As engaging as tech products are, for some people they lack a certain humanness. To circumnavigate this, companies producing truly great products often appoint (or inherit) a figurehead that personifies their product. This gives an otherwise faceless piece of technology a personality and identity.
Evangelism has been around in the tech community for years. Practitioners of tech evangelism attempt to organically grow a wider client base through hands-on demonstrations and on-site marketing.
Tech Evangelism in a Nutshell
Evangelism has its roots in the spreading of religious gospel, with practitioners of the Christian religion taking their message to specific regions in order to persuade people to join the cause. Ever since, people have been taking to the road to spread their product, whether it be a doctrine or a miracle elixir.
Regardless of the product, the goal of evangelism is to build a critical mass of supporters for your product, establishing it as an industry standard. This goal can only be achieved by someone who is passionate about your product.
One of the archetypical tech evangelists is Apple’s former chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who has just taken on the same responsibilities with the Australian graphic design startup, Canva. Kawasaki, as well as other evangelists, have specific yet somewhat intangible qualities that set them apart from other basic marketing practitioners.
Standards of Evangelism
Evangelists need charisma. People won’t listen to any old preacher, they want someone with undeniable charm. Steve Jobs is a perfect example of the charismatic nerd, who truly knew how to evangelize a piece of hardware.
In 2007 Jobs took to the stage to demo a product that seamlessly combined the internet and music with a phone. Obviously the iPhone went on to revolutionize the tech industry, but in my view its success was largely due to the pitch. By personally demonstrating the product in a live setting, Jobs showed the true functionality of the product. This contributed to its widespread popularity.
Macintosh democratized computers; Google democratized information; and eBay democratized commerce. In the same way, Canva democratizes design.
Simple, effective, and grand, this quote shows the power that one person with communicative skills can win over their audience. One caveat is that no matter how charismatic a storyteller you are, you need a truly great product to evangelize. Without that, you have nothing.
Perhaps most important to effective evangelism is a truly functional and fantastic product. As crass as it may sound, the adage “you can’t polish a turd” is applicable here. If you aren’t able to demonstrate your product’s efficacy in a face-to-face setting, Steve Jobs himself wouldn’t have been able to successfully market it.
Face-to-face demonstrations are a tip of the cap to the consumer, recognizing that they are educated and smart decision-makers. To this end, if the customer feels truly moved by the demonstration and the product, they will go out on their own and emulate your pitch. This expands the reach of your product through organic, crowd-fueled marketing.
Why Do Tech Evangelists Matter?
Because technologies can’t speak for themselves (yet), they need a champion to raise them up, and this is where evangelists thrive. It is not enough to simply manufacture a product and send it to the shelves. To supplant yourself as an industry leader you need a charismatic torchbearer who can engender desire, loyalty, and joy in your customers.
Do you have a view on what makes a great tech evangelist? Let us know in the comments!
Image credits: Wikipedia