I recently got a call from a distributor of gas and electricity; one of those calls offering a better deal than the one you’re in with your current supplier. When the industry was deregulated some years back, we were hounded by door-to-door salespeople employing sales tactics that, to me, appeared to be blatant efforts to mislead and confuse me into signing an agreement that may well have cost me dearly. My experience in that period with the company whose call I received last week so offended me that I can’t imagine any offer they could now make that I would believe to be in my interest.

Thought 1: Trust makes communication easier. Absence of it can render the listener deaf. Safeguard your brand.

There are large display panels above some of the major highways around Toronto. When there are unusual conditions ahead such as lane closures, diversions or odd weather conditions, they provide extremely helpful information. When there’s nothing interesting happening, they display somewhat less useful information: “Drive safely,” or occasionally the more poetic, “Arrive alive;” a driving objective many of us are prone to overlook, apparently, without the occasional prod from the Ministry of Transport.

In truth, the messages are rarely so brief. Perhaps it’s considered wasteful to have paid for all those letters and not get to use them. So there are long and, given the circumstances, distracting messages about restricting cell-phone use while driving, or about socially responsible drinking.

Now I’m a big fan of social responsibility and drinking so I don’t have any problem with the sentiments expressed by the messages, but I can’t help but believe their constant presence when there’s nothing of significance to report reduces the impact of the critical messages that are the raison d’

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