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!

Design Trends to Look Forward to in 2020

2019 was a year where taking risks in design was considered normal.

What design trends can you look forward to this year? As we round the corner into a new decade, we may see a softening of some of 2019’s more abrasive trends and a shift toward simplified contrasts when designers want to be bold.

Here’s a sneak peek at five design trends to watch for in 2020:

1. Beautiful Flowing Shapes & Lines

The last few years have brought an abundance of geometric, rigid, proper shapes.

In the new year, these designs will be replaced by more flowing shapes, patterns, and lines. Flowing shapes can convey a natural, abstract, peaceful feel on a page. Whether you use a soft speech bubble to surround text or place images overflowing water or lava currents in your backgrounds, this shift toward flowing lines brings a down-to-earth, creative, and authentic tone.

2. Neutral, Natural-Looking Stock Photos

Several years ago, bright, colorful stock images were all the rage.

Graphic artists were boosting saturating and enriching color contrasts, to the point that some photos didn’t even look real. But as color trends have relaxed, audiences are embracing more muted palates, colors similar to what you might find in a soft sunset, a misty morning, or the corner of a woodworker’s craft shop.

As stock photos follow, this year, you can expect to see more muted, genuine, and neutral stock photos. This includes a focus on candid faces, shadowed silhouettes, and seemingly unfiltered photos. A step back from air-brushed perfection, look to use stock photos that seem more reserved, harmonious, and real.

3. Textured Bevels and Chisels

While designers seek to bring a more authentic vibe in 2020, one way they can do this is through texture.

By creating 3-D forms like buttons, icons, or coins, bevels and chisels create a 3-D effect on a 2-D (flat) surface. Typically, this is done with tight layering, shadowing, and some degree of opacity. Look for beveled knock-offs of real-life objects. The result will be a flat image that looks tantalizingly real enough to touch.

4. Creative Typography

Creativity is just not limited to vibrant designs and unusual color combinations.

Font choices also play a prominent role in the tone and personality of every design.

Whether it is a paper coffee cup, a wild banner, or a funky poster, sometimes creative typography is all it takes to drive home your message. And while typography can stand alone as its own design (like this), it can also be woven into the image itself to give unique expression to the artwork (like this). With great font selection, sometimes the words are the graphic, and just a small amount of creativity can truly spice up the project.

5. Bold, Clean Colors

Finally, with a move toward expediency, simple, bold colors are taking the stage once again.

We’re not talking about 80’s neon vaporwave, but dreamy, vibrant, full colors like enchanting blues, tomato reds, and radiating purples. Colors are a key driver of attractive designs, and 2020 will see an emphasis on gradient blends replaced with things like filled color canvases with no white space between hues.

As you play with bold shades in your graphics, avoid using too many bright colors that make designs hard to read. Instead, use bright, energetic colors with simple, clean design to create contrast.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Ready to kickstart the year with a new style?

To do so, it’s helpful to reflect on the past and decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Stay ahead of the curve with these design trends and let us know if we can help you infuse your designs with a fresh look in the months to come!

4 Small Adjustments that Bring 5-Star Customer Service

Did you know it only takes seven seconds to make a lasting impression on new people that you meet?

If this is true in personal relationships, how significant are the impressions your business makes with customers? Great entrepreneurs know that if you want long-lasting, loyal clients (who spend AND who voluntarily advertise your excellent service by word of mouth), then you must prioritize customer relationships and consistently offer superior service.

Going From Good to Great

What does five-star service look like from a patron’s perspective?

Here is a snapshot of where a business moves from average to above-average:

3 — Service is average, fair, “the usual” satisfactory, expected, etc.

4 — Customer is very satisfied. Service is average, above average, exceeded expectations, etc.

5 — The client is delighted and amazed. Service is extraordinary because employees “walk on water” for customers.

To elevate your customer experience, you have to be proactive, not reactive. Five-star customer service gives extra attention to the smallest of details and does this with an authentic care for each individual you serve.

Here are four areas of focus to grow a culture of excellent service in your team:

1. Be Visible

Whether you respond to clients through e-mail, phone, or live service, be accessible and prompt in every response.

Let clients know they can always reach out to you and where you can be reached if they need anything. Never break communication – whether clients are pleased, waiting, or upset, don’t leave any attempt to communicate unanswered. Acknowledge the feelings behind the communication, and – in difficult situations – offer creative customer reparations (refunds, replacements, bonus items, etc.) if possible.

2. Anticipate Unexpressed Needs

Five-star service providers seek to surprise and delight their clients.

Here employees deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. When you check in with a client, what do you expect they MIGHT need (i.e., help navigating your new software)? Can you have the solution ready before they ask (i.e., a tutorial video attached to your check-in e-mail)? Seek to bring solutions, even if the client is at fault, and your business will be more memorable and responsive.

Anticipating needs is a way you tangibly care for people, and when you do this, it touches emotions. One general manager with five-star hotel experience put it perfectly:

“It is the small, simple, special moments that we create through personal engagement with each guest that they will recall when they return home. To accomplish this type of sustainability, we carefully and methodically select our employees, and then continuously train. It’s not about the tactical as much as it is about speaking the language of the guest.”

3. Train Your Team to Employ Creative Problem-Solving Skills

Five-star service includes the ability to think outside the box and create unique solutions to problems.

Customer service is primarily about problem-solving, so train your team to embrace problems rather than dreading them, and you will shift the culture in your business. A great team member isn’t afraid to come up with creative solutions. Give them the authority to do this and see what happens!

Publicly commend employees who do, and you’ll reinforce this attitude for everyone.

4. Use the Feedback You Receive

Five-star teams are never satisfied with the status quo.

Teams that excel in service are ruthless about gathering feedback and doing something with it. Do you collect customer comments? If so, how do you review it and identify areas for improvement? Companies that make specific changes in response to feedback are strategic, dynamic, and are genuinely customer-focused.

Build “Every Day” Excellence

Excellent service is something that happens consistently, so challenge your team to create memorable experiences that are repeatable every day.

Be visible, creative, and proactive, and challenge everyone on your team to take ownership as they follow through on guest requests every time.

Ensure Staying Power for Your Business with Great Local Marketing

Earlier this year, Gerrit Curran and Emily Wessner opened a Jersey Mike’s Subs in Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania.

To gain traction in their township of 20,000, these entrepreneurs knew that their new business must be intricately tied to a community connection. Curran and Wessner chose to use print as their primary marketing channel. The Jersey Mike’s staff distributed nearly 7,500 sandwich coupons throughout the community, encouraging patrons to enjoy a free sub and also to donate the cost of that sandwich to the Muhlenberg Township Athletic Association.

In the end, the promotion helped raise over $15,000, and the franchise gained an admirable reputation as a devoted community partner.

Stand Out in Your Community

Print marketing can be especially effective in creating a local marketing presence, especially when combined with integrated campaign efforts.

Smart business owners know that catering to a local market can be a point of power. But how do you leverage this connection? Here are several ways to connect your on- and off-line presence in compelling ways.

Demonstrate Community Connection

Integrate your business into local festivals, sponsorship opportunities, and regional traditions.

Does your community host a lobster festival? Find fun ways to weave this crustacean into your flyers or sales. Share pictures or postcards about your brand participating in local fundraisers, theme weeks, or service drives. Start conversations on things that are happening locally and, whenever possible, relate them to your business.

Personalize Advertisements

When advertising for your business, highlight testimonies or quotes from real, local customers. Try before and after pictures, photos of your customers in well-loved parks, or advertisements featuring your content in front of an area mascot.

Another option is to tailor your ads to regional events. Is your city sponsoring a music festival? Offer helpful content like advice on cheap parking, a schedule of places where kids eat for a discount, or print coupons that correspond to a felt need of these visitors. Creating ads with local content will connect with your audience on a very personal level.

Invent Reasons to Make a Difference

Too often, organizations focus on community involvement with a selfish perspective: more profits, more marketing, etc.

Instead, take a “community in the front, business in the rear” approach. Whether you build a nature center with other businesses or create a contest for local charities, genuinely help people, and the benefits will follow. Plus, employees and volunteers will love submitting their photos to your company newsletter or your social media pages.

Tell Your Story

If you’re from the area you’re targeting, do your best to tell the story of how your business came to life.

Make a video, print inserts for your bags or envelopes, or have a brand story display onsite. Customers love to support local businesses, especially those founded or run by a hard-working local resident.

Find, Engage, Repeat

While your brand may serve customers beyond your region, an enormous 85% of business owners depend on word-of-mouth referrals, so it is vital to actively influence your friends and neighbors!

When satisfied local customers are committed to your success, your business can do more with less while continuing to succeed.

Need help giving your brand an extra boost in the community? We’d be happy to help with your local marketing needs. Contact us today to find out more!

5 Keys to a Simple Design Update

The United States Open Tennis Championships is a professional tennis tournament that takes place in New York City around Labor Day each summer.

The US Open draws fans from around the world to watch players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams compete. The 2019 US Open set an all-time attendance record with 737,872 fans coming to the National Tennis Center, with the largest stadium (Arthur Ashe) selling out 23 of 24 sessions.

In 2018, the United States Tennis Association announced it was introducing a new logo for the tournament. This featured a speeding tennis ball with an updated font while dispensing with several elements of the old logo. The previous icon (a flaming ball with a red swoosh) was a dated image that presented challenges in digital media and failed to represent the US Open as a premium sporting brand.

By keeping elements of the original logo, the USTA was able to redesign in a way that captured the excitement and movement of their world-class event. The entire Tennis Center (including grounds, merchandise, and courts) received a surge of energy as the logo came to life at the tournament.

How to Overcome Frumpy Designs

Are your designs starting to fade with age?

After many years in business, your branding may not feel as contemporary as it should. Your 1990’s neon-colored bubble letters could certainly use a fresh take, or maybe your mascot (or your photos) look like they need plastic surgery. Some companies may require a total design overhaul, while others need to freshen up a logo, a catalog, or point of purchase display.

No matter the scope of your project, here are five steps to guide you through graphic re-designs:

1. Start with the focal point

Decide what it is you want viewers to see first.

Unless you have a very symmetrical, consistent design, be sure your focal point leaps out by providing strong contrasts in font size, color, typeface, etc.

2. Organize information into logical groupings

If items are related to each other, group them into closer proximity (like a title with a subtitle or an address with a phone number).

The most important groupings should be the focal point of the page. Create generous visual space between the focal point groupings and less prominent pairings.

3. Build and maintain strong alignments

If you see a strong edge (such as a photograph or vertical line), strengthen this edge by aligning it with other texts or objects within the design.

4. Create repetition

Brainstorm ways that specific colors, symbols, or fonts can be repeated in a design.

In multi-page pieces (like a brochure), create connection through the repetition of bold typeface, spatial arrangements, or unique bullet or list icons. In a simple logo, repetition can be used by highlighting key letters or adding shadows or overlaid shapes for depth.

5. Use bold contrasts

Contrast is everything because the eye is irresistibly attracted to distinct differences.

For example: if all your elements are bold and flashy, nothing will stand out. Contrast a logo with a graphic, a bold typeface with a script font, a dark sidebar with a white text box, or a rigid graphic with a free-flowing tagline.

A Visual Identity That Better Carries Your Brand

When announcing its logo update, the USTA said the new design “better captures and expresses the dynamism of the US Open,” with a visual identity that will confidently carry the tournament forward in years to come.

What about your image? By refreshing your look in five simple steps, you can transform your look from one that drags to one that excites!

The Ultimate Sizing and Concept Guide for Your Next Flyer or Brochure

Want to generate interest or keep the conversation going with your most promising leads?

Brochures and flyers are two of the easiest ways to generate the momentum you need. But what appears to be a straightforward design can sometimes be more complicated. After all, isn’t a flyer the same thing as a brochure? Is there a substantial price difference? And when would it be best to distribute a brochure instead of a flyer?

From folds to sizing, to finishes, finding the right promotional piece can be a little trickier than it first appears. Here are a few design basics to shape a print piece that does exactly what you need.

Flyers

A flyer is usually a single, unfolded print piece used to draw attention.

Flyers can quickly convey small bursts of information and are great for highlighting sales, new locations, upcoming events, or coupons. Because they are easy to print, flyers can contain very targeted, time-bound information, or messages that are specific to a particular audience, neighborhood, etc.

Standard flyer sizes typically fall into these categories:

  • Letter size: 8.5” x 11” or A4: 8.3” x 11.7”
  • A5: 8.3” x 5.8”
  • A6: 5.8” x 4.1”
  • DL (dimension lengthwise): 8.3” x 3.9” or one-third of A4

Because flyers are meant to grab attention, they should be colorful, easy to read, and contain a clear call to action. Whether you distribute them on car windows or through the mail, flyers an effective tool for at-a-glance marketing. Need inspiration? Here are 100 stellar flyer examples to get you started!

Brochures

The main difference between a flyer and brochure is this: a fold.

While brochures can also be straightforward and simple, brochures use strategic content panels to guide the reader through the piece. Brochure layouts are limitless (and lots of fun, too!), but here are several commonly used fold types:

  • Tri-fold
  • Half-fold
  • Gatefold
  • Double gatefold
  • Parallel fold
  • Z-fold
  • Accordion fold
  • Roll fold

Because the paper quality and content of brochures are typically richer, brochures are best used for dates and details that don’t expire quickly.

Brochures can be distributed to qualified leads, to showcase products on the floor, and to help customers make purchasing decisions. Because brochures give a more comprehensive scale of information, they are seen as trustworthy, credible, and worth reading. They are also (typically) more expensive.

Where Do I Begin?

When designing a flyer, brochure, or even a sell sheet, remember that the product’s purpose should determine the size or format you select.

Ask yourself,

“Do I want to share multiple images or one basic message?”

Or:

“Where does this print piece strategically fit in terms of my sales funnel?”

Starting with the size and content in focus will lead you to the best size, shape, and material for your next work of art!

Want to chat more? We’re happy to share samples, give estimates, or take the lead with our full-service graphic design specialists. Give us a call to talk options!

Three Show-Stopping Print Ads (and How to Make Yours More Memorable)

Does your brain ever feel tired?

Some days, that’s probably due to information overload. It’s been said that the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads actually make a lasting impression).

But amidst the explosion of digital advertising, industry reports remind us that print holds steady. 70% of Americans prefer to read on paper, and 67% prefer printed materials over email. Additionally, 55% of consumers say they trust print marketing more than any other advertising messages.

Want to evoke emotions with your next print masterpiece? Draw from three creative examples of print ads that recently stole the show.

Keloptic: Bringing Life Into Focus

Keloptic is an online optician that sells sunglasses and eyewear.

Looking for a clever way to express value, Keloptic took classic impressionistic paintings and added clarity. In one example, viewers gaze at Van Gogh’s post-impressionistic self-portrait through the lens of an overlaid pair of glasses. The portrait, known for its abstract brush strokes and blurry color scheme, leaps into view as the glasses bring Vincent’s face into focus. His eyes penetrate from the page while the whiskers of his beard bring a sense of dramatic 3D texture. In contrast, Van Gogh’s body (appearing outside the eyeglass lenses) remains dull and fuzzy.

Add Your Twist: By allowing viewers to experience the difference Keloptics glasses make, the optician taps into the needs and emotions of its viewers. When crafting your ad, look to clearly reveal how your service can change a bad situation into a better one.

Jeep: See What You Want to See

Jeep is well-known for its terrain vehicles, manufacturing cars that can take you anywhere (so you can “see what you want to see”).

Jeep’s marketers used this motto to design print ads with a variety of animals shown from different viewpoints. The ad’s rugged burlap background featured taglines printed normally (but also upside down!) to alert viewers to the alternate ad angle. As the ad is rotated, vintage drawn animals morph into another species (like a giraffe transforming into a penguin, or an elephant into a tropical bird).

Add Your Twist: By matching its motto with an interactive photo, Jeep gives viewers the power to control their user experience. Play on your customer’s perceptions by using hidden pictures, adding 3D elements that leap off the page, or by using clever messages that make readers dig for deeper meaning.

Pedigree: Adopt

Images convey emotion in ways words never can.

Pedigree puts this principle to work in an ad highlighting adoption. Featuring two side-by-side photos of a man standing on an empty beach, one ad showed a man standing alone with a downcast countenance. In the next image, the man’s head is drooping for a reason: because he’s looking at his dog. The gleeful canine sports a tail in mid-wag and a big sloppy smile. The first ad contains no text, while the second says this: “A dog makes your life happier. Adopt.”

Add Your Twist: Pedigree’s ad is effective because it contrasts a need (loneliness) with a solution (a companion). Since Pedigree is selling to people WITH dogs (not those without dogs), this sentimentality directly appeals to the emotions of its best clients. When selling to the heart, use contrasting images, problem/solution narratives, and graphics that convey an immediate, obvious message.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is nothing if not tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear.

Have fun, and make your message stick!

How to Age Gracefully at Every Stage of Life

If people can age with class, Harlene Goodrich should be considered a maestro of maturity.

Goodrich, age 81, is a former schoolteacher who lives in Seal Beach, CA. Goodrich returned to school at age 50 to get her master’s degree and has since published a children’s book and won several playwriting contests. Despite serious back and knee surgery in the past decade, Goodrich didn’t shrink back from traveling to Washington, D.C., at age 79 to participate in a national protest march.

Goodrich says that aging well means proactively beginning the process while you’re still young by engaging with stimulating people and activities. This includes a healthy dose of humor. Recently, Goodrich gathered friends ages 65 to 83 and heard them complaining about aches and pains. She stopped the discussion and suggested they go around the table to give each woman five minutes to complain. That’s when everyone broke out laughing.

A Healthful Approach

No one can stop time, so it’s important to remember that aging isn’t something to be avoided. Instead, aging healthfully should be your goal.

This includes taking stock of your physical, social, and mental wellness, and prioritizing health as you would invest in your vehicle maintenance. Want to age healthfully? Here are some checkpoints in each category.

Physical Health

Early identification of health problems makes them easier to manage, so prioritize regular check-ups and complete the recommended health screenings for your age group. Here is a medical schedule to help you best navigate these guidelines.

Exercise is also vital. It’s estimated that physical functioning peaks around age 30, and at this point, you begin to lose muscle mass and function. Sedentary individuals can lose as much as 5% of their muscle mass each decade! However, you can maintain muscle through regular exercise, specifically strength or resistance training. Resistance training also strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis.

Social Health

Aging can sometimes feel lonely, so it’s important to make new friends and widen your social circles.

How can you do this? Consider new hobbies, volunteer opportunities, or even classes at a nearby college. You can also expand connections by proactively befriending younger people. Intergenerational relationships can open doors for powerful mentoring opportunities while decreasing depression and helping you navigate changes in technology and culture.

Mental Health

Cognitively speaking, mental development continues into middle adulthood.

Later in life, your cognitive processing speeds may slow, but wisdom and experience-based problem solving will continue to increase.

It’s important to feed your mind and your soul to stay sharp mentally. This includes consistent sleep patterns, building new connections, and cultivating a sense of purpose. Practical steps may consist of caring for others (to maintain a positive outward focus), tackling puzzles or strategy games, using mental arithmetic instead of defaulting to a calculator, playing an instrument, and surrounding yourself with upbeat people.

Research shows that smiling, even a fake smile, can boost your mood. When you catch your reflection in the mirror or a window, smile at yourself, and you may be surprised at how it lifts your spirits. Smile at others, too; you might make their day!

Be a Participant in Your Journey

One of the essential things about aging is to do it proactively.

Often as people age, they feel isolated or embarrassed. And in today’s connected generation, there’s just no reason to shrink back from others. Aging healthfully means making a plan, asking for help, and being an active participant (versus a spectator) in your own life. That’s Harlene’s outlook:

“No one suddenly gets old,” Goodrich said. “I think we’re all on the path of life. I may be old in years, but I’m the same person who’s been living the same life. The key is to participate in each stage along the way.”

Mastering the Psychology of Discounts to Make More Sales

What is the right strategy when it comes to discount marketing: presenting strong visuals, mystery offers, or the word “free” in your print ads?

Everyone is attracted to a deal, no matter the size. By using coupons or discounts, you appeal to shoppers in a unique way.

Incentives Prompt Action

When shoppers feel like they’re getting a good deal, they are excited and more willing to purchase.

Incentives also create urgency, build goodwill with clients, and dissuade people from looking for other offers.

Want to move more products? Experiment with discount tactics like these:

1. Dollar or Percentage Off

This discount type is the most widely used, simply offering a reduction on the original price, such as $50 savings or 40% off.

Discounts can be placed on specific products or applied to an entire order.

2. BOGO

Short for, “Buy One, Get One,” this discount type prompts customers to purchase additional items.

Examples of BOGO include, “Buy One, Get One Free” or “Buy One, Get 50% Off the Next Item.”

3. Quantity Discounts

Quantity discounts encourage shoppers to increase their order value to receive a discount.

For example, “Purchase two items and get the third free,” or, “Receive 30% off your $100 purchase.”

4. Rebates

A rebate is an amount that’s returned or refunded to customers after their initial purchase.

Often used for large-ticket items, the most common is a mail-in rebate. One example? Listing a price as, “$499 after rebate.”

5. Free Shipping

Increasingly popular among online business owners, this removes the shipping cost associated with any order.

Many merchants offer free shipping for a specific order amount, such as “Free shipping when you spend $25 or more.”

Test Discount Variations to Find A Formula for Success

Since there are so many ways to frame discounts, it can be helpful to test multiple variations of a discount to see which are most impactful.

For example, you could offer a segment of your VIP customers a percentage discount and another segment a dollar-off discount to test which discount best appeals to core customers. Or you can experiment with varying communication channels, length of promotions, or discount “add-ons” (like free shipping or store credit for a future purchase).

Here are some examples to consider:

Catherine’s Women’s Clothing: Private Offer

In an ad pitching swimwear specials, Catherine’s framed a gleaming yellow swim ring afloat a dreamy blue pool.

The overlaid text offered one of two choices: a “Buy 1 Get 1 Free Clearance Item,” or “Private Offer Up To $100 Off.” Catherine’s used imagery that transports viewers to a place they want to be, evoking an emotional fondness for swimwear. The bright floaty draws eyes to the deal, and the company wisely gave two sale options to accommodate the price points of individual customers.

J. Crew: Flash Sale

In a spread featuring outdoor apparel, J Crew positioned a yellow sailboat cruising the waves of a dark blue backdrop, using this pitch: “Smooth seas and clear skies – perfect conditions for a flash sale. Extra 30% Off & Free Shipping, Use Code: SetSale.”

For this flash sale, J. Crew took advantage of good sailing weather to create urgency and nostalgia that tied to real life. Because this ad catered to unique preferences and behaviors of a particular market segment, the piece moved beyond a sale into the emotional story of its readers. This, combined with a compelling offer (and clever coupon code), brings a winning combination.

Once you have a better understanding of your most effective offers, you’ll be a great position to mix up your campaigns and boost customer engagement.