decipher & dénouement


by Wizard of Ads Atlantic on 11/05/13

Is there is a difference between advertising and branding?



Not always.

Branding “burns” an emotional association to your name.

A brand is the sum of all the mental associations, good and bad, that are triggered by the mere mention of a company’s (or product’s) name.

Advertising is quite simply “getting your name out there”. A strong message can be salesmanship on steroids, but alas a steroidal message can have long term physiological repercussions.

Each can exist without the other.

One can accelerate the other.

Or it may inadvertently besmirch the other's good name.

triggered by the mere mention of a company’s (or product’s) name.

The first step in building your brand is identifying your core values:

What do you stand for?

What do you stand against?

When done correctly, your advertising will convey the values of your company.

Demonstrate what you stand for and you will attract people that share the same values. Stack each message one upon the other to deepen the footings of your brand.

Each message affects the big picture.

Careless advertising can create associative memories that can cost you dearly.


by Wizard of Ads Atlantic on 10/28/13

Our Wizard of Ads Aussie (and inaugural) partner, Craig Arthur, took an entire year to sift through the towering stack of Roy H. Williams’ writings on the why’s and how’s of advertising to create the insightful handbook of straight talk  “Making Ads Work”
The assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The attack on the twin towers.

The moment I read page 16 of Making Ads Work.

Those moments that define who you are, what you stand for, what you stand against.Those moments that stay with you forever.

I still wear my parents shock and grief over John F. Kennedy’s cinematic elimination.

The stick shift had just located R when the airwaves swept me to the smothered base of the twin towers.

7:22pm. Headlights illuminating the broken lines of the 101. It was a chilly realization that September 11th translated to 9-1-1.

March 2003, at my desk devouring “Making Ads Work” when I inhaled the 5 sentences that would become my North Star.

  • Decide what you have to say                                                    
  • Find a hundred different                     ways to say it
  • Say it convincingly
  • Say it again
  • Keep on saying it.

Stop chasing the golden goose.

Stop flirting with the sparkle.

Tell the story.

Tell the story within the story.

Decide what you have to say and
find a hundred different ways to say it.

Wise words from a Wizard.

Thanks Roy.
Thanks Craig.


by Wizard of Ads Atlantic on 09/30/13

Talk is easy.

Leading by example? Not so much.

What are your non-negotiable standards? Do they include ethical-decision making?

If you were asked to share how you ensure that your business executes ethical standards day in and day out, what would your answer be?

The Maritime Better Business Bureau asked Milne Court these very questions as they narrow the list for the best representative for their 2013 Ethics award.

Introspection isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile.

Question #3
Ethical Initiatives or Programs:?
How is ethical practice and behavior made part of the day-to-day operations in your organization?

Scott Fraser, owner of Milne Court Petro-Canada, fully understands that it's his hand-picked team that brings Milne Court to life; they are Milne Court’s personality and warmth. 

Expectations of behaviour and ethical practices are clearly set at the time of hiring and are reaffirmed by consistent managerial practices.

If a question regarding the conduct of staff member is brought to Scott, he seeks out the facts with a cool head by:
  • Listening carefully to the complaint.
  • Asking questions.
  • Checking the store’s monitoring system to see if he can verify the team member’s actions.
  • Speaking to the team member(s) who were working at the time of the "incident".
  • Interviewing the team member in question.
Once Scott has uncovered all the facts, he determines if and to what extent discipline is necessary. Stealing, lying are cause for immediate dismissal. If a customer was mistreated in the incident, Scott does what is necessary to right the situation with the customer.

Conversely Scott demonstrates that he values his team members by:
  • Mentoring them on a personal and business level.
  • Going to bat for them when they need an advocate.
  • Posting the many complimentary letters, emails, Facebook messages that he receives, on the team bulletin board for everyone to read.
  • Hanging awards where they can be seen by all.
  • Recognizing and rewarding team members when they exceed customers expectations.
    • Dougie sending a self-serve customer inside to warm up while he pumped her (self-serve) gas because she was shivering in -28 temperatures.
    • Damon and Doug for changing a women’s tire - at no charge - early on a frigid Monday morning because it was flat and needed to be changed.
    • Debbie and Tim for delivering grocery products to the vehicles of disabled customers so they, the customers, don’t have to struggle in and out of their vehicles to pick up the needed supplies.

Scott looks to hire outstanding people with values congruent with those of Milne Court.

And yes, he understands that developing strong team members often leads to team members being recruited by other companies . When this happens and a team member elects to move on to a new opportunity, Scott chooses to see this as a win for the team member, celebrates their success and begins his next round of interviews.

How does your organization educate and train its employees and/or corporate officers in implementing ethical decision making?

Communication is key.

The Team Newsletter, which covers everything from reminders, to new programs to fun anecdotes about team members, is distributed with the teams bi-weekly paycheck.

When a new policy is implemented or when it is paramount that every team member be aware of new information, a memo is posted on the Team bulletin board and everyone must initial and date the document to indicate that they have read and understand the information.

In monthly team meetings Scott:
  • Covers and answers questions regarding logistics: news, updates, changes.
  • Shares the compliments he's received from customers; discusses what took place and identifies the team member(s) who went above and beyond the expected. Team members are welcome to share their stories of the response they or their teammates have received from customers.
  • Asks for and receives Team input on how to improve their procedures and service efforts including opportunities to surprise and delight customers.
  • Introduces the newest performance incentives designed to enhance team work and performance accountability.
  • Includes one item of training on the Psychology of Serving; often sharing stories from other business categories that are chosen to encourage his team to look beyond the situation at hand and at the “big picture”, so they learn to look at the consequences of their actions both long and short term.
  • Closes with an inspiring message recognizing the value that each person brings to the team.

This is how Milne Court answered Question #3.

Will you share your answers with us? 


by Wizard of Ads Atlantic on 09/24/13

You know the feeling. Jammed between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes the “right” decision appears to come with a big price tag.

Here are two situations where Milne Court chose to draw a line in the sand.

Better Business Bureau (Ethics Award)

An ethical business is positive, honest, fair, reliable and responsive to its stakeholders.

How has your business demonstrated ethical decision-making related to customers, employees, suppliers/vendors/sub-contractors, or other stakeholders?

Provide a description of no more than two (2) situations.


Scott Fraser, owner of Milne Court, knows that mistakes are inevitable despite everyone's best efforts. Errors will be made.

That’s why Milne Court team members have a protocol to follow:
  1. apologize immediately
  2. work within parameters of your authority to make the situation right
  3. if the solution is outside your authority immediately involve your manager.
  4. incidents and solutions are recorded in the daily log
Unfortunately, there have been incidents when a customer has irrationally lost their temper and dumped their outrage on a team member.

On these rare and oh-so-uncomfortable occasions, Scott has taken a firm stand; politely but clearly informing the customer that their behavior is unacceptable and that they are no longer welcome to do business at Milne Court.

Respect is a non-negotiable standard at Milne Court and it applies to everyone who crosses the threshold, not just staff.

Milne Court team members understand that they have a responsibility to the safety of their community, which is why team members have on four occasions, notified the authorities because they believed a driver was:
  • under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • driving erratically
  • mistreating/abusing a child in their care
The team made these calls because they know that Milne Court believes that saving a life is more important than losing a customer.

                                *                 *                 *                   *  
No business can anticipate and prepare for every potentiality, but you can develop decision-making parameters so that difficult situations are handled consistently and congruently.

Where to start:
  • Clearly define the core values of your company; for yourself and for your employees.
  • Clearly define your company’s non-negotiable standards.
  • Lead by example.
  • Use every challenging situation as a teaching opportunity so your staff understand:
    • How the companies core values and non-negotiable standards are the company's GPS. 
    • The critical importance of looking at the big picture and long term ramifications.
    • When the line of acceptable behaviour has been crossed.
    • When and to what extent they are empowered to make a situation “right”.
    • When to involve their manager.
    • The parameters they must work within when “surprising and delighting” a customer. 
 Would you like to share how your business has demonstrated that it is “positive, honest, fair, reliable and responsive to stakeholders (i.e. customers, employees, local community, etc.)”?

If yes, hit the comment link below!

*Full disclosure: Milne Court Petro-Canada is owned and operated by Scott Fraser and is a client of Wizard of Ads Atlantic.


by Wizard of Ads Atlantic on 09/18/13

What is your North Star?

What are your non-negotiable standards?

How many of your policies developed accidentally as a result of an incident? There’s no shame in that. A much bigger issue would be ignoring the incidents instead of seeing them as an opportunity to fine tune your business.

And it’s always the right time to refine and redefine your course.

The Maritime Better Business Bureau sent us a list of questions to provide them with an accurate snap shot of the ethical standards of Milne Court's business operations. At the very least, the questions identify what the BBB believe to be important benchmarks for a business to aspire to.

In answering their questions, I was impelled to examine and produce evidence that Milne Court’s policies and procedures are indeed deeply ingrained in the moment to moment activities of the business. After all; it's the moment to moment operations that steer your course.

Because it’s important to be consciously aware of what you do and why you do it, I’m going to share Milne Court’s answers, question by question over the next 5 weeks.

These are Milne Court’s answers. We are providing them merely as a catalyst for your own introspection.

Question #1

How has your organization demonstrated responsibility to its stakeholders (e.g., customers/clients, employees, local community, etc.)?
Milne Court Petro-Canada consistently demonstrates the core values, service and generosity:
  • To help eliminate poor fuel mileage and driving hazards resulting from poorly inflated tires - Milne Court provides FREE AIR No Purchase Required
  • Two Full Serve Lanes - At the request of customers, Milne Court Petro-Canada dedicated two tanks/lanes to Full Service. Milne Court is the only station in the market that offers this service and it is fully utilized especially by seniors, physically challenged drivers and business people.
  • Milne Court’s Ambassador of First Impressions does far more than dispense Full Serve gasoline. The Milne Court Ambassador checks tires and fluid levels, tops up air pressure, cleans windshields, opens the door and carries heavy items for customers regardless of their Full or Self Serve status.
How has your organization demonstrated a balance between people and profits?
Milne Court invests a significantly higher portion of gross sales in staffing and wages than the industry standard.
  • Milne Court employs 14 people in a combination of full and part time positions, compared to the industry average of 5 employees. Employment positions include: Manager, Shift Supervisor, Cashier, Ambassador of First Impressions, Accountant and Baker.
  • Entry level employees begin at minimum wage and at the end of three months move to the pay level of their position i.e. Ambassador. When Nova Scotia’s minimum wage increases, every employee receives a raise proportionate to the change in the minimum wage.
  • Escalating gas prices have led to the insurgence of gasoline theft (drive-off’s). It is standard practice for gas stations to hold employees financially responsible for the loss. As a result gasoline attendants have been injured and killed trying to stop driver’s from stealing fuel. Milne Court believes that drive-off’s are the companies responsibility, not the employees. To that end, Milne Court has installed 32 surveillance cameras so team members remain safely inside and leave the theft for the police to deal with.
How has your organization sustained a record of providing exceptional customer/client service and a quality product or service in the community?
  • Every month Milne Court has a team incentive that establishes minimum performance expectations. Daily accomplishments are recorded by each team member and tracked by management. At month end, when the goals have been met (or exceeded), every team member, including the bakers and the accountant, are rewarded. When Milne Court speaks of TEAM, Milne Court MEANS Team.
  • To date (September 17, 2013) the Milne Court team has achieved 8/8 of their 2013 monthly incentives; overachieving August’s incentive by 23%,having:
  • Checked 3174 tires (of which 97% were incorrectly inflated)
  • Cleaned 2861 windshields (this number is over and above the number of “full serve” windshields cleaned, as that is standard performance requirement).
  • Checked the fluid levels on 237 vehicles
  • Anytime a second customer appears in the cashier line, a Milne Court team member must jump on the second cash to eliminate unnecessary waiting.
  • Team members are rewarded for surprising and delighting a customer above and beyond Milne Court’s standard levels of service.
  • Early on a bitterly cold February Monday, a vehicle limped into Milne Court on a flat tire. Although changing tires is not part of Milne Court’s offerings, the Ambassador of First Impressions surprised and delighted the customer by changing her tire and getting her on her way to work -- Free of Charge. Scott rewarded the Ambassador with a $25 gas card for going the extra mile.

Has your organization been recognized for social and/or ecological responsibility?

  • IWK Community Award presented March 16, 2011 to Scott Fraser, Milne Court Petro-Canada and Gram’s Bakery for outstanding service to Maritime children, youth, women and families. This is the one and only time that the Community Award has been presented to a non-IWK-staff-member.
  • 2010, 2011 and 2012 Finalist - Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce “Outstanding Small Business”
From the Nova Scotia House of Assembly:
  • Hansard 09-8 Debates and Proceedings Friday, September 25, 2009 Resolution No. 28... 
"Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its thanks to Mr. Scott Fraser and his staff for their  commitment to socially responsible business, green energy, and excellent service provided to the people of New Minas and the surrounding area.
  • Hansard 12-51 Debates and Proceedings, Monday, November 19, 2012, Resolution No. 2094... 
“Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly recognize the contributions made by the Cap It For Cancer team at Milne Court Petro-Canada and all those involved with producing and promoting this vital fundraising event.”
Has your organization been a bridge between the profit and  non-profit sectors?
Recycling "Does Good"@ Milne Court
  • Milne Court donates the money raised from the recyclable bottles and containers "deposited" at Milne Court to charity. Examples:
    • June 1, 2012, Milne Court donated $252 to the IWK Telethon.
    • December 2012 Milne Court donated $279 to "Open Arms Men’s Shelter" Kentville, NS
Gram’s Cookie Coupons
  • Milne Court assists Not-For-Profit organizations in their fund raising efforts with coupons for Gram’s freshly baked cookies. Not-For-Profit organizations purchase booklets of 12 coupons @ $50 each ($2.50 per certificate) and sell each certificate for $6.00 (retail price for a dozen of Gram's delicious cookies). The Not-For-Profit organization keeps $3.50 per certificate/$42.00 per booklet for their fund raising coffers. The purchaser redeems their gift certificate at Milne Court for a dozen of their favorite freshly baked Gram cookies.
  • Three times a year Milne Court donates 50 dozen cookies to the IWK for the people volunteering at the Radiothon, the Telethon and for the participants in the annual IWK Job Fair.
Habitat for Humanity
  • Milne Court donated 500 dozen cookies to help raise money for the first Habitat for Humanity home built in the Annapolis Valley.
300 dozen cookies annually to various fund raisers and groups such as:
  • Safe Grad;
  • Annapolis Pony Club;
  • Apple Tree Landing Educational Centre;
  • Salvation Army;
  • Benefit for Darren Brown...

Cap It For Cancer
  • The brain child of Scott Fraser owner/operator of Milne Court Petro Canada, “Cap It For Cancer” is Milne Court’s fund raising effort for Breast Cancer programs. Participation is simple and easy; donate $2 and receive 4 PINK valve stem caps to adorn your tires. Milne Court paid for the caps so 100% of the money raised will be donated to Breast Cancer programs. To date (10 months into the 12 month campaign) “Cap It For Cancer” has raised $11,639.99.
We'll be posting our answer to QUESTION #2 'ETHICAL DECISION MAKING' next week. 

In the meantime we’d love to hear your answers if you are willing to share with us.

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