advice for improved customer communication

When I was a kid, there was this thing called the Helping Hand Program. If you were hurt, lost or in danger, you could knock on the door of a house that had a handprint sign in the window. Kids knew that the family with a handprint sign would watch over you while they called your parent. 

I never had to knock on someone’s door, but it made me feel better knowing I could. 

When I ran my magazine, I tried to be the helping hand for my readers. I had 16,000 printers who read my column each month. I told readers they could call  me whenever they wanted. Many subscribers called me every week to check in, especially during the rocky times of 2001 and 2008. Printing company owners would tell me about their personal lives, hobbies, what kept them up at night, their finances, and their families. 

No one was looking for big answers. They just wanted to know someone cared.

As a printer, how do you show your customers you care? How do you extend a helping hand?

Recently, on the GirlsWhoPrint podcast, I talked about how my clients send out email newsletters every week and sometimes every day. 

It can be hard for printers to wrap their heads around the fact that your customers want to hear from you that often.

However, if you are a respected and trusted provider, your customers want to know what’s going on. They want to know what’s on your radar. If they like you, they want to hear your voice in their head when they read your words.

If they choose not to read that day or that week, knowing that they have the choice makes a big difference. 

Knowing they CAN open your email — that you are right there if they need you — is very reassuring. 

The top business experts and thought leaders send something out almost every day. If I need information or inspiration, it’s there. All things being equal, I will open the newsletter of the person whom I trust and respect. If I need insight that I can take action on, it needs to be from someone proven, whose advice and perspective has shown to be worthy. A person who shows up, week after week in my inbox is not a quitter or a dabbler or the guru du jour. 

Communications like these — regular and eagerly welcomed — become part of the cadence of life, especially when you’re a business person who keep the inbox close. 

Whether you’re a business person who markets to other businesses or you seek to reach day-to-day folks in their daily lives, your ongoing emails and communication say something about you. Whether you offer reliable information, a unique viewpoint, thought leadership or other valuable content, your presence lets people know you’re there for them. 

When times are tough, you want to be the person or brand that elevates your reader, who educates and empowers them, and who makes them feel hopeful. 

One more thing, think about including print in your communications mix. Right now, your customers, vendors, and prospects are probably working from homer, at least part time. The mail or parcel delivery may be the highlight of their day. Should you mail everyone? That’s up to you. If you see that a reader regularly opens your newsletter and even replies or shares, send them a friendly card, a handwritten postcard, a fun package, or a gift. Email newsletters plus print is a potent combination when people are hungry for contact. 

Remember, if someone is important to you — and you are important to them — they really do need to hear from you regularly.

By the way, my Helping Hand is in the window for you as well. Feel free to post a comment below, connect with me on LinkedIn, and attend our Wednesday #PrintChat. You are not alone.

Lots of love to you all, my friends. 

Sandy Hubbard

Sandy Hubbard has been author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. She is a Marketing Strategist and Business Consultant who serves print, publishing, and media businesses. Sandy helps clients build their businesses using solid, proven techniques and a systematic approach. She hails from a long line of printers, publishers, authors, and newspaper owners. For 22 years she published a magazine for the printing trade, counseling her readers about how to make better business decisions and grow in the evolving print landscape.

Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join in the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!

Read more from Sandy here.


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