70% of CEOs have lost trust in marketers

The majority (70 per cent) of CEOs have lost trust in marketers’ ability to deliver growth after becoming frustrated by what they see as an inability to prove ROI on campaigns, according to a new report.

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More than a third (69%) of CEOs say they have stopped enforcing key business objectives and indicators on marketers because they have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies and campaigns delivered business growth.

The report says that many CEOs have marketing departments “purely out of tradition” and have “made the conscious decision not to expect more from marketing than branding, look/feel good ads and promotions”.

CEOs feel marketers “live too much in the brand, creative and social media bubble”. They would like marketers to be more ROI focused and able to account for very pound spent and measure its positive impact on P&L.

Just 20 per cent of CEOs consider their top marketers to be ROI marketers but those that do believe they have a “solid influence” within the organisation and could go on to senior management.

The report by Fournaise Marketing Group is a follow up to a previous report earlier this summer which identified that 73 per cent of CEOs believe marketers lack credibility because they cannot prove the business impact of marketing.

However, of these CEOs, 70 per cent admit that their own lack of trust and attitude is to blame for the poor reputation of marketers.

Jerome Fontaine, Fournaise’s global CEO and chief tracker, says: “Whether we like it or not, what CEOs are telling us is clear cut: they don’t trust traditional marketers, they don’t expect much from them. CEOs have to deliver shareholder value. Period. So they want no-nonsense ROI Marketers, they want business performance, they want results.

“At the end of the day, Marketers have to stop whining about being misunderstood by CEOs, and have to start remembering that their job is to generate customer demand and to deliver performance. This is business. When is the last time you heard CFOs whine about being misunderstood by CEOs?”

The findings are part of the Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which has interviewed more than 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Readers' comments (68)

  • Hate to say it but I pretty much agree. As marketers we don't demonstrate ROI enough and are obsessed with advertising, promotions and social media. Academics have been saying for some time that marketing is dead and needs a new paradigm so this kind of ties up with the CEOs' view. Shocking though.

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  • I am a marketing manager in the public sector and every part of my marketing camaopign is based on ROI - as it would not be viable to spend the budgeted expenditure I have. As the income generated is linked closely to how much we can support the people we help ROI is veryu important. Inthe commercial/private sector emphasis is on reach of voice but for the thitd sector orghanisation I work in this is can only be deemed successful if the is growthof the core supporter file, increased donations and improving ROI's.

    Therefore my CEO has contstant faith in marketing as in our oprganisations performance is simple for every pound spent raise x.

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  • Ah well, it's back to the days of, "and this is the colouring-in department". Looks like I may have to retrain as something with a bit of credibility like a banker...oh hang on.

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  • It is vital that campaign planning sets out very definite goals and targets for each campaign (such as a specific number of leads). If this is achieved then it can be measured and deemed a success or failure by those above.

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  • Is apple's market success due to marketing or product planning? Be honest. Now take Ford, the marque as we know it today then ask the same question, Then compare with Land Rover, once owned by Ford, select Evoque & note the success of the Car Product Planner. Food for thought amigos? Here's my take. If the Marketing team is respected & thus included in the mix of forward corporate development, you build a strong machine, with each unit feeding the other. That drives success & growth, as in apple.

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  • One has to admit, that whilst uncomfortable reading, we cannot be that surprised.

    Over recent years, and indeed decades, there has been something of a disconnect between traditional marketing functions and those presented by the digital arena, in turn, this has, in parts, led to a wider, and more alarming disconnect with businesses and their marketing departments.

    Having worked as both a consultant and a Marketing manager, it has become an all to familiar site to come across companies and departments who cannot provide the basic objectives of their campaigns and strategies.

    The marketing world has moved at such a pace, that in some parts this is somewhat expected, however, we must remember our role within businesses; there is a very good reason that marketing departments often sit within the overall remit of commercial teams.

    We are here to drive profit, yes there are obvious exceptions, but driving numbers is what pays for our bums on seats.

    We should be taking the lead. Traditional and Digital channels, especially social ones, may be hard to measure in terms of ROI, but there are ways to achieve this, but it comes down to the fundamentals; what are we trying to achieve?

    If we always start with this nucleus; if we can start with a question or a purpose, then we can demonstrate to our CEO's, and anyone else for that matter, exactly where the ROI is generated and what we are working towards.

    We wont always be setting the world alight, so expectations must be set, and granted, in a tough climate, this can be more difficult. However, failure to do so will result in that rod we are inserting down our own backs, becoming a stick with which to beat us, as indeed, we see here in this article.

    It's time to revisit the basics and start asking "Why?".

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  • Its very easy to target Marketing for company problems. On the other hand, i cant imagine ill do any kind of mkt activity without measurable profit.
    Those 70% CEO should first ask yourselfs if they allow marketers to do they job.

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  • I am a marketeer myself and I do agree that there're a lot of incompetent people in our cohort. But the problem is bigger. If an organisation sees marketing as a "creative supplement" to its marvellous and super-great products/services and, in particular, it's seen as a cost by CFO and CEO, then I feel sorry for that organisation and no wonder what kind of marketeers they hire (incompetent/no leadership) and their inability to deliver ROMI. Also, looking at things from slightly another perspective, what is the added value of Finance folk? I have no doubt companies like Panasonic or Sony still have very well-paid and "credible" Finance personnel counting their enormous losses year after year. I personally believe the problems of Panasonic and Sony (and other similar complacent companies) stem from their attitude to Marketing - not a captain of the business but a mere advertising supplement of their wonderful products/services which will be selling in the future as well as they have been in the past.

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  • Forgive me if I’m wrong but surely the role of a traditional marketeer is to create stunning marketing pieces to drive enquiries/sales? It’s then up to the sales departments (whether it be online or in store) to convert these to sales. I’ve been tempted into several stores and products recently because of strong marketing messages only to be let down by poor sales staff, inadequate in store help and poor communications from customer services. Many marketeers already wear several hats (content/SEO/social/marketing) so it’s time for sales and support staff to also pull their weight.

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  • Great comments.
    One fundamental thing I would like to add. As Marketing people we need to show and act the real meaning of our discipline. We are not just communicators, that comes second. We need to lead how the company defines its strategy based on good customer and market understanding. If we are the customers´voice within the company and manage to influence strategy we will certainly be adding value to the CEO.

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  • In my experience Marketers are aware of their responsibility in illustrating ROI and converting more visitor’s thus generating revenue is the basis on many campaigns.

    Using real time data and software that allows Marketers to see exactly where visitors have come from and what actions are required to drive prospects through the sales process is a very definite way of proving ROI.

    This type of approach illustrates the creative response that technology has been able to deliver as a result of Marketers requiring evidence of their campaigns and goes along way to showcasing the demand that Marketers themselves place on the value of ROI.

    Delivering growth and proof of how it was achieved is not simply a concern of CEO’s and understanding the nature of what drives prospects to purchase allows better decision making from the top down and that’s exactly what Marketers aim to achieve.

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  • This article certainly made me squirm, I guess the simple consideration for CEOs is that the ROI of £nothing is... guess what... £nothing. Marketing is an investment, but it should be our job to set measurable and realistic KPIs for any campaign. This way CEO's expectations can be appropriately set.

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  • in my experience the majority of Marketers are aware of their responsibility in illustrating ROI and converting more visitor’s thus generating revenue is the basis of many campaigns.

    Using real time data and software that allows Marketers to see exactly where visitors have come from and what actions are required to drive prospects through the sales process is a very definite way of proving ROI.

    This type of approach illustrates the creative response that technology has been able to deliver as a result of Marketers requiring evidence of their campaigns and goes along way to showcasing the demand that Marketers themselves place on the value of ROI.

    Delivering growth and proof of how it was achieved is not simply a concern of CEO’s and understanding the nature of what drives prospects to purchase allows better decision making from the top down and that’s exactly what Marketers aim to achieve.

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  • Are there really that many marketers out there still running their channels without looking at the data and optimizing on the fly? Or is this just proof that 70% of all CEOs are aloof and clueless?

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  • Businesses (CEOs and Marketers) need to wake up to the fact that they need analysts in marketing (and I don't mean a report junkie, actionable insights is what's required) and someone responsible for conversion and optimisation.
    There's a big wake up call coming for anyone who thinks they can continue to live on brand metrics alone. All businesses are about sales and now that we can measure marketing spend and resulting actions more easily there's no hiding. Marketers should learn basic analysis then use analyst and optimisation skills to convert.
    Once they do this effectively marketers will find their best friend is the CFO...who has the ear of the CEO. Bingo, that's how you get more budget to grow the business...and your team.
    Of course there's more too it than just two new hires, but I'd say those two are key, especially when talking to your agency about your next campaign...and how that integrates with your internal and partners insight data!

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  • Lets first define ROI. And lets do it from the lens of the CEO and what keeps her/him up at night. Its about the KPIS that matter most to them - such as revenue, revenue growth, margin, EBITA, etc. Then we, as marketers, need to demonstrate the incremental return frommarketing "I" contributes to the overall enterprise KPIs, as outlined above. Absent of having the language of the boardroom, which is quantitative, we end up in the boiler room.

    Last time I checked, no CEO wakes up in the middle of the night and say, " I need more likes, re-tweets, higher sentiment, more open rates, or even more MQLs"

    Marketing-driven revenue to the business is the thread that leads to a meaningful conversation. And I suggest we stay away from campaign ROI langauge.

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  • Maybe the CEOs needs to focus more on product. Delivering ads is only one piece of a large pie!!!

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  • Very interesting indeed. One of things that hurts CEO's is that Marketing is not treated as a discipline. Most managers believe they are marketers when in fact they are Monday morning quarterbacks.

    Put together a solid marketing program with measurable ROI and a plan and you often get. "Sounds good.... What can we do for half the cost?...... Or. I can do that myself". Then businesses wonder why leads aren't generated?

    As a seasoned marketing and sales ops manager, when leaders stay in their lanes of expertise and are "all in"on agreed strategy then
    Businesses can succeed. Ride the tsunami together or down in the undertow of poor teamwork.

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  • That is why we need marketing metrics for estimating ROI of Marketing. Also, most of CEOs tend to see marketing costs as just costs instead of seeing it as an investment.

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  • And.. What about incompeten CEOs focused in non confessable objetives? What happens to all of those that do not decide based in marketeer's reports? In my experience. I have seen many
    many of CEOs looking for some one to guilt because of its own ineficacy.

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  • Having worked at Board level in Marketing roles for many years I would agree with the findings. However, there is also a responsibility of the CMO to be clear with the CEO/Board around the role and objectives of the Marketing function, strategy and programmes. If the outcomes of the investment are clear, agreed and measurable then the Marketing programmes should align with those objectives and definitely deliver an ROI.

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  • That is sad yet very true, and there are several reasons for that.

    First, old marketing approaches are dead. Viva la revolution. It have been used constantly due to "tradition", but it is now fading out.
    Marketers should understand and "reinvent".

    Second, the comment CEOs made about social media are probably a result of a marketer that could not link, tie or explain how social media marketing is an integral part of their marketing strategy, and how it effect the bottom line.

    To sum it up: Inbound, Online and Social Media marketing, are the future, and everything that the CEOs expect, can be achieved using the following tools.

    Now, it's up to the marketers...

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  • All of this is purely from the point of view of Campaigns run & money spent, which is one function of Marketing. When was the last time the CEO's have taken marketing inputs when making a product, packaging it and pricing it. All of this is marketing. Marketing is the repository of knowledge, if it is not in these CEOs companies then they should aim to build it as one. The ROI is not merely on the marketing spend on campaigns it is a complete balance sheet at the end of the year showing P & L.

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  • In my view, CEOs ARE marketers - in that they run a business aimed at 'anticipating customers' needs and fulfilling them profitably'.
    Surely the onus is on them to ensure their the teams responsible for the promotion/communication/campaign elements of the marketing mix have the appropriate direction, and are aware of what the goals are - just as they would with sales, buying, fulfilment, finance... teams.

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  • Perhaps 70% of marketers have lost trust in their CEO?

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  • I've worked for a large multinational plc who demanded ROI stats but were unwilling to invest in the systems and resourcing that allowed that level of data. If you want tracking and analysis you can't just ask the marketing assistant to knock something up in Excel.

    But the boards and senior management of these companies don't like to spend money on systems as they cost money and affect profitability.

    Maybe it is a generational thing, when the current CXOs are replaced by people we'll see a shift, after all how many of the CEOs have always thought marketing was about mailshots, print advertising and TV adverts?

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  • Maybe CEOs lost their trust in Marketing Research because we are still facing a global crisis - even if is an economic, food or health crisis. We are facing hard times, but many this is the point, to create and to understand the economical environment when it changes.

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  • Would be interested to know what sector(s) the CEO's were from. As an FS marketer I've probably spent half my professional life crunching numbers to justify the spend and the other half crunching the results...

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  • There are two types of marketing degrees available, Bachelors of Science and Liberal Arts. If you want more of an ROI focus marketing manager, make sure they have the business focused marketing degree and not the communications focused one.

    There is so much more I could say about this, but I don't have time to write a novel.

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  • Lets first define ROI. And lets do it from the lens of the CEO and what keeps her/him up at night. Its about the KPIS that matter most to them - such as revenue, revenue growth, margin, EBITA, etc. Then we, as marketers, need to demonstrate the incremental return from marketing "I" contributes to the overall enterprise KPIs, as outlined above. Absent of having the language of the boardroom, which is quantitative, we end up in the boiler room.

    Last time I checked, no CEO wakes up in the middle of the night and say, " I need more likes, re-tweets, higher sentiment, more open rates, or even more MQLs"

    Marketing-driven revenue to the business is the thread that leads to a meaningful conversation. And I suggest we stay away from campaign ROI language.

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  • As a shareholder, I'd more interested in why 70% of the CEOs allow themselves to have employees that they do not feel contribute to the bottom line. The real message of the article is that only 30% of the CEOs feel like they are running an efficient business, where every resource, human or otherwise, is effectively utilized.

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  • The critical thing is that CEO's enable marketing to measure ROI. Marketing campaigns are only as good as the tools they have to measure them. Cut corners on SFDC marketing integration due to lack of budget, etc. and marketing is hamstrung to produce solid 360 degree metrics.

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  • This echos work we did 10 years ago on marketing department influence in the business. The marketers who have credibility focus on three things. Credible evidence/results, engagement with the business team and use business rather than brand language

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  • And the alternative is?....

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  • This is one example as to why I'm freelance. While I can measure and produce Analytics to my campaigns a strong part of my success is in the ability to keep learning innovative methods, collaborate, and take risks. If I'm buried in a cubicle constantly worried about the "guy upstairs" it kills my ability to produce. But if I have the confidence that if this account doesn't go great I can always learn and move on the next client. It's known confidence fuels success.

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  • Every employee, no matter what department, has the same job, with the same two objectives. 1. Protect the owner's/stockholder's investment. 2. Increase profitability. Marketers are no exception. One thing that has changed is the CEO's. They no longer ask us to provide them with a plan and then allow us to execute it. It seems they determine the plan based on what they think or have heard is good to do in marketing and hitter us to do that. Then when i make a suggestion

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  • Oh my god. Marketing is the company responsible to predict the future. And future as You know, it is not certain. Maybe lehman brothers economists can explain that To this ceos. Please dont confuse incompetence with strategy. And regarding social media, You can avoid it, but you cant deny the the giant trend. Lots of ceos didnt still realize what's brand engagement value On long term

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  • I need to add that Sales Departments need to be more engaged with Marketing Departments. Being more engaged in all the campaigns together can make a positive difference in the bottom lines.

    This also helps the company culture...

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  • 70% of CEOs don't know the difference between "marketing" and "marcom", the former being ROI and the latter about producing brochures and Powerpoint presentations. Marcom is really sales support. The difference is right in the article:

    "CEOs feel marketers “live too much in the brand, creative and social media bubble”. They would like marketers to be more ROI focused and able to account for very pound spent and measure its positive impact on P&L."

    It's not hard to tell the difference. In the US, Marcom people like snappy clothes, doing lunch, and spending a lot of time with graphic designers. Marketing guys might put on a tie to go with a sport jacket, but that's about it. Marcom people use tablet computers and like charts; they don't "do numbers". Marketing people use laptops and can recognize patterns in numbers. Marcom people talk "at" customers. Marketing people try to understand what is going on in customers minds.

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  • It only happens if the marketer is staying in her or his own cocoon and not a team player , the whole company is like the football team , so the whole team needs to be in harmony with one focused goal and the striker or the scorer is the salesman. so all has to prepare for the game.

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  • 70% of Marketers have lost trust in CEO's

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  • It is as we say in Holland "kicking in a open door" ROI on Marketing is a must. How can you market your product without it in the end? ROI is always a must. I wonder if these CEO's ever checked or even wondered what happend. Now the panic takes them and blame everyone exceot themselves. CFO are not blamed right now as they are needed badly.

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  • That's what the CEOs get for showing age discrimination and skipping over older, seasoned marketing veterans like myself.

    The industries I was involved in *demanded* showing ROI including quantity of qualified leads and resulting. "Branding" wasn't done. Leads and sales were what mattered.

    Too bad today's hiring managers don't realize that there are a lot of advantages to hiring someone with experience. Knowledge of Twitter and Facebook is nothing if you don't get qualified people buying your product.

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  • We need to think and act like marketing has an investment portfolio. Alignment on goals and outcomes does not come after the fact; it comes before the investments are made. Do all your marketing investments line up with corporate/CEO objectives? How do you know?

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  • The issue is not new. Boards see Marketing as an expense and need to see the ROI whereas Marketing see's itself as investing in brands but cannot track the returns.
    Boards deal with cash flows and marketing battles to engage in this conversation. Marketers need to understand economics more.
    CEO's rightfully battle to grasp the concept of "likes" translating to sales and marketers cannot directly prove it hence the divide.
    The marketers job is to sell more stuff, to more people, more often, at a higher price.
    Marketers don't generally make it to the CEO chair because Boards don't think they get economics or have sufficient general management expertise. Marketers must work harder at proving what they do works and get up to speed with Board issues.

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  • There are great CEOs and great marketers.

    There are poor CEOs and poor marketers.

    There are CEOs that understand marketing.

    There are marketers that understand board needs and ROI.

    The problem is they don’t always work in the same organisation.

    Marketing is not just a department doing campaigns.

    Marketing is an attitude to business, to discovering, innovating and satisfying customer needs, profitably.

    Every one on the organisation has a role to play in this team delivery, everyone should understand their role, otherwise they shouldn’t be there.

    The issue is how to bridge the competency gap.

    The secret is to work cleverly and productively with Finance.

    Has anyone heard of ‘return on ideas’? – a seminal piece of work done by the DMA, CIMA and CIM on how to achieve better results from finance and marketing working together. Truly inspirational.

    Contact the DMA for a heads up.

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  • ...and I wonder what proportion of CEOs have lost faith in the ability of today's political elite to deliver economic growth? Answers on a p/card... ;)

    No question, marketers need to listen and get wired into their organisation's commercial agenda - that clearly means better communication and as much transparency between activity~outcome as they can give.

    But the fact is CEOs should be taking a healthy cut of the blame here. It's a two-way street folks - you are ultimately responsible for managing targets and ensuring your marketing teams are delivering value and shareholder return (remember that...?)

    If the agenda here is simply to say they're not delivering, therefore I can cut the overhead....well sorry, that's not good enough. Marketing is a fundamental business practice and skill and deserves a more grown-up debate.

    I sense frustration in these findings that go some way beyond marketing (however your typical CEO chooses to define 'marketing'). But everyone losing faith with everyone else helps absolutely no one.

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  • Whining marketers don't belong in the boardroom... http://bit.ly/AGILEci

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  • I would suggest these CEOs 'switch off' their marketing functions and see where it leaves them a couple of months down the line.

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  • Time was when marketing meant just that. Understanding the market and customers, developing great products and brands that resonate with those customers and communicating the brand and product value to the customers. It's NOT just about a single element. Latterly, it's extended into the customer service that's delivered at the moment of truth - cos if that fails all the rest is wasted. It should hold the rest of the organisation accountable to the customer - as the CEO holds it accountable to shareholders.

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