Tuesday, December 11, 2018

And the Colour Of The Year is...... Living Coral!

"Love" Balloon Wall by Sue Bowler - www.suebowler.com

"Pantone’s 2019 Colour of the Year is a peachy orange with a golden undertone. 'Living Coral' is set to inspire optimism, energy and social connection".

We often ask what influences a trend, and when it comes to colour there is no doubt that Pantone plays a huge part.


Since 2000, Pantone has selected a colour of the year. To determine what that colour will be Pantone combs the globe looking for colour influences. They look to the pop culture, film, popular travel destinations, socio-economic conditions, organic elements, art, fashion, and much more. The Colour of the Year has a great deal of influence on products and purchasing decisions made that year in a variety of industries from fashion, industrial design, product packaging, graphic design, and home goods.



So how does this have impact on us in the balloon industry? Our industry is very much influenced by fashion, especially when it comes to weddings, as they impact the choices for bridesmaid dresses, flowers and decor! 

Organic Balloon Decor by Sue Bowler www.suebowler.com
Organic Decor by Sue Bowler, CBA.
Coral, Rose Gold, White, Blush and Chrome Gold.









The Qualatex
® Coral latex balloon is a perfect match to the new Living Coral and coordinates perfectly with Rose Gold and Pearl Peach! 

Coral - Rose Gold - Pearl Peach


Here are a few designs that I have made using Coral as one of the feature colours.


Balloon Decor by Sue Bowler CBA www.suebowler.com
Coral with Rose Gold, White and Chrome Gold.

Balloon Decor by Sue Bowler CBA
Coral with Rose and Pearl Ivory. 


Balloon and Flower Centrepiece by Sue Bowler CBA
Coral with Rose Gold, Blush and a hint of Chrome Gold.
I think that we will all enjoy working with this fabulous colour and we will see it in much of our decor in 2019!
Happy Ballooning!

Sue


www.suebowler.com
#suebowler



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Much Would You Charge For This Design?

Many businesses struggle when it come to pricing, and not just in the balloon industry! 
The fear of pricing too high and not getting any business versus pricing too low and never making a profit is an everyday dilemma.






In the interest of today's blog, I asked a few of my ballooning friends from around the world to tell me how much they would charge for this style of air-filled design in their country. I chose this design as it uses very few balloons and it's quick and easy to make.


Before we start, write down how much you would charge for this design and see how your price compares to others.




So how do we know how much to charge? Some of us will "guesstimate," while others will actually work out how much they need to charge to make a profit!




Whenever I am pricing a design, I always start by completing a QBN Job Cost Form (shown above). It really helps to make sure that you have covered all your costs and make a profit, too! 

For my example, I am using the prices that are listed in the 2018 Qualatex European Everyday Catalogue. All the prices in my example are in UK £., and I have included V.A.T.


The weight that we use in a design like this can vary in type and cost. Some will choose to use a purpose-made weight, whilst others might use a sand or water weight - this will have an impact on the selling price.

For my example, I have calculated that I would need to sell the design at £11.24 to cover my costs and to make a good profit. 

Here are the suggested selling prices for the same style of design from some of my ballooning friends from around the world:

  • Belgium €12.95 - £11.54 - USD $14.76
  • Australia AUD $19.00 -  £10.98 - USD $14.03
  • USA USD $15.00 - £11.77 
  • UK £9.99 - USD $12.79
  • USA UDS $12.00 - £9.42
  • Hungary HUF 2190 - £6.05 - USD $7.74

I am really pleasantly surprised at the price range. With the exception of Hungary, there is not a huge price different between these countries. But it does not surprise me that Hungary's price is much lower. If you look at how much people earn around the world, there is a huge difference in the minimum wages. For example between Belgium and Hungary, wages in Belgium are more than three times greater than in Hungary (comparing 2018 minimum wages) and therefore the labour costs in each of these countries will reflect this difference. 

2018 Minimum Wages - this is a helpful guide to compare wages around the world.

Belgium - €1562.60 per month
UK - £1462.60 per month
Hungary - €444.10 per month
USA - USD $7.25 per hour - USD $275.50 per week
Australia AUD $694.90 per week



The job cost form is a good guide to help you with pricing, but make sure that the information that you input is accurate, otherwise it can alter your pricing significantly! You also need to consider perceived value, too. Often designs can look like they are worth more than the Job Cost Form suggests, and there is no reason why you cannot charge the perceived price rather than the job cost price - this is very common in creative-based industries.

I have written a few blogs on this subject:




And finally, don't forget we can up- sell and offer personalisation! This is a great way to add value to any design! Below is an example of how Luc Bertrand, CBA, of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, promotes them.




Here is another way to up-sell this style of design. By simply adding arms, we have created a more interactive design! Finally, the third version is a mini table-top sculpture - all very quick and easy to make!



Thank you to all those who helped me with this blog. For those of you who struggle with pricing, have a go at using the Job Cost Form to help you to work out your minimum selling price to ensure that you make a profit. Making a profit will keep you and your business healthy and happy!

Happy ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Care Cards - A Great Way To Let Your Customers Know How To Care Of Their Balloons



Giving your customers information on how to care for their balloons can truly help, especially if something goes wrong! I often see posts on Facebook where someone asks for advice on how to deal with a customer who has complained about a bad balloon experience. Maybe some of those situations could be avoided if we supply our clients with a "Care Card" or a "Balloon Fact Sheet" at the time of purchase or when we are installing balloons for a client.

There are many things that we can include on our "Care Cards" or a "Enjoy your Balloons" fact sheet. I would recommend that you choose those that are most relevant to the types of balloons, and or decor that you are supplying.

1. Balloons and Temperature: Please don't leave balloons in a hot car - helium expands in the heat and this could cause your balloons to pop! We recommend that you use air conditioning in your vehicle when transporting balloons on a hot day. If your balloons get rained on and start to droop, don't worry – they'll float again when dry. When helium-filled balloons are taken into the cold, they will temporarily deflate and will re-inflate again when warm.

2. Balloons - Child and Pet Precautions: Balloons are not a toy. Uninflated or burst balloons can present a choking hazard and should never be left with children under the age of eight without supervision. Store balloons away from pets to ensure that they cannot get themselves tangled with balloon ribbons or accidentally ingest popped balloons or their decorative contents such as confetti, feathers, or other materials. If a balloon pops, clear away any broken balloons and it's decorative contents (if applicable) immediately.

3. Balloons and the Environment: At the end of a balloon's life, cut the end of the balloon with scissors to remove any air or balloon gas, then dispose of it in the bin. NEVER release balloons into the environment. ALL released balloons become litter. They can get caught up in trees or power lines. Remember - Don't Let Go & Pin It and Bin It šŸ˜Š

4. Balloons and Allergies: Most balloons are made of natural rubber latex and may cause allergies. Please look out for symptoms in case of allergies and seek immediate help.

5. Inhalation of helium: Inhaling helium can be dangerous and it is not recommended. It can deprive your body of oxygen and can result in a fatality.

6. Balloons and Ceilings: Lights, paint textures, irregular surfaces and even static can all pop balloons. If you are planning on placing your balloons on a ceiling, ensure that you test it first.

7. Latex balloons and Oxidization: Clear balloons become cloudy quickly when exposed to heat and sunshine. Coloured balloons will take on a velvety, matte appearance.

8. Balloons can Pop: While we use the highest quality balloons and take every precaution necessary with your balloons to ensure they last through your event, once the balloons leave our door or we have left the venue, they are out of our control.


You can certainly go into much greater detail if you plan to publish this information on your website. You could cover more information regarding balloons, different weather conditions, the environment and how to dispose of balloon weights - especially if they are filled with water or sand!

Finally, I just wanted to make you aware of a great website called Party Safe. This is a dedicated party website for consumers, the education sector, retailers, artists, and decorators and is packed with so much great information!

About Party Safe: Partysafe is managed and run by the European Balloon & Party Council (EBPC).
"We provide small products with a big impact that creates memories for life. With over 35 key manufacturers and distributors across Europe, our products span the globe.

This site is dedicated to children, parents, consumers, NGO's and industry providers. Basically - everyone who has ever been involved in parties. It provides an overview for some of our products as well as an education network for schools. If you wish to discover the meanings of some of our warnings, instructions, and labels - please take a deeper look through our site.

The EBPC has members who are technical experts in all aspects of their manufacturing and safety. As well as working within their main roles, some of them also contribute towards improvement of the EN71 - Safety of Toys, the safety standards for toys in Europe. This work, of course, aligns closely with the Toy Safety Directive.

If you would like any more information about the European Balloon & Party Council, please head over to our website at www.ebpcouncil.eu, take a look at our premier league member base and feel free to get in touch.

When it comes to party product information - we're the experts. Rest assured you're in the right hands."

I have really enjoyed working on this blog post. It has made me think about many different situations that can have an impact on balloons and balloon decor. While I have tried to highlight some of the "bigger" issues, I have certainly not covered everything in this post. If you have any suggestions that I can add, please let me know. 


Happy and safe ballooning!

Sue
#suebowler








Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Power of Videos on Instagram to Enhance Your Marketing Campaigns

Sharing videos on Instagram is one of the best ways to gain new followers. I have been doing a little research to help you to get started, and it's easier than you think!

Firstly, decide what is the purpose of the video? 


I have been very guilty of posting short video clips on my Instagram account without considering what message I am trying to convey.


Most viewers are watching on a laptop or on a mobile phone, and in most cases with the sound off. Therefore, it is important to add text or captions to ensure that your message reaches your audience. I know that I am more likely to watch a video with text than without!

Almost every video that I have posted to Instagram to date has been without sound or text, so other than showing my audience what I've just made, who is the target of my posts?


I have two main aims:



  • To inspire the ballooning community
  • To promote my balloon decor 


Here's a video that I created using a free app called Apple Clips

"Clips is a mobile video editing software application created by Apple Inc. Apple describes it as an app for 'making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more.' Wikipedia








By simply adding a little text, you are telling your viewers what your decor can do for them, - remember, we sell the emotion that our balloons create and not just balloons! 


I uploaded my edited video to YouTube for the purpose of this blog. It looks better when published to Instagram or Facebook as it keeps its square shape. Square videos are a big hit on social media, and Instagram is no exception. Since it was originally a square-only platform, users gravitate toward a square format on Instagram. 





Make sure that you capture your viewers' attention immediately. Keep your videos short! Your videos should be bright and have movement. 



Another app that I like to use occasionally is KiraKira+. With this app, you can add effects like a cross filter to attach to the camera lens. Light-emitting materials and reflective objects will shine even more, especially decor with metallic confetti!


Be careful with this app as it can make your balloons look beautifully sparkly, and your customers might want you to supply that effect!







You might want to add a note to your posts saying "Sparkles, powered by KiraKira+" or something like that to let people know that it's an effect created through an app, but of course, with the right lighting your balloons can sparkle, so maybe you can sell that effect, too!

Here is a very short video clip that I made using KiraKira+.  I was preparing confetti balloons for a job that I was doing and decided that it might make a great video! It is one of my most viewed posts on Instagram, and it helped to boost my followers considerably! I might repost it in the future, but next time I will definitely add text using the Clips app! 



I hope like me that you are enjoying growing your social media presence and followers. I am really enjoying experimenting and learning more. I hope that some of this information is helpful to you. Please let me know, I would love to get some feedback!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Organic Balloon and Flower Wall

Sometimes I have to pinch myself! Not only do I get to do what I love every day - writing the Very Best Balloon Blog and being a Qualatex Training Instructor - I also get the opportunity on occasions to work with fabulous clients to create some amazing balloon decor! 

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a brand development agency who asked me to create a balloon and flower wall for a press event in London. As some who loves working with both balloons and flowers, I jumped at the opportunity! 


Balloon and Flower Wall by Sue Bowler - www.suebowler.com
Pastel Balloon and Flower Wall by Sue Bowler

The Logistics

When building a wall like this, it is important to consider how stable it needs to be. The balloon themselves are not heavy, but when you load it with lots of faux flowers the weight increases considerably. So my first consideration was how was I going to support my balloon wall?

Thinking about what would work best, I came up with the idea of using a grid frame. My next task was to find a grid frame that would be suitable. After a little research, I found the perfect solution!


Adding the balloons to the grid frame.






The Prep

One of the client's criteria was that the balloons needed to be pastel tones to suit the faux flowers that they were supplying for the wall. How excited was I to see that Qualatex had recently published a trending article Custom Pastel Colours and included a fabulous Custom Colour Pastel Colour Chart. I spent a couple of hours during the evening double-stuffing 5" and 11" balloons in preparation for the job the next day - definitely worth doing in advance.




When inflating double-stuffed balloons, make sure that you have an electric air-inflator that is powerful enough to inflate the balloons. I use the Premium Twin-Air inflator. It works perfectly and never over-heats! 
To find out more about this inflator, visit Premium Balloon Accessories.





Here is a really short video that gives a close-up view of the wall.





Summary

I loved making this wall and learned a great deal whilst building it. Although I was really happy with the end result, as was the client, I am already thinking about how I could make it even better! This wall took eight hours to build, including the construction time to build the panels. Tonight, I am heading back to London to take the wall down and recover the framework, poles, and bases so that I can re-use them for my next fabulous balloon wall installation! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com




Monday, October 29, 2018

Introducing ToƱy Moncada CBA, and sharing a video of one of her fabulous NEW techniques!

Earlier this month I attended the OnArt Event held in Barcelona, Spain. It was a rare opportunity to be able to attend a convention as a guest and not an instructor.

I was very excited to be able to see some of the instructors at work teaching some truly awesome classes! One of the classes that I attended was "Table Settings" taught by ToƱy Moncada, CBA of Globofiesta, in Elche, Alicante, Spain.





Rose Gold Table Setting by ToƱy Moncada, CBA
Here is one of ToƱy's beautiful wedding table settings that she sells
not only as a balloon display but also filled with treats and candies! 

I first met ToƱy Moncada in 2008 at the first OnArt Event. ToƱy is very passionate about balloons and creative decor. She loves exciting her clients with her fabulous ideas. ToƱy's explains that her day-to-day sales mainly come from clients wanting balloons for newborns and birthdays. She specialises, however, in wedding and communion decor. In a six week-period from the end of April to the beginning of June, ToƱy says that her store averages 50-60 communions per week!

ToƱy told me that she loves to create wedding decor. She feels that her work fills the couple's day with many emotions. All of ToƱy's weddings are bespoke, designed specifically to achieve the client's dreams. ToƱy loves to build a good relationship with her customers so that she can fully understand their desires and wants.


Flamingo's and Japanese Tree event decor by ToƱy Moncada
I love ToƱy's Japanese influenced design for an 18th birthday! 

One of ToƱy's favourite balloons is the Qualatex® Deco Bubble! 
"Bubbles are so versatile. There are so many beautiful things that you can do with them! They are long-lasting and one of my top-selling balloons!"

ToƱy offers some great advice for someone new to the balloon industry.
"To work with balloons, you must feel a passion. Without passion you will not be able to find your creativity. You must also understand how to run a business. This is vitally important for the future success of your business.
Make sure that you build a good relationship with your customers, as this will result in repeat business and good recommendations." 
During ToƱy's class, she shared a fabulous technique that I had never seen before. I asked ToƱy if she would be happy to share this with the readers of the Very Best Balloon Blog and she agreed! 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

"Good Design Matters for your Business" - Zoe Adams-Jones Shows You How to Create Fabulous Social Media Posts Using CANVA.

We all want to do a better job with our social media activity. We know how important it is to increase our customer base and to connect with our current customers. However, producing engaging content and having content consistency is not quite so simple.




I am always looking for an easy solution and when it comes to design, Canva is simply perfect! Canva, for those of you who have not used it before, is a graphic-design tool website. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to more than a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics. It offers a wide variety of content types that include Facebook and Instagram post templates, posters, brochures, and so much more!



Canva is free. However, you can upgrade for a nominal monthly fee to increase its functionality. Personally, I would start with the free version and then upgrade later if you feel you need the extra functions.


Zoe Adams-Jones


Recently, the wonderful Zoe Adams-Jones, CBA, of Jaz Trading in Queensland, Australia, made a live online tutorial - "Creating Easy Professional Graphics using Canva" - that she shared with the Australian ballooning community and to her followers on Facebook. Zoe has a background in digital marketing and has many years of experience in this field. She very kindly agreed that we could share her tutorial with the readers of the Very Best Balloon Blog.

I had previously "had a go" at using Canva, but because it did not work for me instantly, I gave up. As with anything new, you need to invest just a little bit of time to go through the steps. Zoe's tutorial will guide you through the simple steps of how to use Canva with ease, and within no time you will be producing fabulous marketing materials that you can use across all your social media channels.

I recommend that you open up Canva first (www.Canva.com) click on "Create a Design" and have a little play for a few minutes. Then watch Zoe's tutorial and everything will start to make sense!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

OnArt - "Convention of Balloon Artists" 2018

OnArt - "Convention of Balloon Artists," a Qualatex-sponsored event, has just celebrated its 11th Anniversary. From the 5th-7th October, 2018, the hotel FrontAir Congress in Barcelona, Spain, became home for nearly two hundred delegates, sponsors, and organisers, including eleven fabulous instructors from around the globe — twenty different countries, in fact!  



Fabulous "Barcelona" balloon wall and "Motor Bike" 
designed by Vadim Sushkanov, CBA.

OnArt founder JĆ³semarie Ɓlvarez with his wife Cristina Cano of Globofiesta Party S.L.,   first started the balloon artist event in 2008. For me, this was very special as I was one of the first instructors to teach at this fabulous convention.


This three-day event promised to be action-packed, fun-filled, and with many amazing learning opportunities! It did not fail on any level. 

The event kicked off with a CBA examination under the watchful eye of Keith Stirman, CBA. Congratulations to the thirteen new CBAs who passed!



The welcome party was the perfect opportunity for everyone to meet up. The fabulous party decor below was created by Edward MuƱoz and Vadim Shushkanov.


Beautiful "Candy'" theme entrance decor by Edward MuƱoz

Fabulous "Candy" theme decor by Edward MuƱoz


 "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" 
by Barbara Rosatelli 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Taking the Fear Factor out of Organic Decor - Top Tips from Three Industry Experts!

Does the thought of creating an organic style balloon installation give you sleepless nights and fill you with dread? 

Fear no more - I have instilled the help of three amazing organic balloon art designers to share with us their top tips that will steer you through those worrying and confusing times!

The fabulous Caity Byrne, CBA of All About balloons in Washington, D.C., USA, has some truly great advice to share!

Caity Byrne of All About Balloons
"Don't be afraid to play! So many times, I have pulled out the color I think is just right for an organic piece, only to realize I'm completely wrong. I've pulled out other colors I'm dubious will look good together, and I end up with my new favorite palette. The cost to experiment is so minimal compared to the potential return on investment.
The principles and elements of design are of paramount importance in organic decor. Whether it's balance, scale, whatever- they should all be kept in mind when designing, planning, and constructing a piece. A 3-footer is completely out of proportion when nestled in with a bunch of 5" balloons, for example. An 8' swag behind a 25' stage is going to look completely underwhelming and out of place. A 25' swag on an 8' stage can be done well, provided there is balance (but not symmetry- gross!).
When it comes to actual hands-on construction of a piece, the most important thing I cannot stress enough is to keep balloons round! In my opinion, there is no place for anything other than round balloons in most decor (excepting helium balloons on a string, of course). Round balloons stack much more nicely and give movement to the piece. How many times have you seen an organic piece while strolling through Instagram only to have your eye stop abruptly on a pear-shaped balloon (or a bad color or size)?
The best business advice I have is particularly true in organics: don't be cheap and don't be lazy. Use Cloud Busters if the piece warrants it! Grab those foils and add them in for flair! Use SuperAgates- they're worth it! Take the time to make the confetti balloons and make your piece over the top. Your clients will be thrilled and your future clients will be calling!" 


Want to know how Caity makes her fabulous organic decor? She has two educational downloads available to purchase from gumroad.com/allaboutballoons.

Here are some of Caity's favourite organic installations


This was the first organic piece that Caity ever did. It was in the East Room of the White House for the Obama’s final Halloween party.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Pump Up Your Business with this Amazing Tool for Calculating Helium Costs

What can I say! The balloon industry is made up of some truly generous people who want to help other "Balloonies" succeed and grow their businesses successfully!

Last week the fabulous Michelle Severino, CBA, of Party Splendour in Peakhurst, NSW, Australia, sent me a copy of her amazing Helium Cost and Volume Calculator to share with the ballooning community. Michelle says that this tool has been invaluable to her business and hopes that it will help others, too!

The calculator is very easy to use. You will be able to find Michelle's original calculator in both the Qualatex and QBN Facebook Groups in the FILE section in both Excel (PC) and Numbers (Mac) formats (unfortunately, I cannot share these files on Blogger.)

To start, you will need to change some of the fields to suit you and your business. I have marked these on the image below and colour-coded them with descriptions.



Those of you who are more familiar with creating documents using Excel and Numbers will be able to customise this form very easily.


  • CYLINDER SIZE: List all the cylinder names and sizes that you use. The form is currently set up to take three different sizes. 
  • CUBIC FEET: For each cylinder size listed, add the cubic feet volume if you work with cubic feet.
  • PRICE/ Cu ft: Change the currency to suit your country. 
  • CUBIC METERS: For each cylinder size listed, add the cubic meter volume if you work with cubic meters.
  • PRICE/ CUBIC METERS: Change the currency to suit your country
I have customised the Helium Cost and Volume Calculator to suit my business in the UK. I have changed the cylinder sizes to three different BOC cylinders that I use. For each cylinder size, I have added both the cubic feet and cubic meter volumes - I don't think that you need to add both, but I did. I then changed all the currency values to U.K. Sterling. 

I know that this tool will help me greatly when I am quoting for a job and calculating my helium costs.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chris Adamo Does It Again!

I have some fantastic news to share with you! Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia, has just added some amazing new features to his Balloons Online Design Tool software.

With immediate effect, you can now design Arches and Columns.


Simply log into http://www.balloons.com.au/tools/  and follow the CLICK HERE TO START as shown in the image below.




Once you enter the software, you will be taken to the Design Template page.





To find the template that you want to work with, click on ADD MODEL - this is on the right-hand side of the page. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Halloween's Coming, - Let's Go Totally Catty, Batty, Deadly, Ghostly, and Scary!



Halloween is creeping up on us. It's time to get ready with our "balloontastic" designs and excite our customers with witches, ghouls, and ghosts!


The key to any successful holiday sales campaign is in the planning, preparing and of course, organising.








Get displaying!

The purpose of good displays and visual merchandising is to attract, engage, and motivate customers towards making a purchase.

Good visual merchandising can help:

  • Create interest and excitement 
  • Prolong dwell time (we want people to stop and look) 
  • Increase customer understanding of what you can offer




Think about all the potential display areas that you have:

  • Windows 
  • In-Store Displays
  • Till/Checkout area
  • Wall Space
  • Ceiling Space
If you own a die-cutter like a Cameo Silhouette, create some fun and exciting decals for your shop window and other display areas.

I found this cat image at Snazzy Little Things.com. It has a great selection of Halloween window silhouettes that are free to download.