The Smallest Viable Audience

Seth Godin
Seth Godin

For those of you who do not follow Seth Godin, you should.

Several years ago, I attended a conference where he was a keynote speaker, and I remember leaving the conference thinking, ‘I need to read some of that guy’s stuff!’

After several books, many podcasts, and a ton of blogs later, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about his work –– and I try to apply many of the lessons he teaches to not just business, but to life. 

Smallest Viable Audience 

One of Seth’s most notable observations is the idea that a business needs to appeal to the SMALLEST viable audience, not the largest.

Wait, what??

Definition of the minimum viable audience

Yes, the smallest viable audience.


Because it is far more powerful to create a small group of devoted zealots than it is to create a larger group of indifferent, but occasional, users. 

And nowhere does this concept make more sense than in the real estate business. 

The Large Game vs. the Small Game

No one who enters our business dreams small. 

We all enter this crazy business with equal parts ambition and gumption. We come in guns blazing, poised to change the game and shatter records.

Think about it, what do we reward in our business? We reward the most sales volume, the highest deal count, and the highest sales prices. It sends the message of ‘go big or go home!’

Seek the minimal viable audience - Seth Godin Quote

But when you peel back the curtain, you realize that the most successful agents who work with the most qualified clients, at the highest price points, and/or on the most notable projects don’t sell themselves as a ‘one size fits all solution’ –– they specialize.

Successful agents realize that in order to grow, they need to shrink.

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?


Successful agents pick a specific niche, take the time to understand the specific needs and constraints of the chosen niche, and market themselves accordingly.

In other words, they don’t market generally to the widest potential audience, they market specifically to the smallest viable audience. 


Because being well known for specific valued skill is far more robust than being somewhat known for nothing in particular. 

Celebrity or Expert?

Yes, spending your way to celebrity agent status is a strategy –– plastering your name and face all over town, gobbling up Zillow zip codes, and blowing up your social platforms every 5 minutes with some banal observation about real estate can work –– but only to a point.

When your strategy is based solely on spending, the only defense is continually spending more than your competition to maintain your edge. 

And just so you realize –– when the only way to defend your turf is to spend more and more cash, margins eventually fall to zero.

By far, the best defense of any market position is expertise –– and true expertise means NOT being threatened by an upshot wannabe, regardless of their marketing budget. Expertise is earned, not bought, and those who require your specific skill will easily discern your legitimate expertise from the pretender’s hollow message.


A cultivated CRM with a mere 100 people who know exactly who you are and what you do is far more valuable than an over-stuffed CRM with 10,000 names who continually tune out your undifferentiated and non-specific message. 

Start small and specific and stay there –– it will make you bigger faster than you realize.