Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fabulous NEW Jelli Balloons Design Inspiration - With Step-By-Step Design Instructions

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you have surely heard by now that Northstar Balloons has launched the incredibly trendy, and wonderfully colourful Jelli Balloons!


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30th Birthday Design by Sue Bowler, CBA.

These Pastel ombré numbers are available from 0-9, and each is a mix of your favourite colours! With a little bit of creativity, I believe that there are endless ways to use them, which I am sure that we will begin to see more and more over the next few months!
I love to design new ideas for decor and retail sales, so my immediate thought was, what other balloons can I use that will compliment and add value to my Jelli Balloon designs?
My eye is immediately drawn to the ombrè range, and particularly the pastels!

Rainbow Drip Cake

  • Size and shape: 39"
  • Package item #: 10506
  • Flat item #: 10494

Birthday Pastel Ombre & Stars

  • Size and shape: 18" Round
  • Package item #: 88052
  • Flat item #: 88046

Pastel Ombre

  • Size and shape: 18" Round
  • Package item #: 97430
  • Flat item #: 97429
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Recently, I've enjoyed creating a new style of air-filled displays that are just a little bit different from the norm. I loved creating this Jelli Birthday design using this technique. The colours are so fun and vibrant, and it coordinates well with the Qualatex Ombre Microfoil balloons! 















Here are a few examples that I have made using this same technique. This idea works well with 16" Numbers as well as 18" Microfoil balloons. For added impact, helium balloons can be added to the displays.


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Rose Gold 30th Birthday Design by Sue Bowler
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Mr & Mrs Wedding Design by Sue Bowler

The secret to this design is its base! I started with a sturdy cake board, and then cover it using half of a foil balloon. To learn how to recreate this view the video below.



I used the 18" Pastel Ombre to cover the base for the Jelli Balloon design as it compliments it perfectly. It gave the appearance of the Jelli balloon reflecting onto the base.






Once you have covered the base, you can add your balloons. To stick the balloons to the base you can use a variety of different adhesives. My preference is Oasis™️ Uglu Dashes, or Click-Click Balloon Bond, they are both very strong and will work well for a design like this.

Start your design with the focal balloons, and begin by inflating these with air. If they have connection tabs, secure these with tape at the back of the balloon. This helps to keep the design looking clean, tidy, and gives a professional finish.









If you are connecting two numbers together, use either Uglu Dashes or Balloon Bond to connect. 












Position the balloons onto the base so that they look visually balanced. Connect to the base using Uglu Dashes or Balloon Bond. If the room that you are working in is cold, you may find that the glue is not as effective as it would be in a warm environment. A small travel hairdryer, which you can keep in your tool box, can be used to heat up the glue a little and then add your balloons, which will make them stick very well. Having a hairdryer in your tool kits is a great asset, as not only does it warm up adhesives and make them stickier and stronger, it also makes it easier to remove any bubbles from vinyl!




The focal balloon should be able to stand up without any additional support, but we will still add in some small balloons that will offer a little extra support, and additionally will add detail and more pops of colour to the design.

These are the balloons that I used for this design. Each of the 5" balloons were double-stuffed to intensify the colours. I also used the tips of Chrome Gold 260Q's.










I started with my largest 5" balloon, which was inflated to approximately 3.5". Make sure that the balloon is nice and round. Trim off any excess balloon after the knot and add an Uglu Dash or Balloon Bond to stick it to the base.











This first balloon should be positioned behind the number and will acts as support to make sure that it is sitting in the correct position.





















Repeat at the front using a different coloured balloon.











To complete the design, add a few more balloons so they look like they are scattered on the board in a random yet appealing way! Ensure that each of the balloons are well secured and that the knots of the balloons are out of sight.






I hope you have enjoyed learning how to make this design!

Happy Ballooning!


Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wedding Balloons and the Great Outdoors - updated August 2019

A few years ago I was the decorator of a wedding in which the bride was very specific with her decor ideas, thanks to Pinterest! Don't get me wrong, I love Pinterest, and think that it is a great source of inspiration. But I also think that many of shots that can be found on the site, especially of wedding designs, are staged and therefore are not always as practical as they appear in the picture!

So what do you do when a bride asks you to recreate beautiful but unrealistic decor that she has viewed on Pinterest? 
Unfortunately, unlike the bride, I did not see beautifully arranged sets of helium filled balloons. I saw the potential for a tangled mess of balloons!

Honesty being the best policy, I decided that it would be in both of our best interests to explain all the potential problems of creating what she wanted, in this case having helium balloons outside, while also providing better ideas and suggestions of what would work well instead.



Topiary and Greenery Column by Sue Bowler


So what factors should you look out for when decorating with balloons outside?


Here are a few great suggestions and solutions from a group of industry experts from the QBN Facebook Group.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

How to Present Your Decor Design Ideas to your Customers.

Our ability to present new ideas to clients in a professional way is vital to the success and growth of our business. 

Whilst clients find many of their ideas on Instagram and or Pinterest, their brainstorming is not exclusive to those social media sites. This makes it much more important for you to secure their business by wowing and inspiring your clients with your own creative ideas! 

There are a number of balloon related design tools available online - some are free whilst others will incur a cost. But it's my belief that if it seals the deal, then it's worth the investment! 

Many balloon artists work with design programs such as Adobe Illustrator, which allows them to create vector graphics. A vector graphic is a computer-made image which is made up of points, lines, and curves that are based upon mathematical equations, rather than a designated amount of pixels. This means that no matter how close you zoom in or out on an image, the lines, curves, and points remain smooth. 

The design proposals below were created by Chris Adamo using Adobe Illustrator. Chris explained to me that when he is proposing a design idea such as this, he will generally show three sketch options. 
"Putting in the extra work is worth it, this company has 30 to 50 stores nationally. It helps to set the client expectations and gives me a chance to get the designs via my partners uniform"
Design inspiration 1. using Adobe Illustrator by Chris Adamo, CBA.


Design inspiration 2. using Adobe Illustrator by Chris Adamo, CBA.

Design inspiration 3. using Adobe Illustrator by Chris Adamo, CBA.

I personally use a variety of ways to produce my design ideas - but nothing too technical! Not only can I use these ideas to present my ideas to my clients, I can also use them to create new designs for classes that I am teaching! Dedicating a few hours to forming a design allows your creativity to flow without the added task of physically inflating balloons.

As many of you will already know, Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia, has very generously shared his Balloon Design Tool with the balloon industry. 

With this tool you can create Columns, Arches, Balloon Walls, both with round and QuickLink® balloons, and Gridz designs. Here is an example of decor that Chris designed that he was able to present to his client.



I love this design tool, it has helped me to create exciting and inspiring design! 

I designed this clown face balloon wall for a class that I taught a number of years ago in Israel. When I designed it then, I did not have the luxury of using a tool like this. I actually plotted each of the circles into a Pages document to create my own Duplet Square Pack Balloon Wall "graph paper." I have since replotted the design using the online design tool and it looks so much better and definitely easier to work from!




Below is the actual balloon wall made up! This was made by Nir and Avital Shechter CBA, of Balonire, Israel. After learning how to create my original walls, they recreated the same design some years later for a client! 


Balloon Wall by Nir and Avital Shechter.
So how can I take my design one step further to allow my client to see my vision for the decor that I want to create for them?


I saved the design that I created on the design tool as a PDF, and then removed the numbers around the edge by cropping it. I then inserted the wall into a Pages document, (if you use a PC you may want to save it in a Word document). To add detail, I visited Qualatex.com and clicked on Inspiration. I then selected Explore Decor. I then searched Clown/Circus in the search facility and this filtered out all the decor ideas within that category. Because I am a QBN member, I am able to download each of the images that I want to use in a high resolution as a png file with a transparent background, which means that when you add it onto your document you do not have a white background around it.

By using this method you can place several images on one document that will help the client to better visualise you ideas.
This Tropical Arch design is being taught as part of the 

Making Memories - Big Parties Course 


Did you know that you can download balloon images from the Qualatex website as png files with a transparent background, making it even easier for you to add them into your designs and proposals, or to give your customers ideas for decor. I have used this method on many occasions and I am always very excited to see how the real thing looks once it's actually built with balloons! 

Below is a video that will show you how I created the tropical arch design shown above using very basic steps that anyone can do using their computer... no special software required!




If this all seems a little too much work, then there are a few other alternatives that you can use. Rachel Porter, CBA, of Balloon Splendor, Washington, USA, has created a range of Balloon Art Clip Art that is available to purchase through her Etsy shop. There are many different styles of templates available that you can use to create good visuals to present to your clients.

And finally Virtualloon, a membership-based software that allows you to create your own designs using the Virtualloon designer software. There are many different functions available including the ability to add a background pictures of the venue and overlay your designs to show how the decor will look in the actual space. 

Whether you choose to use Chris Adamo's Online Balloon Tools or my simple method of building a design on a computer using Word or Pages, or learn how to use Adobe Illustrator or other similar software programs. Or alternatively use balloon clipart or invest in software such as Virtualloon. There are many options out there to help you to create decor ideas that can be presented to clients in a professional way! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler












Monday, July 29, 2019

Should You Show Your Prices on Your Website?

Pricing can be quite a sensitive subject for many business owners. There are many who do not want to display their prices for a number of reasons:


  • Fear of competitors seeing it - the truth however, is that your competitors probably already know your prices. It's very easy to get a friend or a relative to call, and to be honest, you should also know your competitors pricing as well! If you're afraid that competitor will undercut you, don't be. Stop focusing on your competitors, as that takes up way too much energy. Instead concentrate on your own business and create the best product/service that you can.
  • Nothing we make is standard, everything is custom designed for our clients -    Yes, clients are all different, but you should have an idea of the average cost of a design, and therefore you should be able to have a DESIGNS FROM price that you can show. You can still give your clients flexibility - for example, by swapping balloons and accessories in and out of similar value, or adding in additional balloons at an extra cost.

  • You're afraid that your prices will put customers off buying from you.                  Most customers already have a budget in mind. Being honest about prices on your website will actually help you attract prospective customers/clients. Most people research prices before they consider buying a product or service. If you’re the only person talking about prices on your website, you will be likely to get more traffic to your site than your competitors, which will mean more leads and sales. Having no price looks even more expensive than actually having high ones. Imagine walking into a high-end fashion retailer that had no prices - most of us would think: If you need to worry about the price you’re not welcome here. 
Price is an important decision-making criteria, so if publishing your price on your website makes it easier and faster for them to decide in your favour, why would you get in the way?

So what is the best way to show your pricing structure? 

Here are two completely different ideas: 

Blenda Hughes Berrier of Balloon & Event Construction Company in Florida, USA, uses online catalogues to inspire her clients with categorised decor types. Each catalogue has a theme, and when a customer opens a catalogue, they will find detailed information to help them to make a choice, as well as a fabulous range of design ideas and guide pricing.  This is a very simple way for a client to navigate and choose what they want! 

This is a sample page from one of Balloon & Events Construction Company catalogues.
The great thing about creating this type of price list is that you can update and add new ideas on a regular basis.


The second idea comes from David Mahoney of Balloons Everyday in Texas, USA. This is what he says about pricing on his website:

"One of the best things I did on any of my websites was to add lots of additional information for clients to access to make their lives easier.
By doing this, it helped potential or current clients find answers to questions that they may have had regardless of the hour of the day. This saved me a ton of time and money and built better relationships with clients. If I was having a particularly busy day, I could easily send links to information on the website or communicate to clients that they could find that info on the site.
One area of our website that gets explicitly used a lot is our 'common decor guide.' This simple little pricing guide with illustrations of common decor work has helped us save time explaining what a specific design looks like but also allowed clients to use the guide to help budget or figure out their needs for their event.



A secondary benefit to having the decor guide on the site is that it helps prequalify potential clients. You see, if a client has a limited budget and wishes for a complicated or expensive request, the guided helps by showing them a baseline of pricing, which eliminates a lot of these frivolous requests. You know the ones I am talking about - Can we do an 80-foot organic wall for $100? - LOL!!!! 🤣
We are excited about working on our new website because not only have I updated the decor guide to have a more of a contemporary look but I also added a new backside for trending balloon designs.
I have to thank Rachel Porter and Blake Engel both for having Esty Sites that have a lot of pre-made clipart. Those resources have saved me a ton of time in updating my decor guide because I did not have to build everything from scratch.
 So if you have not added things like the decor guide to your website or considered adding more information to help clients access regardless of the time of day or how busy you are, consider the many benefits it may have not only for them but for your company too. The internet is open 24/7. Let it work for you whiles you sleep or busy working. I know it has made an enormous difference in our company and clients love the easy."
A huge thank you to both Belinda and David for very generously sharing their on-line pricing ideas.

Happy Ballooning!

Sue

www.suebowler.com
#suebowler

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Be the Balloon Specialist and not the Balloon Seller - Inspiring Ideas for Party Shops and Retailers.

One of the most difficult things about being a balloon retailer is that almost anyone can inflate a balloon and attach it to a weight. Unfortunately, our biggest competitors do this very well, and even worse, they usually sell them for less than you ever can due to greater buying power, higher turnover, and lower profit margins.


However, many of us, including our competitors, are currently experiencing difficulty obtaining helium, and those who can find it will experience significant price increases. 

This is where we can gain an edge on competitors. We should take this opportunity to be the balloon specialist, and not just the balloon seller. It's important to understand how to take a balloon or two, add value, and make them into something really special - with or without helium! 

Balloon Arrangements and deliveries are a big part of any balloon business and will ensure the long-term success of your business - better perhaps than any other product or service. 



Tropical Toucan Birthday Luxury Design



Balloon Designs without helium

Air-filled designs can range from a relatively simple idea to something much more elaborate!

Some of the best parts about using air-filled arrangements is that they can be made in advance, the balloons will last for a long time, and they are perfect for in-store displays. Customers rarely know what they actually want or request a bespoke or customised design. 

We generally buy what looks best to us and what is within our ‘considered’ price range.






Have a range of designs always made up for a variety of occasions and ‘ready to go’. Don't forget to add a price tag - this takes away the fear of asking the price.

Using a double 4-balloon cluster base like the one shown above is an ideal base for many air-filled designs. The sizing of the base balloons will depend on the balloons that you are featuring. For example, the Toucan Microfoil is quite a large balloon, and when air-filled it becomes relatively heavy; therefore, the base would need to be large enough to allow for stability throughout the design. Based on the photograph, I would estimate that the base cluster is inflated to around 8" and the second cluster to around 6" - but don't be tempted to make the base too big, as it could become out of proportion with the rest of the design. The design will also require a double-stuffed sand or water-weight to be pulled into the centre of the base.








Here is another great example of an air-filled design - Party Narwhal Birthday Luxury Design. An 11" latex base topped with a fun 18" round Microfoil and the Party Narwhal special shape Microfoil creates an impressive, yet simple, design for that customer what wants a bit "more!"

For more design inspiration for air-filled decor using this technique visit Balloon Decor - Inspiration on www.Qualatex.com












I personally love "Balloon Buddies," they're fun, interactive and great for children and adults! 

The "Baby Boy Balloon Buddy" is a number one seller for baby showers and new baby arrivals! 

In a recent blog post I talked about the benefits of developing twisting skills and these designs show why. 

If you missed the post Develop Your Twisting Skills and add Value to you Every Day Designs click on the link HERE. It's packed with great information and a fabulous video by Jackie Ochitwa who demonstrates "Essential Twists for Balloon Artists."







Who could resist this adorable "Cute Clown Balloon Buddy" another great design perfect for children of all ages! 











If you want to take your Balloon Buddies to the next level add a helium-filled balloon or balloons, then use a Qualatex Deco Bubble for the body and fill with mini-balloons for that "How did they do that - wow factor!"



There are so many wonderful and very sellable designs using air-filled balloons which are a little bit different from the norm!

They can be as simple as these "Grab & Go" air-filled displays.


Or how about these adorable "Gentlemen with Flowers", by Vadim Shushkanov from Moscow, Russia. You can learn how to make these by simply clicking HERE.




You could also try your hand at making one of these adorable air-filled arrangements, combining a range of balloons like the "Sweets For My Sweet" design created by Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA.




If you haven't checked out all the amazing designs in the Inspiration Decor section on the Qualatex website, click HERE. If you are a QBN member, you can download each design as a full-sized image that you can use on your own website and social media channels. 

I hope that this blog post has given those of you who are struggling without helium supplies a little bit of inspiration! Let me know what your number one air-filled sellers are!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler.com


















Thursday, July 18, 2019

Are Your Social Media Posts Engaging and Memorable?

So you've started posting on Facebook and Instagram on a regular basis - that's a great start! But are you making your posts engaging and memorable? 

I don't know about you, but when I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I realise that gone are the days when I like every other post. It takes something a little bit more unique to make me stop and look.


So how are we going to get our potential customers to stop, look, and hopefully like and follow our posts?



Making Our Posts Engaging and Memorable

For example, when we are looking for someone to decorate a forthcoming event, which would you prefer: Working with an event organiser who you can relate to and make a personal connection with or with a faceless company that simply shows endless photographs on their Instagram account? This is a tough call, as stunning decor photographs on Instagram can be arresting and a great attention grabber. But we also have to remember that what we see is not always what we get! 

The more memorable and likeable your business appears to be, the higher the likelihood that customers will pick you over someone else. So how do we get our potential customers to stop, look, and hopefully follow our posts?



Social Storytelling

I recently read an article by Jade Fraser - BAPIA's (Balloon and Party Industry Alliance) Social Media Manager - Your Social Media Checklist. With Jade's permission I am sharing it with you here, as it explains so how to turn a simple post into a great story! 

"We’ve spoken before about the importance of storytelling when it comes to sales. The more memorable and likeable you can make your business, the higher the likelihood that customers will pick you over someone else. You may think that the day to day of your business isn’t exciting enough for storytelling but think again. Next time you’re stuck for what to say, follow this simple storytelling checklist. Take Jenny for instance, who recently went on a training course. Imagine Jenny has uploaded this photo with the following caption:

“Team work! Group column building at the BAPIA Chris Adamo cba Tour. #bapiaparty
Now, Jenny thinks about the day again, this time considering the following questions: Checklist 1. What’s happening in this picture? 2. Did anything funny or relatable happen at the time? 3. What did I do well in this situation? 4. How might this benefit my customers? 5. What’s next for me?

After following the checklist, Jenny realised she actually had a lot to share about the day:



 “Team work making the dream work at the BAPIA Chris Adamo, CBA, Tour. The day started off shaky - I realised I’d walked into the wrong conference room when the overhead projector read ‘Travel Expo’ - oops, typical me! Things soon picked up though; I mastered these columns Chris showed us really quickly, woohoo! Expect to see LOTS more fun, new designs from me this year. Next, I want to master weaving flowers into my designs, ready for wedding season! #bapiaparty”

Do you see how, with a bit of storytelling, the same post becomes much more appealing and memorable? Though it may seem like a minor thing, you should consider every social media post as an advertisement for your business. Generally, it takes at least six exposures to an advert before a customer commits to sale. So, in a sea of social media posts, it’s really important that yours stand out. A post with a descriptive, well-thought-out caption will stand out a lot more in the middle of a scrolling session."

I found another great example of storytelling when I looked through my Instagram feed this morning. Born To Party in Sydney, Australia, shared a great photograph of an abstract organic balloon wall that they recently made. They talk about how big the wall is, about how they love to create new colours and how they think the design will look fabulous in Pink! Their post is colourful, exciting and charming, everything a customer what's to see! 





Personally, I know that this information will really benefit my own social media posts. When I look at my Instagram posts, I can see that with a little bit more thought and a few more words, I can transform my posts into something that my potential and current followers want to see.


A huge thank you to Jade and BAPIA for sharing this post with The Very Best Balloon Blog! For more great articles by Jade click HERE for a direct link.


Happy Ballooning!



Sue

www.suebowler.com
#suebowler