June 2021

Short stories and essays for marketers and small business entrepreneurs who care about how their services and products contribute to healthy communities.

Think before you speak | Think before you act | Think AGL

Marketing services of AGL continued without interruption during the pandemic because of the business model and mobile office technology

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AGL Marketing Limited was established in 1998 as a microbusiness marketing consultancy. There was never an intention to grow into a larger small business because the intent was to service clients online globally from any location.

Fixed assets in an office plaza or tower would add to the operating expenses a knowledge-based profession. By working within a mobile office business model, commuting time and costs were eliminated as well as maintenance of a fixed asset and unproductive time through interactions with others and assimilation into a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, workplace experience.

A mobile office opened a new experience of combining work and leisure time and adoption of a unique lifestyle. The model works well to conserve natural resources and contribute toward the notion of sustainable development while generating income for AGL Marketing and its suppliers. The business operates from a home office address with banking and accounting services in Southern Ontario, a summer residence in Northern Ontario, and a home office with banking in the Philippines from November through April. Throughout the year the office could be operating from other countries and regions of Canada.

The business model demands self discipline, a high level of health, and continuous education in communications technology and application of marketing principles and standards. By working in a variety of social and environmental situations that constantly change, it is important to apply ethical marketing practices to all paid projects and volunteer assignments.

When the COVID 19 pandemic struck, I was working with clients in North America from my base in Villasis, Pangasinan, Republic of the Philippines. The lockdowns and travel restrictions had zero effect on projects because all were online requiring no face meetings. At the time in January 2020, all communications with clients were by email, GoToMeeting, Skype, WhatsApp, FB Messenger, and WeChat (China). AGL was fully experienced with online marketing and communications and continued volunteer training of Canadian Executive Services Organization clients. Suppliers in Ontario were engaged in building a website for a concrete precaster, and team projects were carried out for small businesses with AGL's business partner CA14 located in Glen Williams Ontario. The greatest challenge in working from a mobile business environment is quickly adjusting to time zones and preparing for those middle of the night (02:00-05:00hr) meetings that require an alert presence of mind.

A sign of times to come? Maybe. The post 2020/2021 pandemic world of "just about everything" has changed. The workplace has morphed to a hybrid of private home and public space for many people employed in the private and public service sectors. For many people commuting everyday between 06:00 and 09:00 and 16:00 and 19:00 are history. Many are working under the mantra of as long as clients are served and the job gets done on time, home work hours are flexible and may extend for selected hours 7 days a week. For AGL, it is business as usual. Nothing changes except for the acquisition of new knowledge of marketing technology to share with clients, so that their interests are served as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Starting a product-based microbusiness during COVID

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This is a short story of a "work in progress." Some believe that an entrepreneur starting a business should not promote it until it is fully launched and generating revenue because others may steal the idea. Tradition says that if you are first into the market with a new product or service, you have an advantage over all those who follow because customers have no other choice to purchase if they want or need your product. In tech industries and military (of course) being secretive is critical to success. As a marketer, who is experienced in competing for work in the markets I serve, I know that the more players the better because I can leverage their marketing campaigns, products, and budgets to help diversify my product and take a share of the market that satisfies my goal and objectives. I can tell a better story to attract customers.

The purpose of my new venture is to create income for AGL and some families in my village with little income so they can improve their lives with more money every week. If the concept gets traction, it can spread and trigger new ideas and create more microbusinesses.

Over the past two years, beginning only months before the first COVID-inspired lockdown, I began a collection of hibiscus in my small garden. Strict rules of the lockdown prohibited my wife and I from leaving our property for any purpose other than seeking essential services such as medical, food, and banking. Outside of my existing business commitments, I began experimenting with plant propagation, using skills and knowledge that I gained at the University of Guelph decades ago. Before I knew it, I had over a hundred rooted cuttings from 16 varieties. What to do?

I tried selling without bloom with roots packaged in a soft plastic bag through a friend's store. No takers. I began giving them away to elderly residents and family as Christmas, New Year and St. Valentine Day gifts. Then the germ of an idea came to me. I have visited memorial gardens many times and noticed that people visiting to remember the departed take flowers in plastic, glass, metal and clay pots and vases. Flowers die and there is a lot of waste that is mostly directed to landfills. Some is reused. I decided to offer an alternative to the packaging following the 3Rs of conservation and the notion of sustainable development (social, economic, environmental).

In the Philippines, bamboo is used in traditional construction of huts and furniture. There is a lot of scrap bamboo where such products are crafted. I had a supply of bamboo at no or low cost that I could easily recondition and turn into vases and pots for short term displays of hibiscus and transport to gardens for planting. In preparing the vessels scrap is made smaller and used for drainage material inside the container with soil and the rooted plant on top. The vessel can be produced in 30 to 40 minutes with hand tools. No electricity is needed. Costing a unit allows for a modest daily income for the producer and a small source of revenue for AGL. If the bamboo vessel is returned soon after purchase, a refund may be possible. If kept, it will decompose much more quickly than plastic, metal or glass.

And so, GumamelaBambu was born. Now it is time to and take it to market and prove that people will buy my product. With that in the rear view mirror, the next step is to build a network of small business entrepreneurs.


Credentials from CIMMO differentiate your personal brand as a marketer

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The Chartered Institute of Marketing Management of Ontario (CIMMO) grants the Chartered Professional Marketer (CPM) certification to people seeking life-long careers in marketing. Certification requires a formal education in marketing from a university or college, professional exams, and mandatory continuing education. CIMMO is chartered by the Ontario government, but membership is not legislated and overseen by a government agency. Membership is voluntary and no licence is required to practice marketing.

Without a licencing requirement to practice marketing, the industry is wide open to anyone wishing to call themselves a marketer without any formal education, training, and skills development. Membership recruitment from marketing schools, people working in government with marketing responsibilities, and marketers in private practice is a daunting challenge. For CIMMO, the draw to membership is certification by a chartered institute, mandatory continuing education, and a global reach of its purpose – to make the world a better place through ethical marketing.

One of my stories | COVID-19 Chronicles 2020-2021

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Like many evenings during the holidays leading into 2020, I was with “the guys” in a back ally near my winter home in the Philippines enjoying idle conversation in the outdoors leaning on a messy food-laden table, drinking too many beers, bourbon, and gin. The warm evening air was still, and music and song were everywhere. I watched the full moon poking through the tall palms for a while, fully aware of the laughter and banter around the table in two languages and a dialect. Life couldn’t get much better.

In January we heard news from Wuhan about an epidemic that was raising concern throughout China and some countries in S.E. Asia. By February it was a pandemic and people in the Philippines were being infected by travellers from other countries. I wasn’t too worried because I carried a permanent resident card, and my wife was a dual citizen. We could travel to and from the Philippines from Canada at will and had a return flight in April. I thought there was time for the virus to be contained, and growing anxiety in my town would pass by the time of my planned departure. How naïve we all were!


CESO | Volunteer Advisor during COVID

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COVID and pandemics that are likely to follow (considering Nature's way), reminded us of the Global Village and how nations are forever interconnected because we are human.

The work of Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO/SACO) seamlessly reverted to total online mentoring and training, until safety returns to travelling. Then CESO volunteers can work in distant places in person to help people in micro and small businesses and organizations.

Since the outbreak in early 2020, Grant Lee, CPM of AGL worked with CESO clients in Hay River NWT (Canada) and Georgetown Guyana. In both assignments he mentored on integrated marketing communications including attention to social media marketing, women entrepreneurship, sustainable development, and indigenous tourism.

CESO is always seeking talented Canadian VAs (Volunteer Advisors). If you have an interest in sharing modern knowledge and skills online or in far away places, you can contact CESO and ask about volunteering. Click on the button.

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AGL graphics design supplier, Studio Fourteen launches new website content of products and services

Top-tier visual solutions by owner Peter Perko, GDC, are at Studio Fourteen specializing in graphic design and digital imaging. Studio Fourteen services are included in a one-stop marketing service at CA14: website development, social media, strategic marketing, content creation. Click on the button and check out the services by Peter Perko.

Studio Fourteen
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Thinking Marketing

Always on the hunt to find new ways to communicate and connect with clients, prospects, and friends, Grant Lee created a podcast channel called Thinking Marketing. If you are interested in thoughts about Physical Evidence of the 7Ps of the marketing mix becoming eclipsed by Professional Evidence, click on the audio icon and listen.

Value for service begins with credentialed marketers

In the beginning, I frequently heard from licenced professionals with whom I worked that marketing was 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.



The CA14 connection

Experience and Capacity-Building

AGL Marketing Limited combined strengths, creativity and resources with the CA14 Team to bring a new level of service excellence on a global scale to a wider range of clients. Combined portfolios ensure high-level strategic marketing and communications solutions for micro and small to medium-sized enterprises.

See the CA14 brochure that summarizes the CA14 team and the services that help many companies improve their market share.

Reviews are important and appreciated! If you enjoyed your experience dealing with CA14, please tell us (and others) about it!

1. Email

2. Google Review

3. Facebook

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About Cabbages & Golf Balls

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Grant Lee

+1 416-705-5369

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