February 2022

Thinking Marketing? Think AGL.

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

Serious marketing messages with a little humour through comic strips

Grant Lee, CPM

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When the book Cabbages and Golf Balls was published in the late 90s, the Internet was an emerging technology for everyone. Few understood the way it would change everything and businesses questioned its relevance. There were few apps and Netscape Navigator enabled access to the World Wide Web. Microsoft followed. For several years marketing communications slowly and reluctantly transitioned from traditional offline to online along with budgets for advertising. Now the challenge for marketers is how to leave a memorable message or marketing opinion and remain relevant in an ever-changing industry.

I decided to experiment with a throwback communications form that has spanned the centuries with success. In Cabbages and Golf Balls the protagonist was a stickman that triggered thought and inspiration through its ignorance about anything marketing and sales. For the next couple of years I will be posting periodic messages on social media and other publications like the Cabbages and Golf Balls newsletter to deliver marketing messages and sales pitches in the form of chrome-dome stickpersons. I enjoy opinions about marketing principles, standards, ethics. and applications in micro and small businesses.

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Email Grant Lee

Defining generations for marketing communications needs careful consideration

Grant Lee, CPM

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Experience in marketing professional services and some lines of products for thirty years has left me with a handful of life lessons that I wish I had known in the beginning. One is about communicating with the “generations.”

When I started, there were few opportunities to study marketing in Ontario. The topic was buried in business courses or in publications “snail-mailed” from the USA. What I knew about generations was what I learned studying the social sciences at university. Back then, I do recall that a generation was given a 33-year period, now it is said to be 25 to 30 and can be as few as two or as many as five in 100 years. How could I have known?

What I do know is that in Canada and the USA and a handful of EU countries, marketers embrace the packaging of generations as (from oldest to youngest ending at Z) Traditional, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Z. And now the leading handle for those following Z is “Alpha” (born after 2010).

Reality Check

When a marketer is building personas around their target generations, the packaging in Canada and the USA works well, because the generations are conditioned on how to behave and consume, and what to value through all kinds of sources from movies, television series, fashion, learning centres, lifestyle businesses and so much more, including marketers working for the transnationals. But what about people in other countries who immigrate to Canada and The Golden Horseshoe in Ontario? What are their values and life markers? Can they be shared, and are they? The answer is yes with people from the same regions. With people born in Canada and the USA – maybe. The periods of their generations defined by values and major life experience markers in their homelands transcend generational periods marketers use in lockstep in Canada and the USA.

When I judge marketing competitions at universities and colleges in Ontario, I am reminded by every team that their teachers, textbooks, and peers have unanimously bought into contemporary Canadian and USA generational marketing theory and practice. No-one who I have encountered on a project is considering the life experiences and values of the complex “transgenerations” that now comprise Southern Ontario. Marketers tend to package audiences as male/female, Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and Z based on age.


I first became aware that the North American generational packaging that I have held dearly and advocated since around 2010 was faulty when completing a marketing assignment in Tanzania. That country has no Boomer generation as we know it. When you check and compare population age gender periods over decades, there are no bubbles moving through the pyramid as there are in Canada and the USA. That country did not experience a wave of soldiers returning from campaigns in Europe and the Pacific and the baby boom that followed. Gens X and Y seem to be integrated as birth rates are high and parents/partners tend to have children for longer periods than in North America. I was trying to create personas of generations that did not exist. A generation might be closer to the 33 years I recall from university.

In February 2022 I was completing a marketing assignment in the Philippines and was shocked to learn that there seems to be two major generations in the workforce defined by politics and technology. Wow! I can see gens Z, Y and X and seniors at the malls and street level, but they behave differently and cannot be personified in the same way we do in Canada and the USA.

Lesson being learned

I will no longer blindly apply the generational packaging we have in Canada and the USA. I will research the geographic area, demographics and cultures of the customers/shoppers being targeted for a clients' integrated marketing communications campaign and think about what I find before defining the persona of the people we wish to contact. I have become aware that I will find touch points that customers value and life experiences to connect with that are not taught in school, social media insights, and generational theory for marketers.




Grant Lee, CPM


Book Review


By Suzen Fromstein and T J Stoate

Kindle ISBN: 978-1-77242-135-4

Carrick Publishing

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A Convenient Ruse is a tapestry of vignettes into the lives of characters drawn into a web of deceptions and tricks. As they deceive, they are deceived and drawn deeper into a network of relationships where they can never escape the actions of those who they will never know or meet.

Many do meet their demise, however.

The writing is laced with words and phrases that appeal to the mature reader as well as those who are discovering what the golden age of radio called, “theatre of the mind.” As the main story unfolds, the scenes move more quickly and the characters of the protagonists (and there are more than one) become credible. Watch for the weave of Sergei throughout and how the deranged mind and actions of a person can mislead and ruin.

There are several scenes of betrayal, loss, and affection that spark memories and buried feelings. There are others that give hope to a future where young entrepreneurs care about wide-spread financial knowledge, sustainable development, and corporate social responsibility.

After a brilliant opening, the story drags a little as characters are developed and settings created for the rest of the tale. It is important to the story that time be taken to set the context. This is the only time that I found myself scanning and not reading.

The ending is unexpected, and I thought credible. If it were any other way, the story would have been ruined, just like the lives of many of the characters.

I give the book 4.5 stars out of 5.


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. CIMMO's 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.

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

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About Cabbages & Golf Balls

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Grant Lee

[email protected]

+1 416-705-5369

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