Where Have All the Evangelists Gone?

November 5, 2015 AJ Bruno: Founder, President

customer evangelist It seems like right around the beginning of 2000 there was a big trend in technology companies to have someone with the word “evangelist” in their title. This trend seems to have lost some steam lately and we think that’s for the best.

Aside from the religious definition, Merriam Webster describes an evangelist as, “Someone who talks about something with great enthusiasm.” Isn’t having employees who talk about your products with great enthusiasm sort of a given? Shouldn’t that be part of everyone’s job? And why would prospects trust a brand’s “evangelist” any more than they trust the brand’s advertising?

Smart brands have figured this out and stopped anointing evangelists inside the organization in favor of earning them outside.

For starters, although experts quibble over the details, everyone agrees that much of the buying cycle is complete before a prospect even engages a brand. That means that it’s your customers, who are out there writing reviews, rating your products and chatting with their peers, who are the ones with the opportunity to evangelize when it matters.

In one Gartner survey, buyers stated that their number one source for understanding the differentiation of a technology provider was peers of the same size in their industry. Professional communities and same size peers in their region also made the top five. Company sources of information (sales reps and web sites) lagged significantly. In another survey, peers and communities were cited as the second most preferential source of information at all phases of the buying cycle, trailing only self-driven information search.

It's no wonder that advocacy marketing and influencer outreach are becoming top of mind for brands. Should your employees be fanatical believers in your brand? Absolutely. But it’s your customers who have the attention and trust of your market. When they become evangelists you’ll get results.

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