Survey Reality Check

What are you asking in your customer service survey?

They say the NFL is a copycat league. Fashion is a copycat culture. Even businesses tend to copy what other successful companies do. So maybe it’s just human nature. Such is the way with customer surveys. There seems to be only two things on marketers’ minds these days:

  • “How likely are you to recommend us?” and
  • “How likely are you to refer us to a friend (or associate)?”

These are good questions. But why is everyone asking that same question?

Are You on the Right Track?

A marketing guru friend of mine said that ‘willingness to refer’ is the most meaningful question in market research because it captures how a customer really feels about the product, brand or company. He compared it to the political question “Do you think the country is on the right track?” That’s a good question because it reflects how the respondent feels overall about the country without getting into the weeds. It’s like an amalgamation of all the different variables into one overall view. The “refer” question is supposed to do the same thing. If you are willing to refer a company or product, it means you have an overall very high trust and probably a great experience with the company or product.

My guru friend told me that about a dozen years ago. I guess his wisdom spread, because now it seems to be the only question marketers can ask.

“Everybody Gives Me a Ten”

I recently purchased a new smartphone and had to return to the store to get a few questions answered. In between these two visits, I received a survey. I decided to take the survey because the young man who helped me was excellent. For working at one of the big, bad cell carrier corporate stores, he was surprisingly helpful (yes, surprisingly… the cell store is just short of the DMV when it comes to long waits and poor service). I wanted to take the survey specifically to give good marks to the young man who did such a great job for me.

The survey started with the question: “How likely are you to refer (company)?” I answered zero. I am not likely to refer the company. There are several reasons:

  1. Although Andrew was very helpful, I’ve had enough less than satisfying experiences with the company that I wouldn’t endorse them to a friend or associate.
  2. I only refer companies that I KNOW are reliable and trustworthy all the time. I don’t have that confidence with the cell company.

I went on in the survey to respond positively about the experience and the salesperson. In fact, I took the time to explain that the salesperson did a great job, but I wasn’t willing to refer because of past bad experiences.

When I went to the store the second time, I asked if the same person was there who helped me the first visit. He was. He helped me, and I told him I took the survey.

He responded, “Yeah, my boss called me in to review it. It’s the first time I haven’t gotten a 10 on the likely to refer.”

He went on to say that the other comments I made about his service were appreciated and his boss was okay with it. However, the “willingness to refer” question is the one that the company uses in evaluating the associates. And I was the first person who didn’t give him a 10.

The lesson: that question is useless (no one should get a ’10’ on every survey…no one), it isn’t actionable data.

Why Not Ask Things That Matter to Customers?

You as a marketer may want to know the overall feeling of the customer and be tempted to ask the “refer” question. Microsoft did when Powerpoint asked me in a pop-up “How likely are you to recommend Powerpoint to a friend or colleague?” Really? I answered “1 – not likely at all.”

In what circumstances am I going to recommend Powerpoint? What question is a friend going to ask that makes me think “You know what, I should recommend Powerpoint!” Who doesn’t know about Powerpoint? Does my answering this question really give Microsoft data that helps them better understand how to serve their customers?

How about asking “What is one suggestion that would make your use of Powerpoint better/easier/more complete?” OR “What is the most frustrating thing about Powerpoint that we could improve?” Those (or countless other) questions could inform a product improvement.

Don’t Copycat… Find Out What Your Customers Really Think

Market research and customer satisfaction surveys can yield excellent data. Ask questions that matter… don’t just copy what others do. Look at what competitors or market leaders are doing, but think about what really matters to your customers. If you only had one question to ask a customer, would it really be “How likely are you to refer us?”

Consider a question about better functionality. Or a question that asks for a complaint. Maybe a question that asks if they’d buy again from your company. The question for your company should be your own. Don’t copycat.

Thank you for reading this blog… How likely are you to recommend it? 🙂

If you’d like to discuss your market research plans, contact us.

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The One Thing

marketing tip, the one thingI am often asked, “What’s the one thing I should be doing to market my business?” My response is that there is no “one thing” in marketing.

Typically, this comes from business owners who are rightly looking to maximize their return on marketing investment, but are wrongly looking for a panacea. The “one thing” they seek is an idea into which they can put a dollar and get a marketing return of thousands… or more.

Of course that “one thing” doesn’t exist. Over the last couple years, Social Media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) were popular “one things”. They are important, but alone, they will not solve the marketing puzzle. However, this quest by business owners and entrepreneurs isn’t squelched that easily. So, here is truly, truly the “one thing” every business should do: Plan.

Yes, Really… A Marketing Plan

I know, I know… it’s not cool. It’s not hip. The kids aren’t doing it in London. However, a serious business will have a marketing plan. It can be one page, but you need a plan. That is the one thing that will:

Control Costs –By planning your marketing year, just like you would other areas of your business, you avoid the one off purchases. For example, when you decide to go to a trade show or event a week before it opens. That leads to rushed purchases at the tactical level…which can run afoul of your budget. The plan also can be the beginning of a real, accurate marketing budget for the year (ask me how).

Create Consistency – The biggest issue I see with the marketing of most businesses is a lack of consistency. A plan makes you go in market consistently. Whether advertising, email, direct mail, selling… only a plan and a schedule for that plan keeps a business focused on delivering the value proposition consistently.

Lead to Understanding – The power of planning is doing. I have worked with many businesses that did not understand how powerful marketing is at leading to sales (I know…seems odd). When you work a marketing plan for a year, or even a few months, you suddenly see results… wow! like magic! You start to get results and that helps build understanding of what messages and offers bring in leads, prospects, and sales. That initial plan, well executed, uncovers new ideas, bigger plans, and better results.

The One Thing

So, yes, the one thing is to plan. If you need help developing a simple marketing plan and implementing it consistently across your organization, Contact us.

Check back regularly for the latest Marketing Tip, or email us to be emailed the tips. Or if you’re on Twitter, follow us to get the tips @StephenLEckert.


This is a republish of this blog (originally published 1/1/13). A new year, same answer… have a plan.
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Some of the Top YouTube Ads Last Month

Check out these youtube ads that were rated most popular on YouTube in October. Read the whole list on Marketing Week.

Google Pixel 2: A New Phone and Creative

Apple Watch and Roll

Lancome Secret Passage

Nintendo Musical Production

 

Very creative, very visual, no doubt why they were so popular and highly rated. Thinking about an online (or broadcast) video? Contact us.

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Content Marketing: When is Too Much?

Always love the Marketoonist, who can capture complex issues into a single cartoonimage. Click here to see his take on Content Marketing – several comics and a short blog that sites new research about content. His point is well taken – brands can be so taken with providing content that it ends up:

  • Being more content than the prospect (or customer) can consume;
  • Publish content that is not relevant or just plain junk;
  • Can open up the consumer to ideas that lead away from the sale, or
  • Lose focus on the main thing (providing the customer with what they need/want).

That is the part that is often missed. Yes, in the Information Age content is king. Content is critical to engage and draw prospects into the sales funnel. However, selling is fundamentally changing… because buying is fundamentally changing.

Buyers Choice

Not only does the consumer want what they want when they want it (and how they want it). They want to receive information about their proposed purchase as they need it. So marketers and brands need to provide content that engages, educates and draws the buyer closer to the sale. However, the buyer’s steps to the purchase may be very different than what the selling organization considers the steps in the sales funnel.

Price First Please

Price may not be the deciding factor in a purchase. Still it is not uncommon for that to be the first question (or click) about a potential purchase. Knowing the pricing up front may be a sign of budget concerns (“If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it…”), but it could also be a way of determining value. If the buyer knows the price up front (and from multiple vendors), it is easier to determine value as more is learned about the product.

Traditional selling techniques say marketers must use value to move the prospect closer to the sale. Uncover pain, show how the product solves the pain, show how good it feels to have the pain gone… and POOF!, price no longer matters.

Intelligent, informed buyers are simply reverse engineering that process – price is the bar, now the seller is required to build value to surpass that bar.

Providing Relevant Content

So here are a few tips when considering a Content Marketing strategy:

  • Find out what content is helpful and when it is needed – use research and data to understand what information is helpful to the buyer at each step of the buying process;
  • Create content that is meaningful to the buyer at each step – the first goal is to create content that answers the number one question or objection at each step of the process:
  • Make content readily available so the prospect can find it when they need/want it – that may mean repackaging content in varying forms and using various media to deliver messages;
  • Don’t assume inbound marketing is going to flow like a slide – prospects will jump on and off the sales process… because it is their buying process;

And finally: content must be relevant; no content for the sake of having content! Unlike more cowbell, you can have too much content!

Need help developing your content marketing plan? Contact us for a consultation.

SLEckert

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Using Various Video Strategies

video marketingGreat article published in Marketing Week about the various forms of video available to marketers: from long form story telling to Snapchat to live video streaming. The tools are there, but is your strategy? Read the article, and contact us if you need help determining how best to use video to promote your brand or product.

SLEckert

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TV Ads Work

A Study that Reinforces What You Know… Opinion About Media “Rubs Off” on Brands with Advertisements During that Media

A recent study published by Thinkbox TV, a British firm that promotes commercial programming, shows that brands that sponsor TV programs create an affinity with the people who watch those programs. That may not seem all that incredible to read, but a tv advertisementsgood reminder that even in the age of “all things digital”, it is still good content that lets advertisers “borrow interest”.  Even more in the age of binge-watching. Some of the findings from the report:

  • the strong positive affinity viewers have with favorite programming “rubs off” on advertisers and sponsors,
  • program viewers are far more likely to recommend a sponsoring brand than those who do not associate a brand with a particular program,
  • advertising on programming accelerates how quickly brand awareness is achieved… especially for new brands.

The report suggests that matching brand personality and program personality are key to getting the best results from ads and sponsorships. Again, that is more likely reinforcing your thinking rather than making a light bulb go off for the first time.

How to Find the Right Programming

The harder part is finding the right media on which to place your ads. As the study suggests, media must connect with your target audience and the ideas that matter to them. Just putting an ad on any program, or worse, on a program that is contrary to your brand’s positioning and attributes, may not help your awareness, or sales. (We’re assuming smaller brands which cannot blanket the media world with their message.)

Choosing the right media can be outsourced to a professional (contact me!), and programmatic advertising is available with the promise to deliver exactly the right audience… but there are issues with programmatic. Take the time to consider the media that is proposed to you. Ask “Who watches/listens/reads it… and why?”

Where to Sponsor Programming

The second challenge is deciding where to place the ads. With the disruption of media between broadcast, cable, online viewing, subscription services like Hulu, digital radio, etc., it becomes much more difficult than ever to place advertising.

Testing the market is the best way to find out how your ads deliver – both content/creative and placement. For smaller advertisers this may seem daunting, but the bottomline is the ultimate result… does any ad program you run get tangible results (i.e. sales). By running limited ad buys with specific calls to action/offers to different response queues (different emails, web pages, even phone numbers), even a small advertiser can test variables of placement, creative and response channel.

If you want to discuss how to develop your media into a more targeted and tracked campaign, contact me. We can discuss your situation and develop a workable plan.

SLEckert

 

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Content Marketing and the Sales Process

Content Marketing is defined as

a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. (Google)

I like to think of it this way: Content Marketing delivers information to suspects and prospects. Information that is designed to move them closer to the buy decision. Or, to customers, to reinforce their good decision (to buy from you) and move them towards another sale, cross sale or up sale.

Guide, Content, Video, Photos, Publish, News, Customers, Content Marketing, Creation, White Paper, Material, Infographics, Interest, Articles, Success, Sharing, AudienceThe Problem with Content

Many consider content marketing too ethereal. That it doesn’t focus on the main selling points that we want prospects to hear or read. That it doesn’t talk about our product, its features and benefits! Content marketing can be downright painful for a sales-oriented person. Why would we spend time, energy, space and money on putting out information that doesn’t directly communicate the product we want prospects to buy?

That is a good argument. It is similar to those who don’t believe awareness advertising is money well spent. That building awareness is something for big brands and consumer packaged goods companies. Many don’t want to be in the business of building brand recognition… they want to sell product. And they are absolutely right.

However, content marketing does have an important role to play in helping sell. That role is not only at the very beginning of the funnel (creating awareness and interest), but can be utilized throughout the sales process and even after the sale.

Redefining Content Marketing

What if we redefined content marketing as a sales support tactic? In doing so our source for content would start with the sales cycle or the steps in the sales process. Consider your sales cycle or funnel. You have certain steps along the way to the sale: identification, qualification, specification, proposal, negotiation, close.

Each of these steps has content marketing messages “built in” to them. A powerful way to develop content ideas is simply to list the steps of your sales process (if you don’t have these defined, contact me, I can help). Then ask the question, “If you could deliver three messages, concepts, ideas to prospects at this step in the process, what would they be?” If you have six steps defined in your process, this exercise will result in 18 topics for content articles. These messages can be delivered through a variety of means.Lead, Prospect, Proposal, Sale

Delivering Your Content

Typically, when you read about content marketing, it revolves around inbound marketing elemetns: the website and social media. The interesting content you develop is supposed to interest and engage people (suspects – people who may be prospects) and draw them to your company for more information.

However, the content we develop in support of our sales cycle can be used on the website and social media AND through outbound and direct selling marketing channels. It’s a mistake for the content team to be focused solely on inbound marketing.

If we develop our content first from a sales support perspective, then that should be our first use of it. Do we do a good job during the sales process of over communicating (yes, OVER communicating) the value proposition, brand attributes and features/benefits of our products and company?

For instance: Does an email (or if you are old school, a handwritten note) go out after a sales call with a thank you for the meeting? Such an email could include links to the website content appropriate to that step in the sales prospect:

Based on our conversation, I thought of a couple additional details that may be useful information:
• How our engineering specification process ensures you get the exact fit product. (this line would be a link to web content)
• Ways our return policy protects you from buying the wrong item. (this line would be a link to web content)

The examples would change based on the type of your business, but the bottomline is that you can build your content marketing messages out of your sales process. The messages will be appropriate and useful as web and social media content (if shaped in the right context). The content is also useful for direct delivery to the prospect (or customer) at each step of the sales process.

Deliver the Whole Package

Many companies I talk with struggle to develop content. This is one method to create a framework for creating content that will satisfy the sales manager and the marketing communications team. It permits a well rounded, 360 perspective and use of content. It ensures that the message is consistent and purposeful.

If you need help planning your marketing or your content development processes, we can help. Contact us to discuss.

SLEckert

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PR Tips for a Young (ANY) Marketer

Press Release Tips

I recently had opportunity to work with a marketing student on a press release. He did a good job writing a release for class (but using a real subject, real news, utilized by a client of mine). Here are some tips I passed along to him. Maybe they will be a help to you, as well.Press Release Tips

Tip 1: Make sure the first paragraph tells the whole, factual story.

I tightened up the introduction paragraph. One of the things to remember about releases is that with smaller publications and mass online distribution – often publications and websites will pick up the release exactly as submitted. Most likely the first paragraph (which is supposed to be the who, what, when, where, why… do they still teach that simplicity still?), so I combined your first and second paragraph. Larger publications will rewrite or use parts to fit a larger story they may be writing.

Tip 2: Use a quote to add more depth and explanation to the news story.

The quote from the business owner was great. This permits more “editorial” comment on the “news” of the release. The quote can add color commentary, add dimension to the news story, and best of all, tie the current news to larger mission/strategy of the organization.

Tip 3: After telling the news story, conclude with a paragraph that builds the branding or provides value proposition.

I usually add a standard last paragraph in a release about the company, which differs from the boilerplate company description added after the end of the release content. I do this because often the boilerplate is cut or ignored, but a paragraph in the release itself may get read.

Tip 4: Respect reporters time, but give them some information that could help THEIR job.

One other tip as you move forward in your work in PR – reporters and editors at publications that do “real” reporting (unlike online content grabbers and small publications as mentioned above); reporters are looking to investigate and report. So often, less is better. With some reporters, I may attach a release, but will also in the email body l put just a hint of the story that may entice them to investigate further. I know they are busy, and probably won’t read the release (and they probably are reading their email on their phone – tough to read an attachment). I want to tee up their professional curiosity. Here’s an example:

Subject: Expansion at XYZ Company

Sue,

Attached is a release about expansion at XYZ. Really good prospects in ABC sector. Let me know if you’re working stories on which we could be of help.

Best,
SLE

I’m hoping the reporter asks the question – what prospects are opening up in the ABC sector? Would my readers find that opportunity of interest? And I offered myself and the company as a resource for other stories.

The key to PR success:

  • Only submit information that is actually news
  • Think long-term – you want to build trust with reporters and editors – its an ongoing conversation
  • Follow the rules, but still go old school – meaning do online distribution (PR Newswire or other online distribution), follow publication rules (submit via their news submission form online for example or only submit stories with a photo – that’s actually a rule some publications), but go old school too: send it directly to a list of reporters and editors (using the tease method) and even… shocking… follow up with a phone call to see if they have any questions.

Hope this helps on your marketing journey. May all your PR be genius!

SLEckert

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Predictions for Marketing 2017

There is One Thing You Can Definitely Count On

Just like every January:Genius

  • People make wild predictions.
  • New things will happen.
  • Mobile will get more mobile.
  • Websites and apps will have more opportunities to put your message in front of people.
  • Someone will come up with the next “it” marketing catchphrase and trick.

Book it. It’s a sure bet… Yeah, right.

There is (and never will be) one “silver bullet” for marketing. Although people will think there is. Or at least hope there is… We want to find the one thing that we can do that costs $1 and results in $1M in sales.

It doesn’t exist.

Still I will make a predication that is a sure bet for 2017: the companies that operate their marketing and sales strategy out of a written marketing plan, tactic map and content calendar will be the most successful at marketing in 2017. 

That is a sure bet. Because it is a sure bet every year. Here’s why:

A plan defines clearly what you’re trying to do.

If you’ve ever been in a company, you’ve probably heard someone say, “I’m not sure what management (the boss, the owner, insert colloquialism here) is doing.” That is often true of marketing and sales, as management bounces from one idea to the next. A plan, when implemented and managed, lets everyone know what we’re doing:

  • Grow sales by 10%
  • Develop a new prospect lead system
  • Launch two new products
  • Successfully cross sell 50% of our current customers
  • Launch a new website… etc.

Whatever the initiative, from a simple marcom tactic (we will create and distribute 6 press releases) to a major undertaking (we will launch a new product), it will be better understood in a plan that is mapped and put on a calendar. It helps us stay on task as an organization and as individuals.

A plan gets things done.

No, the plan doesn’t do the work, but when a plan, map and calendar are developed all of a sudden everyone know what needs to be done… and when. Managers put resources towards completing the planned tasks. Staff discuss what needs to be done and who, how and what will be done to meet the plan. When we don’t manage out of a plan, the urgent tasks of the work day, week and month means marketing and sales activity deadlines are missed or forgotten all together.

The classic example is the newsletter (printed or emailed). Issue one is terrific. Issue two is pretty good. Issue three never happens. Why? There was no plan for content, who would do the work and a calendar deadline for production/distribution. Everyone throws their best stuff at issue one, issue two gets the rest and we’re far too busy to worry about issue three. And so it goes with marketing and sales when there is no plan, map and schedule.

A plan creates integration.

Should a marketing plan be developed, it will include tentacles that reach into every department of the company. New products mean operations and manufacturing need to know when launch dates will be. Promotions mean accounting has to have a budget. Sales support means marketing and sales will need to talk and coordinate prospect and customer contact. The marketing plan, which should naturally evolve out of the business and financial goals and plan of the organization, will help drive the organization out of its silos and into meaningful work towards fulfilling the mission of the company.

A plan creates accountability.

When no plan exists, it’s easy for everyone to work in a silo and do all the right things for their department or division. Yet that could be a cross purposes with the mission, goals and strategy of management and the activities of other departments. When a plan exists, activities and budgets all must be bounced off the plan: “Is this task something that will help us meet the plan?” A plan then naturally creates a feedback loop to the plan manager (in most cases for small organizations the business owner). The different people and departments of a company report in on how they are doing towards fulfilling the plan. If it doesn’t happen, the plan manager can drive accountability by requiring updates and status reports against the plan and calendar.

A plan eliminates surprises.

Too many times I receive calls stating that “We need a show booth.” Or “We need a brochure.” The reason for the call? The show is next week. Or Sales got an important appointment scheduled and need something to give the prospect.

No one likes surprises at work. They are fun for birthdays, but not when the financial well being of a company, or the future work situation of staff are at stake. By developing and operating out of a plan, we can cover most (not all) of the needs that will develop in the course of the business cycle. Of course, new situations occur during a year which must be addressed. Plans must be tweaked, adjustments made. It is still better to react in the context of changing the plan than to be reacting to external stimuli.

Practice makes pattern.

This is the saying of a coach I used to assist. His goal is never perfection. No one is perfect. Practice rather creates the pattern that makes an athlete not only better at his/her sport, but also develops the pattern of how to become better. The same is true for companies: planning grows into the repeatable processes that make a company great.

Developing and delivering a consistent brand and value message will always be the best way to maximize marketing spend and effort. Consistency comes from processes. Processes come from planned activities. There are two parts of planning: 1) developing and 2) executing the plan. Start small and put your emphasis on actually delivering on the plan. The results will come.

Have a a great marketing year in 2017! 

SLEckert

Convinced your organization needs a plan but not sure where to start? Contact me, I can help!

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Video Marketing is Imperative

Or What a Soft Boiled Egg has to do with Marketing Online

Video marketing is imperative as part of an online marketing strategy. I’ve been trumpeting video for a long time. I sat in on a session featuring a Google SEO expert. He confirmed

video is one of the ways Google rates websites for good content. However, a personal example to which I think we all can relate bears out the importance of video:

One morning, I decided to make a soft-boiled egg. I’m not sure why, I just hadn’t had one in a long time. In fact, it was so long ago, I wasn’t sure how long to cook it and so I ‘googled’ it on my phone. Up popped countless links to helpful information about soft boiled eggs. 

I skipped past the couple video thumbnails listed at the top of the page, and looked for a credible source site for correctly boiling an egg. I clicked one (a major cooking magazine’s website) and began to read. 

Paragraph 1: how great soft boiled eggs taste and how easy to make. (perfect, I think, these guys know what they’re talking about)…

Paragraph 2: an allusion to Julia Child and her method for soft boiling an egg. Wait, no not an allusion, a full blown description beginning with choosing the best eggs at the market. 

And I’m GONE!
Thirty seconds or less, TMI (too much information) and not on pointe for my need. Back to Google and I click on a video thumbnail. How to make a soft boiled egg in the microwave. A minute of video later, I knew how to make a soft boiled egg in the microwave. No voiceover. Captions in a language I couldn’t read. Didn’t matter. Video showed me how.

You probably have done the same thing. I know I have for home projects, changing a car headlight, and so on… most of us have looked at a video to learn something we didn’t know.
This story points out a few things:

  1. I’m not very discriminating about soft boiled eggs. If you have the time and inclination, go for the Julia Child method. If you want it now, microwave. It was actually pretty good. (How can you mess up a soft boiled egg?)
  2. A one minute video was all I could handle in my pursuit of knowledge.
  3. I am not alone in my short attention span.

There is no doubt some people like to read. Still, given the ubiquitousness of video and the convenient video screen we all carry in our hand, pocket, briefcase or purse, video is indispensable.

So why don’t you use video in your marketing? I love to write and I love to read, but there is no doubt that video marketing is a critical part of the mix. Yes, it could be advertising, but also instructions, FAQs, tips or a video blog. In fact, I am going to start posting both written and video versions of my blog. Here’s the link to this article in video form:

If you are not sure how to do video, need help with production or content ideas, let’s talk. We’ve helped many companies use video to boost SEO, tell their brand story and sell their products.

From now on, we’ll take our own medicine and use video as well.

Want to see how to soft boil an egg in the microwave? Click here. 

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