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.


So, if you are not already a member of the Facebook Qualatex or QBN Groups*, join up and download this great tool!

A huge thank you to Michelle for being so kind and very generous for sharing this fabulous tool. I truly believe that this will help so many businesses who don't already have a helium cost calculator. I am sure that Michelle would love to hear some feedback from you.

Happy Ballooning!



Sue
www.suebowler.com

*The QBN Facebook Group is only available to QBN Members and CBAs.



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. 

Here are all the options available:



  • Column
  • Arch
  • 6" Grid
  • 12" Grid
  • 12" X-Pattern
  • Duplet Square Pack
  • Alternate Size Pack
  • GRIDZ
  • GRIDZ Alternate Vertical
  • GRIDZ Alternate Horizontal

Once you click on the template option, the software will open and give you the template that you have chosen to use.





Chris has added so many fabulous features that make using the software even easier.


Drag and Drop


Simply choose a colour from the colour palette, run your cursor over the balloons that you want to fill with that colour, and the balloons will automatically fill; you do not need to click on each balloon individually to fill with colour.


Block Paint


Tick the BLOCK PAINT box, select your colour, and then run your cursor over the balloons that you want to fill. This will fill. This will fill in as a block, which is a great time saver.


Tidy Up


The Tidy Up feature removes any of the balloons that you are not using on the template.


Here is an example of an Arch that I designed using the Arch template. By using
 the Tidy Up function I removed all the excess balloons, leaving a clean image that I can show to my customer. I then cut the image out using the "Grab" function on my computer.



Chris has made a very simple step-by-step tutorial that will guide you through all the steps to use these great new additions. If you have not already been working with the Design Tool software, you are going to love this!


Please make sure that you give Chris any feedback and show him the projects that you have made using the tool.




A huge thank you to Chris for sharing this amazing software with the balloon industry!

Happy Ballooning!


Sue
www.suebowler.com

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.


Display what you want to sell

Make yourself stand out from your competitors. Don't be afraid to showing pricing. Without prices we do not open sales opportunities. In fact, we close doors. 

If you don't own a store or shop, use your website and social media channels as your "window display!"

Social Media Marketing Campaigns

According to Social Media Examiner.com, some brands simply refuse to post about Halloween, and that’s a shame. Most social media users get into Halloween, and it’s a great time to run a cutest costume contest, encourage people to share images, and more.

Mix up your posts


Show a range of design ideas that you will have available for sale. There are some fabulous balloon bouquet and decor ideas on the Qualatex website's INSPIRATION section like the Old "Skull" Halloween Party design.


Post a fun picture of you and your team dressed up in Halloween costumes. Halloween is the perfect time to share you and your company’s fun side!  People love to connect with real people and want to know who the people are behind the brands they love.  This is a way to make them feel more personally connected to you, to get to know your sense of humor, style, design, and personality.  Not only is this fun for your followers, but it also fun for your entire team.  This should go without saying, but be sure your costumes are tasteful and not offensive, as everything you share – even in good, clean Halloween fun – is a reflection of your overall brand!


#Hashtag it!

Here's a few to get you started! 

#Halloween #Trickortreat #HappyHalloween #HappyHalloween #Party #Halloweenparty #Halloweenmakeup #Halloweencostume #Candy #Scary #Hauntedhouse #Holidays #Celebrate #Skeleton #Jackolantern #Bonfire #Cold #October #Devil #Skull #Pumpkin #Zombie #Fancydress #Creepy


You could even share some Halloween Safety Tips. Here are a few from the Safe Kids Worldwide website:
  • Keep costumes both creative and safe.
  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. 
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls. 



Download and display the Qualatex  Halloween poster




Halloween offers a unique opportunity for businesses to launch some fun and interesting marketing campaigns. Halloween-themed promotions can help your business gain some interest and bring new customers through the door.

I hope that is helpful to some of you? I would love to see and hear what you are doing for Halloween!


Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com



Friday, September 7, 2018

UpClose and Personal with Jackie Ochitwa CBA

I was very excited to meet the very talented Jackie Ochitwa, CBA, of With A Twist Balloon Creations in Alberta, Canada, earlier this year when we shared the instructor's prep room at the World Balloon Convention in San Diego, California, USA. The prep room is one of my favourite places at a convention because you get to meet some truly lovely and very talented balloon artists. You also get to see all the amazing designs that they are teaching!

I am always intrigued to find out a little about the artist behind the balloons and their ballooning journey. So, I asked Jackie how she converted her former radio show host career into becoming an international balloon artist! 


Jackie Ochitwa, CBA.
"I continued my radio career until my second child was born, and I decided that it was important for me to stay home and raise my babies. So, that’s what I did.

My kids always loved balloons, even at a really early age. We brought them to a fair one summer, and there was a group of teenagers twisting swords and flowers for the little ones. We took the balloons home and the sword unraveled (as swords tend to do when a four year old plays with it). My son was so sad; I picked the balloon up and attempted to put it back together the best I could. The smile on my son’s face was priceless – it was then that I decided to look for a balloon twisting book at the library the next time we went. I mean, how hard could it be?"
Q: So how long have you been in the balloon business?
"I picked up my first 260Q in 2010.  I started my business, With a Twist Balloon Creations, almost a full year later in 2011.
I didn’t go into this thinking of it a profession initially.  At first, it was me, as a stay at home mom, finding something fun to entertain the kids with.  It wasn’t until a friend asked me to twist at her kid’s birthday party that I started to consider twisting balloons as something more than a pastime for me and my kids.  I emphatically told my friend no, at first.  I was not a balloon twister, I was a radio show host on hiatus…
Then she said something interesting.  She said she would pay me – and I thought, 'People get paid to make balloons?!'  Really?!  'Okay, what time do you want me there?'  For the first year or so, I only worked for friends and friends of friends.  It was a big deal when I placed my first ad online." 
The Ultimate Balloon Book

Q: How did you learn to work with balloons?

 "When I started twisting, there were no YouTube tutorials.  The book that I signed out of the library for six months straight had a red dragon on the cover.  It was called The Ultimate Balloon Book by Shar Levine and Michael Ouchi.  I remember thinking that I would never be able to make that dragon.  (I did get it down eventually)."


Q:  What have you done to grow your business?
"When I first started twisting balloons I was solely an entertainer.  I slowly incorporated décor into my business as I became a stronger twister.  Once I started attending conventions and workshops, I became more confident with the décor side of the industry and I now employ both aspects equally.  I love that I can use my twisting background to enhance my balloon décor and add that 'Wow!' factor that my clients appreciate."  
Q: How important is social media to your business?
"I mostly market my business online.  My Facebook page pulls in the most clients by far,  although my Instagram page is also a great way to engage with my customers.  I am also active on a number of online forums for local area moms and I find word of mouth also plays a major role.  I find that branding and self-promotion are definitely key.  I always make sure all of my centerpieces have a card firmly attached and my balloon candy cups are labeled so people know where to find me.  If I make a centerpiece for a birthday party as well as 20 candy cups that end up going to 20 homes after the party - I have that many potential new clients."



Q: Can you share any advice for someone who is new in this industry?
"I would tell them to not get frustrated if they’re not getting phone calls right away and that it takes time to build a client base.  Put out good work and the clients will come.  Self-promotion is key.  Use those online resources to get your name out there.  I use my Instagram and Facebook pages as my online resume.  I post often and try to vary the content so clients can see the range of my work."
Q: What are your thoughts on educational events?
"Since attending my first convention, I can honestly say that I now have the bug.  I hear that happens a lot.  I love all the knowledge and creativity oozing out of the classrooms, jam rooms, and competition rooms.  I also love being with my people – people who understand my balloon talk and are as passionate about balloons as an art form as I am.  As silly as it sounds, being at a convention makes me feel like I found my tribe."  


Q: What is your favourite balloon creation to make?
"My favorite balloon sculpture to create are my “girls”.  I love that they are so versatile.  I make them often in the likeness of little girls for their birthdays with whatever they are interested in – as figure skaters, with cats, on a horse, etc.  Parents love to see their little girls as twisted balloons sculptures, and the little girls theselves love to see it, too.
I also use the same design to make superheroes, like Wonder Woman or Super Girl and Disney Princesses.  I was making so many of these at one point that a couple years ago I decided to call Pioneer Canada and have some custom faces printed up that would make putting my girls together a bit quicker.  I loved them so much I started marketing them to other balloon artists as 'Little Miss Manga Balloon Faces.'  I also have a sugar skull print available that has been really popular, especially around Halloween."  
Q: Where do you get your design inspiration?
"A large part of my business is children’s balloon art for birthday party décor.  My inspiration comes from whatever is popular at the time.  The great thing about that is it’s never static. I find myself having to learn new designs as the latest, hottest movie or TV show comes out.  
I have always been drawn to anime and I tend to use that esthetic when adding in any artwork to my pieces.  I like the simplicity of it, and it definitely adds the cute factor to the balloons I put out."  
 
Thank you Jackie for sharing your ballooning story and such valuable advice for other aspiring balloon artists!  

If you would like to know how to make one of Jackie's fabulous creations, check out how to make her adorable snowman! 



I am also pleased to announce that Jackie will be teaching at the Qualatex® Balloon School in Dubai with me later this year! For more information regarding this event, visit Qualatex Middle East.

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com