Posts Tagged ‘IRMA’


Jay Baer presents at the 2012 IRMA Conference in Scottsdale.

A few months ago, renowned social media strategist, coach, and speaker Jay Baer spoke at the 2012 International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) conference in Scottsdale. He professed that when marketing your business via social media, you should strive to be a YOUtility — “If you help someone, you make a customer for life,” Baer says. Or, put another way, “If you’re useful, your potential customers will keep you close.”

Marketing has changed significantly in the last five years or so because it no longer revolves around a one-way channel of communication. Customers are now asking questions constantly in the public realm, especially via social media. They’re constantly posting and tweeting, looking for answers. It’s imperative for companies — according to Baer — to address those questions and offer solutions.

He used the Twitter example of @HiltonSuggests. In their Twitter profile description, it states: “Exploring a new city & looking for insider tips? We’re here to help!” As an official Twitter account of the Hilton HHonors program, it obviously behooves them to offer advice to travelers, who might then stay at a Hilton property in the future if they aren’t in the first place.

Baer spoke about three types of awareness that businesses need to keep in mind to create a potential customer:

  1. Top of Mind Awareness — In 1977, the top TV show in America had a 30% rating. In 2011, the top TV show in America had a 12% rating. Consumers are, well, consumed with options these days. So this type of awareness is dwindling in our highly fractured media landscape.
  2. Frame of Mind Awareness — Also known as inbound marketing, this is the idea that when the customer is ready, they’ll find you, based on content and information you own that already exists. As Baer says, this does not create demand, it fulfills it.
  3. Friend of Mind Awareness — Personal and commercial relationships are changing. A company can earn a consumer’s trust by being a valuable resource. When the customer is ready to buy, they don’t have to seek you out. You’re already there, much like a friend.

The three types of awareness are explained in more detail on Baer’s company blog at convinceandconvert.com.

In that same blog, Baer speaks highly of Geek Squad, which has hundreds of instructional videos on its YouTube channel. At our conference, he focused on River Pools, which found a niche in the pool and spa industry by offering a useful series of blogs that helped boost business even in a down economy. In the regional magazine sector, he pointed out Cottage Life’s online Q&A function and Arizona Highways’ hiking reviews and guides. These businesses have found exceptional and innovative ways to be YOUtilities.

One phrase that stuck with me from Baer’s presentation was, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” Baer stressed the importance of content, saying to use social media first and foremost to promote content.

To request slides from Baer’s IRMA presentation, go here. Other helpful websites he mentioned were socialhabit.com and zeromomentoftruth.com, the latter from Google concerning the online decision-making moment.

My Analysis

As the editor of Nevada Magazine, I was happy to hear Baer’s emphasis on content because we (and other magazines) have plenty of it. However, my experience has shown that people tend to comment/react more to an intriguing image than they do a link to a story. I’ve tried to combine the two by posting a photo that relates to a story, then providing a link if our followers want to read more about the subject. Fans seem more likely to share an image as well with their respective networks.

As far as being a YOUtility goes, Nevada Magazine’s stories in and of themselves help tourists planning a Nevada vacation and residents of Nevada who plan to travel within the state. I’ve received numerous letters in my five years as editor in which readers/subscribers talk about how our magazine helps them (or urges them) to plan Nevada trips. The key is to extend this YOUtility factor to social media.

This is where I feel like Google+ and Twitter are more advantageous to businesses because you can more successfully search keywords and phrases, which allows you to find people who are having discussions along the lines of your business. In our case, we look to engage in discussions about Nevada travel. Or, simply find people who have traveled in Nevada and have an interesting story to share. For example, earlier this year I discovered an East Coast photographer named Bob Lussier, who had posted some spectacular photos from his Nevada travels on Google+. Two of his Austin photos from that trip were published in our July/August 2012 issue.

How is your business a YOUtility? How do you help consumers via social media? How do you promote your content in creative ways? More importantly, how do you get people talking about it and sharing it?


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Jeff Kida of Arizona Highways presents at the 2012 IRMA conference in Scottsdale.

A few weeks ago I attended the 2012 International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) conference in Scottsdale. While my primary duties as editor of Nevada Magazine revolve around the words, I do take quite a few photos for the publication and am always open to learning more about the craft of photography. That’s why I was especially intrigued to hear the presentation by Jeff Kida, photo editor at Arizona Highways magazine.

Kida says to shoot in RAW format whenever possible, which gives the photographer and editor access to a more dynamic range of image data. And always save your digital files in more than one place.

There are three main rules of photography to be concerned with: Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed. Kida says to never set your ISO on “Auto”; always set it manually. Of course the situation will dictate the correct setting, but he said for most conditions an ISO of 200 (he uses a Nikon) is optimal. Also, for landscape photos, when you can, use a tripod in combination with a slow shutter speed to ensure that the image will be sharp and entirely in focus.

Great food photography typically has very little depth of field; in other words, the background is blurred, with the food or drink very much the center of focus.

Light is always the law, Kida says. Front light is commonly used, but don’t forget about side light (brings out textures) and back light, which can be very dramatic. Time of day matters, which is why you see so many spectacular sunrise and sunset photos — when the light is gentler. He also said that if the outside light is harsh, explore the interior (if applicable to your assignment). Mainly, be curious. Use soft light if you’re taking portraits, or as Kida puts it, “Be kind to people.”

Some more of his general advice that stuck with me:

  • Allow for moments. “Just let it happen, especially with kids,” he says. “Become a watcher.”
  • Learn to anticipate. Be aware of situations on the fly, as something will inevitably change. “Be with the place for a bit, and you’ll start thinking differently.”
  • Think about camera angle.
  • Finally, don’t settle: “If you think you’ve got it, keep going. Keep workin’ it.” Arizona Highways hosts a number of Photo Workshops throughout the year, and not just in Arizona. The magazine also has a TON of Photo Tips on its website.

I have become a much improved photographer over the years, and I always tell people — like Jeff stresses — that it’s all about lighting. If the light is not in your favor, you’re probably not going to walk away with the ideal image. However, especially in my experience, you don’t always have the luxury of scouting and revisiting the location, so you have to make the best of the situation you’re confronted with. That’s when I try creative angles, or zoom in drastically on objects; I really observe the scene to make sure I’m not missing something that I don’t see at first glance.

What are your photography tips? How do ensure that the lighting works in your favor? What is your favorite type of photography (food, landscape, people)? If you’re an editor or art director, how do you work with photographers to ensure they get the images you need to tell the story? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

This photo taken in Nevada’s Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in October 2009 is one of my personal favorites. The afternoon light in combination with the marshy autumn landscape worked to my advantage. Photo by Matthew B. Brown

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