Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'Green' Balloons...

I have just had the pleasure of working as part of the Green Balloon Campaign team, at the first of many (we hope) public Balloon Art Festivals.

This is the first time I have ever really spent time talking to the public about our industry. Their reactions and comments regarding the balloon sculptures were amazing, everyone from the very young to the not so very young absolutely loved them! I suppose that I should not be so surprised, but it was great hearing their comments!
Sue, Amber & Claire talking to families about the Green Balloon Campaign
"Wow"... "I did not realise that you could make such fantastic things from balloons"? "are they really balloons"? are just a few of many questions we were asked. Comments such as "this is such a beautiful art form", "I have never seen anything like it" and "you really would not know that they were balloons"!

Dolphin sculpture created by Jodie Norris

But what truly amazed me more than anything was that most people that we spoke to did not realise that latex balloons are 100% biodegradable.

Here are a few facts that we shared with the visitors: 

  • Qualatex latex balloons are made from 100% natural latex- not plastic. Qualatex latex balloons are biodegradable, and decompose as fast as an oak leaf. 
  • Latex balloons come from rubber trees. Latex is collected by cutting the tree's bark, then catching the latex in a cup. Latex harvesting does not hurt the tree!
  • Latex balloons are Earth-friendly! Rubber tree's grow in rain forests. Latex harvesting discourages deforestation because latex-producing trees are left intact. A tree can produce latex for up to 40 years!
This for me, is was what made the weekend so rewarding, the opportunity to be able to inform the public the true facts about latex balloons. We talked to both children and adults, school teachers, artists, people from all walks of life. Some shared their concerns regarding the environment, so we informed them of the
BAPIA Code of Practice, the Balloon Council and the Californian Law,  all of which demonstrated  that as a profession and an industry we take environmental issues very seriously!
Picture by Huw Evans Picture Agency- Cardiff
The Red Dragon Centre with their publicity team gave the event such great media coverage, including radio, local and national newspapers. In excess of 40,000 people visited the centre over the festival weekend!

So how did our campaign start?

Bob Armstrong CBA with Bob's daughter Claire Cummings of Dr Bob's Balloons have been the driving force behind the launch of this project. Bob and Claire started the campaign 6 months ago, when they started visiting local schools, giving a fun but clear presentation to the children on how balloons are made, how latex is tapped from rubber tree's and many other important facts including how latex balloons are environmentally friendly. These school visits have been very well received by the schools and pupils alike and it was felt that it was a good time to expand and grow the campaign by creating a public event. Bob and Claire contacted John Bowler at BAPIA (the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance), and they joined forces to take the campaign forward.

Working for the Balloon & Party Industry

This is only the start, it was a fantastic way to start the campaign and has tied in very well with the IBA, International Balloon Month

For more pictures visit www.thegreenballoon   


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thriving in the Balloon Industry by Guest Blogger Megan Dominguez, Pioneer Balloon Company

Every small business could use a lift in this down economy. But, how do you get your business to thrive and not just survive? 

The Qualatex Event 2011
Professional training and continued education have become an essential component of successful small businesses. “In the balloon industry, we know for sure that the most successful businesses we work with are the ones that continue to invest in education,” says Michelle Comerford, European sales manager of Pioneer® Europe Limited.
One great option for those in the balloon industry looking for quality education and professional training is the upcoming Qualatex Event in England. The event will take place 3-5 Nov, 2011 in Heythrop Park, near Oxford England. It is the first major balloon education event in Europe since 2005. The Qualatex Event-England is designed to provide beneficial, business-building information and design ideas. 

Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire, England
“I make every effort to attend all Qualatex events and courses,” Corinne Elliot, CBA, of Deeside Balloons Ltd. in Shotton, United Kingdom said. “The enthusiasm and energy of the instructors inspires me time and time again and gives me the knowledge to grow my business.” 

The Qualatex Event Instructors
The courses will be taught by top instructors who understand the balloon industry and retail market, and have the experience to help participants grow their business. Delegates will have the opportunity to attend more than 50 different courses designed for a variety of skill levels and interests ranging from the fundamentals of balloon decor to advanced techniques. Select courses will also be offered in Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, and French.
“Training is so much more than demonstrating how to make great designs with balloons. We believe that it is important to focus on promoting best business practices as customers are frequently looking for advice on how to price and sell work,” Michelle said. 

Nick Mayhew
 Delegates will also have the opportunity to attend a business-focused session with keynote speaker, Nick Mayhew, senior partner for the accountancy firm Price Bailey. Nick heads up the Management Consultancy Division of the firm, and spends his working time advising small and medium size businesses on a wide range of subjects from writing a business plan to formulating an exit plan and everything in between.  He will help delegates think about their own business, and give them the know-how and confidence to build a brighter future.
The slowed economy has challenged many companies in the balloon industry to work with smaller staffs, leaving little to no time to create new designs. It is very difficult to grow a business and capture repeat customers without changing design offerings. “We understand that it can be difficult running a business and constantly having to juggle a variety of problems, so it is important that we make it as easy as possible,” Michelle said.

Delegates at The Qualatex Event-England will learn four to five new designs in each class, giving them the opportunity to leave the event with at least 20 new design ideas they can use right away. The courses will not only teach participants new designs, but give them hands-on opportunities to create what they’ve learned. In addition to increasing the number of designs they can create, delegates will be able to build-up their Idea Book with new pictures to show clients.

“I am always receptive to new and exciting balloon designs which in turn fuse new ideas to decorate our store thus offering our customers equally new and exciting ideas,” Corinne said. “The visual impact and knowledge I take back to my store is invaluable.”
Efficiency is crucial to running a small business, and The Qualatex Event-England offers a multitude of valuable business-building resources all in one place. The event is a great timesaving education and training opportunity for those in the balloon industry. If you would like more information on The Qualatex Event-England; including a full list of courses, instructors, and registration information, visit

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Benefits of Business Cards as a Marketing Tool - Update

After publishing yesterdays blog 'Benefits of Business Cards as a Marketing Tool', I have received some great business cards and comments from you! There are some truly great suggestions and idea's.

I have learned so much about business cards in the past few days and how very important they are as a business marketing tool. I would like to say a huge thank you to all the contributors to this article.

David Taylor from New South Wales, Australia, says "Just wanted to add my two cents if that is OK.

1) also make sure that you have a decent quality, thick cardstock for your card. It is more expensive, but again, it adds to the professional image of your business.

2) like you I do not have any balloons on my business card. I have squares."

Aaron here from Singapore.

From you blog, I decides to share my name card with fellowmate ...


All namecard are design by myself as I want my name card to be out stand from other balloon decorator/twister/retailers...

I want a namecard that with just a simple glimpse it know what we are dealing...I them to see lots of things and know that we are in balloon business.

Colorful name card is one of the condition to capture my customers' attention...

Secondly, pictures shows a thousand words and it tell them what we are dealing.. well you get what I am saying after you see my name card...

In my name card I also states what services we are dealing so people get the idea and know who and what to look for when they going thru your name card..

name card stock is important too.. my name card is 300gsm and its think with offset printing compare to digital print and I make use all the space i have on the name card to
tell my client what I am selling...

Quality of namecard is important as it shows your status of your profession...

Aaron Chee
Creative Art Designer / Trainer
Qualatex - C.B.A
(Certified Balloon Artist)
Balloon Artist, Entertainer,

Matthew Lewis, Coventry, UK. has 2 company names offering specific services and has different business cards that clearly defines each business. This allows him to target specific markets and customers.

Hey Sue
I'm enjoying your blog -

Attached is my business card,  thought I would share -- my logo works great on my vehicles, T-shirts and banners too.

Readability is 'sooo' important...and when I go to conventions I'm 'sooo' surprised when people are still printing their own on the perforated cardstock....thanks for sharing the info you do on your blog!  That was one of the keys I hit on in Class at FLOAT last year, was letting people know when you go to Market and Network you want to have professional looking cards...

Joette Giardina, Certified Balloon Artist
Creating Memorable Celebrations
Recent events 

Jolanda & Tibor - Party Bord, Netherlands,
Hi Sue,

Read you blog about presenting yourself to clients, a.o. with the
'right' business card.

Attached our business cards (of both Tibor and myself). This is a design of a few years back. As our business is not only
ballondecoration (also inflatables, bouncy castles, party goods etc.) We had to come up with a design that represents 'party', and when people think of 'party', they think about balloons and (in Holland)
flagbanners, right?

The orange flagbanners in our design are very recognizeable because of
their rigid shape. The diagonal flagbanners also 'protect' our website photo's against copying (of course clients compare prices. This way our logo is in the picture :) ).

At the bottom of the attached card is in text what we do: inflatables
- flagbanners - balloons - Helium - bouncy castles - light & sound.

We are planning to design new cards, just with balloons. Our business
is shifting towards balloon decoration (instead of inflatables, as
there are more and more rental companies rising). Also the balloon
business is where we can excel and specialize ourselves, plus: many
location managers and catering companies are not interested in
inflatables and other rental stuff.

Nina Dee's of 'Deesigns Balloon Creations' CA, USA says "Being also in graphics, I esp liked your comments on DIY business cards: a personal sore spot with me & the folks in this industry! So thanks.
Attached is a copy of my balloon business card that I am quite happy with. It relies on the marketing tenet that people like to do business with people they know, hence my photo. If they don't know me to start with, they will after looking at this a few times. And it shows a plethora of balloons which supplies plenty of color. I also use my signature font which brands all my marketing materials, and has plenty of white space so is comfortable to look at. It is printed on heavy weight gloss stock so feels substantial to the touch. 

Denisse Sanchez - Deco Inn, Puebla, shares her great business card... I love pink!

Thank you again everyone for your input, I am truly inspired by the diverse range of business cards shown here, I look forward to seeing some great business cards when I meet you at future events!

Happy Ballooning!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Very Best Balloon Store - Retail Sales Tips 2.

This weeks tip is for both retail and home-based business's.
Benefits of Business Cards as a  Marketing Tool

In our highly competitive world, we need to find different ways to promote our products and services, this week we are looking at business cards.

A well designed business card can be a very effective way of marketing. They are easy to make, there are many online websites that offer an easy step-by step process to designing your own cards, giving you professional results.

The great thing about business cards is that people do actually look at them, probably longer than printed literature such as fliers and brochures. They are easy to carry and store, making it easy for someone to contact you when they need your services.

So what makes the perfect business card?
Professional looking, unlike like my first business card that I designed and printed myself on coloured card! Sadly, an industry friend reminded me of that only a few months ago and proudly gave back to me 'my original business card', they had found recently after 15 years... cringe!
Note: Do-it-yourself marketing materials can make your business look unprofessional, suggesting to potential clients that you cannot perform to or meet the standards they expect. Customers may think that if you don't care how your business presents itself, you don't care about the quality of your product or service.

What information do we need to include?

  1. Your company name, business and website address are a must.
  2. Company Logo is also very important and should be present on the card. Add accreditation's such as QBN network or CBA. Did you know, as a QBN member or CBA you can easily download the logo's, by simply visiting and clicking on QBN Resources, you will need to log in using your QBN number and password, then clicking on Marketing Resources -  and select LOGO's

  3. The font, text, and colours of a card are very important, they should be chosen with a great deal of caution. They should be readable, and colours should contrast well. Make sure the card is of a standard size to make it easier to carry. Where possible the back of the card should be left blank.
Note: This is another error that I made, recently I decided to make my new business cards a 'Hot Pink'  colour with White and Lime Green writing, yes, it did match my website colour, but it is very hard to read the Lime Green writing, all in all a disaster! 
I have since re-designed my card, making it very simple, easy to read and I lost the Lime Green text too!
Now that I have written this blog and have done a little research on the subject, I believe that I made a number of errors when designing my newest business card, I will make sure that when I re-order I will make a few changes!

My card with the Lime Green Text... impossible to read!
My latest business card, much easier to read... but does it need balloons?

A business card portrays the professionalism of a business. A good card will remain with the customer for a long time and will project a business in a positive way.

Always carry business cards with you. Give them freely and ask permission to leave them in places your target market may visit.

Have you got the very best business card that 'sells' your companies products and services really well? Please send me a photo of it, as I would love to add them to this blog! 
email me :

Happy Ballooning!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adding Value to a Qualatex Bubble Balloon - Step by Step DVD

I recently posted a blog 'Adding value... 'The Very Best Way to stand out from our competitors'! Here is a short DVD clip that show's you how to make one of the designs that I made. It's quick and simple, and with just a few additional balloons it really does add value to the Bubble balloon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Very Best Balloon Store - Retail Sales Tips 1.

Welcome to the Very Best Balloon Store! 

I would like to share with you on a weekly basis some retail sales tips and idea's that you may find useful and effective within your own stores, try them out and let me know if they worked for you? How about sharing some of your best sales tips too, I would love to feature them and credit you for your idea's!

As a retailer we need to find different ways to ensure that we have made the best possible sales opportunity with each and every customer who enters our stores:

I would like to start with two very simple sales tips, if you do not already do this have a go today and train your staff to do the same.

1. Each and every time someone purchases an item, the person serving should ask
"Did you find everything that you were looking for today?"  
Quick, simple and polite. Let's face it, we all from time to time forget what we actually went in a store for, or we just cannot see the item/s that we are looking for.

Think about it, let's say you manage to make an additional $20 worth of sales each day as a result of asking that very simple question.
That in turn could increase your weekly turnover by $120 which would potentially give you additional annual sales of $6,240!

2. "Can I help you?", a very classic question that we are often asked when we are walking around a store. The usual response is "Just looking"!

How about changing the way we approach our customers and ask:
"Hi there, what can I help you look for today?"
Just by simply asking a different question may get a different response and give you the opportunity to open up a conversation and recommend products or services that you are able to offer.

These sales tips are very important within our industry. We have the ability to fulfill our customers needs every time by being able to offer the perfect balloons, bouquets or arrangements custom designed to suit the customers needs.

 These  sales training tips were sourced from  MTD sales training blog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Welcome Mr Q- the Qualatex Mascot that everyone adores!

Who's 7' tall, round, has a passion for balloons and of course is very handsome... it's Mr Q! 

This week sees the official launch of this adorable Qualatex Mascot, this chap is so important he has his very own email address and Facebook page - &  I am sure that he would love you to become his friend or email him from time to time!
Mr Q has actually been around since 2009 (when the Qualatex logo was revamped).

He told me “Back then, I was laying low and preparing for my on-screen debut in the video many of you saw before the Plant Tour at the World Balloon Convention 2010. Remember, the charming little fella who taught you all those interesting facts about latex balloons?
 I’m looking forward to seeing you again (in person!) at the WBC 2012 – but until then, keep an eye out because you never know where I might pop up next… After all, I love a good party!”

Mr Q will be a great ambassador for Qualatex, representing everything the brand stands for. (For those of you who don’t know, that’s quality, innovation, passion, excellence, and commitment…

I just love his favorite quotes:

"Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon." --Winnie the Pooh
"Don't worry. It's Qualatex."
"Hey, what's poppin'? Not our balloons!" --Mr. Q

I know that I for one am looking forward to meeting Mr Q in person, he sounds like a fun kind a guy!