Monday, June 28, 2021

Are you any different from your competition - Do you have a USP (Unique Selling Point) that sets you apart?

With so many balloon businesses offering the same types of products and services, you can only win over your competition if your products or services offers something that theirs does not. Chances are, your competitors are in the same marketplace as you are, so it is important that what you are selling has certain features that cannot be easily found elsewhere.

This factor is known as a selling point, or a USP. Essentially, a USP is a summary of features that makes your business unique and valuable to your target market. It tells your target customers that your company offers more value compared to other balloon businesses. It is not just about appearing different from the rest, it is about offering something of value that consumers will not find from other balloon businesses.

It is our mission to find a compelling reason for someone to order balloons and decor from you rather than someone else.

The low price guarantee is a USP that many larger businesses use to entice customers. Here in the UK, we have a large retail chain of department stores who use the motto "Never Knowingly Undersold" - This means that this store will never knowingly sell identical products that are of a higher price or worse value for money than those offered by other retailers. This USP has been a huge part of their marketing for many years, and it certainly works! But is offering lower prices a good USP for a small business? 

Remember, price is never the only reason people buy. If your competition is beating you on pricing because they are larger or undercharging, you have to find another sales feature that addresses the customer's needs and then build your sales and promotional efforts around that feature.


Focus on a niche - something that you specialise in.

Focus on what you can do to be different, as attempting to be known for everything will only lead to not being known for anything at all. And remember, it’s not just your product that can be the differentiating factor, it could be your location i.e. there are no other competing businesses in that area, or it could be the incredible customer care and service that you offer!

There is no need to take ‘unique’ too literally. Simply being perceived as the brand that focuses on a specific thing can work wonders, even if your competitors are doing it as well (but maybe don’t shout about it).

It is perfectly OK to have more than one USP!

Personalisation is a fantastic service to offer and can be a great USP! 

"All our personalised balloons are beautifully handcrafted to order."

Be the creative, small business that cares! Telling customers that you are a small business and that you care is a great USP! There has been a lot of support towards small and local businesses during the pandemic. #supportsmallbusiness #supportlocal and #shoplocal are three extremely popular and well-used hashtags on Social Media. Pointing out that you are a small business and that you care is a positive USP that will mean something positive to your potential customers.  

No company is born with a USP or differentiating factor. You must create, nurture, and propagate it if you want to reap the benefits.  

Your USPs need to be in front of the customer at every possible opportunity. For example, they can (and usually should) be included in: brochures, adverts, press releases, direct mail letters, letterheads, corporate Christmas cards, invoices, catalogues, on the walls in customer areas, and in as many other places as possible.

And finally, remember that you cannot please all the people all of the time - your USP may attract some customers and not others, but that's life, and maybe they are not the customers or clients that you are actually looking to work with! 

Frank Jeschke of Ballonmeister in H├╝ckeswagen, Germany, recently expanded his ever-growing business and opened a new, bigger balloon store in his home town. He opened his first store in 2017, but with his growing business, he felt that this was the perfect time to expand! I asked Frank what his business USP is. He said:

"The secret of our success is a combination of important features.

We are creative and offer hundreds designs for all occasions, for every taste and in every price segment.

Our good selling designs work with uncountable combinations of foils and latex. Following the principles of design, every day we sell something new. We don't stop working on our skills and technics to develop new ideas.

We customise many balloons with individual enhancements in every style and colour.

Our product range of balloons is as high as possible. Our customers can find foil balloons covering every occasion and topics. We offer latex balloons in every size and in all colours. The quality of our materials is really important to make our works as durable as possible. Last but not least is professionalism, which is a main factor in our business. Our customer's knows that we are the specialists for balloon decorations and balloon gifts. That is the reason that the catchment area of our shop is big." 

So what is your USP, and have you applied it to your business ethics?

Happy Ballooning!


Follow me @suebowler

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Rainbow Fish inspired 6th Birthday Celebration

The Rainbow Fish, written by Marcus Pfister, has always been my favourite illustrated Children's book. It is pure magic from cover to cover. When I started to design the decor for my granddaughter's recent 6th birthday celebration, it was a very easy decision, to create my version of The Rainbow Fish for her, which is something that I have always wanted to try.

The Rainbow Fish Balloon Decoration by Sue Bowler

To make the design, I used the Fish Shape  from Nikoloon Frames for Balloons. Standing 117cm high and 100 long, I knew that it would be perfect size for my design. Using this type of frame allowed me to create a pattern within the frame that would give me the look that I wanted to achieve.

I am going to be completely honest: it took me several attempts to get started. I actually found it easier to start from the tail end and work forward, leaving the face for last! 

The Bubbles!

You might assume that I cleverly superimposed the bubbles in the photo with the power of an editing tool, however, but they are actually real! 

To make these awesome bubbles, I used a giant bubble making kit! Knowing that our party was going to be outdoors, making giant bubbles seemed like the perfect summer Funday activity for everyone in attendance, young and old. It was also my sneaky opportunity to create the perfect photo, because let's face it, we all want 'that' perfect photo! This photo is actually a frame from the video that I took (below), as the bubbles were perfectly positioned! 

Here are more of the decorations that I made for Alexa's birthday celebrations.

Fantastic mermaid coloured balloons have been used to decorate this children's teepee
Meet Mylo!
Mylo thought that Alexa's teepee was a great place to stay in the shade, and keep cool on this beautiful summers day!

Vibrant coloured balloons have been used to create this beautiful garden decoration for a Childs 6th birthday celebration. Decor made by Sue Bowler

Strategic placing the decorations in my garden gave me the opportunity to take this awesome photograph! 
I used Northstar Balloons letters to make Alexa's  name banner (which I suspended between two trees) and the Qualatex Number Six to make the Mermaid themed arrangement! 

Alexa's 6th Birthday mermaid and Rainbow Fish theme garden decorations by Sue Bowler

Another cleverly placed photograph - I love that you can see
Alexa's name banner in the background!

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for beautiful photographs to use on my social media accounts and fun content for future blog posts! By taking a little time and planning you can create your own photo shoot opportunities and at the same time make someone special very happy! 

Happy Ballooning! 


Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Customer Complaints - One of the Hardest Jobs to Deal with.

Receiving complaints or any kind of negative feedback never feels great. However, this kind of feedback can be a good opportunity to differentiate your business from others who may not be as efficient as you are when dealing with complaints.

When a customer complains, it is normal to want to react in a defensive manner as it is very easy for us to take any complaints to heart!

I suppose what we need to remember is that 1) we cannot please everyone all of the time, and 2) that balloons are destructible: they can pop, go down or be affected by the elements very easily.

Complaints happen and you will get them!

The perfect outcome for a complaint is that it goes away quickly and quietly, and without turning into a bad review online. You occasionally might have your suspicions that the customer has done something to damage the balloons, or maybe they expected the balloons to last longer. It is important to put that all aside and make it your goal to resolve the problem quickly, and definitely not to prove that you are right and that they are wrong.

Take time to listen and show empathy.

By listening to your customer, you can more easily empathise with their situation. This is also a good opportunity to ask questions and to gather any additional information you need to be able to offer a suitable solution. 

Decide on your complaints policy now.

It is so much easier to make a decision on how you are going to deal with complaints when you are not in the middle of all the drama that tends to follow a complaint. 

Some businesses offer a no-questions asked, time-limited replacement guarantee.

"If you have any problems with your order in the first 24 hours, we will replace it free."

Many companies have a Complaints Policy Statement that they display on their website:

If you have a complaint about our products or service please contact us as soon as possible so we can put into action a fair, confidential and effective complaint procedure. 

We endeavour to respond to all complaints within 1 working day and resolve complaints within 3-4 working days.

Refunds, partial refunds or an exchange will be given if the product is proved to be faulty or damaged and will be issued at the discretion of management 

This is your opportunity to decide on what your policy is and how you want to apply it. Take a look at what other businesses have done to see what their policies are and decide what would work best for you and your business.

Offer a Solution

Once you have identified the reason for the complaint, it is important to offer a solution as quickly as possible. You have listened to the customer and as much as you may not feel that the problem was your fault,  it is essential to avoid challenging them or allowing your personal emotions getting in the way, as this won't help you in your efforts to resolve the problem. 

Apply a solution: this could mean a full refund, a replacement or a credit for a future order, all depending on your complaints/refund policy. Make sure that your customer is happy with the solution and that the problem has been resolved otherwise you will still end up with an unhappy customer. 

Offer an Apology

Let them know you're sorry they were inconvenienced, disappointed or upset, then also thank them for giving you the chance to work it out with them. For many customers, this sincere effort goes a long way. 

Care Cards and Balloon Fact Sheets

I recommend supplying a Care Card or How to Care for your Balloons Fact Sheets, with every order. By giving customers information on how to look after balloons, this can often resolve and definitely defuse many complaint situations. There are many reasons why a customer might complain, here are just a few examples.

Complaint 1: It's a very hot day and a customer puts the balloons into a very hot car,  by the time they got home, the balloons have all popped - "My balloons were all faulty, they all popped!" 

Complaint 2: The customer places all the helium-filled latex balloons on the ceiling in their home and some of them pop! "My balloons were faulty, they popped when I got home!"

Complaint 3: The customer places her balloons outside "All my balloons went dull and cloudy, they are not what I asked for!"

These are very simple and basic complaints, however, if you inform the customer in advance that these things might occur, then you can prevent that complaint ever occurring.

Here are some different things that you can list on your fact sheet and also alert customers to certain situations when they purchase balloons from you... if you feel it's relevant at that time (like the weather) it is worth actually mentioning it to the customer before they leave your shop or store.

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 any decorative contents 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 ­čśŐ

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.

As a business owner we need to be a master of all trades: designer, sales person, the writer of quotes and proposals, accounts manager and the one who responds to emails and messages, as well as social media expert! One of the hardest jobs is to deal with complaints! 

I hope this helps any of you who are not really sure how to deal with complaints.

Happy Ballooning! 


Follow me @suebowler

Friday, June 4, 2021

Father's Day - Balloon Delivery Inspiration 2021!

According to many different studies, consumers tend spend more when it comes to buying gifts for Mother's Day versus Father's Day! Buying gifts for women is easier, with flowers, chocolates and jewellery topping the list. When it comes to buying for men, it is a little trickier, with more practical and traditional gifts. 

With Father's Day fast approaching, this is the perfect time for us to tap into this market and help our customers to find the perfect solution for their Father's Day gift... here are some great ballooning ideas! 

Personalisation remains a top trend

The key to a successful Father’s Day for retailers will rely on the ability to tune into what the customer is looking for as they celebrate after a turbulent year. Balloon deliveries are still an extremely popular choice when it comes to ordering balloons!

It is clear that personalisation, a major trend in gifting over the last decade or so, will continue to be important for Father’s Day 2021. 

Qualatex Deco Bubbles are perfect for personalisation, especially when using a die-cutting machine such as the Silhouette Cameo. 

I absolutely love this design by Cam Woody, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company in Wichita, KS, USA. What could be more appealing than giving this to a Daddy for his first Father's Day! 

Don't forget, Qualatex has prepared some great ready-made social media posts that you can freely download - click HERE for a direct link or visit

Microfoil balloons can be personalised too! How about taking this 'Adorable Astronaut' Qualatex balloon and adding a special 'cosmic' Father's Day message! 

37" 'Adorable Astronaut' 

Cheers to Dad on his Special Day!

Design by Eve Antonello, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company.

Only a balloon professional could look at a balloon, flip it upside-down and add a little facial feature to create a whimsical design like this Father's Day arrangement made by Eve Antonello, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA.

"Dad you are my Champion"

For all those champion Dads how about this 'You're the Best' balloon arrangement, and don't forget the trophy balloon can be personalised too! 

Designer name: Sam Jossie, CBA of Pioneer® Balloon Company in Wichita, KS, USA.

Message ideas!

Choosing the perfect message to illustrate on a balloon is never easy, so here are a few examples that should hopefully help! 

To the world’s best Dad, happy Father’s day!

Thanks Dad for everything you do for us.

Happy Father’s day to the coolest Dad ever!

Happy Father’s day to my wonderful Daddy. 

Thanks for always being there for us/me

Out of all the dads in the world I think we got the best one! 

 Happy Father’s day to my superhero Dad!

Sending you all my love and I wish I could be there to give you a big bear hug. 

I am so lucky to have you as my dad. 

Thanks for being so wonderful!

You truly are the best Daddy! Happy Father’s day.

Thanks for being the coolest dad on the block! Happy Father’s day!

Happy Father’s Day to the greatest Dad in the whole world!

If you would like to learn how to re-create some of the designs featured in this post, check out these fabulous video tutorials by Cam Woody and Eve Antonello! 

Once you have decided which designs you are going to offer for Father's Day, it is time to start promoting them on your social media channels. Remember that using the right hashtags is the key to success of your campaign! 

#fathersday #fathersdaygifts #dad #happyfathersday #love #father #family #mothersday #fathersdaygiftideas #daddy #gift #giftideas #birthday #fathers #fathersdaygift #gifts #handmade #diadelpadre #fatherandson #dadlife #shoplocal #fatherhood #papa #instagood #anniversary #giftsforhim #dads #smallbusiness #fatherdaughter #personalised #bhfyp (best hashtag for your post) it is also important to include at least one hashtag with your location, town or city, unless you are offering a national balloon delivery service.

Here is another great ready-made social media post from Qualatex. Some have messages added while others have been left blank to allow you to add your own messages and company details! 

Remember your Father's Day sales campaign does not need to be 100% about the products that you are selling! To attract attention and followers, you can always add in a few 'off the wall' posts! 

How about a Father's Day fact? 
While the exact date that the word “dad” came into use is unknown, it is estimated that it began around the late fifteenth century. It is believed that it was simply derived from baby talk, as in many languages “dada” or “tata” refers to a baby’s acknowledgement of father.

Good luck with your Father's Day campaign, I hope that this post has given a little bit of inspiration! 

Happy Ballooning!

Follow me @suebowler