A professional career is more than building and applying competencies
On June 21, I was recognized for my career work as a mentor and coach. I did not apply for the recognition nor did I ask anyone to petition on my behalf. It was an unexpected gift.
g the benefits of two professional careers; earlier as a Registered Professional Planner with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and member of the Canadian Institute of Planners, and now as a Chartered Professional Marketer with the Chartered Ins
titute of Marketing Management of Ontario. I have met many people in several countries through these careers, and some I have helped, only a little, to show and demonstrate what can be.
After that, it was their choices and ability to carve out their own careers. Many thanked me for my interest in their lives, but I say without hesitation that I continue to thank them all for the knowledge and wisdom they gave me. I believe from those experiences that I have a better understanding of the paths that I chose, and far fewer regrets as I prepare for the inevitable.
Professional careers are far more than applying competencies, continuing education to be the best that you can be in your work, and building wealth within an environment of healthy and caring family relationships. It is important to share success with others who will exceed and reach heights of achievement that you could but dream. That is true career satisfaction and perhaps a sense of self actualization.
Grant Lee Keynote Speaker at virtual summit hosted by Young Marketing Professionals Network of Nigeria and Lorache Consulting
Professional marketers learn early in their careers to manage and adapt to change. Changing communications technology, changing markets driven by geopolitical forces; changes in business relationships, changing economies, changing generations in senior management, change triggered by natural and man-made forces, market sector disruptors - the list of reasons for change seems endless. The COVID-19 pandemic spawned a plethora of commentaries, social media posts, articles on blogs, and in professional and articles in industry publications. The pandemic has changed local and global socio-economic relationships forever, and the way that information and knowledge is shared. Marketing strategy and tactics of enterprises in a disrupted global economy also are subject to change.
The Young Marketing Professionals Network in Nigeria and Ayoade Adeyemi, partner with Lorache Consulting and former Marketing Director and Registrar/CEO of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria hosted a virtual summit on July 1 and 2 with the theme, *Marketing Beyond COVID-19." Presenters agreed that changes occur much more often than before and require continuous analysis and evaluation. They suggested that smart companies will adopt a proactive approach to marketing to understand what changes will occur and be ready to adjust their products, services and strategies quickly to meet current and future customer needs. They encouraged businesses to carry out more research to know what approach to adopt, explaining that businesses might not need the same information as before but there remain important decisions that need to be made, and they should be made on evidence not assumption.
Grant Lee was joined by colleague Dr. Youssef Youssef, CPM, President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Management of Ontario who declared the summit open. The President and Chairman of Council, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, Mr. Tony Agenmonmen gave the opening remarks.
Mobile offices for business: Frogs and Toads
English language fairy tales and fantasies occasionally reference reptiles that are game changers in the plot. I will use frogs and toads to help readers recall a few tips that I have about working from a mobile office. But first, let's take a little trip into the not too-distant past. This is not a fairy tale.
I first witnessed the use of an electronic calculator in a surveyor's office. Until then we used manual calculations, slide rulers, and mechanical devices for calculating. It was magic seeing yellow numbers appear on a tiny screen on the hand-held device. The first time I saw an engineering sketch grind itself out of a "fax machine" blew my mind. How can this be? It was magic. Then, "office secretaries" were using clunky computer things instead of magical electronic typewriters with memory to draft my letters and create engineering and planning reports. What computers could do was magic. Bossman would not let me learn how to use the computer thingy because they were for secretaries and engineers. I had a key to the office and stayed late to teach myself how to write a letter, memo and report. I imagined myself as the radio and television character, "Paladin" in Have Gun - Will Travel. I dreamed of my own business, "Have Office - Will Travel." It was around 1992 that I was introduced to the Internet in a boardroom of the Cement Association of Canada. Now, that was magic magic!
Fast forward to 1998 when I registered AGL Marketing Limited. After a challenging learning curve on a Commodore PC while generating revenue, I jumped to a DELL laptop, learned the hard way about basic software to conduct a consulting marketing and land use planning micro business. Over the ensuing years I continued learning, and forced myself to develop competencies in technology for integrated marketing communications. My business evolved into a mobile office working from anywhere with an Internet connection. Now it is not magic, it is a way of life for many professionals and micro/small enterprise entrepreneurs. Here is what I learned about working from a mobile office.
|Use a well-crafted carrying case that can include a laptop and accessories
||Don't leave your packed mobile office unguarded at any time or out of sight when travelling
|Leave duplicated backed up files on hard drives stored in vaults in different locations or store on cloud drives (if you trust security of cloud technology).Be able to access all backed up files at any time.
||Travelling without immediate access to all backed up files is a big mistake
|Develop and apply competencies in commonly used office software plus other software for supporting your professional credentials
||Being caught unprepared to deliver an assignment on time and complete because of incompetent or inability to use software required to do your job and apply technology
|Access to a mobile WIFI device to access Internet services other than what is available in airports and hotels. Depend on your own resources
||Using free or an unknown ISP with no VPN
|Ability to access web mail through your website in the event that there is a problem with activating proxy email software
||No access to email to send and receive files
|Include a pad or notebook in office resources to back up smartphones and laptop
||No backup devices in the event of hardware or accessory failures when working in remote or locked down areas
|Carry more than one battery recharger with multiple country outlet adaptors
||Traveling with no outlet adaptor or recharger for devices
|Carry a supply of pencils and pens with a small quantity of paper
||Travelling with a pen that may fail when needed. You will need pencils and pens
|Replace your computer recharger if more than 3 years old to avoid inability to operate from the main power grid where you will be located
||Not checking the reliability of accessories and placing trust in old equipment
|Ensure that all devices have universal 100-240 V chargers with cables
||Arriving at destinations without a charger, or with a charger and no cables and no adaptor
It may be challenging for some to differentiate between a frog and a toad, and that's the way it is in most life experiences outside of fairy tales. Mobile offices are here to stay. They are easy to create and a reliable alternative to being locked inside of an old story.
AGL Marketing introduces the Mentor Partnership method of offering professional marketing services to micro and small businesses
There must be a better way to build a base of micro and small business clients. They are the most under-served business sector, yet employ the most people.
Micro-enterprises (businesses with 1 to 4 employees) are a sub-sector of small businesses.
he government of Canada defines a small business as one with 1-99 employees. A medium-sized business has 100-499. Large businesses have more then 500 employees. In Canada, 98.2% of all businesses have fewer than 100 employees. In 2012, it was reported by the Business Development Bank of Canada that
55% of businesses have fewer than 4 employees. That is a lot of micro-businesses. There is little doubt that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of the Canadian economy.
Competition for consulting work continues with the proposal method whereby a prospect may be interviewed and researched online before submitting a quote for services based on terms of reference or a casual conversation. In most cases it can be expected that the prospect has little knowledge about marketing and the people they might hire through a low-bid exercise involving 3 or more consultants.
Many micro-businesses and most small businesses have no budget or any other resources for a sustained marketing program. They can scrape together enough for a simple website, business cards, signage, maybe a brochure/flyer, computer with standard software, stationery and social media networks. And, no time to market their business. That's about it. That does not mean that they are a high risk prospect for marketing services. What they need is mentoring in marketing strategy and tactics to help them succeed.
Modern marketing services providers must become skilled at evidence-based risk assessment and behavioral science. To work for a small business with expectations of revenue requires an assessment of the risks and opportunities of the business. In addition, the small business entrepreneur must be assessed for business acumen, sales skills, and trustworthiness. Can s/he sell products or services? Do they understand enough about a micro-business to make it successful with few resources? Will the entrepreneur build a trusting business relationship with the marketing services provider and nourish a long-term business relationship? Once the marketer commits, s/he must fully engage with the micro-business for at least 2 years to assess progress and realize compensation for services!
By partnering with the goal of a long-term commitment, the service provider will be paid when revenue permits and as sales grow; so too will the revenue stream of the service provider/partner/mentor grow as time passes. When the micro-business grows, the marketing service provider would remain engaged with a long-term client that is bound for success as a small business and perhaps larger. The marketing service provider continues as a business partner of the micro/small business. And therein lies the risk to the marketing services provider entrepreneur. Is the marketing services entrepreneur willing to part with knowledge acquired over decades of experience and education that has been monetized in hope that return on investment in the micro or small business will materialize sooner than later?
Marketing techniques and big marketing budgets are rarely accessible to small businesses for many reasons among which are limited cash for marketing, and an entrepreneur's time and knowledge about marketing. There is a massive under-serviced business sector that is begging for marketing services. If the goal is to increase and secure a loyal base of clients with repeat business, consulting marketers must be prepared to share risk with businesses that demonstrate a minimal risk of achieving success in growth and revenue. That means professional marketers sharing resources, knowledge, and time with expectations of payment matched to the revenue cycles or sales success of clients. There is a new way of conducting business with micro and small business entrepreneurs through mentor partnerships that can be both challenging and rewarding.
If you are a small business entrepreneur with few resources, in need of marketing services, and would like the services of a chartered professional marketer, contact Grant Lee at email@example.com to explore a Mentor Partnership.
Starting Over - An opinion on tourism and the January 12 eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas, Philippines
For decades prior to January 12 2020, Lake Taal and its active volcano was a major tourist attraction. People could walk or ride a pony to the rim of the crater. There, they would view
a spectacular volcanic lake.
The lake is gone as are the trails to the rim, and the villages that serviced the tourists with boat transportation guiding services, refreshments and pony rides to the crater. People came to Taal from every continent.
Over the decades, resorts were established to attract day-trippers from Manila and the business class to hold conferences and entertain visitors while lodged on the shores of Lake Taal. The lake remains segmented for fish farming and marinas with sailboats, and outriggers are occasionally heard traversing the lake, but the volcano is off limits to resettlement and tourism. Uses of the Lake Taal resource have changed. The tourist industry attached to the lake must develop a new model to have any semblance of a recovery.
The eruption destroyed everything that was superficial to the natural resources which are the fresh water Lake Taal, the island remnants of ancient volcanoes dotted throughout the lake, a shoreline of small business resorts and small towns located on fertile shores, winds during the afternoons of most days, unique scenery, wild fish, and the active volcano itself that remains at Level 1 with gaseous venting. The natural resources are the combined product that can be marketed to tourists and day-trippers familiar with the old attractions and people who may wish to visit the lake for the first time.
Considering the natural resources, what might be the new attractions to Filipinos of generations X and Millennials, and tourists from abroad? The Philippines will develop is own rules and behaviour for working within a world of pandemics and infectious diseases, and tourists will be allowed into the country, eventually. Now is the time to re-tool the local tourist industry.
The lake is ideal for activities like wind surfing and para sailing, along with sailboating, sailboarding and kayaking. Entrepreneurs can partner with existing boatmen and resorts to provide boats and perhaps share the investment cost of parasails.
A new idea and activity for the lake is water kiting. That means launching kites from bangkas. Boatmen might find a new way of generating income from people wishing to fly kites from their boats.
People who still spear fish to feed their families may find a way for providing day-trippers and tourists with a tilapia spear-fishing experience instead of snorkeling that may include grilling and camping. Micro-businesses could be established around shoreline spearfishing.
The beauty of Lake Taal including sunrises, sunsets and starlit skies is ideal for retreats at the many resorts looking for new ways to attract guests. People of Faith and others practicing yoga may find the lake especially appealing.
Hiking trails, streets, and tours of the nurseries of Talisay may be an option for micro and small businesses dependent upon the fertile volcanic soils.
The boatmen of Lake Taal might find customers who wish to sight see and view the volcano up close from the lake to take photos and hear stories from the people who live on the lake what it was like to survive the eruption. No-one died.
The lake is far enough from major urban areas for visitors to clearly see constellations and view the night sky for photography and overnight relaxation.
Lake Taal has endless views and angles to challenge any photographer. The topography, lighting and natural colours are enough to challenge anyone looking for spectacular subjects for photographs.
The location of Lake Taal did not change. It remains less than two ours south of the Greater Manila area where there is a population of approximately 25 million. Using private vehicles, people can access the lake by way of a modern expressway.
The good news is that the Lake Tall tourist industry has a product, it can set prices for services on the basis of what people are willing to pay and value add to local brands. Taal is near the biggest concentration of potential customers in the country. Collectively, with help from the Department of Tourism, resort owners, boatmen and numerous other small and micro-businesses can promote new activities to draw people to the region. The hard tourism infrastructure exists and needs upgrade and repair only. Much work must be undertaken to train people for new ways to sell activities, services and consumable products to new generations of day-trippers and tourists. Resorts, boats, and businesses serving visitors must be modernized and cleaned to encourage people to return to Taal and spend money. And there must be a way to engage visitors so they will happily frequent local businesses and become ambassadors for the region proclaiming an unforgettable pleasant experience!
The path to health
The story about a poor village with a dispensary serving thousands
An AGL Marketing Limited project
For thousands of people living in remote villages a few kilometers from Lake Victoria in Tanzania, the Rwand'enyi dispensary is all that there is to ease the pain, combat infections, prevent disease, and help with birthing.
The dispensary was built with money from The Health Basket Fund, a sector wide approach to health care.
Rwang'enyi cannot sustain the dispensary building in peak working order. The dispensary has insufficient resources to grow its business with many hundreds annually walking great distances, some up to 18km, to get medical help. Roads are untreated trails. There is no electrical grid serving the dispensary, the water supply is captured rainwater, and there is no full-time doctor. Three full-time nurses paid by the national government staff the dispensary. There is no refrigeration, but a solar panel cools a vault for storing vaccines.
The people of Rwang'enyi know that the path to better health is the creation of sustainable businesses and enough personal income to contribute to the maintenance and staffing of the dispensary.
For sustainable development to occur, villagers using the dispensary must sell products that are needed and can be used now. The village is reaching out to people worldwide on social networks who may have experienced success with similar enterprises. They want to hear your story so the people of Rwang'enyi can learn from you and sell a lady's sandal or man's shoe to help build their path to health.
Value for service begins with credentialed marketers
In the beginning, I frequently heard from licenced professionals with whom I worked that marketing was something nebulous. Back then, marketing was an activity passed along to the well-dressed male with a full mane who could play golf, get choice seats at professional sports events, tell (somewhat) funny jokes at staff parties and client meetings, and feign friendships with everyone, almost.
Then it was the ladies turn. If you were well groomed, spoke well with a sense of humour (that was strained at times in the presence of sexist jokes and lewd comments), and carried yourself with grace and beauty, the marketing coordinator job was a high-heel shoe-in.
In both scenarios that are now too outrageous to be believed, the "nice people" in charge of marketing were oblivious to marketing principles, standards, ethics, strategy, and tactics. They were having a wonderful time that really boiled down to advertising and entertainment at the whim of a boss in the name of marketing.
xperience and Capacity Building
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ombined portfolios ensure high-level strategic marketing and communications solutions for micro and small to medium-sized enterprises.
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