Answering the Quantum Question in Marketing

The Quantum Question in MarketingQuantum Mechanics (physics) and marketing strategies aren’t all that different. Both require careful analysis and observation, and both need a set plan that accounts for variables. Science fascinates me; if I hadn’t ended up on the creative spectrum, I would have been a scientist, perhaps a physicist. As a self-professed “science buff,” I’ve learned that marketing and physics have four things in common when trying to predict an outcome.

For example, quantum mechanics is based upon mathematical concepts with wave functions that provide information to predict some probabilities of various positions and velocities of particles. However, even with these formulas, we can’t predict anything with certainty. Even Einstein couldn’t prove it, though he felt there had to be ‘certainty,’ and his reasoning was that “God does not just roll the dice.” There is no solid way to predict the outcome. In marketing, we can’t predict outcomes with any certainty, either. We can, however, take our cues from quantum mechanics to devise a marketing strategy that provides a better idea of what the outcome will be:

  1. Observation: Through observation, great quantitative theorems and strategies have been concluded. One fundamental rule is the principle of the true or false state. That requires stepping back and viewing the current state of affairs, then estimating the velocity (action) needed to reach the final state or goal. It’s a critical step and one that we often miss in the rush to market our businesses.
  2. Current State: This is our position (current visibility in marketplace) and velocity (the direction, speed, and influencers interacting within that space) of a physical object (brand) at a specific moment in time. Understanding the current state completely gives us a much more accurate vision of the final outcome.
  3. Random Variables: These are triggers that no one predicts, but they materialize anyway. In physics and in marketing, it is our job and focus to look for these factors and implement possible solutions, or to capitalize on them when they appear. Since they are random, it’s hard to fully prepare for these variables – but they are critical to the final outcome and one must expect their inclusion.
  4. Properties of Truth: In marketing, the properties of truth are successful results and reaching your goal. This stems from taking the time to observe the environment, the market, the audience, and the “wave functions” that are currently positioned in the spherical space (defined market). We also know the value of x, the current state and the position, differentiation, brand awareness, visibility, messaging, emotional statement of this value. We have looked ‘under the hood’ for random variables that could lift up this state or crush it as it emerges into its extended universe (marketplace). We know the numbers and statements that will factor into its eventual success and have projected paths to achieve these goals within small margins.

When you look at the strategies in quantum mechanics and marketing, you can easily see parallels concerning planning and strategizing. Of course, even in something as exact as science, a definite outcome is not guaranteed. Scientists instead carefully prepare for possible outcomes, taking the time to observe their subject, assess the current state of the subject, and factor in random variables. Your marketing should take the same approach: careful assessment and planning to achieve the desired (or at least, a somewhat predictable) outcome. It’s true that we can’t control conditions outside historical data or what we know based on our knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Here, the power of creativity leads to victory.

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Measuring Social Media Engagement – Not Just a Numbers Game

There’s no getting around it – social media needs to be a part of your marketing strategy.

Measuring Social Eng@gement - Not Just a Numbers GameExtending your brand by using different social media channels can increase sales and provide better service to both customers and prospective customers.  But measuring engagement levels from the time spent on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and your blog is difficult.  Are these and other social media channels providing the sales revenue you expected?  Or are they just stealing time away from other endeavors?

First, look at what’s working. Free and paid tools do exist to measure your social engagement and provide a clearer picture of where your time is best spent.  Take the top free tools and run with them:

  1. What’s your Klout? Perhaps the best-known social media engagement measuring stick is Klout.  It aggregates your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social media accounts to generate a “score” that measures your influence on a scale of 1 to 100.  It tells you who you’re influencing, what topics you are influential about, and what your “true reach” is.  Your Klout score also tells you your social media “style” – Specialist, Networker, Thought Leader, etc.
  2. Shorten URLs.  If you use a URL shortener like bit.ly, it automatically tracks clickthroughs.  See what engages your friends and followers enough to actually click on a link.
  3. Follow that Tweet! Use a tool like TweetReach to see where you’re being retweeted.  Enter your Twitter handle or a specific Tweet, and Tweetreach does the searching for you to see how far your Tweets went beyond your followers.
  4. Dig into your analytics. If you’re using Google Analytics, you can see where people are clicking and where your website traffic is coming from.  Are those posts really engaging?  Are they picking up traffic?

In addition to the standard, serious tools, have a little fun with your social media.  Empire Avenue measures social media engagement in a gaming environment where you buy and sell “stocks” in your and your friends’ companies.  Create a ticker, then watch your company gain (or lose!) value.  It’s also another way to engage customers as you buy and sell shares in them or their businesses.

Next, be engaging.  If your metrics are coming up short, but you have the followers and friends, it’s time to really listen to your prospects.  Do keyword searches; read comments on your (and other) blogs; read your customers’ blogs.  Thanks to the Internet, prospects are more vocal than ever, and by finding out what their needs are, you can better position your services and solutions.  For them, time is even more of a luxury than it ever was, as more customers are wearing all the hats in their business: marketing, sales, and providing their actual product or service.  Use your social media platforms to first find out what they’re saying and then respond quickly, concisely, and with information that’s relevant to them.

Relevant information can be anything from a news article to a specific solution that you provide.  Keep up with the news – set up a Google alert to deliver articles to your inbox – Tweet links or write short blog posts around the news items relevant to your business.  Remember to stay relevant, though – it’s easy to fall into the “jack of all trades – master of none” mode and engage in tangential conversations.

If you’re engaging your customers and prospects, they’re clicking on your links, replying to your Tweets, retweeting, and referring new customers.  This, in turn, leads to more sales, which you can measure separately – and you will be able to measure, based on your newfound knowledge of social media engagement.  At this point, you’re going to need support to move your business forward, pushing it to the next level.  That, essentially, will always be the best way to use your time, and you’ll be able to outsource to someone, like Eng@ge, that can continue to engage your customers and prospects meaningfully.

For more information on how Eng@ge can increase your social media engagement and drive sales, contact us.

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The Hot 5: Top Trends in the Digital Arena

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The Hot 5It’s time to fire up your marketing!

The times have changed, and it’s no longer the Gen Y set that’s using digital media. Kids use computers before they can read, grade school children use the internet to complete assignments, and not-so-tech-savvy grandparents are on Facebook. We are in the heat of the digital era!

Take advantage of some of these digital trends to capture these new prospects! Used properly, everything from Facebook to Groupon can be a natural extension of your brand. As we head toward the end of the year, keep an eye on these 5 hot companies and tools:

  1. Facebook. This is a given; more Americans have Facebook accounts than passports. Facebook allows you to use customized apps to engage your core customers. For example, CoverGirl cosmetics has created a My CoverGirl app that allows its customers to create their own CoverGirl ads, give feedback on new products, and receive free samples and coupons. Dr. Scholl’s For Her has created a similar environment for its customers, with a shoe search and “Fabulitis” quiz to show customers how they can relieve foot pain by using Dr. Scholl’s insoles.
  2. Apple iPad. First, Apple’s iPhone started appearing in hockey mom purses, not just hipster holsters. Now, with the iPad permeating the market, you’ll want to look at ways to market through apps. If you can create an app that your customers will use and position you as a thought leader, you’ll draw in more customers. For example, if you’re an interior design firm, you can commission an app that allows clients to choose different furniture and wallpaper options and see how they work together, then instantaneously email the choices to you for feedback and review. If you’re a business that relies on content, don’t just plan to repackage the content for the iPad. Think of things that would be useful for readers and customers and incorporate them into your app, like quizzes. Also keep in mind that more customers will be accessing your website through devices such as an iPad, and you’ll want to have a mobile-friendly design free of Java.
  3. Groupon. Brick and mortar companies, take note. Using Groupon or Living Social will get customers in the door and give you a chance to show off your products and services. While the copywriting used by these companies is definitely a draw, the part that excites most customers is the prospect of saving money. Even if you don’t use Groupon or Living Social, you can still take advantage of social media by posting deals to your Facebook page or on Twitter that only your fans and followers can use, borrowing Groupon’s snappy copywriting.
  4. Bing. Microsoft’s Bing search engine ended up being a surprise crowd-pleaser and converted more than a few die-hard Googlers. Keep an eye on Bing in your marketing efforts; there’s great untapped marketing potential in optimizing your website to garner higher search engine rankings. Like Google, Bing also has a sidebar for ads related to searches. Incorporate Bing into your search engine marketing efforts as you would Google.
  5. Google+. We’ve saved the newest for last. Google+ has all sorts of potential and possibilities, especially since, in its first 24 days, it signed up over 2 million users. While you can’t set up a business account on it just yet, keep an eye out for business-friendly features on this new social networking platform.

Watch these 5 hot tools. They’ll be a valuable extension for your branding and work to create relationships with customers on a whole new level.

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Top 5 Ways Brains Trump Brawn in Media Warfare

The Moms, Ready for Battle

The Moms, Ready for Battle!

Recently, I went paintballing with my son and a gaggle of 13- and 14-year-old boys. A few other brave moms enlisted for this epic battle of moms vs. teens featuring hard little pellets full of paint. As the boys egged us on and implied they’d “go easy” on us, their unparalleled confidence in their own paintballing abilities overshadowed one major shortcoming: no strategy. We headed into battle, the boys with youth, agility, and strength on their side, and us moms with sheer perseverance and years of wisdom.

Warfare usually conjures images of epic battles, swords clashing, and guns firing. While media warfare doesn’t involve heavy artillery or hand-to-hand combat, it does involve strategy, much like the paintballing expedition. Planning how to take on your opponent and claim your victory is where you win, on the battlefield or in media and marketing. While the weaponry is important, having a strategy in place ensures that you’re using your weapons to their fullest potential.

Taking our lessons from the paintball range, engage in media warfare with these 5 strategic elements:

  1. Chart your course.Use different marketing media to satisfy different goals and attain victory in building successful long-term relationships with your customers. A teen-focused company could set up a Facebook presence to engage their key demographic, while a company that needs to send out real-time updates, like a catering truck, could use Twitter to broadcast their location and embed the Twitter feed into their website.
  2. Choose partners that complement your strategy.You don’t have to enter the media and marketing battlefield alone. Team up with synergy services, products, companies that can support your growth, or extended bandwidth for resources. Each has their own strengths to bring to the fight.
  3. Flank your enemy.Sometimes going straight up the middle leaves you too exposed. What everyone else is doing may not be the right strategy for you, so either be distinguished and ambush the market – or go covert, slipping under the radar to each outpost, until you hit your target. Gotcha!
  4. Lead with your strengths, which sometimes means your head.When marketing, you can either blast an unfocused message everywhere, or you can utilize your company’s strongest benefits to convert prospective clients or remind current clients of your value. These targets can then communicate virally their great experience with you through social media or word of mouth.
  5. Measurement means nothing without a goal.A lot of people talk about measuring ROI from your marketing, but without a goal, it’s useless. Define a specific, measurable, detailed goal that you can adjust according to the successful results of your campaigns.

By the end of the day, the moms, using strategy (and some fortitude), won 4 out of 6 games, despite never having played before. The boys, expecting to splatter us with colorful paint splashes, seemed disheartened but surprisingly impressed. By combining our strengths and utilizing them in our strategy, we moms emerged victorious.

We’ll be going back for a rematch, and we fully intend to school the boys again. They learned that brains trump brawn every time when you use all your assets to their fullest potential!

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Leaving Basecamp to Reach the Summit

Every business goes through a unique lifecycle. Beginning with the exciting, fledgling startup phase and progressing through each stage, whether it’s going public, launching new offices, or introducing new product lines, another summit becomes closer. Each phase takes your business closer to the summit you’ve chosen, but at the same time, requires regrouping and courage before embarking on the next leg of the journey.

At every stage, the decision makers in any business need to stop at basecamp, whether it’s in the startup phase or initial public offering, and assess the business’s needs. Much like experienced climbers pause to rest and survey their energy levels and their supplies, you too should pause and assess your business’s branding and marketing plans before heading toward the next high point. The move from your current level – basecamp – can seem scary, and the summit can seem far off. But with some honest appraisal, you can climb the next peak, whether it’s a beginner’s climb like Mount Baker or a challenge like Mount Everest.

1. Open your mind, and realize your summit is closer than you think.

For many business decision makers, that next level seems like a far-off, scary land, and it’s certainly tempting to rest at basecamp. But what may seem like rugged terrain is perfectly climb-able, if you’re willing to take a look at your current marketing and branding strategy. What has worked so far? What hasn’t?

These marketing and branding elements are your current “climbing” supplies. When you’re assessing your current position, remember to look at your setbacks as well as successes. These, and an honest market assessment of what your competitors are doing, will become integral to the next phase of your business’s growth.

2. Envision your summit.

Where do you see your business at its next level, perhaps in the next five years? No matter what that next level is – the top of the mountain or another leg of the climb – it’s time to reassess your marketing strategy. You may need to reposition your strategy or even alter your brand to reach your next level. It’s a scary proposition, but it’s one that requires serious thought.

Take a good look at your ideal target market. What would appeal to them? Think about your current branding: your logo, tagline, marketing efforts, and even colors.

3. Realize that your summit is within reach.

Brand tweaking and marketing strategy alignment may seem intimidating. We’ve all read the stories about popular brands like Gap feeling the backlash from a logo design change, and these anecdotes, coupled with the fear of moving to a new, higher level, may make basecamp feel much more comfortable than taking a risk.

Part of reaching the summit will be committing to your new marketing plan and possible brand changes. With consistency across web and print collateral and social networking mediums, you’ll move closer by presenting a unified message to your target market.
Once you have your summit in mind, you’ll feel confident in moving to the next level with your business. Your branding and marketing strategies will play a large role in your business’s climb to the top, and even with changes, will still reflect the core benefits and features of your business.

It may seem like a tall order to leave the comfort of basecamp, but the summit is within reach. It’s all about having the courage to make those changes and getting past the fear that changes bring.

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Customer Service Branding

“Have It Your Way”

customer service branding for better customer attraction and retentionBurger King knew what they were doing when they came up with their slogan, “Have it Your Way.” Their little jingle puts customer service at the forefront by saying “You know exactly what you want, we’re here to give it to you.”

Well now, your customers can have it their way, too, when you incorporate customer service into your brand philosophy.

Beauty is On the Inside: So Flaunt it!

We are a voyeuristic society. Just look at reality TV. Whether it’s the personal lives of celebrities or following first-time homebuyers and renovators, the inside of America is being revealed.

Customers want to see your insides, too. So why not take them behind the scenes? Post a welcome video on your website and social network platforms, attach pictures to staff bios, and walk people through your company with a virtual tour.

Don’t tell people you’re the best at what you do. Prove it. Create videos and post them on your YouTube channel. How-to tutorials, product demonstrations, and before/after video montages authenticate your professional expertise.

And don’t stop there. Customers love to get involved. Ask veteran customers to post their own How-To videos. Advertise a video contest where customers can submit testimonials, product reviews/demonstrations, or company slogans/jingles. Prospects and customers can vote on their favorites.

Secrets of your Success

Nothing sells a company better than word of mouth so let your customers do the talking with message boards, surveys, and product reviews. Ask satisfied customers if they would be willing to give a testimonial, to further validate your brand. Be sure to get involved. Listen to what people have to say and join the conversation. The more involved you are, the more respect your company will receive.

Max Hager the service manager for Caron Electric, Inc. attributes his business’s success to outstanding customer service. In addition to a live, 24-hour online operator, they use customer case studies and testimonials to showcase the benefits of being one of Caron Electric’s customers.

Exclusivity

Everyone loves VIP status. Online-only specials will guarantee repeat and new customers.

Reward VIP customers with cash back or discounts on future services when they give referrals and testimonials.

Add a survey with an enticing reward on customer communications. “Call us about your experience and receive …

10% off your next order”
an entry into a $1,000 dollar shopping spree”
a free car wash.”

You get the picture. Customers are willing to go the extra mile when they feel their best interest is observed.

Update, Update, Update

Don’t forget to think up innovative ideas to give customers what they want. Burger King doesn’t stop at their slogan. They have customer incentives, memberships, games, and online activities to keep customers engaged. They even crown you king when you arrive.

Make sure your company information and projects are up-to-date across all social media platforms. People are wary of companies with outdated information and dead links.

Do your customers have it their way? Eng@ge would love to hear about YOUR customer service branding success stories! Please take a moment to like us on our Facebook page and post your videos, blog links and stories there!

Special thanks to Max Hager, Service Manager for Caron Electric, Inc. for his input and participation on this blogpost.
http://www.caronelectric.com and on Twitter @caronelectric
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The Next Step: Marketing in Social Media and Building the U Brand

5 Emotional Connections to Your Followers

Social Media Marketing can be a jungle when you first cross the threshold, but connecting with people through your brand is one of the most critical components to successful marketing. There is truly an emotional element to this interaction and understanding how to engage with the right amount of relevant content and emotional savvy separates “the wheat from the chaff” amongst marketing professionals and small businesses.

You say, “I have already established a Facebook page and a Twitter account! And I’ve even taken the next step to develop a personal blog with good visibility.” You are not someone who is just sitting back and waiting for the “magic” to happen, are you?

But after your legwork in establishing these networks, are you still worrying, “… NOTHING is happening???”. I am not getting that “increase in sales” that everyone seems to be clamoring over. Why?

Well there are potentially many reasons why it’s *NOT* happening! In order to keep things simple (and being a single mom of three, I am all about keeping things simple) I will just list some possible conditions which you might not have considered when setting up those networks.

1. People want to deal with those that are responsive and sensitive to their unique needs:

Huh? You say. I though this was a marketing blog, not a lesson in psychology. Well, put on your clinical hat because if you want to wade in the marketing waters and really be successful, you need to throw on the therapist jacket and pull up the couch too. Because it really does matter!

In your posts, have you given opportunity for your followers to respond to what you have written? Did you ask questions or find ways to get them to WANT to respond? Then once they have responded did you uniquely engage with them and address their specific needs or interests?

You say this takes time. Yeah it sure does… but the pay off is big, and if you do it right, you’ll enjoy the ripple effect in return for your efforts. One great response to one person can be seen by dozens, hundreds or thousands. The time and attention spent in fostering the active users on your networks will create a meaningful experience that your fans followers, friends, and contacts will naturally want to share with others.

2. Fear of abandonment:

Yes more psychology-speak, but keep with me for a brief moment. When you are engaging with your “friends”, “followers” and/or “connections” do you keep consistent in your time spent listening and responding to them? Are you there making your posts at the same time each day, or multiple times during the day? Being on a reliable schedule with your updates and keeping commentary relevant will create trust and keep the interest up.  Take some small risks in content to keep things fresh but don’t deviate from what your audience is expecting. (They won’t like reading something about sports when they are anxiously awaiting a new marketing tip.)

Bottom line, don’t leave your new found prospects hanging, you could risk alienating them! Being there for those in your virtual space and really paying attention to what is going on in their lives requires some genuine listening. Then, you can respond accordingly to bring value and support, information and (at times) levity. They will consider you an invaluable resource, and that builds a strong bond between you.

3. Don’t Practice Avoidance Behavior:

So you don’t feel like dealing with your social media networks today? You have six thousand fish to fry and this does not factor into your hierarchy of tasks? Well because you don’t want to face the music it doesn’t mean it won’t still be playing … in other words, pick up your social media “cross” and walk the walk even though other tasks await your efforts. It might seem tempting to take the easy way out and jump ship but after all your labor in building up a following is it worth it to compromise the foundation you’ve established? No, probably not!

So consider this your call to action … get online but have your “cliff note” version of engagement today instead of your usual standard version. This would entail a few minutes of gathering input from your primary connections. Find one really relevant and content-based post (I call that a “jaw dropper” post), and possibly something inspirational.  You can indicate to your group that you are ‘knee-deep in alligators’ today so you apologize for being pithy because of the other obligations nipping at your heels. Your audience will love your honesty and appreciate your dedication!

4. Inspire & Motivate ~ Above All:

Wow! Don’t you remember when someone empowered you even when you just felt like crawling under your desk to escape the crazy contraption of your life?  Well pass on that same inspiration to your followers. Very often we become so saturated with information, being inundated with clever clichés and shortened URL’s to “everywhere”, that we end up feeling just spun out and you know what … a little encouragement would be just what the doctor ordered.

So scour the pavements to really find some motivational words that will not only lift your friends out of the doldrums this time, but have them searching you out again and again for that same kind of positive energy.

5. Emotional Packaging in a Social Wrapper:

Looking to really bring some effective impact that drives those contacts into your sphere and keeps them coming back? Why keep the same look and feel that everyone else seems to propagate on their social media pages? You are the ONLY you I know (and you know) and I believe you have a whole different look and feel than anyone else out there. So don’t keep it hidden. Bring it out into the open and share it “loud and clear”.

Look into either hiring a designer or developing something creative on your own that really defines who you are! Bring that impact to your audience and raise their expectations of what their experience will be on your page. That visual connection is a really dynamic way to evoke and foster that emotionally satisfying relationship you have created with your “friends”, “followers” and “connections”!

Let me know how you do…

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Entrepreneurs and Startups Building Their New Branded Company

By definition being an entrepreneur requires a diversity of skills, and the ability to own the risks involved in forging your own pathway.  But hey, if you’ve done that – Congrats! You have what is takes to dive into the “Big Pond” of commerce.

At this point you are aware that you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors to effectively capture your customer’s attention well before your competition has the chance to wrangle them into their camp.  Let’s say company “X” is marketing their product or service right next door to you, making things much tougher for you to gain your share of the market.  What is that unique ingredient that makes you not only stand out but emerge ahead of the pack as the leader in your industry?

The evolution of The B-R-A-N-D!  This vehicle delivers your company’s unique identity up far before your customer ever tangibly connects with your product or service.

The brand in its nature encompasses: a definitive message which needs to be effectively conveyed to the target consumer by various means and media. When effective, this messaging elicits a perception of value rooted in the consumer’s emotional connection and interaction with the brand.

So, you have determined a need for your new product or service.  Good start but how do you establish the connection from this abstract need and the concrete product or service that you are offering to address it? This connection is a key factor in developing your brand’s unique relationship with the consumer. You need to incorporate your own unique story, your own personal relationship with the products or service you are offering, and make this information relevant to your target consumers.

This is where the “you” meets the fundamental nature of your products itself.

I call it the Personal BrandedU Equation.

[And for any of you truly astute mathematicians out there, this is really a visualization of my process and less of an actual equate.]

Product / Service + Differentiating Elements + Personal Story = Branded Company Image

This equation is defined by these elements:

1.)    Product/Service:

  • The key products or services you are offering through your company.

2.)    Differentiating Elements:

  • Now factor in those truly unique qualities that make these products or services stand out among your competitors.

3.)    Personal Story:

  • This is the critical element to add – the “U” part of the equation. The part built around your own personal perspective and experiences.

5 Components to Your Personal Story:

Concepts – Where your dream for your company emanated from.

Personal Background – Who you are and how your experiences have defined you.

Outstanding Influences – Who were your mentors, inspirations and dream builders.

Skills – Your education into your field and the resources that added knowledge to your skill sets.

Insights – Those figures that empowered you to believe in seeing things “outside the box”, and your own personal wisdom.

4.)    The Result:

The newly refined Branded Company Image – This will be this amalgamation of all your personal experiences, aspirations and dreams.  (And yes, I mean this most ardently … your dreams are a key factor in this equation.)

That is a really bare bones reveal on building your U Brand. It really is all about infusing that personal element into your company’s image.  The part that allows people to connect, engage and see who you are before they ever even purchase anything.  Across the board it is well known that the emotional factor is what motivates the sale. If you don’t make the emotional connection with your consumer base, other factors won’t ever enter the equation.

If you would like to learn more about how to strengthen your branding prowess please follow my #BrandingU blog posted weekly.  If you have comments would welcome your insights and feedback.

Follow me on Twitter @anyadowning www.twitter.com/anyadowning and Facebook www.facebook.com/engagemarketingdesign
Connect with me on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/anyastudencdowning
Photo Credit: Adrien Bisson Photography (www.adrienbisson.com)
Originally posted by Greenhorn Connect (www.greenhornconnect.com)
~ First Posted on September 2010
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