Brace Yourself for the Marketing Rebellion

Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer, keynote speaker and author of Marketing Rebellion, joins the Content Experience Show Podcast to discuss the consumer revolt against marketing.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Consumers Are Mounting a Marketing Rebellion

Mark Schaefer kept hearing the same thing from marketers across the globe: Things weren’t working like they used to. Engagement was down; ad blockers were on the rise. There was a marketing rebellion underway, and marketers were losing control over the conversation around their brand.

That control has transferred into the hands of consumers, who are tired of brands dominating digital spaces, burying themselves in their dashboards, and failing to meet customers’ needs. The marketing world, Mark explains, is due for a wake-up call.

Mark walks Randy and Anna through the reasons for this radical shift and why he believes consumers—not marketers—will win the day. You’ll hear examples of brands that are already adapting (and thriving) as well as new ways of thinking about audience engagement, influencer marketing, and word of mouth.

In This Episode

  • The seismic shift in consumer behavior that marketers around the world are feeling.
  • How technology has warped our ability to meet customers’ needs.
  • Why “personalization” isn’t always “personal.”
  • A case study from a brand that centers the customer as marketer.
  • Questions brands should ask themselves as ownership of their own marketing slips further and further from their control.
  • Why the consumer rebellion against advertising is destined to succeed.

Quotes From This Episode

“Our customers have moved away from us. People have locked into marketing in a certain way without looking up to see how the world has changed.” – @markwschaefer

Consumers have been rebelling against annoying marketing and advertising for a hundred years, and every time they have rebelled, they win. Click To Tweet

“Through technology, people have the opportunity to self-select into like-minded islands.” – @markwschaefer

“If you’re still one of those people out there rolling their eyes about influencer marketing, come on. Wake up. It’s real. It works.” – @markwschaefer

Resources

Content Experience Lightning Round

If you were to write yet another book, what would be its focus?

Mark is a great admirer of Brené Brown and, like Brown, aspires to have a positive impact on humanity through his writing.

See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

  • Randy

    Hey, Anna. We’ve got an awesome show for our audience today. Welcome everyone to the Content Experience Podcast. I’m Randy Frisch, and this one was fun. First off, we have the nicest guess possible, Anna.

  • Anna

    Right?

  • Randy

    We’ve got Mark Schaefer, who’s just a good person and I think you said the last time you spoke to him you just felt warm.

  • Anna

    He’s so genuine and nice.

  • Randy

    Yeah. So if you’re looking for the asshole show, this is not that today. This is the nice guy who’s going to make you feel good, but also challenge you and put you out of your comfort zone. I’m going to hit with one stat that he threw out there that really scared me, and I had seen this one because I saw an awesome video that teases his book called Marketing Rebellion, but it’s the idea that two thirds of the activity that’s happening with your audience is happening outside of your control. So despite all the emails we send, the ads we retarget, things like that, people are forming their opinion of your brand and your offering through their own research, or even just what other people are saying out there. I don’t know, does that scare you? It scares me.

  • Anna

    No. I embrace that.

  • Randy

    Doesn’t scare you?

  • Anna

    No, I embrace that because I very much am the type of person that is … I think I’m like a weird marketer. I don’t actually like traditional marketing. I’m very much in the camp of I’m a big fan of ad blockers. I like to protect my privacy. I don’t want every marketer out there knowing every single thing about me. Which creates kind of a catch-22 for myself when I go to promote things, but I think there’s a right way to promote things and Mark talks a lot about the right way. And not even the right way necessarily, but just the shift that’s happening towards not buying your customers anymore, and not forcing your message in front of them. That’s not going to cut it anymore.

  • Randy

    I like it but I guess where I get worried is, how am I going to go influence in all these locations at once? And how do I control the ones that are out of my control? I’ll go on a bit of a tangent here that people will see in a moment it’s not really marketing, but channels like Glassdoor or Google Review. It’s very hard to validate and answer in the moment because we actually make that the primary place for someone to go, and we don’t even have that opportunity to interface with them. We’re saying tell us what you think publicly, and then we’re going to respond.

  • Anna

    It is daunting for sure. I’m not saying that it’s an easy task or that people shouldn’t be worried about it, but I think it’s just like Mark said. It’s about being more human, and he gives a great example of somebody who’s actually owning this really well and I won’t give it away because Mark goes into great detail about this company owner who started a company because they were so tired of the way that corporations were treating their customers. And this owner actually gets in and answers comments herself, and they don’t even know sometimes it’s her. It’s crazy how she’s really embraced this new shift.

  • Randy

    Absolutely, and these are some of the ways that Mark challenges us as I said to rethink the way that we approach marketing so that we can still participate in those two thirds, and as he said it, it’s only going to become more daunting how much of that experience is outside the control of us as the brand. So it’s more important than ever we start to figure out how to do that. Without further ado. I feel like I’ve teased this one enough. Let’s bring in Mark.

  • Anna

    Yeah. Let’s do it. Hey, Mark. Welcome back. It’s been a while since you’ve been on the Content Experience Show. Back then it was Content Pros, but welcome back. It’s so great to have you.

  • Mark

    I know. You’ve had a whole rebranding since I was here last.

  • Anna

    I know.

  • Mark

    What’s up with that?

  • Anna

    I don’t know. It’s the new Content Experience Show.

  • Mark

    Well I’m just going to have to work harder to earn my way back.

  • Anna

    Well, we are happy to have you here. So, we know you very well. Our previous listeners know you well. But for those out there who are wondering what you’ve been up to recently, or since you’ve been on, you want to give them a little update?

  • Mark

    Well, I think the short answer is I’m a teacher at heart. I think I sort of teach in everything that I do. I am an actual teacher at Rutgers University. I am an educator there, and I think whether I blog or do a podcast episode or give a speech or write a book, I’m always looking for really teachable moments. The book we’re talking about today I presume is Marketing Rebellion. That’s my seventh book, and my best book, and it’s a very interesting topic. I never have a plan to write a book. I write a book when I get curious about something, and this time I was getting curious because everywhere I went in the world, people were telling me they were stuck. They were falling behind. That their marketing wasn’t working like it used to. And I just heard it everywhere. From big companies and small companies and universities and nonprofits.

  • Mark

    My original theory was that technology was moving too fast, and people were falling behind. And that’s part of it for sure, but what I found as I got into it was that really, our customers have moved away from us, and people have been sort of locked in into marketing in a certain way without looking up to see how the world has changed. And that’s what the book is about. Sort of a wakeup call.

  • Anna

    Ever since you announced this book, I was excited about it because it’s something that we have been talking about a lot. Just, how to not be a marketer to our customers, right? And this concept of, when marketers sit down to try to market something, they forget what it was ever like to be a real person, or be a consumer, and we do these things right where over the years we’ve tried to take technology and just use the technology, but we’ve never considered how that impacts the people. So it’s funny how as technology has shifted, we’ve shifted but not in the right way.

  • Mark

    Well, we’ve-

  • Anna

    Or in some way.

  • Mark

    I almost think that the technology has shifted us. We’ve become just intoxicated with technology, and it’s not because technology is bad that I think it’s sort of become the enemy of good marketing in a way, but because technology is so good. It’s so easy. It’s so cheap. It’s so fun. And we just get stuck in dashboards, and we’re forgetting what our customers really want. We talked about well, what is this idea of human-centered marketing? And I think the first thing is to remember that we are customers, and you should look around your company and sort of see, what are the things that we’re doing that people hate? And stop that. Just stop it. And then get out and talk to your customers and find out, what are their unmet and underserved needs?

  • Mark

    And I mean, there’s just so many cries for help in our world today. Our customers, there’s a lot of things that they’re suffering with really. I mean, people are looking to belong, they’re looking for meaning, and they’re looking to be acknowledged, and they want to protect their self-interests. And these are basic human needs, and we sort of just lost that and we’re obsessed with technology instead of this human idea. I think the first step is just stop doing what people hate, find out what people need, and go do that.

  • Randy

    I couldn’t agree more, first off. One of the things I can’t take credit for coining is this idea that I hate ideas like marketing automation. Because they suggested to us that we could just automate everything, versus really being strategic about what we’re going to send people and how we’re going to interact with them. So, getting really tactical on this, I think that’s the part that marketers get overwhelmed with is we’re expected to personalize at such scale today, and we assume that technology is going to help us with that. But then on the other side we’re being told, “Well, you have to personalize every opportunity that you can.” So, where have you seen a company find that balance between the two? The harmony between the need to automate at scale and achieve scale, but the ability to still connect in a meaningful way. Is there a company that you look at and say, “These guys are doing that well?”

  • Mark

    Yeah, there’s a lot of case studies that I featured in the book that really are inspiring, but first I want to go back to this idea of personalization because I think what a lot of people misunderstand is they confuse personalization with personal. I’ll give you an example. One of my pain points is LinkedIn spam. It’s a hot button for me. I just can’t stand it.

  • Anna

    It’s the worst.

  • Mark

    I can’t stand it when people try to turn this pretty nice, useful community into some cheap sales opportunity. So the other day some guy wrote me a note, and he said, “Well, Mark. I see that you’re in marketing, and I think it’s time for you to have a personal branding overhaul.” Now, in some ways, that involved some sort of personalization because he knows I’m in marketing. He had my name. But it’s not personal. If it was personal he’d know I wrote a book on personal branding. I don’t need a personal branding overhaul. In fact dude, you need a personal branding overhaul. So that’s the difference between personalization and personal. It’s easy and almost automatic to personalize something. With just a little bit of effort, he could’ve found very easily where I am with my personal brand, and see that I wrote a book.

  • Mark

    Now in terms of a case study, one of my favorite companies right now is Glossier. Glossier I think represents all the great human-centered values that I talk about in the book. It’s a cosmetics and skincare company founded by Emily Weiss, and Emily was a blogger. She was sort of a fashion and beauty blogger, and through the blog she found out what people hated. Not just about products, but about how they were treated by big established brands like L’Oréal, and she decided it was time to create a company that didn’t talk down to people. That really acted like a friend. So she created Glossier, and everything she does is just so, so amazing.

  • Mark

    One of the ideas in the book is that the customer is the marketer, and everything she does puts that at its center. She does no advertising. All of her sales are coming from word of mouth. When she sends her products, she sends them in a way so that they’re very Instagram-able and very conversational. She engages. The whole company engages with people on social media. They have different contests and they use different hashtags. The people who are featured as the models on their website are their customers. These are the people that they’re engaging with. Emily herself gets down into the comments and gets down into the reviews and engages with people personally. Sometimes they don’t even know she’s the founder of the company.

  • Mark

    And so the thing that inspires me is young people like Emily. They look at traditional marketing, how we interrupt people, how we annoy people, and they say, “Why would you do that?” I mean, they know how to do it I think instinctively because they know how to treat each other well on the web and how to respect each other on the Web, and they know how they like to be treated so it sort of comes as a second nature. I think larger companies, established marketers can learn a lot by watching some of these young companies come up and see how they treat their customers.

  • Anna

    Yeah, I agree. I’ve never used Glossier but I love what they’re doing. I love their approach. I think going with what you were saying about the customer is the marketer, my jaw actually dropped when you mentioned in Marketing Rebellion how two thirds of marketing is out of our control. Because of things like customer sharing and reviews and comments and word of mouth, and we spend so much time and energy trying to just push messages at people versus, you know, Glossier. I mean the owner is answering comments. It’s insane. That’s being human. Not just pushing messages at people. It’s crazy that two thirds of the marketing is out of our control.

  • Mark

    Well, and the thing that’s fascinating to me. A lot of marketing leaders today are kind of my age. They’re sort of in their 50s. Whenever you’re in your 50s, those are typically the people who are at the top of the company, and when I was cutting my teeth in marketing, it wasn’t two thirds out of our control. It was 90% in our control. Because we didn’t have the internet, and we didn’t have social media, and for a consumer to be aware of a brand and to learn about a brand, you sort of needed advertising. You needed advertising. You needed PR. You needed marketing messaging.

  • Mark

    In those days, the brand was what we told you. Because that’s the only choice you had. Today, as you said, if two thirds of our marketing is occurring without us, the brand is what people are telling each other. And we don’t have a choice. We have to understand that because by 2025, it’s not going to be two thirds out of our control. It’s going to be 90% is out of our control, because as more and more digital natives take over the conversation, then that’s where the world is going to go, and so we do not have a choice. We have got to understand that it takes a new mindset. It takes really reimagining marketing.

  • Mark

    There was a point when I was writing this book and looking at research and statistics that have been around for a while. This particular statistic is a well known statistic from McKinsey. Very seminal research they did looking at hundreds of thousands of customer journeys, and there was a point as I immersed myself in this research I literally paused and almost lost my breath and thought, “I don’t know what it means to be a marketer today.” All these things that I’ve held onto, we’ve all held onto, are going away, and we have to understand, how do we get invited to that two thirds? We can’t buy our way in like we used to, and it suggests an entirely new mindset, an entirely new approach. That’s why I had some fear writing this book, because it is provocative. I mean it’s basically telling a lot of people, “You got to take a close look at what you’re doing, because it’s probably not working.”

  • Mark

    Here’s the thing that’s been amazing to me. The book has been very passionately embraced, and what most people say is, “You know, I knew this was happening. I could see this happening. I just couldn’t identify it. I couldn’t name it. You named it, and you sort of liberated us to do the right thing and pursue a new path.” So it’s so far, so good.

  • Randy

    That’s great, Mark. I want to dig in a little bit more on that and what comes next, as you said, as we kind of either give up control, or try and keep a bit of that control, but we’re going to do that right after we take a short break. Listen from some of our sponsors, and we will be back with Mark Schaefer on the Conex Podcast.

  • Jay

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  • Randy

    Alright Mark, so I’m intrigued. I think a lot of our listeners are already intrigued about this marketing rebellion and what this means in terms of the control of our audience versus the desire for us to control, and I find as a marketer I’m probably trying to control people way too much. I think a lot of us, we even look at this buyer journey that we now hear is so complex, so many touch points, and we just try and touch people more and more and more, right?

  • Mark

    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

  • Randy

    Because the idea, I always laugh at it. Marketers can all of a sudden justify every bit of spend because it’s a complex journey, so we should just spend more. What is your recommendation? Is it that we need to try and touch people more, which is just scary? Or is it take more of a sidestep and let people engage and then engage with them when that happens? What is the right balance here to nail this new world?

  • Mark

    Well that’s an extremely good question, a very interesting question, and I don’t think there’s a linear path. One of the things I talk about early in the book is that I am not telling anybody what to do. The book is sort of a wakeup call to say, “Here’s where the world is and here’s a map of the options,” and you really need to sort of pick and choose the plan that feels right for your business. One of the things I talk about is how advertising and loyalty is in decline, but not everywhere and not all the time. I think a good place for businesses to start to think about this world in a new way is, when you and I were growing up in business and we thought about marketing and mass marketing and controlling the message and getting the message out there, we thought about this mass audience, and we broadcast to this mass audience with our tightly curated and crafted messages.

  • Mark

    Well today, a better way to look at things and to start getting into this new mindset is that through technology, people have the opportunity to self-select into like-minded islands. So the listeners of this podcast are a like-minded island. They’re using technology to organize in a certain way. A Facebook group. A LinkedIn group. A Snapchat audience. There are thousands and thousands of different ways that people can self-organize. Into people who love the Toronto Raptors. People who love kayaking. People who love cats. People who love mountain biking, or cooking, or whatever they love.

  • Mark

    And marketers sort of think about, “Well, if I could just get onto those islands I know I could sell my stuff,” but it’s literally like an island of family and friends, and the people don’t want businesses there. They’re rejecting our advertising. The implementation of ad blockers is the largest protest in human history. They’re basically saying, “Stop it, stop it, stop it,” and the ad industry’s response is, “Let’s find a way to get around this and show them ads.” Now how stupid is that? People are making a statement, “I don’t want to see your ads,” and the industry’s response is, “We’re going to show you more ads.” That’s the old way of thinking about it.

  • Mark

    Every consumer rebellion, I talk about it in the book. The consumers have been rebelling against annoying marketing and advertising for a hundred years, and every time they have rebelled, they win. I thought it was poignant that the first television remote was invented in 1950. As soon as we had TV ads, people wanted to get around them, and so that’s the mindset that we’ve got to adopt to today. They’re going to win eventually.

  • Randy

    It’s interesting. As you’re describing all of these, I wonder if there’s an element of us getting lazy as marketers. Right?

  • Mark

    Oh, absolutely.

  • Randy

    Because I remember. I’m thinking about certain channels. Like, remember the early days of going to … Not early days, but remember 15 years ago going to a movie when they started to introduce not just the trailer, but the commercial before? And they were amazing. It was basically like they were going to produce a little mini movie before, and you’d love them. I remember Coca-Cola did some great ads.

  • Mark

    Yeah. Great stories.

  • Randy

    Before I saw Home Alone probably. Right? That’s how long ago it was. Now I’m like, “Okay, well I better come 20 minutes late to the movie.” And then, same thing happened on Facebook. A channel that I think of right now that I actually enjoy the advertising is still Instagram. I think that they’ve done a good job at making it feel natural, make it feel aligned, and I actually find myself buying things. But it’s probably just a matter of time til we get lazy on that channel, or it gets flooded, and now that value is no longer there or the connection is no longer there.

  • Mark

    I think Randy that’s an extremely important point that’s part of this new mindset that we sort of have this tendency in business to take the path of least resistance, the laziest path. And one of the things I concluded as I was writing this book is that the days of the marketing easy button are over. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and really connect in new ways, and in meaningful ways. And again, I’m never prescriptive in the book, but you’re exactly right is that most of the problems we have is because we’re lazy. We can buy a million email addresses for $9.99, and if just one person responds and buys, we’ve more than paid for it, but we’ve spammed 999,000 people, and that’s where we’ve gotten ourselves into trouble.

  • Anna

    One of the things I can absolutely see marketers being resistant to is obviously the way that this is going. It’s fragmenting. It’s different channels that we don’t own and control. Again, coming back into the element of control. Measurement. Now all of a sudden, measurement is murky at best, right?

  • Mark

    Yeah. Yeah.

  • Anna

    Because it used to be we have our website and we have our transactions and we have our clear goals and objectives outlined in Google Analytics, and now it’s like, well, what do you mean we can’t have access to that Facebook data? What do you mean we don’t know really how to measure Instagram stories or Facebook stories? And it’s just this shattered, fragmented world where now we don’t really know what’s happening with the consumer, and I think that’s scaring a lot of people too.

  • Mark

    It’s scary, and it’s a big concern of mine because it represents a huge obstacle to change and a huge obstacle to adopting some of these new techniques. One of the things that I think Jay Baer and I, we do these intellectual dances around each other. We’re always kind of swirling around each other thinking in similar ways, and his book about word of mouth marketing is a great example.

  • Mark

    To a certain degree, word of mouth marketing takes a leap of faith. True word of mouth marketing takes a leap of faith. It is not easy to measure experiential marketing. It’s a huge trend right now. It’s very difficult to measure. Influencer marketing. If you’re still one of those people out there rolling their eyes about influencer marketing, come on. Wake up. It’s real. It works. And sure, there’s going to be some problems and there’s going to be some controversy, but that’s our world. Right? You look anywhere and you’re going to find people trying to corrupt things, but the long term trend is, it works. But it’s harder to measure, and one of the ways we’re locked into the marketing that doesn’t work is because at least we can measure it. It’s easy to measure a like or a mention or a share or a click.

  • Mark

    But we’ve got to start experimenting. We’ve got to start moving and trying some of these new things, because it’s a huge concern of mine. It’s going to take real leadership. It’s going to take some courage to move, but the best companies, the best marketing leaders, the best managed companies, we will be seeing them make those moves, and if you can’t break that paradigm you’ll be left behind.

  • Anna

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Mark

    I’m glad.

  • Anna

    I know. Also-

  • Mark

    That makes me feel good.

  • Anna

    Everybody give up your vanity metrics, and measure things that matter. But Mark, I could talk to you all day about pretty much everything including Marketing Rebellion, but thank you so much for being on. It was really a treat to have you back.

  • Mark

    We’re over already?

  • Anna

    I know.

  • Mark

    Oh, we were just getting started.

  • Anna

    Let’s not make it another four years before you’re back.

  • Randy

    But we’ve always got a little bit of extra time though. Why don’t we keep him around for those personal questions, Anna?

  • Anna

    Well of course.

  • Randy

    Like, you know, behind the scenes with Mark.

  • Anna

    Oh yeah. No, I mean true to form, true to the book. We got to know Mark as a marketer and an author, and now we’re going to get to know him as a human. But before we do sign off, Mark, you have lots of different places that everybody can find you. Obviously, BusinessGrow.com, your amazing blog. They can pick up one of your books. Either Known, the latest Marketing Rebellion, the Most Human Company Wins. Anyplace else that they can find you, follow you?

  • Mark

    Well I think really if you could remember Businesses Grow then you can find my blog, my podcast, my books. Lots of free resources. All my social media connections. Nobody can spell Schaefer, so that’s why Schaefer.com was never an option. Businesses Grow. I figured that’s something people could remember and spell, so that’s where you can find everything about me.

  • Anna

    Businesses Grow is a fabulous URL and I feel like that’s one that you’re lucky you snagged that early, because there’s no way that would be available now. Perfect. Alright so everybody, go follow Mark. Go check him out, and then in the meantime we’re going to get to know him on the human side, so we’ll be right back and Randy will have some fun questions for Mark.

  • Anna

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  • Randy

    Okay Mark, so how many books is this now? Is this seven?

  • Mark

    This is my seventh book.

  • Randy

    Seventh book, and it’s amazing. I mean, a lot of these books are focused around marketing, which is obviously a passion for you and you’ve built a career and a following as we said under BusinessesGrow.com, but let’s say you were to write an eighth book, because you could retire one day. By that point it’s probably twelfth book, but let’s just say it was the eighth book and it had nothing to do with marketing but maybe a side passion that you had. What would that book be about, and if you were to have to interview people to come up with that book who would be one of your idols that you would’ve interviewed? So if you were a football fan maybe it’s Joe Montana. What would the topic be, and who would be your first interview?

  • Mark

    I could kind of answer the question with one name. I think my objective, I’d want to be the boy Brené Brown.

  • Randy

    Okay.

  • Mark

    I love Brené Brown.

  • Randy

    My wife is in the same pocket as you right now. She’s aiming to watch her Netflix stuff and everything.

  • Mark

    Right, but I think what I love about Brené is that she’s achieved her status in such an authentic way, and her work is based on research, which I admire. I mean, that’s what I try to do as well. But she’s real, and she’s funny, and she swears when she wants to swear. She’s a Texan in her heart, but she’s a great intellect and she just sets an amazing example. I am sort of moving in that direction because I’m looking into the last third of my life and I don’t have as much room for error as you guys do. Whenever you’re in your 30s or your 40s, you can still play around. Once you’re in your 50s, the decisions become a little more … you gotta commit a little bit more. People listen to me and they believe me, and I think I have an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. And I do now. It’s important for me to set an example and to show that you can be a principled leader and lift people up and not be catty and slimy and toxic like the rest of them. I want to show that you can be a different way. So I would love the opportunity to be the boy Brené.

  • Randy

    I like it.

  • Mark

    I want to connect to people the way she does.

  • Randy

    I like it. That’s great. Well it sounds like people have some work to do. If they want to get that same inspiration, the first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to read Marketing Rebellion. They’re going to get motivated. They’re going to start to get, I think, more human which is a lot aligned with the type of writing and inspiration that you’re pushing towards, and you’ve made a great step in that direction.

  • Mark

    Thank you. That actually means a lot to me Randy. It really does.

  • Randy

    Absolutely.

  • Mark

    I hope people see it as a book of hope and a positive book. It is called “Rebellion,” but then I say, “The most human company wins.” And it has peace signs on the front.

  • Randy

    Exactly. It is very friendly. But it is a challenge, and that’s what marketers need from time to time. So Mark I thank you for doing that for marketers and doing that with Anna and I today. This has been a great episode. If you’ve enjoyed listening to Mark giving you all the places to go, check the show notes. We’ll make sure you have all the URLs to access his site, get all of his passbooks, and those books that are coming down the line for sure including the one where he becomes more human than ever. Until next time, I’m Randy Frisch. On behalf of Anna Hrach and Uberflip and Convince & Convert, respectively, thanks for joining us. Until next time, thanks so much for tuning in.

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