Why Custom Notepads are a Perfect Promotional Tool

Want to give your business a gift that keeps giving?

You can do this by giving gifts to other people. According to the ACI 2019 Impressions study, promotional products bring some of the highest rates of return on advertising, trumping all other forms of media. Consumers surveyed said they were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a favorable opinion of promotional products compared to online advertising, and consumers under 55 preferred a promotional product message over EVERY other advertising medium (including print, online, or traditional mass media).

Data shows the average household in the U.S. owns 30 promotional items, which means if there are 120 million households in America, over three billion company logos are floating around at any moment!

Looking for a fun but practical promo gift for your clients and prospects? Custom printed notepads are a great, economical option. Notepads are designed for utility and flexibility, meaning people can take them anywhere and will certainly use them. Since notepads are durable and easy to distribute, they’re great for trade show giveaways, sales rep gifts, presentation folder inserts, or fridge magnet marketing.

Making the Most of Your Custom Notepads

When you are ready to maximize the ad potential of a custom notepad, here are some ideas for making the most of your design:

Define Your Key Concept

Not every notepad is created equal, so you should decide upfront what your design concept will be.

Do you want a stand-alone desk pad with a hilarious 3D appearance (like this hilarious “hair thinning” tearaway Pantogar notepad)? Perhaps a vintage cover or a sparkly flip pad? Whether you want simple sticky notes or an artistic journal, defining your concept will clarify details about paper selection, line guides, and binding.

Strive for Consistent Branding

Because clients will use your notepad over and over, this is a very tangible way to build brand awareness.

Consistent color schemes, fonts, and logos all build your brand and strengthen the associations people have with your business. While you may be tempted to stray from your standard branding guidelines for a promotional pad, this can be unwise.

Put Them to Work Yourself

While many professionals give away notebooks, many fail to use notepads for their own needs.

Notepads can leave lasting impressions on your associates. Not only can they be used for notetaking or strategizing, but they are great for casual correspondence too. Think about how often you jot notes to send internally or externally. Why not do this with your own customized marketing tool? Notebooks offer a subtle strategy for increasing brand credibility.

Consider Custom Photo Options

What is more memorable than a photo?

When you want to add extra personalization, consider a photo banner on top or a transparent full-page photo backdrop for each page. People resonate with pictures, and when they connect to an image, they’re engaging with your business.

Overcome the ordinary and try something unique with image-oriented notepads!

Keep Your Name at Their Fingertips

When you want to grab hold of customers, make it easy for them to grab hold of YOU with a pocket-sized promotional notepad.

Notepads are economical, memorable, practical, and fun. Build on-going exposure as you keep your name at their fingertips with this helpful, handy tool. Contact us to learn more today!

How to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Care

Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes admitting them.

If we’re honest, business professionals hate owning up to mistakes because of pride, embarrassment, or fear that customers will leave. But denying weaknesses only magnifies awkward situations and hurts your company’s reputation. Dealing proactively with problems will strengthen credibility and spark improvements that benefit your brand.

When Micheal Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey founded Barefoot Cellars, they started in a laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse. Knowing next to nothing, they made many mistakes. In one instance, they discovered a barcode error that led a shipment to ring up for less than it should, which lost the distributor money.

When he caught the mistake, Houlihan showed up personally at the store’s corporate office with a check for the loss, including an added bonus for the distributor’s time and expense. Houlihan described to the manager how Barefoot Cellars was shifting internal processes to make sure the problem never happened again. Because Houlihan owned the mistake and informed the distributor in person, the orders kept coming, and a potential complaint became a memorable learning experience.

Overcoming “Survival Mode” Mentality

For many companies, the default approach is to respond to problems as they arise.

This survival mode mentality may work temporarily, but long-term success is built as your brand is able to impress and delight customers in a more proactive, personalized way.

Future forecasters predict that by 2023 businesses will transition into a season of “continuous service” through artificial intelligence. But in the meantime, customers still need care, and the best strategy is upfront intervention.

Looking to sharpen your systems? Here are three ways to be more proactive:

1. Inform Customers About Your Mistakes Immediately

It’s always better for customers to hear about a problem directly from you instead of discovering it themselves.

If your company identifies a problem upfront, you can avoid costly damages and harmful publicity. As you identify errors, take responsibility for the mistake, offer refunds or future discounts, explain how you are remedying the problem, and let people know who to contact for assistance.

2. Offer Self-Help Customer Service Channels

One reason service can be so frustrating is the wait time and red tape it involves.

Many customers prefer to find answers themselves, so generate accessible content that addresses common complaints. This may include a FAQ page, live chat software, webinar tutorials, or a customer care focus in your print newsletter. Not sure where to start? Review customer service call and email logs or use survey data from clients and customer service representatives. 

3. Build 5-Star Service into Your Company Culture

For proactive service to work, it must be embedded into your company culture.

Here employees are trained to deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. This means everyone (not just the people on the front line) must understand and desire a 5-star service. Teach employees to anticipate what a client MIGHT need and have a solution ready before they ask.

Build Your Brand by Fortifying Customer Confidence

One of the most effective ways to stoke customer confidence is to do things for your customers before they know they need it.

Like a vase on a pottery wheel, proactive service means continually molding and reshaping the interactions customers have with your business. As you preemptively address sore spots, you’ll confirm the customer made the right decision to do business with your company.

How to Build Trust and Unity Through a Strong Company Culture

When it comes to company culture, Zoom is off the charts.

Zoom is a California communications company that provides remote conferencing services for online video meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.

Zoom’s mission is to develop a people-centric cloud service that unifies meeting experiences while improving the quality of communications forever. Zoom is passionate about connecting not only customers but employees.

The company sports its own “happiness crew,” a team committed to maintaining company values through wacky celebrations, community involvement, and volunteering. Happiness crews coordinate team serving opportunities like Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, and more, allowing employees to give back, to enjoy co-workers from other teams, and to make a difference for causes they care about.

Whether it’s arranging a “Bring Your Parent to Work Day” or decorating desks with rubber ducks, this passionate team culture has helped Zoom to grow and thrive.

Company Culture is Beyond “Perks”

Company culture is more than just great coffee or vacation incentives; it goes to the heart of how people treat one another and the values of the company itself.

Deliberately defining and communicating your culture makes it easier to determine who you’re looking for and why certain individuals are a fit for your team. It defines success for employees and encourages people to practice values that are important for your business. And deeper than just perks or parties, company culture unifies people and makes work more meaningful and enjoyable. As you design company culture today, you build trust, responsibility, and vulnerability for tomorrow.

5 Keys to An Enhanced Company Culture

What might an enhanced culture look like for your business? Here are a few keys.

1. Build From the Bottom

Start by defining your mission, vision, and values.

Create language or catchphrases that celebrate a “win,” so values come off the wall and into everyday life. When you center your culture around how you want people to be treated, company culture will fall into place.

2. Identify Cultural Ambassadors

Every company has team members who are passionate about company identity.

These people love the organization and serve as cheerleaders who breathe life into the workplace. Once you identify ambassadors, ask them what they like or dislike about the current atmosphere and what improvements they would suggest.

Ambassadors offer a buffer between the boss and the team and have immense power to sway opinion. Lean on them and be open to change!

3. “Mandate” Fun

A strong work culture requires that everyone gets together, whether it’s a mid-day splurge or an after-work activity.

Offer timed conversation prompts or get people competing to fuel momentum. Looking for ideas? From breakroom cooking competitions to a hilarious round of “Eat Poop, You Cat,” online hacks are endless.

4. Assign Culture Captains

Maybe you can’t afford a happiness crew, but every employee can assist you in connecting with changing personalities.

Involve employees by selecting rotating “Culture Captains” who are in charge of shaping ideas for the month. From Funky Friday costume days to a buffet of the month (with a merit-based giveaway item), getting people involved in planning means everyone will have more fun!

5. Encourage Anonymous Feedback

No one likes criticism, but if you don’t welcome feedback, culture “cancers” can grow.

Send a yearly survey to all employees so everyone can share how they’re feeling and provide anonymous feedback. Allowing an avenue for processing can prompt a wealth of new ideas. Sometimes your team has the solutions you need, and you don’t even know it!

Your Greatest Asset

In a world where great employees are like gold, treating your work atmosphere as an afterthought is a huge missed opportunity. Wise entrepreneurs will design company culture as intentionally as they design the products they sell.

 

Spark Creative Solutions with Four Ideation Strategies

Creativity.

It’s something we long to unleash. Some seem to do this effortlessly, with work that carries a distinct, resounding voice. Others labor tirelessly and produce merely a weak echo. Where some of us once flourished, now we flounder.

The good news?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

What does it take to beat back the ordinary and to release fresh, gripping, or exciting ideas continually?

4 Ideation Strategies to Spark Creativity

When you want to break out of creative ruts, ideation strategies offer a useful tool for challenging your habitual (a.k.a. BORING) ways of thinking.

Want to give it a try? Here are four exercises to enhance imagination for yourself or your team.

1. Green Lighting

Green lighting (or free-flow brainstorming) is often used in creative strategy sessions because the lack of censorship allows participants to generate a high quantity of ideas in a short, synergized session.

During a green light session, any wild or wacky ideas are welcome to be jotted on a group think board. Participants restrain from analyzing or critiquing options and instead try to build momentum by generating a large quantity of ideas or by collectively building on others’ ideas.  Green-light thinking sparks solutions you might otherwise overlook, releasing your team to much higher levels of creativity and productivity.

2. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a graphical technique used to build a web of relationships.

Begin by writing a problem statement or a key phrase in the center of the page. Now encourage people to say solutions or ideas that come to their minds next. As new ideas are put on the board, participants connect their keyword “branches” by curves, lines, or vectors. Mind mapping transforms dull or tedious information into colorful, memorable patterns that can help flush out ideas, articulate hidden options, or generate collective solutions.

3. The “Anti-Problem” Exercise

Sometimes looking directly at a problem makes it harder to solve.

This ideation strategy encourages teams to turn the tables by defining an “anti-problem,” or a challenge that is the opposite of the real problem at hand. After articulating this concept, teams work together for a set amount of time to solve the anti-problem. Here teams may find inspiration by generating ideas still relating to the problem space, solutions than can then be “re-flipped” to bring them back into the realm of the true problem.

4. Mindset Spacing

Sometimes using physical space to reflect different thinking methods can propel your team to breakthrough.

For example, Disney’s creative team used to label four parts of a room for separate mindsets: imagining, planning, critiquing, and stepping outside a concept. Teams then gathered in each space with one target objective: perhaps an innovation to brainstorm or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced green-light thinking, planners tried to define the specs, timeline, etc. Meanwhile, critics and concept overseers analyzed weaknesses, defined missing elements, or addressed obstacles.

Challenge your team members to physically rotate between these “mindset” spaces and see if it brings new ideas to light!

Collectively We are Genius

Time to teach an old dog new tricks? They say that “collectively, we are genius,” so try out ideation techniques with your team and awaken imagination today!

Ideation strategies allow you to flow in a life-giving, streamlined environment, releasing ideas that are imaginative, strategy-driven, and smart. Need help with coming up with your next great idea in print? Reach out to us today.

Gain Momentum with a Strong Visual Identity

When Ruben Dario Villa started his car air freshener company, Fúchila Fresheners, he had a clear idea of who he was and how he wanted to communicate.

As a Mexican American, Villa wanted his Chicano heritage to be instantly recognizable to people from his community:

“Fúchila in Spanish is slang for when something smells bad,” Villa said. “So calling [our brand] Fúchila Fresheners is ironic, and people thought it was funny.”

Fúchila’s products aren’t your typical tree-shaped fresheners. Instead, they include pop-art images of the late singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez and renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The fresheners use simple, punchy colors that reflect Chicano heritage, and it works. While Villa started Fúchila from the trunk of his car, now the fresheners are carried in over 100 stores from coast to coast.

 “The [visual] identity has been crucial to Fúchila’s growth,” said Villa. “It has a graphical element. It’s been attractive to people; I use very bright colors. It really is being authentic to me—it’s what I like to see and what I feel my community likes to see, so that’s what I gravitated towards.”

Why Consistency Counts

If you put five pieces of your marketing materials in front of you, what would you see?

Would you find a streamlined, consistent theme? Or would you see a confusing jumble of chaotic imagery, colors, and text?

In today’s visually-focused age, a strong visual brand identity is crucial. Visual identities offer a framework for clients to connect with companies in a reassuring, cohesive way, so when you engage prospects across different platforms, they know who you are and the personality you represent.

Visual branding includes logos, colors, typography, imagery, composition styles, photography, videos, and more. Just as Villa chose images relevant to Chicanos, your target audience should shape the theme of your brand. When you resonate with the desires of your audience, it will be easier to attract people.

3 Keys to Sharpen Your Visual Identity

Looking to sharpen your visual identity? Here are three keys.

1. Define Your Audience

Defining your audience can influence the tone you use.

Outline your target markets using demographics (age, gender, income, etc.) and psychographics (personality, interests, lifestyles, or desired solutions). Once you identify their values or concerns, you can appeal to their needs and wants.

2. Outline Your Mission and Voice

Your business probably has a clear vision, but can you communicate this to your audience?

Why do you provide your products or services? How do you hope to change your clients or bring benefit to their lives? Once you clarify your mission, identify the voice that matches this position. Whether this voice is authoritative, rebellious, or compassionate, seek to communicate in a consistent tone. 

3. Use a Cohesive Style Guide

To build a strong visual identity, maintain a style guide to keep visuals cohesive across mediums.

Use color psychology to pick shades that match your voice. Define imagery that complements your message: is it pastel landscapes? Bright animations? Personable faces? Even shapes communicate: round and organic forms signal warmth and softness, while geometric or angular shapes signal innovation, prestige, or power.

According to John Du, a Los Angeles-based designer and art director, even typography is significant:

“Typography is just as emotional as anything else—when you look at different fonts, they have different personalities,” Du said. “If you want to showcase your business as something very traditional or respectable, you might consider a serif typeface. If you want people to see your business as something more modern, something more grounded, maybe you’ll choose a sans serif typeface.”

It’s All About the Image

Studies show that visuals increase a desire to read content by 80 percent.

When you create articulate, strong visuals, your business will gain momentum and grow strong relationships with customers and clients.

Embrace Originality with 4 Unique Marketing Options

Want to sculpt an eye-catching identity and bring your print projects to life?

You dream it; we’ll print it! With today’s technology, you can print concepts as varied as your ideas and as rich as your imagination. Ready to toss the template and try something a little different? Here are a few ideas to push the boundaries in your next design.

Foil Postcards

Time to rise and sparkle!

Raised gold or silver foil will take any printing to the next level. With a tactile, metallic shine, foil postcards bring a “wow” factor that can’t be matched. Foil can be added to logos, lettering, die-cut shapes, outlines, borders, and more. You can foil on one of both sides of your postcard, or combine your foil with velvety coated paper to make your product shine.

Whether you want eye-grabbing handouts or incredible invitations, foil postcards are guaranteed to make a stunning impression.

Pearlescent Flyers

Looking for a quality that suits your style?

Add an extravagant touch with metallic, pearlized, and pearlescent papers for your next flyer. With a smooth feel and a glittery finish, pearlescent print pieces bring a modern, pristine look your customers can’t miss. Thick, shiny, and metallic, these paper stocks offer a gorgeous option for announcements, service menus, invites, and more.

For a rich, warm finish, go for antique gold, champagne cream, copper, or flaming reds and oranges. Or, for a refreshing and royal tone, try aqua tropics, blue vistas, botanical greens, and deep violets. And remember, pearlescent and metallic coatings require larger fonts and extra white space in your design.

Super Business Cards

Looking for something super impressive and super fun?

Super business cards are for you! Cut from premium paper that’s durable (yet lightweight), these non-bendy business cards bring a bold impression that LASTS. Customize them to your preferences, with round corners, shiny finishes, raised spot gloss lettering, and more.

Whether you want a muted matte feel or a sleek sparkly vibe, super business cards are guaranteed to be as unique as you.

Creative Rip Cards

Want to keep them thinking of you after they walk away?

With posters or publicly displayed marketing materials, prospects may quickly see you . . . and forget you. Rip card printing offers an effective tool for marketing that sticks.

Did you know you can attach rip cards to posters, flyers, and mounted displays? Like a long-lasting calling card, rip cards offer your clients a point of contact they can follow up with later. Many businesses combine rip cards with discounts and incentives, whether it’s a “Buy One Get One” offer or a 10 percent discount on an upcoming service or treatment.

Whether you attach rip cards to rack cards, displays, or door hangers, this creative option ensures you’ll be seen, remembered, and contacted.

The One and Only You

You’re not like anyone else, so brand yourself with a unique voice and creative marketing options.

When you print locally, design and print come to life in ways that can’t be matched elsewhere. Ready to own YOUR niche through our collaborative design process? Visit our website to get started today!

Reduce Financial Risk by Conducting a Stress Test for Your Small Business

How will the economy affect your business this year?

Economic conditions impact all businesses, but small businesses often feel the effect of changes sooner. Upswings in the economy mean more disposable income, which can provide a rush of new or expanded business opportunities for your firm. But dips in the economy may make it harder for you to break even, to cover payroll, or to qualify for loans that will increase your growth opportunities.

While you can’t control the economy, you can take steps to ready your small business for unexpected changes. One simple tool to consider is a stress test.

Ways to Stress Test Your Business

A stress test is a simulation to gauge your financial risk under different economic scenarios. The results can aid your financial planning and let you know where your business is at the greatest risk in the event of economic hard times.

Here are three ways to stress-test your business to stabilize it during unwanted slowdowns.

1. Solicit advice from others

Do you have an advisory board or a brain trust of reliable partners? 

SCORE, a nonprofit that is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers a network of volunteers, including retired C-suite executives, who can help mentor. You can search for a SCORE mentor online or through a local chapter.

2. Plan for worst-case scenarios

One of the more effective ways to prepare for change is to make projections.

Look at what a dramatic budget crunch might do to your business or what would happen if you lost a major client or product. Evaluate how this loss would affect your business and decide how you could trim expenses or diversify your client base before this happens.

3. Review your financial cushioning

What kind of cash cushion does your business have?

While experts recommend a six-month reserve, you can probably be more specific. Look at your net “burn rate” on expenditures to identify the rate at which you spend cash holdings. Then look at your monthly budget and estimate how much money you plan to use over the next 12-15 months.

From here, you can project what kind of cushion is necessary and how long it might take you to obtain a loan or solicit an investor if money was extremely tight. Even in a worst-case scenario, having a plan in place can alleviate fear.

A Road Map For the Future

While it is wise to conduct a stress test at any time, analysts say the best seasons are typically the spring and summer because larger market crashes tend to occur in the fall.

By planning ahead now, you can make informed decisions about decreasing inventory, consolidating debt, cutting payroll, or connecting with new investors. By stress testing your business’s finances and proactively plan, you can mitigate future problems and sleep better each night.

Find More Enjoyment in Life Through Strategic Energy Management

Steve Wanner is a highly respected 37-year-old partner at Ernst & Young, married with four young children.

When Wanner started working with “The Energy Project,” a consulting company focused on sustainable performance, he was working 12- to 14-hour days. Wanner was overweight, perpetually exhausted, and felt guilty about his family life. He was distracted, slept poorly, and made no time to exercise. Like many professionals, daily demands were pushing him to the limit.

Time is a limited resource, and often people recognize that better time management could make a huge difference. Many leaders think they can excel by working harder or being more organized, but simply working harder almost always leads to anxiety and a difficulty disconnecting at night.

A Better Way

Proponents of energy management say there is a better way.

Energy management is a science and an art. Most people understand the science: if you exercise, eat, and sleep well, you’re likely to create more energy. But energy management is also an art. What energizes one person may not energize another. Conversely, what sucks the life out of someone might be a motivator for another.

While time is unrenewable, energy is not. When we are more energized we are more creative, efficient, and powerful. That’s why it is imperative to practice strategic energy management.

How to Conduct an “Energy Audit”

As you conduct an “energy audit” on your life, here are two questions to consider:

  1. What drains me? (What am I “bad at” or miserable doing? What sucks large amounts of energy and leaves me feeling lifeless?)
  2. What sustains me? (What am I good at or fills me with pleasure, adrenaline, or a can-do spirit?)

With this perspective, evaluate your schedule in three ways:

1. Rate your daily tasks

As you list regular responsibilities and decisions, assign negative number values (-1 or -2) to things that drain you, and positive values (+1 or +2) to things that motivate you.

2. Delegate, automate, and designate

When possible, delegate or automate things that consume energy, and designate more time for things that give you energy.

Schedule your days so that energy-draining tasks are followed by mini “resets,” or by tasks that you enjoy. Pay attention to the times of the day or week that you have the least energy, and plan positive value tasks (+1 or +2) for those time periods.

3. Address energy-depleting habits in your professional and personal life

Whether it is a lack of sleep, eating at your desk, or not enough solitude, ask yourself where “joy suckers” could be changed into solutions.

Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, gives several examples of options for proactive energy management:

  • Sitting down to eat breakfast
  • Leaving your desk for 5-10 minutes every 90 minutes
  • Checking e-mail only twice a day
  • Prioritizing energy-draining tasks early in the day, or working on them in a different physical space than your normal office
  • Taking deep abdominal breaths in stressful moments
  • Recruiting a gifted team member for tasks you find mentally exhausting
  • Requesting to do more of what you’re “good” at
  • Writing gratitude notes to others once a week
  • Disconnecting from work calls 15 minutes before reaching your driveway
  • Putting a hobby that you love on your calendar

Unlock Potential and Create Lasting Change

After Steve Wanner took a hard look at his habits, he began drinking less, going to bed earlier, taking short afternoon walks, and leaving his desk frequently. Wanner lost 15 pounds and says he feels more relaxed and connected to his family.

By creating and managing your energy budget, you will be better equipped to create change, make a difference and get results. Give it a try!

Demystifying the Paper Selection Process

Paper is essential in the design and cost of your publications.

And while paper seems like a basic element, often the print terminology and project specs can be confusing. That’s ok! You don’t have to be an expert to make smart decisions, because we’re here to guide you.

Perhaps a peek at these frequently asked questions can help you understand materials, compare costs, and weigh options for your next project.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Paper

1. How does the “grade” of a paper affect its appearance?

Coated paper is categorized by grade levels, with a premium being at the top. Grade levels are determined by brightness, and here are several basic grades (or types) of commercial printing papers:

BOND OR WRITING = Typically used for letterheads, business forms, and copiers. Typical base weights are 16# for forms, 20# for copying, and 24# for stationery.

BOOK = The most commonly used coated and uncoated papers for printing. Ranging between 30#-110# depending on coatings.

TEXT = High-quality sheets in a variety of surfaces and colors. Used for quality printings with a lot of surface texture.

COVER = Used when greater bulk/thickness is required, such as book covers, postcards, business cards, or inserts. Available in a wide variety of surfaces and colors, typically ranging from 60# to 100#.

TAG, BRISTOL, AND INDEX = Smooth surface papers mostly uncoated, except for bristols. Often used for displays, file folders, and tickets.

Remember, paper products come with three specifications: brightness, gloss, and opacity. Typically, the higher the grade level, the higher the brightness and gloss will be.

2. Why does the paper “weight” matter?

The higher the weight, the heavier the paper.

In general, heavier papers are bulkier and sturdier, allowing fewer pages per inch. They also have greater opacity (i.e., less show-through), which offers a higher quality but also an increased mailing expense.  

3. When is lighter weight helpful?

Publications with larger page count (like magazines, booklets, or projects using a significant amount of paper) can use lightweight stocks to reduce bulk, weight, and cost.

Lighter weights can also bring a more playful, casual feel to your brochure or booklet.

4. What is the difference between coated and uncoated paper?

Uncoated paper is porous, cost-effective, and is typically used for such applications as newspaper print and basic black-and-white copying.

Coated stock paper, by contrast, is made of higher-quality paper with a smooth, glossy finish. Coated paper works well for reproducing sharp text and vivid colors. 

5. What finishing options are available for my project?

A paper’s finish can have a considerable impact on the final appearance of your printing.

Gloss finishes are sophisticated and eye-catching, with a smooth surface that allows for more precise reproduction. Matte (or dull) papers have a softer, subtle feel, and can be easier to read. Spot or foil varnishes are also available if you want to highlight some aspects on your page.

How to Choose the Right Paper for Your Next Printing

Print is beautiful, tactile, and memorable.

More than just ink on a page, the weight, texture, and sheen of your printing can tell an emotional story. Paper plays a significant role in the tone you want to communicate, but also in your bottom line. When you increase the grade or weight, you will improve quality but increase expense, so choosing between paper selections is a delicate balance between image, functionality, and cost.

Want to chat more? Give us a call to see some paper examples or discuss your options today!

Avoid “Grammatical Embarrassment” by Sidestepping 3 Common Errors

Can you spot the mistakes in this paragraph?

Melissa was excited about her son’s swimming ability. This fall, she asked, “Would you like to join the swim team”? Sammy was thrilled about the idea, accept for one thing: the tight swimsuits. “Why do I have to wear spandex”, he complained, “I’m all ready the fastest swimmer in the pool”!

Grammar can be painful.

Make A Fresh Start

Even after years of writing, there are grammatical errors that impede us all. For some, it’s punctuation. For others, it’s word selection. And when you repeat the same mistakes, bad habits get harder to break.

This year, make a mental note to dodge those potholes! Here are three mistakes to avoid in your writing:

1. Incorrect Apostrophes

Apostrophes indicate possession for nouns and letter omissions in contractions.

Generally, singular possessive apostrophes come before the ‘s’ and plural possessives apostrophes come afterward, like this:

Singular Possessive: Jim’s hat or Mike’s coat

Plural Possessive: Several years’ work or many students’ books

Apostrophes do not indicate possession for personal pronouns, so it is incorrect to add an apostrophe to “it” or “who” when designating ownership.

  • Incorrect: Who’s bike is this?
  • Correct: Whose bike is this?
  • Incorrect: The flower lost it’s petals
  • Correct: The flower lost its petals

When contractions are used, apostrophes replace the missing letters. For example:

  • Correct: “It’s looking like great weather for planting flowers.”
  • Incorrect: “Its looking like great weather for planting flowers.”
  • Correct: “Who’s going to help me prep the soil?”
  • Incorrect: “Whose going to help me prep the soil?”

Punctuation and Quotation Marks

Do punctuation marks go inside or outside quotation marks?

This one can be tricky because British and American English have different rules (which is why you sometimes see discrepancies). Here are two basic American guidelines:

1. Sentence-ending commas and periods always go inside quotation marks.

Remember, if you are INSIDE the U.S., commas and periods go INSIDE the quotation marks. Like this:

  •  “I fell asleep,” Paul said.
  • Paul awoke and complained, “I had a bad dream.”

2. Question marks and exclamation marks can vary.

If they apply to the quoted material, these marks belong inside the quotation marks. If they apply to the whole sentence, they go outside.

Each of these sentences is correct:

  • Mary asked them, “Where should we eat?”
  • Do you think Mary is hungry enough for the “Impossible Whopper”?
  • Chandra texted Michael, “Should I bring dinner?”
  • Chandra looked in her purse and exclaimed, “I have a $50 gift card!”
  • The dog leaped off the couch when he heard Chandra say, “I’m bringing pizza”!

Words That Are Easily Confused

Words that are commonly misused include these pairs:

Affect/Effect

Rule of Thumb: “Effect” is usually a noun, while “affect” is typically a verb.

  • Incorrect: The text had a negative affect on my mood.
  • Correct: The test had a positive effect on my grade. This positively affected my mood!

They/Their

Rule of Thumb: “There” refers to a place, while “their” indicates possession.

Example: We’re going to love it there—I heard their breadsticks are the best!

Accept/Except

Rule of Thumb: “Accept” typically includes, while “except” usually excludes.

Example: I was proud to accept an award (though everyone except the dog received one).

Assure/Ensure

Rule of Thumb: To “assure” is to make someone confident of something; to “ensure” is to guarantee that something actually happens.

Example: Though Mike assured me that the dog would not escape, I locked Scout’s kennel to ensure he stayed put.

Farther/Further

Rule of Thumb: “Farther” refers to physical distance and “further” denotes metaphorical (or figurative) lengths or advancement.

Example: I want to run farther next time, but need to progress further in my training to grow my endurance.

While grammar debates can make your head spin, hopefully, these tips can alleviate confusion. Do small things with excellence, and you’ll make big strides!