Using Light Blue to help send a festive message to your customers

As Christmas approaches, many photographers are turning their attention to contacting their customers in order to send their season’s greetings. You’ve been adding information to Light Blue throughout the year, and now’s a perfect time to get that information to go to work for you.

Using Light Blue you can find the records of customers who matter the most to you, and then use various tools within Light Blue to send them a festive message.

Querying for records

In an earlier blog post, I wrote in some detail about using the query dialog to dig deep into your data & find records that you were interested in. You can design a query to find the contacts that you’re interested in reaching – perhaps all of your customers who’ve spent over a certain amount?

Once you’ve found the records that you want to send something to, you can use Light Blue to help you to reach out to them.

Printing address labels or envelopes

Printing your customers addresses onto labels or envelopes en mass is really simple. After performing your query, simply click Print/Send and choose the Labels / Envelopes option to print all of the primary addresses of your main contacts onto labels or envelopes.

Using mail merge documents to send a personalised letter

You may want to send a personalised letter that you plan to enclose in a card. We’ve got a handy tutorial all about using your own word processor to generate template letters:

There’s also a comprehensive list of all of the mail-merge tags that you can use in Light Blue, which will populate your template documents with information from your records.

Exporting email addresses to Mail Chimp

If you plan to send out a lot of emails in one big festive mail shot, you could export a spreadsheet of your customers email addresses to upload to something like MailChimp. Using the results of the query you ran earlier, simply click File > Export Email Addresses to save a CSV spreadsheet which can be uploaded as part of an email campaign.

 

ClickBook follow-on bookings are now being sent to Light Blue

For members of the Click Group, Light Blue has an integration with the ClickBook booking system. We’re continuing to work with the developers of ClickBook v2 to make our integration more helpful to photographers using our systems.

We’re pleased to announce that ClickBook is now sending details of follow-on bookings made in their system to Light Blue.

When you’re setting up your job types in ClickBook, you’re able to create job types that book out chunks of time in multiple rooms. For example, you could have a shoot in your studio that’s immediately followed by an instant viewing session in your viewing room. Or, for a studio that offers makeovers, you could have a workflow where clients start off in your makeup room, then move to the studio for their shoot, and finish the booking with a viewing in your viewing room.

When you’re setting up your job types in ClickBook, you can use its follow-on booking settings to assign a separate room to each part of the job. You can also tell ClickBook which part of the booking should be turned into a shoot record in Light Blue. All of the other parts of the booking will be added to Light Blue as appointments linked to that main shoot record.

If you don’t use follow-on bookings in ClickBook, or if the first part of the job type is always the shoot, there’s nothing that you need to change. If you have appointments that take place before the shoot, all you need to do is update your job types in ClickBook so that it can tell Light Blue which part of the booking is the shoot.

Here you can see a booking that’s been received via ClickBook, which has follow on appointments associated with it, too. You’ll notice that there’s two appointments linked to the shoot – the makeover appointment occurs before the shoot, in the makeover room, and the viewing appointment occurs after the shoot in the viewing room.

 

Building a professional image to your customers with Light Blue Software. 

This is the second in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

In my previous article, I discussed how Nick Church Photography relies on Light Blue to handle all aspects of my bookings, customers and shoots to free up creative time. However, during the pre-sales stage it is important to give your clients the best possible impression. This article explores how I do this, and how Light Blue helps me put a professional face on my business.

You can be the most talented photographer in the world but if you are unable to offer professional, informed interactions, potential clients may never see your brilliance! It is disappointing to lose a booking because the client doesn’t like your photographic style or your prices. But it is downright criminal to lose one through being disorganised, missing an appointment or generally looking like you are not up to speed on them or their wedding.

After learning the hard way, the first thing I do with an enquiry is enter all the information I have, even if it is just first names and a potential date, into Light Blue. After all an enquiry is just a shoot that has not yet been confirmed.

I respond to requests for package details using email templates. This means I can send branded Package Details to my clients with the email automatically referencing their wedding date and venue. With Light Blue this takes about five seconds, and I can do it while out and about using the mobile app! A speedy and professional reply always impresses, and perhaps the response gets to them before they consider contacting other photographers!

As SMS, Facebook messages and emails start to flow, the details increase. Having all this information in one place allows valuable interactions with your customer to continue throughout the booking process. Before I arrive for a consultation, from my phone, Light Blue will give me all the information from my phone about the clients and the booking. Being knowledgeable about their interests and kids’ names may not seem relevant, but builds a trusting rapport with your client.

Workflows are used in Light Blue to drive your processes to ensure things happen in the correct order and at the correct time. I have set up my ‘enquiry’ workflow to give me a set of tasks with an appropriate gap between them, to keep the client consistently informed at every key stage:

  • The first response to the enquiry happens immediately. No-brainer.
  • The second response is an informal follow up two days later. Maybe you would want to leave it a little longer, say a week. Too soon and you seem pushy, too long and they make have forgotten about you and drifted into the open arms of a pesky competitor.
  • Third, fourth and final chase ups are around one week, one month and 6 months. If they are still ignoring you at this stage, they are probably not interested, but I have had two bookings come back from the dead like this, and given it all takes so little time, it’s worth the investment.

Another workflow can be attached to appointments. When you have an upcoming meeting, you can use Light Blue to add a reminder to confirm with your clients so that all parties remember the appointment. It looks polite and organised, but this feature has saved me a wasted journey on more than one occasion. If a client goes cold, better to know the day before you sit at a venue on your own for an hour.

I have recently started entering the wedding day schedule and any requested shots into Light Blue. I can then email all this information to the client for confirmation, again all on headed stationary with your consistent branding, using mail-merge document templates.

Continuing your customer service after a shoot is important too in fostering future business opportunities. Remembering their anniversary and sending a card might be the difference in getting a valuable recommendation.

Light Blue’s online services provide digital contract signing, online payments, and allow you to create shoot records directly from enquiry forms on your website. This deserves its own discussion and will be discussed in a later article. Watch an introduction to the Light Blue online services

Nick Church Photography might be a small business, but letting Light Blue do some of the admin for me, I can present a confident and consistent front to customers that will match the quality and creativity they will get through my photography.

Start your free 30-day trial

 

Using Light Blue for non-photography related work

We’ve made Light Blue a powerful and versatile tool for running your photography business. We understand that photography businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and with different needs depending on your particular genre(s) of work.

What you may not know is that Light Blue can also be used to help organise other types of work, too. On his blog, Light Blue customer and London graphic designer, Jason Miller, talks about how Light Blue is one of his invaluable “tools of the trade”.

Light Blue is principally designed for photographers, and because your photography business is based around shoots, Light Blue’s based around shoot records, too. But if you swap the word “Shoot” for “Project”/”Job”/”Event” it can easily apply to any other client-driven business.

Using ClickBook v2 with Light Blue

The new ClickBook system has been integrated directly with Light Blue, so ClickBook v2 bookings will appear directly in your copies of Light Blue when you sync it to our servers.

Using ClickBook with Light Blue requires you to be using Light Blue version 6 or newer, and to have a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue doesn’t use Google Calendar to send your availability to ClickBook v2, instead we use our own API to do that. In order for Light Blue & ClickBook to communicate, you need to give ClickBook your Light Blue API key, which you can get by logging into your account page. ClickBook v2 already contains a link to the member area on the Light Blue site to allow users to set up their API key.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Within Light Blue we have the concept of “resources”, which covers rooms, staff and equipment. ClickBook takes the list of rooms that you’ve set up in Light Blue and presents them to the people who are going to be booking in sessions for you, so you need to set up at least one room in Light Blue. There’s a short tutorial which covers everything you need to know about resources.

In order to accurately display your availability to ClickBook, you need to make sure that you’ve added all of your shoots, appointments, and time off into Light Blue for the relevant dates, and assigned the appropriate resources to those shoots & appointments. Events that don’t have any resources assigned to them will block bookings for your entire studio.

You can also use Light Blue’s calendar notes to present information to ClickBook (e.g. a note saying “Newborns only today”).

Whenever Light Blue is running  and you’ve got a connection to the internet, Light Blue will automatically sync with our servers once a minute. If, for whatever reason, you want to force Light Blue to sync with our servers right away, you can do so by clicking File > Sync Now.

If you need any help with setting up your ClickBook v2 account, there’s a tutorial video from Feedzon which you can watch, here.

Should you need any help regarding Light Blue, you can contact us for free by emailing support@lightbluesoftware.com

If you’re switching over from using TPO, we’ve got some more information on how you can arrange to have your TPO data imported into Light Blue, here.

 

Light Blue for iOS, version 3.4

We’ve just released a minor update to our iOS app, which fixes a problem that could make it hard to preview the text of a contract.

If your iOS devices aren’t set to automatically install app updates, you can manually update your copy of our app by going into the App Store app on each of your devices.

Importing TPO data into Light Blue

We’re pleased to announce that we are now able to offer a data import service for The Photographic Organiser (TPO) customers who want to import their data into Light Blue.

Here’s a summary of the TPO data that we’re importing into Light Blue:

  • Job types
  • Products
  • Contacts & people
  • Jobs & events
  • Invoice totals
  • Receipts

We are not importing quotes or purchases from TPO.

Read on for more detail about how we’re importing each type of data from TPO.

Job types

TPO job types are imported into Light Blue as shoot types. We’re importing the name and default session length for you.

Products

TPO products are being imported into price lists in Light Blue, split out into separate price lists for each TPO product group name. We are importing the product name, code (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released), unit price, tax rate, and unit cost.

Contacts & people

TPO contacts and people are imported into Light Blue as contacts. Where a TPO contact has multiple people, we group the Light Blue contacts together. The contact information that we’re importing covers:

  • Type
  • Title
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Job title / role
  • Notes
  • Birthday
  • VAT Number (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released)
  • Warning
  • Mailing list opt-in (if none of TPO’s “do not contact” flags are set, the contact is opted in to your mailing list)
  • Phone & fax numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Web address
  • Postal addresses
  • Linked notes

Jobs

TPO jobs are imported into Light Blue as shoots. We’re importing:

  • Shoot type (where it matches one of the shoot types listed in your TPO job types file)
  • Job number (this goes into what we call the shoot reference number field)
  • Notes

Job events are imported into Light Blue as appointments (for any TPO job type that ends in “Viewing” or “Meeting”) or sessions. The status field in Light Blue is at shoot-level rather than session-level, so we’re writing both the TPO event type and status into the session description field. If any of the sessions for a shoot that we’re importing are confirmed, we’re setting the status of the shoot to confirmed.

The following TPO job fields don’t have a direct equivalent in Light Blue, but we’re adding them to our shoot notes field so that you can refer back to them:

  • Reference numbers
  • Price
  • Adults
  • Children
  • Pets

Invoices

TPO invoices are imported into Light Blue as sales. We’re importing:

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date
  • Linked contact
  • Linked shoot
  • Notes
  • VAT Number (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released)

TPO’s VAT calculations work differently to Light Blue’s, so we aren’t importing the items from TPO’s invoices. Instead, we’re importing a single item and using that to store TPO’s invoice net, VAT, and gross totals. This means that you can use your imported invoices to see the total value of each of your historic invoices, but not the details of the items that your clients ordered. If those details are important to you, you should keep a copy of the ‘Financial_Invoices_Items.xlsx’ file exported from TPO so that you can refer back to it in future.

Receipts

TPO receipts are imported into Light Blue as payments. We’re importing:

  • Date
  • Linked contact
  • Payment method
  • Amount
  • Notes

We’re also matching up the imported receipts with your imported invoices.

How to arrange your TPO data import

To be able to import your TPO data into Light Blue, you need a Light Blue account and to have set up the desktop version of Light Blue. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of Light Blue’s free trial and our training and support resources to ensure that it is a good match for your needs before purchasing Light Blue or arranging your TPO data import.

When you’re ready to transfer your data, you need to:

  1. Contact us via email so that we can check that your account is set up and ready to import data, and schedule a date for your import.
  2. Contact TPO’s developers to arrange for them to export your TPO data.
  3. Send us your TPO data export. We will need to check the data and arrange a time when we can access your account to do the import.

We charge £95+VAT to import your TPO data into Light Blue.

Light Blue Success Stories – Matt Ross Photography

Matt Ross is a family and headshot photographer, offering a mix of on location, and studio based shoots from just outside of London, in the UK.

After a successful career in the world of finance, working in both the Formula One industry, and for a Big Four professional services firm, Matt brings his professionalism and belief in “good old fashioned customer service” to his photography business, with the help of Light Blue.

“Light Blue has helped me to be a professional business, and equally importantly to appear to be a professional business too!

Being able to send branded invoices and contracts with a few simple clicks, and track and accept card payments online in one simple and elegant workflow has been a massive change, and helped me to deliver an impressive and convenient experience to my clients.

Behind the scenes, it’s great that I no longer have to wait for bank transfers, or spend time manually checking which ones have been paid, with the ever present risk of one getting missed.

Light Blue is my to-do list, personal assistant, and accountant rolled into one.

Without it, I would be constantly wondering what on earth  I should be doing next, and which clients have failed to pay me. My life would be spent doing long-winded admin tasks, such as sending contracts, raising manual invoices, tracking receipts, and apologising to clients for missing things!

I’d much rather be taking photographs!”

If you’d like to add a little extra professionalism to your photography business, spend less time doing admin, and be even more organised, try Light Blue today – free for the first 30 days.

The Societies’ Trade Awards

Here at Light Blue Software we work hard to deliver the type of customer service that we’d like to receive ourselves, and like to think that it makes a difference to our customers.

The SWPP Trade Awards offers us an opportunity to be recognised for this, and maybe take home a trophy too.

So if you feel that Light Blue has had a positive impact on you and your business, we’d really appreciate your vote in the ‘Best Professional Customer Service’ & ‘Best Professional Software’ categories of the SWPP trade awards. You can cast your vote here.

It should take you less than a minute to cast your vote, and the SWPP are entering all voters into a prize draw, where you could win a Masterclass Full 4 Day Pass to The Societies 2018 London photo convention (worth up to £225).

Vote now

The Societies of Photographers Roadshows in Gravesend & Birmingham

We’ll be at The Societies of Photographers Roadshow in Gravesend on Wednesday 4th October & Birmingham on Thursday 5th October.

It’s a great opportunity to come and see us at the free trade show as well as enjoy the fantastic programme of masterclasses.

Gravesend masterclasses

  • Sanjay Jogia FSWPP – Evolve or Evaporate (10:00-11:00)
  • Scott Johnson FSWPP – The Art of Bride and Groom Portraits (12:30-13:30)
  • George Fairbairn FSWPP – Shooting in any location (15:00-16:00)

Birmingham masterclasses

  • Catherine Connor – Refine your Business (10:00-11:00)
  • Gurvir Johal FSWPP – Want to take your images to the next level? (12:30-13:30)
  • Christina Lauder FSWPP – Child Portraiture (15:00-16:00)

If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography business, we’d be delighted to see you there. We’ll be running demos throughout the day, and coming to see us at the show is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

Admission to the roadshow is free if you register in advance: