Marketing Lesson: Tending the Garden

When you work in a niche-market end of the arts – and a niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche market, at that – you dream of building a huge audience for what you do. It’s easy to think it may be easier to do now, with new social media wunderkinds appearing and posts going viral every year. I’ve been studying promotion and marketing (they’re two separate things) for several years, and sometimes this desire to expand the turnout size can get frustrating.

One thing I’ve noticed over the last two decades or so is something I’ve been calling “audience capacity”. It’s the audience response or turnout that pretty much holds steady, regardless of what’s being presented or how much (or little) is done to get the word out. Sometimes there’s a steady gradual increase, but it’s not an exponential build to Kevin Hart numbers.

I’ve always wondered about this, and whether it’s a “thing” and if anyone else had noticed it. I’ve been listening to Seth Godin’s marketing podcast Akimbo for several years, and I’ve learned a lot and gotten a lot out of Seth’s forward-thinking ideas about what marketing actually is and can be. The episodes are about 30 mins long; the first half is Seth’s commentary or essay (or rant) for the week, and the second half is a Q&A where listeners can record and send in Q’s for Seth to A.

The second time I submitted a question and had it answered by Seth was in December 2020, when I asked about this concept of “audience capacity” as it relates to the idea of finding “the smallest viable audience” as a way to build something. As opposed to the splattering of something into the internet we may think is the ultimate goal.

Here is the episode of Akimbo that posted on December 16, 2020, cued up the Q&A segment where I ask my question and Seth answers it. I also highly recommend listening to the whole episode.

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Richard J Arnold

Excellent points.