Source: The Kula Ring
Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.
Jeff White: Welcome to the Kula Ring. My name is Jeff White, joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing?
Carman Pirie: I’m doing well, Jeff. And I feel like every time now I need to highlight the fact that I think your radio voice is getting better…
Jeff White: Well thank you, I appreciate that.
Carman Pirie: … on the podcast. I feel like our listenership is going to grow exponentially through that alone.
Jeff White: The better my voice is…
Carman Pirie: Yeah.
Jeff White: … on radio. Wow.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s like—hack a couple cigars before the recordings to see if you can get more raspy.
Jeff White: People that know me know that that’s not going to happen. But, you know, I was thinking, we could talk about the weather in this except we do these asynchronously so they don’t necessarily go live at the same time that they’re happening but this is kind of the first snow storm we’ve had in a while.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. It is hard to get the weather to line up. We’ll be publishing this in May or something. I don’t know what that means. Let’s just jump right into our guest. I’m really, really excited to see where this is going to lead because I know that a lot of manufacturing marketers really struggle with demand gen, not just in the tactical mix about what makes sense there but in some way they lack a framework in which to look at and think about it and therefore to kind of help shape their action. I think that’s where today’s guest may really help our listeners.
Jeff White: For sure. And joining us today is Doug Hunter. Doug is the senior director of corporate marketing at Lattice Semiconductor. Welcome to the Kula Ring, Doug.
Doug Hunter: Hey. Thanks for having me on.
Carman Pirie: It’s fantastic to have you join us, Doug. Can you perhaps give our listeners just a brief overview of what you do at Lattice?
Doug Hunter: Sure thing. Here at Lattice, we are a global semiconductor company, now about 400 million dollars, and I am responsible for the public face of the company. I’m responsible for the brand. I’m responsible for communicating our message, but I think more importantly, I’m responsible for generating prospects and nurturing them down the funnel and turning them into leads and marketing qualified leads for a sales force to close.
Carman Pirie: That is incredibly succinct. A friend of mine is fond of saying that that’s when the marketing game fundamentally and irreversibly changed—the minute that marketing became responsible for lead gen and not exclusively a sales function.
Doug Hunter: You know, I really see this as a partnership. It really takes a village. It’s, you know, corporate marketing is just one slice of the marketing team and even with sales, sales has got many different layers. There’s the direct sales, there’s the reps, there’s distributors, there’s technical sales, there’s the FAEs. And you have to work together to go do the lead gen. Marketing is in a unique place in that we have the content and I think fundamentally what’s changed out there is in the old days, you know, sales used to be taking a glossy brochure and a box of donuts and visiting an engineer in their office or their cubicle.
Nowadays, they’re doing a lot of their research, making a lot of their decisions before they even ever reach out to the company. And the digital world, the web world, the email world, the shift of publications online, it has all fundamentally shifted the way customers interact with us. The number one driver of people to our website is Google. It’s the Google search. Half of my traffic comes off of Google search and I touch more people on a daily basis than our sales force does. And so if I can take those people I’m touching and nurture them, and qualify them, score and filter them, and pass them off to sales, that’s a win-win.
You know, we’ve got sales people who say, “Hey. I know this account inside and out,” and then we turn up a couple of people via the website and our digital channels that they never knew about. So, I can reach more people more effectively than sales can. Now, we sell a very complex product and I will never actually close a sale myself and that’s where the partnership goes into. We need the sales force to close the deal to maintain that relationship. So it’s a symbiosis.
Carman Pirie: No question and anytime that I find when marketers struggle with that relationship is when they get fuzzy. You know, when they don’t want to talk about the leads or they don’t want to discuss the quality of what they’re sending to sales. On the other hand, you don’t shy away from this at all. The formula that you’ve presented in a blog post in February, I think really began to unpack your approach to this and a way of kind of wrapping some quantitative metrics around what I think some people can sometime view as being a little hard to wrap your arms around everything that’s going on. Take us through that a bit.
Doug Hunter: Sure thing. Yeah and you know, this wasn’t an overnight discovery. This evolved over time as our programs have evolved and this is my attempt to kind of put it together. Because I’m more of a quantitative guy, a formula makes sense to me. So let me start with this laying out the formula and then we can dig into each as independent variables.
So your first thing is your message. Then your messages go to your content and your content goes to distribution, and message, content, and distribution give you results on the back end. And with message, you know for me, the definition of message is it’s your brand identity and it’s your story arc. Your brand identity is kind of your starting point of where the company is now, how you’ve positioned yourself and then the story arc is where you’re taking that over time. Every time you introduce a new product into the market, every time there’s a competitive response, and then you respond to that, you adjust that brand identity. So you have to have a clear sense within message of who you are.
But then you’ve got your products and you need to figure out how to express your message. And you express your message through content and you express it in many different ways. And so for an example for me, I think in terms of primary and secondary content. For me, primary content is things like contributed articles, white papers, speeches, webinars, or press releases and I call these primary content because these are seeds which you can take and develop secondary content with like videos, blogs, infographics, social media posts, or emails.
So for example, with my content team, I’ll push them to write a contributed article. And then we’ll take that contributed article and we’ll convert it into a white paper. Then we take that white paper and we convert it into two blog posts and then we go film it as a video. Then we point social media at all of that and so there’s an exponent on content called reuse. So getting the initial seed and then using that across as many different platforms as possible, as many different content forms as possible, and depending on whether or not your company’s a multinational, as many different languages as possible.
So for us, for example, with articles and white papers, our goal is to place them in at least four languages world-wide. And so you get this multiplier. You get this exponential effect with your content. In addition to content you yourself write, there’s the content that you can get others to write. That would be things like analyst briefings, trade analyst briefings, Wall Street analyst briefings, or press interviews where you are talking with people on the outside who then can write content about you and push it through their platforms and channels.
So, so far with that message, you take it and you develop it into content and then you get into distribution. And distribution, these are all your platforms. This is your Martech stack and your other channels. So it’s just things like web, email, social media, advertising, press, conferences, and then you get things like events and meetups. And you take your content and you try to shove it through as many of these different platforms as you can. And the good thing is that a lot of this stuff is quote unquote free so you can take the white paper and put it up on your own website. It becomes a gated vehicle for demand gen. Or when you take your contributed article and you shove it out through the press, you know, they will typically have a large readership and distribution than the visitors to your website and you get goodness off of that as well.
One thing that has been interesting for us is that we have always had events and trade shows that we go to. This year, we’re starting to branch out into meetups. And this is another thing that the kind of the technology explosion has enabled. It’s enabled groups of people to self organize their own topics that they’re interested in.
So, for example, we’d recently hosted a meetup on artificial intelligence, machine learning in Silicon Valley. And for basically 300 bucks of pizza and a little overtime for our facility staff, we have 50 to 100 people in our facility who are engineers, very interested in this topic, which coincidentally Lattice has products for, and it was a very, very cost effective way to take content that we’ve developed and push it exactly into a target audience.
So, what you do, your platforms, your content, always needs to be continually evolving as the market evolves and as the way that people consume information evolves.
So you take the message, you run it, convert it to content and ship it across your platforms, and then you get to results. And there’s some obvious ways you can measure results like coverage, you know, did the press pick up the article, how many impressions or hits did I get. But we have to keep in mind as marketers that the name of the game isn’t just impressions. It’s getting all these people to actually do something.
And so for us, in our context, it’s really drawing people back to the website. How many people are we drawing back to the website? Are we getting them to convert? And then once they’ve converted—and for us a conversion means they’re clicking the buy button. They’re clicking a contact me button, for example, or a download button. And then once they’ve converted, then we score and filter them and turn them into MQLs or marketing qualified leads. You know, we need revenue customers so getting students or hobbyists, while they’re interesting people and potentially future customers, they’re not someone who’s going to give revenue today.
Or someone who’s working at a much older product that’s not as interested as someone who’s looking at a newer, higher margin product. So we’ll score and filter to prioritize for sales. So you start at one end of the funnel with your brand and your story arc and you hopefully end up at the other end of the funnel with MQLs.
And that in a nutshell, a long nutshell, it is what I call PR math.
Carman Pirie: I have, I have at least, I don’t know. It feels like a hundred questions now coming out of… let me just try to—
Doug Hunter: Go for it.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah.
Jeff White: You’ve got a lot of points you could dive in on.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Exactly. One thing is that many marketers these days are obviously quite wise to the benefits of content reuse and repurposing but I don’t know, I guess it feels to me that in a lot of the conversations I have, they don’t necessarily think of translation through that same lens.
Jeff White: No.
Carman Pirie: And they don’t necessarily see translating a piece of content into another language as reuse of content. It seems that it’s somehow less important or significant, and I come from a very kind of small part of Canada that the only bilingual jurisdiction, the only bilingual province in the country and I think maybe, it just makes me a little more sensitive to the language dynamics of it all. What has been your experience there?
Doug Hunter: Sure.
Carman Pirie: Of the content repurposing that you’re doing, how significant has the translation side of it actually been?
Doug Hunter: So for us, again we’re a global company and we produce content in three languages, English, simplified Chinese, and Japanese. At one point we also had Korean. We flirted with German. But our core three languages come down to English, Chinese, and Japanese. And what we have found is that people generally respond better to their heart language. And when you think about, you know when you’ve traveled overseas for example, you know, if you’ve been to India for example, where the characters are completely different and you see a sign written in english and you gravitate to it because that’s the language which you know and what you’re familiar with. And so if I’m trying to get an engineer to engage with a highly technical white paper, getting them to read it in a second language that they struggle with, it is not going to be highly effective. And so for me, I have made the decision to invest translating all of my primary assets and website and emails into Chinese and Japanese.
Now, when we’re looking for press coverage, for example, when we have a major announcement, we may translate into at least 10 different languages because again, when it lands on the editor’s desk, we’re more likely to get the press release pick up in France if we’re dropping off a French language press release.
Carman Pirie: It is so… I mean on one hand it seems so obvious and it seems so obvious that it actually… I think because it’s so obvious, it can be a challenge when people say things like…
Jeff White: English is the language of business.
Carman Pirie: Yeah or it’s the language of engineers or something.
Jeff White: Yeah. No. Not necessarily. But it, I mean the other piece of this too, I mean, as you well know Doug, if you’re sending content into China at all, you’re not dealing with a framework in terms of search, social media, everything-
Doug Hunter: Yep. Absolutely.
Jeff White: – is completely different. Everything, you know, buying ads…
Doug Hunter: Yep.
Jeff White: Search engines are a hundred percent different than they are over here.
Doug Hunter: Yep.
Jeff White: So how much of a challenge has that been to kind of learn and to navigate the Chinese system?
Doug Hunter: Let’s break that down into two different bits. One bit is content and the other bit is distribution. So for the content side, I have two staff translators that sit in our facility in Shanghai. And what we have found is that because we have a technical product, there’s a corpus of technical terms that you have to learn and using outside third-party agencies for doing the translation, you just don’t get the consistent quality that you need, you know that’s consistent and aligns with our brand.
When you get into distribution… And you’re absolutely right, for example, twitter is blocked in China. YouTube is blocked in China. Facebook is blocked in China. So we have YouKu instead of YouTube, Weibo instead of Twitter, and instead of Facebook we’re using what’s called WeChat which is actually one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. And we generate content in China for those platforms and that also kind of is a harbinger of a larger trend that I’m doing with my team which is the move from translation to localization.
So, I mean, initially you start off by just saying, “Hey, here’s my English content. Translate it word for word, phrase for phrase.” Localization says, “We recognize that the market in your country is different and we’re going to tailor the content to reflect that your market is different and you do things in different ways.” You know, even things like contests, the type of contests you would run on Twitter or LinkedIn is different than the type of contest you would run on Weibo or WeChat. Or the way if I wanted to run a webinar here in the US, I go to a major magazine publisher and partner with them. If I want to write one, a webinar in China, I’m having to use a platform like WeChat—that is what we’re exploring currently for that. But I think a key here is finding boots on the ground and actually having people in-country who can help you out. So if you try to do everything from the US, you’re going to miss stuff because you’re not part of that culture and you don’t fundamentally understand it.
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Carman Pirie: I think that translation to localization is just beautiful and incredibly instructive, too, to our listeners. If there’s one thing that they take away, I would say, to me it’s just that challenge to get there.
Jeff White: Well and I mean what a giant step from the buyer persona. You know, like your buyer’s persona is of this very vague notion of who’s buying your thing, although, to take that and begin to move into ensuring that you have content not just for the type of person and the type of engineer who’s buying from you but also in a more localized communication medium. I mean…
Doug Hunter: Absolutely. I think you’re touching on something here which is a difference between content and context marketing. There’s been a lot of press about content marketing just having all the right written and visual assets. Context, I think, is the next way. And so it’s giving people the content at the right place in their buyers journey which I think also includes exactly what you hit on—their persona is somebody from a different culture. And a lot of people, I don’t think are sensitive to context yet.
Carman Pirie: I don’t want to lose site of this question but I also, I kind of feel like you’ve just presented this perfect opportunity for us to shift into content and context. But I’m going to go back anyway because why not.
Doug Hunter: Go for it.
Carman Pirie: And we can edit this after and challenge our editors to do that.
Jeff White: You always say that because you’re not the one editing it.
Carman Pirie: I guess, when you said that you translate it into three or four different languages as a standard and then obviously more for press outreach and things of that sort, I guess in some ways, you know, Asian marketplaces are very different and the propensity for those buyers to have a strong grasp of English would be less than say another market that you referenced which is Germany. But you seem to indicate that you’ve chosen not to translate as frequently in Germany as you have in Asia, so I just wanted to, because my gut would tell me that the benefits would accrue in the same way in Germany as they would in Asia by being more contextually sensitive but…
Doug Hunter: When you are in an environment that is not resource constrained, in other words, when you have the money and the headcount, you’re right. But when you don’t have the money and headcount, you’ve got to say, “I can only afford to sustain translation in three languages or two languages. Which ones do I pick?” And this goes back to the partnership that we talked about between sales and marketing. And what we did is we went out and we took both the qualitative and quantitative approach. The qualitative approach is just to go out and talk to local sales force and say, “How important is translation, really, for your market?” And when you talk to the folks in Germany versus Japan, what you get back is it’s really, really important in Japan because their English skills are much lower. You go to Germany… I remember being in Germany and walking into stores and talking to the clerks in German and them responding to me in English.
Jeff White: This is what happens if you to Quebec City in Canada, even if your French is really good.
Doug Hunter: We won’t get into French, but the Germans have excellent English at all different levels, from the store clerks to the highly advanced engineers. and so it’s just not as important. And that’s the feedback that we got from the local sales force. The quantitative is when you go to, for example, Google Analytics and look at where your traffic is coming from for each of your web properties. We just didn’t see, you know, well we didn’t see high drop off rates or anything else indicating that English was a problem, as much of a problem for the Germans as it was for other languages. And you know, incidentally based on the data, that’s why we killed our Korean website, because we looked at the traffic. We looked at how they’re in track with the English site. We went back to the sales force and said, “You really need this in Korean?” It’s like, no. In Korea, the English is good enough. We don’t need it. So it’s, when you’ve got scarce resources, you got to make choices and you got to make it in partnership with your sales partners.
Carman Pirie: And that’s some great advice and great insight into your decision making process around that and I know, like you say, yes it’s great when resources aren’t constrained. You can go to full localization in every market but that’s obviously not reality.
Doug Hunter: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: When it comes to, I mean we talked a fair bit about the content side of this, we haven’t talked about the messaging side of that. So if you were diagnosing this or if you were looking at improving the various variables of the equation in order to obviously improve the outcome, how would you frame up your thinking around improving the message? Is it one largely of clarity and consistency?
Doug Hunter: There’s—clarity and consistency are critical, but there also has to be truth and believability. When you’re building your brand architecture, do you have those proof points, do you have those pillars supporting it that resonate and ring true with your audience? You know, for us for example, we have specialized in making small, low power things. If we try to go out there and start saying like we’ve got the highest performance stuff in the business, nobody’s going to believe us. I can say it very clearly. I can say it very often. I can put it in really fancy language. But if I don’t have those proof points underneath, it’s not going to fly. So for us, it’s really coming with a genuine message, a message that really resonates and is consistent with what the customer is actually experiencing when they interact with us.
Carman Pirie: I feel like we’re going to run out of time before we run out of questions. It’s usually a good indication. It’s a good indication that the conversation is going well, usually, when that happens. I wonder, you had mentioned that you thought a bit of the next frontier was context and I’m assuming that that didn’t just refer to language and culture. So, if that is indeed your answer around what’s the next big thing in manufacture demand gen, then I guess, unpack that a bit further and if that isn’t your answer, then I’d love to hear what is.
Doug Hunter: No. I think it is context. And I think context happens at many different levels. You know, context just isn’t, you know, the cultural level that we talked about earlier when we talked about translation to localization. It’s also about where they are in their buyer’s journey. So for us, for example, we know when someone is earlier on in their decision-making process, they’ll look at what I call a lighter asset such as a video or a brochure and then they’ll start to get more interested in the process and more interested in what we’re doing and start to consider and prefer us. And then they’ll start looking at things like white papers, which start with user guides, documents that get more technical. And finally when they get down to the point where they’re either downloading the software necessary to use their product or they’re getting down and getting data sheets and technical manuals, then they’re highly, highly committed. And that’s, you know, the challenge is how do you present those assets to people at all these different stages of the funnel, all these different stages of the journey and there’s many ways that you can do that.
If some of your listeners work for a really large company, they probably have a whole team around their content management system that can do all this personalization and targeting, and they have these AIs, and they have these models, and more power to them and that’s what I aspire to. For someone like us with a smaller team, we do it much more informally. So for example, we’ll make sure that we’ve mapped the customer’s journey and we know what type of assets they consume at each part of the pipe and we’ve tried to have those assets available on the webpage so people can self-select them because I don’t necessarily have the technology and the models to systematically present them.
But what we have done, is we have customized our home page. We actually have four different home pages based on if you’re one of our three core markets or the fourth home page is we don’t know what you are so we just send you a shotgun of material. And that’s based on the customer when they fill out web forms declaring what market segment they’re in. And over time, as we have more capacity, more time and money, we’ll start doing more content targeting across the rest of the website which is getting back into context.
Carman Pirie: I wonder, I should tell you in advance of this question that it’s a bit of sport here at Kula, to endeavor to quote No Country For Old Men in the middle of…
Jeff White: Anything, really.
Doug Hunter: Anything. Okay.
Carman Pirie: If you can work No Country For Old Men into a conversation, it’s automatically a plus one and there’s this scene in that movie where they’re talking about, I guess, the series of auto thefts that have just transpired and trying to imagine where the suspect might be and the deputy says, “That’s very linear, sheriff.” And it occurred to me, you know, we talk about, I mean we talk about this, the types of content that map against a buyer’s journey.
Doug Hunter: Yep.
Carman Pirie: It’s very often the case that we think, oh well it’s lighter, you know lighter content early on and then they engage with a more technical white paper and then it’s the… has that really translated in your experience? Has the buying decision, have they actually proven to be, to appear that linear and aggregate as you kind of analyze the online behavior of buyers and customers?
Doug Hunter: Well, I think the other thing that was implied with my comments was a time scale. You know that over the course of days and weeks and months and years, people run through this funnel. That time scale might be 30 seconds, you know, or 30 minutes where someone comes to our website and very quickly moves through, sees the brochure, sees the tables, watches the two minute video and BAM they’re downloading a data sheet. So, looking at the statistics of what people download, absolutely, I know that having people downloading, you know, across the site, hundreds of white papers watching hundreds of videos and on and on down there. So I know all these assets are getting hit. Is it completely linear? No, probably not. You’re probably right. It’s all over the map but what I do know is the assets are being consumed which does validate that those assets are needed and it’s helping the people through the funnel.
Carman Pirie: Well, and the linearity of the model at least helps in conceiving of the model and in executing against it even though potentially, if people don’t move through it in that same predictable way, it does still help to deliver a cohesiveness of experience that might not otherwise be there.
Doug Hunter: Well, you’ve also highlighted a danger in the model because if you move from, you know, so the simplistic approaches I’ve taken at this point is to put all the content and assets on the site and let people self-select. So the stuff is there and it’s visible. If we move to the more advanced targeting model that says, oh no, only what we think you want shows up and we get the model wrong, then I’m potentially serving people the wrong stuff at the wrong time and hindering my funnel. So there’s an interesting dilemma there and it just kind of raises the stakes on getting your models right.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Yeah.
Jeff White: No kidding. I think that the other piece of that, too, is that context isn’t only delivering content to people at the point when they require that thing. Obviously, that’s a big part of the context but it’s also how they’re consuming it as well. I mean especially if you’re talking about Asian markets, you know, the propensity of mobile devices as primary and things like that and thinking about that experience through—not just when in the cycle are they looking at this but what are they doing while they do it. You know?
Doug Hunter: Oh, absolutely. Can I tell you a story around that?
Jeff White: Please.
Doug Hunter: Which is, you know, when I first started here, we had less than one to three percent of our traffic was coming off of mobile. Now we’re consistently seeing 10 to 20, 15 to 20 percent of our traffic coming off of mobile. But when you disaggregate the data, there’s a disproportionate amount of that data coming off of Google AdWords. And the amount of traffic that we have coming in off of Google AdWords and mobile is close to 50 percent.
Way, way higher than the rest of the site and what’s happening is, this is my inference, is that people are sitting on the train or sitting on the bus or however they’re getting to work, especially in Asia, are sitting there doing Google searches for products like mine. And then when they get to the office, they will actually sit down and dig in deeper. But we were seeing huge drop off rates and huge yield losses in our AdWords traffic because our site was not mobile optimized. So we went back, completely redid our website specifically to accommodate people who are viewing our ads, doing Google searches while they sat on trains or buses.
Carman Pirie: Were you able to align that research against actual like commuting times like … you know what I mean like times of the day?
Jeff White: Was it eight AM in Taiwan?
Carman Pirie: Yeah, yeah. Like we’re seeing a big …
Doug Hunter: Well it’s, you know, that goes back to the resource question. You know, if I have a dedicated analyst, yeah, we could go dig into that but the reality was is like, hey, I’m losing massive amounts of people because I’m not mobile optimized. Let’s go fix it. And that’s what we did.
Carman Pirie: There was enough information to-
Doug Hunter: Absolutely. Absolutely
Carman Pirie: -to warrant a solution. Yeah.
Jeff White: Wow.
Carman Pirie: Jeff, I really liked that redirect on context not just being about what you’re consuming and at what stage in the buyer’s journey you’re consuming it, but then context being the device and screen size that you’re consuming it on. And even like you say, the context of you’re consuming it during a commute versus desktop research is a completely different scenario.
Doug Hunter: And the challenge for us, you know, as marketers with smaller teams, is where do you start? Because there’s just so many different dimensions you can go down and this is, this is where you kind of have to look at the data versus your gut. How much of what we translate is based on gut feel from talking to salespeople? How much how we optimize is based on Google Analytics data? It’s worth spending the time to figure out where your highest value hits are because the problem isn’t what you should do. The problem is what you should not do, because there’s so much opportunity.
Carman Pirie: And so little time. And so if you spend a certain amount of time going down the wrong path, it’s just …
Jeff White: It’s hard to get back.
Carman Pirie: Yeah.
Doug Hunter: Yeah. Yeah.
Carman Pirie: And I do think the marketers are faced with that more now than ever, the options for spending their time are more diverse.
Jeff White: Well, the more and more you chase what’s been took from you, the more that’s going out the door.
Doug Hunter: Yep.
Carman Pirie: That’s a very advanced No Country for Old Men reference that he just tried to slide in there.
Doug Hunter: You guys are inspiring me to go back and watch it again.
Carman Pirie: Oh it happens every time we have one of these things. I don’t know, I mean, there’s probably, if somebody is watching the data on iTunes movie views and they see this continuous spike around times when we’re recording a podcast…
Jeff White: Better call the Cohen brothers and ask for our cut.
Carman Pirie: Yeah, exactly.
Doug Hunter: Yeah, yeah.
Carman Pirie: Anyway, Doug, this has been a fantastic conversation. I really thank you for taking the time to chat with us today and kind of really dig into this. I feel that you’ve just given our listeners so much to think about around the dynamics of demand gen for manufacturers and I thank you for it.
Doug Hunter: Jeff, Carman, it’s been a pleasure and best of luck to you guys.
Jeff White: Thanks very much.
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