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MDDHosting: An Ongoing Anthology


CharlesM
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As of the moment in time that I create this particular discussion thread, my intention is to both revisit the MDDHosting forums here on a recurring basis, and to post here on a recurring basis, as well. Whether it will actually work out that way or not, only time will tell, I suppose.

 

Mike has crafted his forum rules and structure such that this is probably the most appropriate forum section to post things that I will post here. I don't have any one thing in mind to post here, but rather, I thought that would try to use this particular discussion thread as a mechanism, of sorts, to provide feedback and input to Mike of MDDHosting on various things.

 

Hopefully, that will be all right.

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1. When I created this thread, I gave it the following description:

Thoughts, Input, Feedback, Suggestions, Criticisms, Morsels, & Tidbits

 

However, the forum index that displays the individual thread description (http://forums.mddhosting.com/index.php?showforum=10) cuts off the last half of the word "tidbits." As such, I would ask Mike of MDDHosting to edit the thread description to read the following, instead:

 

Thoughts, Input, Feedback, Suggestions, Criticisms, & Tidbits

 

I tried doing a full edit of the posting, just after I posted it and noticed that the forum software in use here had cut off part of the thread description, but I did not see a way in the editor to actually edit the thread description, myself.

 

 

2. In hindsight, things often can seem to be rather obvious. However, a few days ago, while clicking on links in forum users' signatures in the WebHostingTalk forums, doing a little casual browsing and exploring about web host companies, I ended up doing a little off-the-cuff research on the affiliate programs of several different web host companies. It wasn't a planned activity, by any means. Rather, it is one of those things that just sort of happened.

 

Anyway, one of the comparisons that I ended up doing, on that particular occasion, was a comparison of the affiliate programs of SharkSpace and MDDHosting. The problem that I encountered was that, after exploring the SharkSpace affiliate program and affiliate banners a bit, I decided to go and compare what they had and were doing for their affiliates with what Mike at MDDHosting was doing - but then I couldn't readily and handily find the affiliate info for MDDHosting.

 

As I said already, in hindsight, things can often seem to be rather obvious. Eventually, I finally noticed the Affiliates link at the bottom right portion of pages on the MDDHosting website. The irony in it, though, was that I came to the MDDHosting website on that occasion for the specific purpose of checking out and learning about MDDHosting's affiliate program - yet that link at the bottom of the pages was not so obvious to me that it just stuck out and grabbed my eye. I am curious as to how effective that Affiliates link is in attracting the attention of those who might not be looking for it?

 

That link is placed in close proximity with the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service links on this website. Those things tend to be dry and boring reading. Perhaps it might be wise to make the Affiliates link stand out a bit more. A web host company's affiliates program should be an exciting thing, shouldn't it? Wouldn't it be desirable for one's affiliates program to be viewed as an exciting opportunity? If so, then how does the current link at the bottom of the page initiate and imbue that feeling upon a visitor to the MDDHosting site, before they ever make it to the Affiliates page of the site?

 

It was just something that I thought about, and wanted to share it with Mike.

 

 

3. I think that SharkSpace web host does a better job of incorporating their namesake creature (a shark) into their affiliate banner images than they do of incorporating that very same creature into their website, particular where their site's front page is concerned. I found a visit to their site's front page to be notably underwhelming, even as I thought that their affiliate banner images were some of the better ones that I have seen for web host companies who have affiliate programs.

 

SharkSpace makes it much easier for a visitor to their website to find (or just stumble across) their affiliate program banner images, than MDDHOsting does. Even as I type this message, it is a pain in the ****** to locate MDDHosting's affiliate banner images. Searching the MDDHosting forums for the search phrase "affiliate" yielded the following message:

 

Unfortunately your search didn't return any results.

I did manage to track down some "buttons" here: http://forums.mddhosting.com/index.php?showtopic=133

 

I know that I've seen an affiliate banner for MDDHosting, before. Or, at least, I thought that I had. Despite several minutes of trying, this morning, I am unable to track it down. That, to me, in and of itself, denotes a shortcoming in MDDHosting's affiliate program. Are MDDHosting's affiliate banners all tucked safely away in a steel vault, somewhere? They sure aren't located on the Affiliates page of this site.

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1. When I created this thread, I gave it the following description:

Thoughts, Input, Feedback, Suggestions, Criticisms, Morsels, & Tidbits

 

However, the forum index that displays the individual thread description (http://forums.mddhosting.com/index.php?showforum=10) cuts off the last half of the word "tidbits." As such, I would ask Mike of MDDHosting to edit the thread description to read the following, instead:

 

Thoughts, Input, Feedback, Suggestions, Criticisms, & Tidbits

 

I tried doing a full edit of the posting, just after I posted it and noticed that the forum software in use here had cut off part of the thread description, but I did not see a way in the editor to actually edit the thread description, myself.

I edited it for you :)

 

2. In hindsight, things often can seem to be rather obvious. However, a few days ago, while clicking on links in forum users' signatures in the WebHostingTalk forums, doing a little casual browsing and exploring about web host companies, I ended up doing a little off-the-cuff research on the affiliate programs of several different web host companies. It wasn't a planned activity, by any means. Rather, it is one of those things that just sort of happened.

 

Anyway, one of the comparisons that I ended up doing, on that particular occasion, was a comparison of the affiliate programs of SharkSpace and MDDHosting. The problem that I encountered was that, after exploring the SharkSpace affiliate program and affiliate banners a bit, I decided to go and compare what they had and were doing for their affiliates with what Mike at MDDHosting was doing - but then I couldn't readily and handily find the affiliate info for MDDHosting.

 

As I said already, in hindsight, things can often seem to be rather obvious. Eventually, I finally noticed the Affiliates link at the bottom right portion of pages on the MDDHosting website. The irony in it, though, was that I came to the MDDHosting website on that occasion for the specific purpose of checking out and learning about MDDHosting's affiliate program - yet that link at the bottom of the pages was not so obvious to me that it just stuck out and grabbed my eye. I am curious as to how effective that Affiliates link is in attracting the attention of those who might not be looking for it?

As I've always done myself I always go to a page and hit CTRL+F (find) and then type "Affiliate" or "Partner" which usually gets me to the link immediately. Personally I feel that if a client of ours is interested in the affiliate program or somebody not already a client and they can't manage to find the link they're more than welcome to contact our sales department and ask about it.

 

That link is placed in close proximity with the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service links on this website. Those things tend to be dry and boring reading. Perhaps it might be wise to make the Affiliates link stand out a bit more. A web host company's affiliates program should be an exciting thing, shouldn't it? Wouldn't it be desirable for one's affiliates program to be viewed as an exciting opportunity? If so, then how does the current link at the bottom of the page initiate and imbue that feeling upon a visitor to the MDDHosting site, before they ever make it to the Affiliates page of the site?
We don't directly rely upon affiliate marketing to be successfully marketed and as such there's no reason to make it "stand out" or "grab attention". When we launched the program we did email our entire client base letting them know of the program and where to find it.

 

3. I think that SharkSpace web host does a better job of incorporating their namesake creature (a shark) into their affiliate banner images than they do of incorporating that very same creature into their website, particular where their site's front page is concerned. I found a visit to their site's front page to be notably underwhelming, even as I thought that their affiliate banner images were some of the better ones that I have seen for web host companies who have affiliate programs.
It does help to have a mascot or something other than some letters as a logo which is something I've been thinking on for a long time however I've not come up with anything as of yet to represent MDD that isn't either a server or some letters :)

 

SharkSpace makes it much easier for a visitor to their website to find (or just stumble across) their affiliate program banner images, than MDDHOsting does. Even as I type this message, it is a pain in the ****** to locate MDDHosting's affiliate banner images. Searching the MDDHosting forums for the search phrase "affiliate" yielded the following message:
That would be because you currently have to be signed up as an affiliate to access them - I can however make them accessible here on the forum as well as I don't see what harm that could possibly cause.

 

I know that I've seen an affiliate banner for MDDHosting, before. Or, at least, I thought that I had. Despite several minutes of trying, this morning, I am unable to track it down. That, to me, in and of itself, denotes a shortcoming in MDDHosting's affiliate program. Are MDDHosting's affiliate banners all tucked safely away in a steel vault, somewhere? They sure aren't located on the Affiliates page of this site.
I believe we have around 8 or 12 of the banners and listing them all on that page would be a bit much in my opinion.
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Here they are for you:

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/468x60-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/468x60-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/728x90-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/728x90-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/120x60-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/120x60-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/160x600-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/160x600-Banner.gif

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_by/HostedBy_88x31.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_b...tedBy_88x31.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_by/HostedBy_120x42.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_b...edBy_120x42.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_by/HostedBy_125x44.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_b...edBy_125x44.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_by/HostedBy_234x82.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_b...edBy_234x82.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_by/HostedBy_240x85.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/banners/hosted_b...edBy_240x85.png

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It does help to have a mascot or something other than some letters as a logo which is something I've been thinking on for a long time however I've not come up with anything as of yet to represent MDD that isn't either a server or some letters :)

 

That was a topic that I wanted to post on earlier, today, but time constraints here at home did not allow me that luxury.

 

4. I suppose that it all falls into the category of "branding." HawkHost is a good example, I think, of how a mascot or character is beneficial to that web host company. Their hawk mascot is an animal, but is decked out in the attire of a superhero, of sorts. Their mascot conveys a visual message to the prospective web hosting customer who browses HawkHost's website.

 

HostGator has their alligator mascot. Sharkspace has their shark mascot. These are just a few that come to mind off the top of my head. I think that what it boils down it is that it is inherently easier to build brand utilizing such characters as there, compared to just using letters (some letter combinations work easier than others in building brand).

 

The letters "MDD" in MDDHosting are probably Mike's initials. That's all fine and dandy, but such textual indulgences do not come without a price in other ways - such as where the issue of mascot or character is concerned.

 

I really think that most any animal or creature could function well as a web hosting company's mascot. I think that the critical issue is not so much what animal or creature that you choose for a mascot, but rather, how you choose to depict and utilize that animal or creature.

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5. Related to item # 4, above, if a webhosting company does not have, or if it chooses to fore go, a mascot or a character as an integral component of its branding effort, there are other ways to approach the dilemma that this void creates in the marketing scheme.

 

One can incorporate "theme" or "concept," and use those abstract fundamentals as a sort of broader quasi-mascot writ large. An example of this, to illustrate the point, would be the Force from the Star Wars universe. The Force does not have a specific look or shape or size. There are things that the public at large has come, over time, to associate and to identify with this concept known as the Force, but in and of itself, it is an amorphous blob of abstract thought.

 

6. Regardless of branding, or lack thereof, there exists a visual element to web hosting companies' websites. In its current incarnation, MDDHosting's website makes little use of visual stimulus or "eye candy" to grab the site visitor's eye or to stimulate their interest. It is not a question of sheer number of images used. Rather, it is a question of actual images used. If one is selling something, then a question to ask is if visual impact is important to making sales? If not, then why does MDDHosting incorporate images on its website, at all?

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We don't rely upon mascots or amazing visual stimulus to sell our products - we rely on word of mouth created by our solid services and support.

 

Rather than paying a large sum of money to a graphical designer or to a marketing consultant we've always chosen to reinvest that money into the company to continue improving services and support.

 

I don't know many companies that have been able to grow as fast as MDDHosting in the hosting industry without spending money on advertising or marketing while maintaining a such a positive history and reputation.

 

While we do always appreciate criticism (it helps us improve) don't be offended if we don't implement every suggestion that you make.

 

Thanks!

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Myself I like the MDD....I think it looks good and MDD Hosting is very easy to remember and has a good ring to it that sticks in the memory. You never know what works. Im no guru on sales but sometimes simple is better and more likely to be trusted. You never know what someone is going to think of a mascot these days. LOL
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We don't rely upon mascots or amazing visual stimulus to sell our products - we rely on word of mouth created by our solid services and support.

 

Rather than paying a large sum of money to a graphical designer or to a marketing consultant we've always chosen to reinvest that money into the company to continue improving services and support.

 

I don't know many companies that have been able to grow as fast as MDDHosting in the hosting industry without spending money on advertising or marketing while maintaining a such a positive history and reputation.

 

While we do always appreciate criticism (it helps us improve) don't be offended if we don't implement every suggestion that you make.

 

Thanks!

 

I'm not offended, Mike. Word of mouth is generally considered the best form of advertising, although other methods of advertising can work well, also.

 

That said, not all graphical designers require large sums of money. Also, many web hosts use templates, and many standard template designs incorporate images that have more visual impact than the following images do on your site:

 

http://www.mddhosting.com/images/plan1h2.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/images/plan2h2.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/images/plan3h.png

 

 

I like the following images:

 

http://www.mddhosting.com/images/30day.png

http://www.mddhosting.com/images/999updtime.png

 

The LiteSpeed image could be improved, a lot, but you likely are using an image that the LiteSpeed people came up with, if I had to venture a guess.

 

Out of curiosity, why do you use two different favicons, one on the main site and the other on the forums? Of the two of them, I like the one used on the main site, better than I do the one used on the forums.

 

Where mascots are concerned, you could keep the MDD logo that you have, and still incorporate a mascot.

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That said, not all graphical designers require large sums of money. Also, many web hosts use templates, and many standard template designs incorporate images that have more visual impact than the following images do on your site:
Over all our site is considered very wordy (even had it described as a wall of text) and as such I do have plans to do a total overhaul on the site but for the time being the funding/time for that is allocated elsewhere.

 

That's funny, I made them in PhotoShop CS3 in about 45 seconds and I've always thought they were a little sub-standard as far as quality goes.

 

The LiteSpeed image could be improved, a lot, but you likely are using an image that the LiteSpeed people came up with, if I had to venture a guess.
The logo itself is from LiteSpeed - the banner was done for me by a friend.

 

Out of curiosity, why do you use two different favicons, one on the main site and the other on the forums? Of the two of them, I like the one used on the main site, better than I do the one used on the forums.
The one on the forum is the InvisionPowerBoard FavIcon (the forum software) and I've just not noticed that I needed to update it. I'll make sure that it gets done :)

 

Where mascots are concerned, you could keep the MDD logo that you have, and still incorporate a mascot.
We could, but I haven't come across a concept or idea yet that really stood out to me and represented MDD.
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My 2 cents.

 

I think these proposed ideas are probably things that MDD is specifically looking to avoid.

 

1. I think any "eye-grabbing" graphics-driven changes to the MDD site would be a negative. If I were running a company like MDD - which offers services that are superior to the competition - then I would go for "mind-grabbing" instead of "eye-grabbing". This means text instead of images, like Mike said. As an intelligent adult, I am looking for a host's web site to give me the information I need to make an intelligent decision. Pictures are for kids, text is for adults.

 

2. My opinion about mascot-driven branding is that it is an insult to people's intelligence. The use of animal mascots (and mascots in general) is a classic branding technique used to promote commoditized and dumb-down products and services that appeal to the masses. Some examples in different industries:

 

Hosting - HostGator, SharkHost

Restaurants - McDonalds, Burger King

Investing - Minyanville

 

3. With regard to MDD branding, I think that a viable branding campaign that could differentiate MDD would be for Mike to be the face of the company and to have his face and name on the banners since he has been a large contributor to the good customer service MDD clients have received. Hosting companies need to offer this kind of personalized experience, since hosting companies are dealing with very valuable customer assets. Hosting is a relationship-driven business yet it has never been treated that way.

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3. With regard to MDD branding, I think that a viable branding campaign that could differentiate MDD would be for Mike to be the face of the company and to have his face and name on the banners since he has been a large contributor to the good customer service MDD clients have received. Hosting companies need to offer this kind of personalized experience, since hosting companies are dealing with very valuable customer assets. Hosting is a relationship-driven business yet it has never been treated that way.

Now that is an interesting idea! I'll perhaps look into getting some professional pictures taken that I can use in such a manner.

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My 2 cents.

 

I think these proposed ideas are probably things that MDD is specifically looking to avoid.

 

1. I think any "eye-grabbing" graphics-driven changes to the MDD site would be a negative. If I were running a company like MDD - which offers services that are superior to the competition - then I would go for "mind-grabbing" instead of "eye-grabbing". This means text instead of images, like Mike said. As an intelligent adult, I am looking for a host's web site to give me the information I need to make an intelligent decision. Pictures are for kids, text is for adults.

 

If that's the case, then he could simply strip every last image off of his website, and go with a text-only approach. Pictures are not just for kids. Adults are human beings, and respond to visual stimuli as much as, if not more than, kids do.

 

2. My opinion about mascot-driven branding is that it is an insult to people's intelligence. The use of animal mascots (and mascots in general) is a classic branding technique used to promote commoditized and dumb-down products and services that appeal to the masses. Some examples in different industries:

 

Hosting - HostGator, SharkHost

Restaurants - McDonalds, Burger King

Investing - Minyanville

 

A classic branding technique, huh? Maybe there's a reason that it is a classic branding technique. You could also add to your list all sports team mascots, or even mascots of military organizations. The product to which a mascot is "applied" does not have to be a dumbed-down product or service. Furthermore, if you are trying to sell something to the public, then appeal to the masses is not an inherently bad thing.

 

The mascots for HostGator and SharkSpace are certainly not bad mascots. Of the two of them, I favor the HostGator more. I also think that the hawk mascot works very well for HawkHost. I like it more than the HostGator gator or the SharkSpace shark, in fact. What dumbed-down product or service are the folks at HawkHost selling, anyway?

 

3. With regard to MDD branding, I think that a viable branding campaign that could differentiate MDD would be for Mike to be the face of the company and to have his face and name on the banners since he has been a large contributor to the good customer service MDD clients have received. Hosting companies need to offer this kind of personalized experience, since hosting companies are dealing with very valuable customer assets. Hosting is a relationship-driven business yet it has never been treated that way.

 

He could use his own face or image, certainly. He would, in effect, become his own company mascot. Instead of a GoDaddy Girl, MDDHosting could have Mike, the MDD Guy. Maytag had the Maytag Guy, after all. You can label it whatever you want to, but it still serves the same function as a mascot. Colonel Harlan Sanders' image adorns Kentucky Fried Chicken signs.

 

As far as a relationship driven business is concerned, using himself as his own company's mascot or quasi-mascot will not be a determining factor in whether MDDHosting is a relationship-driven business, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I actually find mascots rather cheesy. They lower my opinion of a company that uses them.

 

I prefer the more-professional approach that Mike and MDD take. Sure, he could add a few graphics if he liked, but please avoid the cheese.

 

And while I don't doubt he's a fine-looking guy, the whole using a "face" as the brand is also rather cheesy (sorry). I think of stuff like Video Professor and KFC. Meh.

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  • 1 month later...
If that's the case, then he could simply strip every last image off of his website, and go with a text-only approach. Pictures are not just for kids. Adults are human beings, and respond to visual stimuli as much as, if not more than, kids do.

 

Sorry, but framing the question in black-or-white terms ("strip every last image off of his website!!") is just a transparent attempt to engage in rhetoic. Use this link for education - rhetoric - fallacy of thinking in extremes. But to answer you question . . yes, images should be used but "eye-grabbing" images shouldn't be the stimiulus that invokes people to sign up - the stimulus should be the the verbal content that relays the information that allows intelligent consumers to realize that MDD offers products that have tangible benefits over their competitors.

 

A classic branding technique, huh? Maybe there's a reason that it is a classic branding technique.

 

Yes, because most companies are only interested in becoming mass-marketed companies that offer products to consumers that carry no tangible benefit over their competitors' products. The benefits are purely a matter of perception - a perception that is driven by branding.

 

Furthermore, if you are trying to sell something to the public, then appeal to the masses is not an inherently bad thing.

 

It isn't a bad thing - if that is your particular goal. But some companies like to pride themselves on offering a superior product to the niche of consumers that are looking for a superior product. These companies have no desire in competing for mass-market consumers who will blindly respond to marketing messages and reward companies who market mediocre products. Another link for educational purposes: http://www.amazon.com/Small-Giants-Compani...d/dp/1591840937

 

The mascots for HostGator and SharkSpace are certainly not bad mascots.

 

Correct, but ONLY because they accomplish the particular goals that Hostator has. That is,

 

1. Throw up a web site with an animal mascot proclaiming unlimited resources for a very ceap price ("unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, free scripts, 100 databases, all for only $4 per month!!").

2. Then, after they get complaints from customers who have more-than-basic needs, they cut off their hosting without notice and hire customer service people in India to tell them to go somewhere else for their hosting needs - after having them wait on hold for 30 minutes of course.

 

This accomplishes the goal of signing up uneducated hosting customers who have no idea what their own hosting needs are, or what the real constraints of a hosting package are. Most mass-marketed hosts purposely give prospective customers the impression that they can use unlimited resources, while DELIBERATELY hiding the fact that the resources which you get unlimited access to are not the most sensitive factors which will affect a hosting account. Since you may not know what I'm referring to here I'll let you know - RAM and CPU limits. Before customers even have the opportunity to use any of the (supposedly) unlimited resources, you hit these limits and get cut off. To further their deceptive practices, these hosts never tell you how much of these resources you are using up - even though they actively monitor them.

 

But, from my observation, MDD doesn't have the same goals as Hotgator and therefore don't need a condescending mascot. MDD, on the other hand, is marketing to educated and experienced hosting customers that are making their decisions based on factors that mass-market hosting companies have decided to be decpetive about. One of the biggest reasons that I signed up with MDD was the fact that their web site made a point to specifically state the limit on how many account are allowed on each semi-dedicated server (25). If MDD's web site instead had an alligator (or shark, or chicken, or gorilla) trying to placate me by telling me how wonderful my hosting experience would be without giving me these important details that serve as proof, I would have left the site immediately.

 

He could use his own face or image, certainly. You can label it whatever you want to, but it still serves the same function as a mascot.

 

Not really. The function of a mascot is to dumb down and de-intellectualize the communication between the company and the consumer. Real people who are put in the role of representing a company or organization convey a maturity that a mascot doesn't. Real people are not considered mascots. Charles Schwab (the person) is considered a "mascot" for his company. Obama is not a "mascot" of the United States. A "figurehead" would be a more appropritate term.

 

As far as a relationship driven business is concerned, using himself as his own company's mascot or quasi-mascot will not be a determining factor in whether MDDHosting is a relationship-driven business, though.

 

You are correct. But you are again attempting to use rhetoric by making a point that is clearly irrelevant (for your education rhetoric - redherring). You are reframing branding as an operations concept instead of it being a marketing concept, which it is. The point of him being the face of the company is not to MAKE the company a relationship driven company - it is to COMMUNICATE the fact that it is a relationship company. The point of marketing, after, all is to communicate.

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