• 16 Aug 2019 5:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Word of Mouth

    Did you know that 92% of people believe recommendations from friends over all forms of advertising? It makes sense - you’re much more likely to pick the party company that your friend used and loved over one that you simply saw online. When it comes to successful referrals, you just can’t beat good old word of mouth marketing.

    We’re not suggesting that you abandon all of your modern marketing and take to the streets with a megaphone. After all, online marketing is still a great way to reach potential customers who have no previous connection to your business. However, every happy customer of yours holds the potential to unlock even more sales for you and that’s something that you’ll want to leverage as well.

    An instagram post by BAPIA member @for_every_occasion_balloons (Instagram) in Rhyl. 

    Just Ask! 

    It’s so simple that it sounds silly. Many customers simply just forget that a recommendation would be helpful to you. Every time a customer gives you good feedback, thank them kindly and then politely ask if they’d recommend you to any family and friends who may be looking in the future. They’ve nothing to lose and most people would be happy to pay you back for your great work.

    BAPIA member @creativedecorations (Instagram) in Houghton Regis sharing their glowing customer reviews on Instagram.

    Making It Extra Easy

    For word of mouth advertising to work, your details need to be readily available and easy to pass on. Partygoers will often ask the host who did the decor so be sure to leave them armed and ready with some beautiful business cards to share, making sure that they know your social media details for anyone who asks.

    When Jane’s sister asks who did her wedding balloons last year you want Jane to be able to remember and pass on the information immediately, even if she’s since lost your business card. This means having an easy business name that people can recall and pronounce. Regret naming your business Penelope’s Punctilious Party Practitioners now? That’s ok, why not give your business a nickname online like ‘Penny’s Parties’? Something short and unique that they can search to find your full details. 

    Balloon work by BAPIA member @Doodles_Balloons (Instagram) in Essex.

    Sweeten the Deal

    You can also offer an incentive to further encourage past customers to pass on your details. Maybe a discount on their next order for each new customer they send or even a freebie like a personalised balloon for their next celebration when someone who they’ve referred books you within three months. To keep track, simply assign each invoice or receipt that you produce a referral code e.g. ‘SMITH1’ and ask Mrs Smith to give this code to her friends and family to use if and when they book. Then, keep a simple spreadsheet to track the sales that come back from each code so that you can reward that customer and watch your business grow.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 05 Jul 2019 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One of the things many business owners fear most about having a social media presence is unfair customer complaints. In some cases the customer isn’t always right and it may seem that few things would be more detrimental to your business than a disgruntled customer out to destroy you. Worse still is the threat of a competitor posing as a customer for the same reason. Here’s how you can handle such complaints in the best way and why you shouldn’t let them worry you.

    At Your Service

    First of all, a customer complaint is a great opportunity to show your superb customer service. Think, who would you be more likely to hire - a company who has little to no online presence and thus absolutely no evidence of their customer service skills? Or a company who has had 1 negative review in 10 and dealt with it quickly and efficiently, ultimately leaving the customer feeling satisfied? Accidents happen, from faulty balloons to communication errors but if potential customers can see that you will be proactive and go above and beyond to put things right every time, they’ll feel much more reassured that they’re in safe hands, whatever happens. 

    Rectify or Reassure

    If you’ve been given a justifiably negative review, once you’ve rectified the situation, don’t be afraid to ask the customer if they would mind going back to update their comments to reflect this. Most customers leave reviews simply to help other customers know what your business is like so, if you’ve turned things around and ultimately left them feeling satisfied, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t want to spread the word. As long as you ask nicely.

    Sometimes there’s no reasoning with a complainant and that’s ok. Instead, in your reply take the time to calmly and professionally explain your business practises and policies so that future potential customers understand how they can avoid the same situation. Take care not to accuse the customer who left the review but instead to explain how and why you did everything you could to make this particular situation right. Don’t descend into a back and forth argument, just state your side and let it be. Think of potential customers reading the review and your reply. You don’t want to come across as confrontational or difficult to work with, you just want to reassure them that the same issue won’t happen to them.

    Focus on the Positives

    Instead of worrying about the odd negative review, focus on the potential for the many, many positive reviews that will far outweigh them and on how much business these will bring. A business with no reviews will rarely do better than one with even 4 out of 5 stars. Each time you have a happy customer, don’t be afraid to ask them if they would take the time to write you a quick review. A simple Instagram comment like, ‘Josie loved her balloons!’ or even just a star rating on Facebook or Google takes one click but will make all the difference when new customers are looking. Is there an incentive that you can offer customers to remember to review you too? Focus on building these positive reviews and any negatives will be buried in no time.

    Learn and Improve

    All reviews, good or bad, are an opportunity to better understand your customers and improve your business. We’ve all had customers who say they will book again, never to return... Some people are shy about giving face-to-face feedback. Online reviews allow them to be honest which means really getting to understand your customers' needs and thus better serve them. Is there a recurring issue that you could easily clear up? Perhaps there’s a pricing point that you could make clearer right from the time of booking. Even better, is there an element of your business that lots of customers rave about in your reviews? Reviews help you to learn what customers appreciate the most about your business so that you can highlight your best selling points on all your pages. 

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 05 Jul 2019 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Skills Help You to Stand Out

    The balloon and party business is booming as beautifully decorated parties are becoming more and more popular. Whilst this is great news for all of us, it does mean that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in the market. When customers are shopping around, wouldn’t you love to be able to offer them something more unique and exciting than your competitors? Keeping your skills up to date helps you to be more dynamic with your designs so that you can keep up with new trends, meet more requests and also suggest fun new designs which will help you to clinch more sales.

    Spend Money to Make Money

    You may think that spending money on something you can’t sell is wasteful but just because training isn’t tangible, that doesn’t mean that it’s not smart. Imagine that you have a spare £150 to invest into your business this month. You could a) order a popular new line of foil balloon characters or b) invest in a training course. You’ve worked out your margins and know that the £150 of balloons will return you £1,000 of sales this quarter so you decide to go with that. In May, a lady called Sally sends you a photo of an organic doorway arch and asks if you can recreate it for her son’s birthday party. You have to turn it down because you don’t know how. Instead, Sally goes to a competitor who makes £500 from the party. When Sally posts the photos to Facebook, three other parents from her son’s school book arches with the same company that summer. The £150 training returned them £2000 of sales in just 3 months and it’s a skill they can use again and again, for life. 

    Attention Equals Advertising

    As demonstrated above, training can mean more free advertising for your business too. Customers are much more likely to tag and credit your business on social media if they think that their friends and family will find this particularly useful. A single helium foil, whilst fun and a good business basic, is easy to come by. So when Sandra posts little Jack’s foil balloon to Facebook she doesn’t think to list where it’s from. A balloon inside a bubble, however, is much more unique. Next month is little Jill’s birthday and when Sandra shares her pink ‘balloon inside a balloon’, Tina and Tanya, whose children go to the same school, both ask Sally where she got it and head straight there. The more skills you acquire, the more niche your business becomes and the more customers will make a beeline for you because you have the most to offer.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 24 Jun 2019 5:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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:


    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 engaging and memorable? It may seem like a small thing but 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 and a post with a descriptive, well-thought-out caption will stand out a lot more in the middle of a scrolling session.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 24 Jun 2019 3:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You’ve taken our advice and you want to use Instagram to grow your balloon and party business - great stuff. The next step is to sharpen your skills so that you can really highlight your work and encourage new customers to enlist your services. Read on for some top tips on how to take great photos for Instagram.

    Keep It Light and Bright!
    Indoor photos can be shadowy so make sure that your image is bright enough that the details of your work can be seen. If you can, quickly open curtains and blinds and/or turn on extra lights to get a well-lit scene. When this isn’t an option or you need an extra boost, the in-app editing options in Instagram allow you to increase the brightness and reduce the shadows of your photos too. 

    It’s All In The Detail
    Perhaps your balloons are personalised or your design has extra detail in it. You want potential customers to be able to appreciate that. Make sure that your photos are sharp and clear by centring on the object that you want to highlight. On a smartphone, take a second to steady your hand and then gently tap on the screen, on the main point of your photo, to focus the camera and adjust the lighting before you take it. Again, in the editing stage of uploading to your Instagram feed, you can also increase the sharpness to help those details pop. 

    Don’t Overdo It
    As always when selling a product, you don’t want to edit your photos so much that they alter the overall look of the balloons. If potential customers suspect that an image is too edited, they won’t trust that the finished product will be the same and will move on. Worse still, you don’t want to raise expectations of the way your balloons will look beyond what’s realistic! Consider editing tools simply as a way to enhance your two dimensional photograph and show the full beauty of your balloon work when you look at it with your own eyes.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 03 May 2019 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Instagram Stories is such an under-utilised tool when it comes to small business marketing. Here are some tips on how you can use it to engage potential customers and drive sales this season.

    Don’t Miss Out!

    As Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours (unless you choose to save them as a ‘highlight’ on your page), you can create a sense of urgency which can drive sales. Perhaps you can periodically run a ‘24 Hour Flash Sale’ promotion where customers can quote the code that shown on your story for money off or a freebie but they must act fast - once the code disappears the promotion is over! This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it aspect of Instagram Stories keeps your followers engaged in your page and checking back regularly which means more opportunities for you to promote your great products and services.


    Instagram Stories is a great opportunity to give potential customers a behind-the-scenes ‘sneak peek’ at what you do without giving too much way. People love to see what’s ‘behind the curtain’ when it comes to industries they’re not familiar with. Perhaps show the process of what goes into decorating a party from clips of you packing the van, to creation to take down. Fun effects like Boomerang and apps like Hyperlapse (which allows you to super speed your phone videos) help to make this even more fun for your viewers.

    Keep It Casual

    A lot of people feel overwhelmed by the idea of maintaining Instagram Stories content as well as everything else. It’s true that the more often you post on Instagram Stories, the more followers will keep coming back to see what else you’ve shared. The great thing about Instagram Stories though is that it can be much less polished than other platforms. You don’t need to edit photos for Instagram Stories - as the Stories disappear after 24 hours, it’s generally accepted that the aesthetic here is much more relaxed. Plus there are fun filters, stickers and text that you can add to make your content more exciting. Don’t stress yourself out trying to create perfect imagery. If you can post 6 little clips from your working day just a few times a week, that’s enough to keep your audience engaged and coming back.

    Promote Your Other Pages

    Use Instagram Stories to drive your customers to your other platforms too. If you have an online store, don’t forget to link it on your main profile page and refer to it often so that potential customers remember that they can buy directly from you. Even if you don’t have a website, Facebook is also a great place to have potential customers following you because people can more easily ‘share’ your posts with their friends and family meaning more exposure for your business. Periodically remind your Instagram following that you’re on Facebook and perhaps even give them an incentive to go and follow you on there. This could be anything from a freebie to simply the promise of even more interesting content. In our BAPIA News post entitled Marketing Your Small Business With Facebook Posts, we talked about the importance of varying your content across platforms, so remind people of what you’re offering over on Facebook so that you can upsell to them on there too.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 03 May 2019 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Switch It Up

    It’s important that each of your business platforms offers your followers something slightly different. This way they’ll be much more likely to follow you on all of them which means more opportunities for you to upsell your products and services. In our BAPIA News post on The Importance of a Brand Story for Your Balloon Business we discussed how creating a personal story for followers to relate to is important so that they remember your business over others. Whereas Instagram is great for showing off your work, as it’s such a visual platform, Facebook is ideal for storytelling.

    Storytelling is Selling

    Sometimes people switch off from the generic, ‘Here’s what we offer!’ posts which is where your storytelling skills come into play. Instead of just posting the facts, think about how you word updates to reflect the ongoing story of your business. Share your genuine excitement about your business highs like new products you’ve purchased, exciting new designs you’ve been working on and your eager anticipation of any sales, promotion and events. Be sure to share great feedback from clients - don’t be afraid to ask them if they’d mind writing a review on your Facebook page.

    Even the lows can help to promote your business, as long as you took something positive from them. Perhaps you overcame some difficulty with a location. Did an awkwardly placed roof beam threaten to ruin your ceiling treatment but you worked your way around it? If you go above and beyond to deliver for your clients, share it with potential customers. Just remember to keep it brief, positive and professional!

    Don’t Forget to Use Stories

    Just like Instagram, Facebook has a Stories element too, allowing you to share limited-time-only snippets from your day with your followers. This function keeps your followers engaged in your page and checking back regularly; we’ve elaborated more on this here in our Ideas for Instagram Stories post. As Facebook and Instagram are linked, you can even share your stories to both platforms, particularly when you have something extra exciting that you want to share like a product launch or a flash sale.

    Sharing is Caring!

    Don’t be afraid to politely ask your followers to share your content if they like it. It’s how you get your business in front of even more potential clients. On Facebook the shares will be amongst friends and family, many of whom will be living locally too, meaning people are much more likely to make a booking with you since they’ve found you via someone they know and trust.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 03 May 2019 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As a small business owner, social media can be a great source of custom for your business making it a fantastic form of free advertising. So the last thing you want is for your post to be passed over in a serial scroll session. This post explains how to brand your posts online so that potential customers see them as more than just another pretty picture.

    What’s Your Niche?

    Branding is a way of making your business stand out from others which may be offering similar products and services. Imagine ten greengrocers all lined up, all selling the same fruits and vegetables from the same supplier. What would you do to encourage customers to come to your greengrocers over the next one? Well, an Instagram feed can be very similar with lots of balloon and party companies all vying for followers’ attention.

    Does your business have a tagline that you want people to associate with it? For instance, ‘Service with a smile!’, if so, use it in every caption so that happiness becomes synonymous with your business name. Is there a skill you’d specifically like to be known for? Maybe you’re crazy about columns or terrific at ceiling treatments. Even if you do everything equally, picking a specific product or service to focus on and mention often can help people to remember you more easily than just touching a bit on everything you do. After all, ‘Fiona’s Fantastically Fresh Fruit Shop’ is more memorable that ‘Greg’s General Greengrocers’. You want a message that’s going to engage followers enough to click through to your profile where you can expand on all of the products and services that you offer.

    Make It Memorable

    One way of helping followers to get to know your business is to create a uniform aesthetic for all your Instagram posts that’s instantly recognisable in their feed. Think about cool angles to shoot from - maybe always from up high for table work or down low for ceiling treatments and use apps like FontCandy to add your business name to the image itself so it’s easier to see. Using the same filters and edits on all your photos will help them to become more recognisable and look more cohesive and professional on your page too. Perhaps you’re known for your soft, light, dreamy photos or your bold, bright images. The free presets (filters) on phone apps like VSCO Cam make this very easy to do and actually make photo editing quicker than editing each image manually. You can still adjust small things like brightness depending on how well-lit each photo is but starting with the same filter/preset each time will help followers to instantly recognise your branding and remember your business, even in the middle of a scrolling session. That way next time they need balloons, they’ll subconsciously think of you first.

    Don’t Forget Stories!

    The same goes for your Facebook and Instagram Stories posts. Try to use the same font styles and background colours each time you post so that, even when people have their Stories on autoplay, they’ll know it’s your post without even having to check the teeny tiny username that Instagram displays. Pick bright colours that stand out but are also easy to read and use the same ones whenever you can, across all your pages, to create brand recognition.

    A Picture Doesn’t Always Tell 1,000 Words

    Remember to write an interesting caption with each photo to give more information about your work and your business to pique people’s interest and stop them scrolling past. Paint a picture of the type of event that you were working on to help them imagine organising something similar themselves. Perhaps your stunning ceiling treatment brought a touch of class to a corporate event or your ombre orbz added a splash of colour to a unicorn-themed birthday bash. Don’t be afraid to give some behind-the-scenes info too - how did you plan everything and then bring it all together? Your personal approach to your business is a great selling point and remember, most people aren’t familiar with the practical side of the ballooning world so some information that we take for granted will be of interest to the public. Above all, remind your followers each time of your where your business operates and how they can make a booking!

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work!

  • 03 May 2019 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s one thing to post great pictures of your balloon and party work online but how do you stand out from other companies offering similar products and services?

    Put A Face to The Name

    A lot of people like to support small businesses whose owners they can relate to. If you’re comfortable, jump in front of the camera every now and then to show yourself hard at work. Many people would prefer to give their hard-earned money to ‘Jenny who does the brilliant balloons’ than ‘The Brilliant Balloon Company’ so help them to put a face to the name. It’ll make your business more memorable.

    Sharing Leads to Caring

    Perhaps share a bit about yourself too. Include a little insight into your business on your BAPIA Directory profile page and on your business Facebook Page and remind your followers with updates from time to time. What made you get into the business - did you work in another industry before? How did you discover your passion for balloon and party work? What do you love most about the job? Keep it brief and try to focus on the positive aspects but also be truthful about the passion and dedication it takes. People are often interested in a behind-the-scenes look at things they enjoy and stories like this will help them to remember you.

    Location, Location, Location

    Many people will be following balloon and party businesses all over the world simply because they enjoy looking at the beautiful work. When the time comes for a celebration of their own, this can make it difficult to differentiate between businesses and they may not even realise that your business is in their local area. Lots of people love to support a local business so help them to realise that you are one. To make sure that all of your followers are familiar with your location, on instagram be sure to tag your location in photos and use local hashtags so that people searching these will find and follow you. Regularly mention your operating areas in your captions and Stories posts so that when potential customers come across your business they immediately know where you’re based.

    Business Development

    As you invest in your business and develop your skills, take your followers along the journey with you. This can be anything from showing you going to one of the training courses BAPIA lists on Instagram stories to sharing new equipment in a Facebook update. Show them the dedication you have to producing great work and the passion that you have for your craft. Knowing that you care enough to keep evolving and that you will do you very best to deliver to your clients on the day, may be the thing that makes them go with you over another business.

    BAPIA members, remember to tag us in your posts using #bapiaparty so that we can see and share your great work.

  • 22 Feb 2019 5:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s official! Pantone have announced that the 2019 Colour of the Year is none other than Living Coral, a brilliantly bold peach shade that’s set to be everywhere this year. Pantone’s Colour of the Year refers not just to ballooning but all sorts of design industries from fashion to home decor so we can expect to see pops of it everywhere from our wardrobes to our walls.

    Photo credit: @TheCreativeHeartStudio

    But back to ballooning - how can you stay on trend and incorporate the colour of the moment into your work? Qualatex’s Coral shade is the perfect colour to represent Living Coral and is available in a number of shapes and styles currently on their site. Amscan’s Peach colour provides a lovely, lighter version and don’t you agree that their ombre orbz are such a stunning use of Living Coral?

    With Mother’s Day just around the corner, what a wonderful opportunity to offer something different. Mix and match your usual pinks with peach shades to add depth to your designs and excite the eye with something new.

    The pretty pastel hue of Living Colour makes it ideal for Easter too. The slightly muted tone means it’ll sit well with the classic creamy yellows the season brings. We expect to see lots of cute coral characters like this fantastic flamingo by master of balloon decor, Chris Adamo, who is touring the UK and Ireland this year - remember to secure your places on his classes here as they’re going fast!

    As Living Coral is balanced nicely between yellow and red on the colour wheel, it’s also great for gradient effects, perfect for creating artistic arches like this beautifully blended rainbow by Balloons by Sarah.

    Photo Credit: Chris Adamo cba | Photo Credit: @balloonsandblooms

    Photo Credit: @balloonsbysarah

    When wedding season hits, the red tones in Living Colour mean it will work wonderfully with rose gold accents and, as it’s a darker peach shade, it looks great against bright white balloons as an accent colour as demonstrated by Sue’s wonderful wall below.

    Photo Credit: @suebowler | Photo Credit: @magicalmasksbelfast

    Have fun incorporating Living Coral into your designs this year and don’t forget to use the hashtag #bapiaparty across social media so that we can see and share your great work.

    And remember, if we all balloon responsibly, the #bapiaparty never has to end!

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