Feb 24

ROLL BALLOONS & The Pizza Parable

Head Photo of Graham Rouse with name underneath

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“Amateurs and low price competitors can help to build your balloon business.  The Pizza Parable illustrates how.”

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Rouse Pre-Linked ROLL Balloon logo/iconTHE PIZZA PARABLE

Quite some years ago, I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina in the USA.  Every

"American Classic" burger, cola and fries made with ballons by Vicky Kimble

Whether you serve up Italian food as in our Pizza Parable, or balloons as in Vickie Kimble’s “American Classic” you must contribute some “added value” above the ordinary in order to excel and thrive. Read more from Vicky on “Thinking Outside The Box” with balloons in her Making It With Balloons Network article at http://miwb.net/blog/?p=853.

once and a while my wife and I went to a favorite, local Italian restaurant. It was a little out of the way and the prices were not cheap, but the food was great, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was a relaxing change from the hectic pace of our busy days.

On one occasion I spoke to the manager to thank him for a wonderful evening.  I also asked him how business was since the new pizza chain had moved in down the road at the shopping mall.

“Business is very good!”, he said.

“When I heard they were moving in, I was worried” he told me, “but they have actually helped my business.”

He went on. “I knew they would have a larger advertising budget. They built in a more convenient location for drive in traffic and they get walk in traffic from the mall that we never get. Plus, their prices are lower.”

“I think we have lost a few customers to them that used to be regulars, but they were ones that rarely spent much.”

“Overall, our business is up, and I think we have the new pizza chain to thank for much of that increase.  Their advertising, promotion and visibility have stimulated an increase in demand for Italian food in our area.  It would not surprise me if even sales of Italian food at the grocery stores have gone up.”

“But, when it comes to Italian food, we have a bigger menu, we have a great chef, an excellent service staff and a wonderful atmosphere for diners to relax and enjoy the experience. If you don’t mind me boasting a little bit; ‘We are the best in town!'”

“Yes, you are,” I agreed.

“Thank you,” he replied.  “And thank you for dining with us this evening. Do come again.”

“In fact,” he continued. “Take this gift card with you.  Bring it with you when you return and enjoy wine with your dinner on us.”

“Thank you,” I said. “We’ll do that.”

And we did….  ..     .


Has your small balloon business done well over the last years despite the shrinking economy, the entrance of large department stores and party store chains and even grocery stores adding balloons to their offerings? Chances are that it has not been your low prices, great advertising budget, or high traffic location that has pulled you through.

It is more likely that, like our favorite Italian restaurant, you are providing some significant added value for your customers. It is also likely that you have reaped the benefits of the “big boys” using their great advertising budget, high traffic location and low prices to promote balloons in the minds of a broader audience in your community.

If you don’t mind a little boasting, it is likely that “YOU are the best in town” at something important for your balloon market.


As Italian foods appear more frequently in advertising and in the news, it will be natural for the do-it-yourself amateurs to gather spaghetti and sauces and microwave dinners and serve them to family and friends. Some of these amateurs will never grace the doors of our favorite Italian restaurant. They will, however, spread their interest in Italian food to others who will become great prospects for our favorite dining spot

In a similar way, you can expect an upsurge in do-it-yourself balloon activity as your low price competitors do their thing. Do not whine about it. Celebrate it. Nurture it. Help each amateur succeed in their small way as they spread an interest in balloons to others. 

But, be sure to also show them the difference you can make for them and their friends as a balloon professional.


We have received questions from balloon professionals who have a natural concern about these new Roll Balloons in the stores of their low price competitors and in the hands of the amateurs those competitors will supply.

After all, these Roll Balloons will make many forms of balloon decorating bigger, easier, faster, low cost, longer lasting and reusable for all those low skilled, do-it-yourself amateurs. Won’t  amateurs begin doing things for themselves that professionals do now?

Yes they will!

The bar will be raised for what consumers can do for themselves with balloons.  And, the bar will be raised for what professionals must do to get and keep the business of those same consumers.


But that is always the job of professionals in creative and growing media. You must take ordinary latex balloons that anyone can purchase locally and turn them into something special. You must take those simple message balloons that are available everywhere and make them flatter the egos and satisfy the aesthetic tastes of senders and recipients. You must take an ordinary birthday party and turn it into a memorable event.  You must do more for event decor than inflate balloons to fill the room. You must use balloons to inflate the image of the customer and guests in the minds of the people that fill the room.

When you do these things, it will help your business for consumers to have and use all those cheap latex balloons, all those simple message balloons and even all those bigger, easier, faster, low cost, longer lasting and reusable Roll Balloons. Those amateurs will be spreading their interest in balloons and helping build a bigger balloon market for you.

After all, YOU are the professional. YOU are the one who can take any of the balloons that amateurs have and turn them into something really special.  “YOU are the best!” And, there is always a market for excellence.

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If you missed the introduction to what Roll Balloons are, we recommend you pause now and read,  Rolling Out Roll BalloonsIt will get you “up to speed”.
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Ballooniverse Mall™

Your “Balloon Frame Rouse Matrix™, R-E-A-L™ balloon frame shapes, icon animationSuper Center™” with balloon frames in more sizes, shapes, grid patterns and proprietary APPS than anyone else in the Ballooniverse.(http://bvsmall.com)


Thanks for joining me here this time. I look forward to having you back again.

Until then, I remain your host for Balloons On A ROLL blog.

Graham Rouse
Rouse Technologies LLC
“Advancing The Art & Commerce Of Balloons Worldwide”
With Rouse Original Technologies
Clemson, SC USA.
email: gmr@rousetech.com

Copyright 2012-15 by Graham Rouse, Rouse Technologies LLC


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  1. scott barhold

    Hey thanks for sharing! If price were the only difference between high and low priced entertainers Vegas would be filled with Amatuers, and hollywood would only show home movies.

    The fact is that those who go the extra mile to learn more, and do more will always reap the benefits over those that are lazy or take the short cuts.

    This was a great article.

  2. Marsha Gallagher

    Thanks for the article. It’s a good reminder to be who we are, focus on doing what we’re expert at, and not to worry about the other guy. Let’s remain open to the possibilities of life (and business).

  3. Dave Bigelow

    So is the inference here that low-priced balloon artists are amateurs who lack business expertise? Mr. Rouse, there are many different market segments out there, and a successful business person finds a niche and exploits it. I have many higher-priced competitors out here in Southern California who aren’t as professional and who don’t offer the same level of service, yet they still complain that the “cheap” balloon artists are responsible for their lack of success. And as you probably know, the most successful restaurant franchise in the world is McDonalds, who offers both affordable prices and excellent service.

    1. admin

      Thanks for your comments Dave.

      I do not mean to suggest that there will not be companies with “affordable prices and excellent service”. Maybe there will eventually even be a balloon version of McDonalds. Certainly, there are party store chains and department stores and even grocery store chains now that offer affordable prices on balloons and good service. They tend to have efficient, standard procedures, but generally limit themselves to “off the shelf and out the door” services with mostly standardized up-sell accessories. The Roll Balloons featured in this blog series will give them a way to empower their customers further without departing from their standard sales and service program.

      Another group that might successfully go after that low price niche are balloon professionals or highly skilled amateurs with a second income in the family. They are more likely to do this work for the personal satisfaction gained and a sense of service or even mission. Some might simply be working to supplement their income on a flexible schedule while they go to school or raise a family without much help. Their edge in the low price market is their personal service and taking that service to the customer at a low price. Generally, however, there are not enough hours in the day to make big bucks at low prices while offering a lot of home delivered, high quality personal services; not if you expect to have any semblance of a personal life of your own. Roll Balloons will give these balloonists another tool to quickly and easily beef up the impact of what they deliver and improve their profits.

      Mainly, I was addressing that in-between group of balloon professionals who want to earn a good income as a balloon retailer, decorator or entertainer. I was suggesting that they too can succeed. I was suggesting that they can succeed, not just despite competition from low priced competitors but, sometimes with the assistance of low priced competitors who help to expand public interest in and public market for balloons and balloon related services.

      Now, I agree with you, Dave, “… a successful business person finds a niche and exploits it”. Or, as I wrote it; if you are successful “it is likely that ‘You are the best in town’ at something important for your balloon market”.

      That “something important” could be;
      —- Speaking multiple languages
      —- Being highly knowledgeable of local religious beliefs and practices
      —- Being “up” on neighborhood cultural idiosyncrasies
      —- Having an engaging and entertaining personality
      —- Being highly involved in many local groups and activities
      —- Offering wild, outlandish, attention getting balloon designs.
      —- Dressing up your establishment like a high end “balloon boutique” with high prices to match
      —- Teaming up with other small businesses to go after weddings, corporate accounts or other specialties

      The list is potentially endless. In each case, however, you are more likely to be successful if you offer some “added value” that is not readily available from your competitors.

      1. Dave Bigelow

        I think that prices need to be viewed from the customers perspective. In this area, and I’m sure that it happens in others, a number of artists have gotten together and decided what they are going to charge everyone. In fact, I was told that if I wanted to be a part of the “community” that I needed to charge what they were charging. This has led to many people over the years telling me that balloon artists are too expensive, and I’ve had a lot of people thank me for charging what they consider to be a reasonable price. As I learned in business school many years ago, your primary goal is to maximize profits, and do that by providing a level of service and pricing that creates value in your customers eyes. As you aptly point out, successful people find ways to add value, but many people around here just charge more with no added value.

  4. Vicky Kimble

    Thanks for a great article, Graham!! The fact is, our competition DOES make us better. Regardless of what the other guy is doing, the important thing to remember is that our only true competitor is ourselves. If we constantly strive to provide the best and most unique products and services, we will be recognized and rewarded for what we have to offer. It’s not just about what we do, it’s how we do it.

  5. Jane Spiros

    Just wondering, if the balloons are inflated all at once, what does that mean if one has a hole?

    1. admin

      Thanks for your question, Jane.

      Your question is so basic and important that I plan to make a longer post on it later. [THAT POST IS NOW ONLINE AT http://rousetech.com/roll/post/935.] For now, however, let me share with you the response I gave to Dianna. She asked a similar question but also included two suggestions for an answer.
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      Thanks Diana for your question.

      You have already suggested, what I believe will be, the two most popular solutions.
      1. Cut out the defective balloon and insert a small connector between the open ends. You would then heat seal this connector in place to keep the gas flowing among all the balloons.
      2. Cut out the defective balloon, heat seal the new ends and then connect the new ends to keep the arch in tact. You would then have two Roll Balloons connected to make one arch.

      In anticipation that such a problem will eventually occur, I suggest that you make a practice of cutting your Roll Balloon arches a few balloons longer than you need.
      a. This will give you extra length in case you decide to make your arch a little taller or wider.
      b. This will give you extra length in case you do cut out a balloon.
      c. This will give you extra gas in case of temperature changes or a very slow leak.

      Let me elaborate on “c.”.
      1. TEMPERATURE – If you get a significant drop in temperature from the time of inflation to the time of your event, film balloons will shrivel up a bit and not look as neat as you might like. This can easily occur if your display is outside. It is less likely inside, but we have had that as well. If you have 40 individual film balloons on a line, you have a serious task to detach, add gas and rebuild your whole arch. With Roll Balloons you might just add gas at the last minute through one end.

      There is another option with Roll Balloons to have the Roll Balloons automatically add gas to the weakened arch. If you have extra length in your Roll Balloons, extend that extra length out in a hidden area on the floor. Use large rubber bands or long twistee balloons wrapped tightly around the extra balloons on the floor. The rubber bands will squeeze the balloons and force gas up into the weakened arch. If the temperature goes back up, the expanding gas will be forced back into the extra balloons.

      2. SLOW LEAK – If you have a very slow leak it will be more difficult to identify which balloon to cut out. You may add gas at the last minute to all the balloons at once as we suggested directly above. You may also find it helpful to use the rubber band trick to keep the arching balloons fully inflated during the event despite a slow leak.

      I hope you find these suggestions helpful.

      There are also variations possible in the Roll Balloons themselves to reduce such problems, but that discussion is a bit too much for the comments section.


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