that things that we don't, what actually makes such a difference in that customer journey and makes customers happy.

That's all we want happiness, and then connection, which is about, I think there's so much pressure and so much kind of, we think we have to go out and do all these exciting things to meet new people, we have to go and spend loads of money on social or doing all these different things. Whereas actually, in the beginning at that stage, they're under our nose, it's our connections, the people who already know, like, and trust us, they're the ones who actually are going to talk about as our customers are going to share, with their friends and family or colleagues about your business. And that's kind of what I call it the TripAdvisor effect. But very often, I'm speaking with clients who my granddad used to play a game with me cook right and you don't know it. We used to hide chocolate in the living room when I was little. And then he'd go out, find the chocolate. And so if I'd go one side, it'd be you're getting cold. And then, if you've got all your boiling hot. And that's what I say to my clients, stop spending all your time at the freezing cold end of the spectrum, when you're trying to make sales or find new people actually work at the warmer end where you already know people who are going to support you're going to share and will come back and buy from you because they already know like and trust you. That frustrates me because there's so much out there where people are giving them so much different advice that actually if they can just really focus on doing a good job and working with the people, you know that they can make massive inroads. So that would be really clear: foundations work on really establishing yourself and building that trust because it's for me It's a long game. But it's a good game that once you've got that trust, people are going to get your leaky buckets fixed, because actually, you're going to, you know, people are going to stay in there. And we talked about the customer lifetime value.

For me, it's that we should be focusing on how you know, they're going to come to see you, how long are they going to stay with you? Are they going to buy more from you, and hopefully create and develop that relationship? But I think that for me, if you can get really clear on that, it makes it so much easier when you go and recruit, or you start to build a team because you know exactly what you want them to do. And they can buy into that because you've got the vision so they can see where does their career, I have a podcast the other day, someone said, The best way to find the right people, the best people is when you've got your clear vision, and they see where their career fits into your vision. So that actually they can see they've got one as well. And I love that I think Leila Hormoz even said it. But I just love that because you've got to, you know, yeah, they will need to see because especially the good ones, because they're going to be motivated and ambitious as well, aren't they? So they want to see where they fit in. So getting that really clear is really important. And honestly, I promise it's going to, that's what's going to help you future proof your business because you'll have those solid foundations in place.

Wow. So then the next stage, have a team, you must work with people at that stage then haven't done that work, though. So what problems do they tend to face without realising that they're going to, they're running headfirst into a wall?

I work with some businesses, because it's manufacturing, actually what happens is they have accidents, or things go wrong badly. Because ultimately, it's about creating a culture in a space where your team is engaged, they know what they're doing, and they can work together. So what happens when that doesn't work is that, well, people don't really know what they're doing. So they might be doing something completely wrong. And it might not even be their fault. But they might be giving mixed messages to people they might get, they might be focusing on the wrong things. They might not know who does what. So there might be internal frustrations. It's massive, really what the fact of not doing it can have on your business. And you come in at the ripple end of the of, if you're not engaged, if your team aren't with you on board with you, they're not going to deliver the best service to customers, they're not going to work together as a team, they're not going to be have your interests at heart, they're going to be coming in because they're just going to get paid. And they come in to do the job. And that's it. And that's really sad. Because actually, if you get it right, it's amazing what can happen when you get that culture right. And everybody's working in the same way.

I guess it would stagnate your growth.

100% if anything, it's detrimental. And I'll take you back because you'll start making mistakes, because you know, customers will start it or things will start going wrong. So actually, then you lose that goodwill. And you might even go into negatives, because, well if things are going wrong, people aren't going to come back. Are they?

So that might be what's been happening with Uber?

Possibly. But it is. It was like right from the very beginning. They haven't been thinking about the team, they were thinking about them. And that's great, of course, to have vision. But if you want to make it and get people on board, you've got to be thinking of the team. It's kind of an inside out approach. You've got to start on the inside. Make sure that's working properly and functioning and to be able to then grow it and move it forward. It's like Elon Musk as well what he's doing use Twitter, he shut the offices on Friday, lock them all off and say and if you're not going to sign this big contract that says you're going to work all these hours in the day and you're on board for coming with me, then you're going to lose your job basically.

Yeah, but although just playing devil's advocate, is that not an extreme case of what you were saying? Where if you're not on board with the vision, then don't bother?

Yes. 100% Yes, but it's not right. What I love is that there's other ways of doing that going, come on, we're on an adventure. It's gonna be hard. It's going to be this show where the vision is the mountain at the top, but tell them, you're going to have highs and lows. But how good is it going to feel when you get there?

So something that you touched on, was the myth that you blow up overnight. And you can do like three hacks to make 100,000 pounds or whatever. And I know that you feel very strongly.

Yeah, I could go on my soapbox for hours and hours. I get on for it. But I just said don't worry about how you're gonna deliver. I'm gonna do it. Do it Real. There's so much crap out there where people are just talking rubbish. Just blows my mind that people are saying you can make a six, seven figure tomorrow with me for a week and we'll do it together or whatever it is, and all this kind of overnight crap. It's not this, it takes a long time. It's a longer even the ones I think that you'll notice. But actually, they've probably been doing it for 15 years. So the kind of learning the kinds of things that work. So I just think it drives me up because especially in the online space, because it's almost like there's no rules. And actually, in business for me, we should be doing it from a place of, I don't want to say do it the call, but we should be we should be doing it right? Because that's what we do. We shouldn't have to have these conversations. Whereas actually, there's so much rubbish where people, and I think people see it from the outside, or they've glamour and all these things. So they start and then they're losing so much money, they're spending loads on all these different programmes that they're not necessarily implementing. I think there's so much there that just needs to be called out. But I think we need to do it in a way that's not because I don't necessarily agree with the cancelling culture and all those kinds of things. I think it's just more about leading by example, and actually showing that actually, this is what you need to do. And if you do it anyway, and you really are your true self and you're coming from a good place, it's going to work because you're going to naturally attract the right people, and you're going to build that trust, not this kind of some even just some of the pricing drives me mad that people just you can tell they're not sat and worked out. And then they've just picked a figure out of the air. And it's a billion pounds. And I'll make you a billionaire because I'm a billionaire who charged one person a billion.

And then the thing is, as well when you see behind when you actually see what those people are doing or whatever. And you can see them the next day they're hustling because they think well, actually it's all rubbish and it drives me mad, because you've got certain people who have invested in things like this, and now they've got families and they can't, they're in property in difficulty because they can't pay the bills or because they've trusted in certain things. And I just think that's wrong on every level.


How do you fix it? But there's one lady in particular, who's working through a kind of pyramid scheme thing. And a couple of my clients ended up in it. And as soon as I found that, I was like, Oh, my God. I don't like to say bad things about other businesses because everyone's going to run in their own way. But this one in particular, I had to put my foot down my clients like this, do you realise? Let's break this lady down and look at her properly, because all I could see was they were losing loads of money, but then it also kills their confidence, because they feel like they're not worth it, because they're suddenly not a millionaire. Within seven days.

How do you fix it? Communication?

It's got to be about actually not calling it out. But talking about the other side of it. It's got to be a mixture of that. I think it's got to be reaching those business owners, who are investing in that kind of thing, and kind of, hopefully, showing them that actually, they don't have to go down that way. They can do it differently. So that's kind of, my campaign, hopefully, that's going to reach people. But I think there's maybe something about regulation, business you should be.

Does it not go against advertising standards?

Why is it not getting called? If it was a brick and mortar business or a business offline? Because I think it's a lot of online business, isn't it? That's a lot of coaches. So yes, there's more regulation in that sense of calling out what that advertising false advertising is. Maybe also something to do with thinking at the moment anyone can call themselves a coach currently. So there's something about actually what does that mean? What does that look like? Because so when I did my coaching and mentoring qualification, there's a candidate, there's a code of business, there's code of conduct, there's a code of ethics that you sign up to, as part of their Chartered Institute, PR, you sign up to these things, and I think, certain professions, you have to whatever, I think there's something there about actually you can't just go out and sell online without having some sort of regulation.

I think it's disgusting. And I've seen loads of people that have. I saw a poll the other day on LinkedIn where someone that I know would ask people, "How much money have they spent kind of on coaches or programmes, but not got anything in return?" And she put it kind of like zero to 1000 1005, five to 1010 to 2020 plus and the authority those people were like 1020 plus 1000 pounds. And that can't be right, can it?

So if the reality isn't that you're going to make a million pounds in a week, what would you say from your experience, the reality of running your own business actually is? Because you went from running these international massive, massive companies? 2015 You were like, No, I'm going to do my own thing. So then you've been doing it for seven years now? So what are the harsh realities?

How long have we got? You know what? Think you've got to love what you do. And you started there. It's true I genuinely could work every day but I love what I do. But it's really hard sometimes. And it's a roller coaster ride, isn't it? The only way to describe it really is kind of you go through those ups and downs where one minute you pull in, because I know there's a brilliant I love working really, I've got money coming in. It's great. And then the next few minutes, oh, my God, what's going on? There's a recession or this pandemic?

For me, I think the thing you have to have is grit, it has to come down to grit, it's not necessarily about being the most talented, or the best at what you do. It's about grip to keep going and grip level up. I remember when like in the beginning, Just even standard, it was weird, because I used to run conferences, huge conferences like Milan or places, and stand up on stage in front of 1000s of people and talk and run the thing and do all that the minute it was me. And I just had a baby and I Was going to, it's like a women's networking thing locally in the hills, Canada, it wasn't scary. Like when you think about now, it wasn't scary. But that time I just had a baby with these boobs because I was breastfeeding. And my mom was in the car with a baby. And I was like, right, I've got to go and do that. I was so scared standing up. It's like, what's that about? But I think it's because it's you and it's your business. And it matters and is different. And it's that putting you it's like the bulk of just really you baring your soul. So whereas before you're working for a company, you're kind of working on behalf of them. So you are taught to communicate and represent a business, whereas when it's your business, it's your business, it's your brand, it's you. So I don't care what anyone says, You can't split them up, you are part of your business. And that's a good thing. I massively believe you should really embrace that and be the face of the brand. But I also think that is scary. And that comes with all the different things because it's on your shoulders. And every step we talked about different stages of business. Well, it comes with different challenges. And you think you've got over that. I remembered like renting my office for the first time, only two days a week I had to commit to two days a week and I thought oh my god, sleepless nights and had to commit to this, and it's a different level, isn't it? And it's like, recruit someone, can I do this? Can I invest in this should I be doing so every time you're levelling up, and every time, that's grit and mindset, not an action. It's just, that's the thing that you've got to be in a good place or be strong to be able to move forward with that. And I think that's what I love doing with my work is creating those communities where it's lonely as well, creating those communities where people can share it and talk about it and be that sounding board or just peace of mind that you can go and have a cry if you want table, or a goal or a glass of wine, because I don't know about you, but most of my friends, they look at me as if I'm like an alien, why I'm doing why I do what I do, because all these kind of, they don't really know what to do, and they don't really know why I do it because I seem to be working on time or doing all these different things where and they're kind of in a different place. So I think that's a long but really great roller coaster ride. Keep going round yourself with the right people.

It is and if I have a client and they're really struggling and they're like ‘if only I could get to x, it will be better’, i'm like you're gonna have to sit and get comfortable with this feeling because it doesn't go.

Definitely. But you know what, that's the thing. That's why you do it. I don't want to be comfortable but I’m almost sadistic. Because I'll just go yeah, I'll do that. We'll go there. And I'll do that and push them. But that's what makes you feel alive, isn't it? The tummy flexes when it's like, I'm gonna go and do this thing. But how good does it feel when you've done it, and you can kind of see the impact you're having or get the good feedback or, or just you can take kids on holiday, or, do something with you, whatever it might be, whatever your reason for doing for running businesses and for setting out on that, I just think it's, it opens doors, there's adventure, you've got to love that you put yourself out, it's brilliant. When you look back over there,, even just for me, it's only seven years, but you look back at where I've come and what I've done. It's exciting. So yes, you forget kind of a bit. It's a bit like giving birth, you kind of move forward and then after a year or two, you forget the crap you dealt with in the beginning. And then you think of a great idea to do it again.

What's the biggest reality that you don't share? We do have to be quite brand forward. And there are kind of elements of what everyone does in their business that they wouldn't necessarily share, because it's not on brand. What do you think is the biggest thing that you tend to keep into the background, but that you think would be helpful for people to understand?

It's such a really good question. And I'm dead aware of this at the moment. Just a quick anecdote, but when I was part of these hubs, that was the other thing, everyone that you say, How's it going? Is it and you'd like? Yeah, it's really good. It's really good. And it's about politics. It's not that I'm aware of. I'm trying more consciously to first of all, not have a filter. Because I think actually to show that you are who you are, and that's for my daughter as well, so she can see it. It's not all shiny, because that scares me as well. But I think what I'm trying to show more of is and talk more about is the mental health side of things. And the fact that it can get really hard, and it is difficult and challenging. And it is a struggle, you never get it right between the mom guilt of not being with the kids all the time, maybe getting hit in the goals. I wanted to do that to set myself there. And it's that juggle, but I think you do have moments where you feel crap, and you don't want to go on and you just want to throw the towel in or you just want to sit and cry or you know, I get really.

I suppose my biggest thing has always been impostor syndrome, particularly in my own business.. And so I think my biggest fear has always been about maybe being called out that I'm a fraud or that I'm not doing you know, I don't know what I'm talking about. When I see my phone ring, stupidly I always fear the worst my tummy goes. And nine times out of 10 it's not there's just something normal, and it's all good. But that's my first reaction is that kind of, what's gone wrong? Or what have I not done or what you know, because I am a perfectionist, and I'm never happy with where I'm at. It can be a good thing, because you've got high standards, but it's really hard because you're never happy. So you never feel that kind of self satisfaction. Because it's not good enough, if that makes sense. I think that my thing is trying to like what we're doing now and really talk about behind the scenes of a business and that it isn't all joy. But then that's why I started with the fact you've got to love it because generally I wouldn't change it for the world.

Exactly.We get lonely, our mental health suffers. We never talk to our family. But you know, it's a ride.But I think it could be the most liberating thing you could ever do for yourself to follow your own brain and create your own thing.

I'm completely unemployable but I genuinely genuinely love it and I love but I love seeing other business owners. Get that joy and that excitement and then, when it starts to work and it's going out or when you know something, just a client now, it just took over business three, four years ago and he's literally just doubled the size of the business, it's now a 7 million pound business. He's just invested in new premises. And it's like, he's done that, but I've helped him a bit as well, because we've done it, and that's the joy of this collaboration, because I think that's the thing I call out as well. But we should all be working together. I'm a massive believer in collaboration. And even when you're in the same kind of industry, actually coming together and working together, there's always different, we're all different in our own ways. So actually, we can add value and be stronger, especially small business owners, we should all be coming together and helping each other out and supporting each other. So

definitely, I like to see it as being in the middle of the mountain. I don't think anyone should be at the top of the mountain. Everyone's in the middle, and I'll pull people up, and I'll push them up as high as I can. And then hopefully, other people will help me do the same on their mountain. Nobody's ever a guru. It's impossible to be how you can be because you're always learning. And that's the thing, that even when you're 100% convinced you know what you're doing now, it's going to change because you're constantly growing and learning and doing and the world's changing as well. Even just over the last few years, the way people look at business now, and generations that come in through one completely different things to you know, what our parents or grandparents want, it's all so you've got to grow and change and do and we've got to we can't do it on our own.

I ran into as a young person actually, like 20. And they've decided that they're going to create from what I remember them calling it, like bomb businesses so Boomer owned, boring businesses. So essentially buying them up, like buying up like old cleaning companies, or like car washes, or like window cleaning, or like, carpentry clip companies, in the kind of Boomer age, they would set up a business just for themselves just to keep money going. And they wouldn't ever push it beyond just the local business, and they keep buying them up. And then putting in all these kinds of automated systems, then shoving a load of Google ads on it, and then taking them national, and what a brilliant idea.

Oh, honestly, I love it. Because when when I was growing up, we didn't have internet, it's kind of that's how you think, but now where they are and the changing, even my kids looking at and watching them, it's mental that I think as well, it's also about the way people looking at business as a consumer, they don't want to necessarily buy from big brands anymore, they want to buy businesses that care that have got stand for something that have got values or that, maybe a bit quirky or a bit different, that's what they want to do. And it's the same for employees, they want to work for businesses that can share that care more than just a number that they can be part of something bigger. And I think that for me is dead exciting, because it means actually, small business owners, we can really kind of tap into who we are. And be, if anything, we should be shouted about even more now, because people want to hear it and want to support it. And that's going to help them buy into those even more, isn't it?

Your passion and love for this is just beyond. I think it's so important what you're trying to do as well, where you're kind of showing people the right processes and the right way to do things, but also being realistic. Where can we find you? What can we do? How can we find more of what you've got to give?

Thank you. This has been so lovely chatting to you. I think we could probably keep going on for hours. So you can find everything on my website which is and I've got a podcast called future proof your business and when you bought three clear steps future proof your business and there's a free community, there's a membership there's all sorts of things on there but just come and say hi really I'm on Instagram and LinkedIn or everywhere! Tick tock.

Well, thank you so much Lucy, this is so good!

Thank you for reading, if you have any questions or fancy a chat, head over to my instagram, IngeHunter for more information. Also linked in Lucy Rennies website so you can have a feel for yourself of her business.

Inge x

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