How You Create A Genre (Not Do Something Because Everyone Else Is)
Whenever you start creating something new, it has to be for someone else. The target audience is never you.
If you don’t create your own genre where you give something to others that they haven’t seen/listen/read before, why bother?
Do we really want another podcast, blog or video series that says nothing and entertains no one?
A lot of people go into things without really thinking there is an audience in the first place.
The question that starts everything is always, ‘who is this for?’ Creating content that resonates with others is all about doing something that you can only do and make someone else’s experience with you a positive one ie. it made them think, it made them laugh, it made them action.
So, what’s the best way to make your case?
Where This All Started
I have a group of six friends, we have been close since school (so this means around 30 years and now I do feel like getting a walking stick). These are the closest people I feel connected to and the type of people who will forever keep me grounded.
Three of them want to start a Fantasy Football podcast.
The world of WhatsApp has brought us all closer together, so the sharing of ideas and conversation is a continuum.
We are all in the same Fantasy Football league, that kicked off last weekend. We all love football and all know one another to the smallest of detail from personal quirks to the ongoing #banter.
The idea is to progress this where the connection is the weekly Fantasy league and what is happening within the world of point scoring and looking to win the league this year ie. who to pick, people to look out for and the threads of fun and controversy from each week.
The idea is to test this out and if people have the time, it becomes a regular thing. Other avenues can then be explored, such as hosting and investing the time and effort to making this work as a fully functioning podcast. It is ok to give it the, ‘bloke down the pub perspective,’ as one of my friends put it, but the bloke down the pub is normally someone who other people like to listen to and are familiar with, rather than a stranger walking into the room and launching to no one.
This is where the problem lies. I am putting this in the wider context and not just my friends.
Naturally there are Fantasy Football podcasts of all shapes and sizes and various degrees of quality. No one ever wanted to make something for one other person or a group of six friends. The time to research and record would make it a continual drain on the week if the audience could be counted on both hands and broadcasting into a vacuum.
The point I am trying to highlight is that most people and businesses go into something and not know who will listen, watch or read. Recognising who your audience is key, whereas in reality, this all just going into a bucket with the rest of the competition.
Create A Genre
What is the only thing that they can do?
If this project becomes something they decide to progress with, and comfortable in learning about a new medium and accept that the first few months will be pretty average (in terms of presentation and entertaining), the success could be in finding a genre that they sit alone within, nurture and grow within.
This is how they can potentially create a genre:
- the Fantasy Football podcast just for people who are near the bottom of the league
- the Fantasy Football podcast from people who have done this for 25 years but don’t take it seriously
- the Fantasy Football podcast only for people with a 15 minute window before they have to make their weekly changes
- the Fantasy Football podcast for people who don’t know much about Fantasy Football but do it as everyone else is in the league
- the Fantasy Football podcast for people who don’t know Fantasy Football
What About You?
If you are looking to build momentum within a medium, do something only you can do.
Just because other people are doing something, doesn’t mean that you can and make it a success.
When it comes to creating a podcast, or getting a blog up and running, I now recognise it is a complex but ultimately a rewarding experience (in terms of audience growth and connection). You have to respect the medium and not jump onboard without reading the instructions or the unwritten etiquette, just because it wasn’t a very costly investment at the start to set-up.
For instance, the Marketing Homebrew podcast started in January 2015 and it took over two years to be comfortable with it and not resort to another weak Skype interview based podcast. From the little things like smiling when you are talking, these are all uncomfortable practices that take time. I now know that everything that the podcast is centred on are for people who are looking to take control of the land that is theirs and cultivate their own harvests, without relying on someone else. There are hoards of other marketing podcasts out there, but the ‘ownership‘ genre that I am looking to maximise is one that I am aware that there aren’t too many people on that same land. It was the act of recognising and then doing, that allowed an audience to build.
Unless you can find a genre that you can own, you can’t just turn up and recognise that just because you have published something for four weeks that it makes you the almanac.
You can’t put time into something and then throw the towel in. You have to invest time in something that you truly believe in and where you sit away from others within your field, but becomes attractive enough to draw people in. In the immortal words from Seth Godin, ‘don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.’
So, What Can You Do?
These aren’t the definitive answers, but if you are looking to make that step into something new then you have to create something where you have the right intentions and really know who this is for.
Here is how you can create a genre.
- you focus. If you paint a broad picture there becomes too much to look at and not enough to pay attention to. What can you really hone into that picks up on themes that others have not necessarily tapped into?
- align people to what you do. This is all about someone else. How can you add value to someone else’s week, without sounding the same as everyone else? If you can do this, people will become more attached to you.
- stop thinking you have to always tell stories. The reason I used a story about my friends in this article is to provide context. If you think you have to scratch around to find a story because you are told to, it just won’t work. If you can find a way to be of value, this is far stronger.
- if you can find a space where no one else is squeezing the life out of, it’s ok to start off being messy. You can’t swallow the book and start off like a pro. If you want to play the guitar, you have to keep at it, rather than giving it an hour every other week.
- you don’t dabble. If you don’t put the effort in, why should anyone else? If you have a business where you are looking to build your audience, but don’t think you can commit or the time to invest, then continue advertising and borrow from someone else by paying them.
- if it doesn’t feel right, stop. The more you start to become uneasy then you can reassess and find the momentum. If it becomes something that starts to loose a clear voice and starts veering to sameness, stop wasting time.
- don’t chase pure originality. It is far easier to figure out what is existing and to give your own angle to it. For instance, the majority of what I share is focused on a content marketing approach, this enabled me to find an anchor within The Content Marketing Institute. However, what I talk and read about is from a very UK perspective and what is happening this side of the Atlantic.
- to be heard and taken seriously, you have to ask. Once you start to find your space, to give you a lift up, you can associate with other good people within your field. Click here to have a look at the people who have taken part in the Talking Content Marketing project. I then wrote an article to find out why people agreed to spend time with a stranger (me). You can read that here.
- you don’t have to go deep on purpose, it is better to entertain. Whilst you need something you actually believe in and champion, it doesn’t mean you need to be holier than though. In a recent article in Campaign, Jeremy Lee asks, ‘what has happened to wit, edge and subversion? Have these attributes been sacrificed on the altar of brand worthiness?’
- you need to schedule. To become consistent, there has to be a sacrifice. If you are working on a new podcast, then you need time for preparation, recording and publishing. You can’t put it at the bottom of the pile. If there is an evening where this becomes the focus, then this is blocked and the evening with friends happens on another evening.
- go too clever or left-field, you will lose people. If you try to appear too smart and think you can blind others with complex sentences and structure, people won’t get it. A comedian such as Peter Kay has such an appeal with others based on highlighting the vignettes of everyday life, that people connect with. I think this applies in a B2B capacity where you discover the intricacies within a marketplace and shine a light on it.
Every point mentioned here comes back to two traits we all need more than ever in a digital age, having a point of view and creating an affinity with others. This is something that no automated chatbot can do.
Lets Round Up
You are one of 7.44 billion people, however, there is only one you. The experiences, the groups, the views, the knowledge, the faults are all things that no one else has. This is what gives you the armoury to share something that others haven’t taken on board before.
If you can take out the default switch that goes back to sounding the same as others, then you have the ability to become important to others, based on the things that you stand for and the ability to consistently deliver to the people who matter.
If you do what everyone else does, you get the same as everyone else.
The world does not need another podcast, blog or videos, but those who are winning are those who attract an audience through clear values ie. Air BnB, Lush, IKEA. You can create a genre by figuring out what makes you different and clear on the point of view that you present. This is what attracts people and those who don’t fit, to turn away, you didn’t want them anyway.
A genre creates a connection, this leads to people coming back and for others to not put you in the same bracket as everyone else. Don’t let sameness be the thing that puts you in an orderly queue.
What about my friends’ podcast? Well, it looks like they are going for the podcast for people who just don’t have the time (or knowledge). You can have a listen here.