Imagine you’re trying to convince a friend to check out one of your favourite bands.
You know they’ll enjoy their music, but you first have to get them to listen.
You could start with the genre, of course. But genres–while helpful–are also incredibly broad.
A better approach is to use another artist your friend is already aware of as a reference point and then add on the differentiators.
“They’re kind of like if Lady Gaga fronted a metal band.”
“Think the folk version of the Foo Fighters.”
“If Billie Eilish and Ed Sheeran had a baby, this would be what it sounds like.”
One of the biggest hurdles we face in growing a podcast is getting the people who we know would benefit interested enough to listen to just one episode.
When it comes to earning that first play, calling on widely understood anchors and associations as reference points is one of our most effective tools.
Establishing reference points helps potential listeners visualize what our podcast is like before they listen. But it also is an opportunity to build intrigue.
Who isn’t curious about a Lady Gaga-fronted metal band after all?
The anchors and associations you choose might be other better-known podcasts. But they don’t need to be limited to the podcast medium.
Draw on the ideas, tone, and formats of TV, blogs, and YouTube channels to help your potential listeners triangulate the position of your podcast based on content they’re already aware of.
I first learned this technique from podcast host Jay Acunzo, who uses it to describe both his podcasts Unthinkable (Radiolab for creators) and 3 Clips (Song Exploder meets Inside The Actor’s Studio – for podcasters).
In each of these examples, as long as you’re familiar with the source material, you’ll be able to get a pretty good sense of whether or not the content is worth a closer look.
Without a stable reference point, however, our listeners are left to guess at what the podcast might be like… and as we’ve discussed previously, a confused mind always says “no”.
By providing one or more known reference points early, we’re able to shape the narrative and create intrigue.
No matter how unique your podcast, it didn’t emerge out of the ether.
Find reference points your audience is familiar with and use them as a jumping-off point.