Wondering how a product evangelist can help?
To explore how product evangelism supports the sales process, I interview Guy Kawasaki.
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The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.
In this episode, I interview Guy Kawasaki, the chief evangelist at Canva, a brand ambassador for Mercedes, and formerly the evangelist for Apple Computer. He’s written many books including The Art of the Start and Enchantment. His new course is called The Art of Evangelism: How to Promote Your Product, Service, Company, or Idea.
Guy explains the benefits of evangelism.
You’ll discover the most powerful tool for an evangelist.
Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:
Evangelizing for Apple
Guy started working for Apple around 1983 or 1984, during the introduction of the Macintosh computer. As a software evangelist, his job was to convince developers to write Macintosh software and peripherals.
Apple used the term evangelism because the company viewed Macintosh as not merely another personal computer platform, but as good news. “Evangelism” comes from Greek, meaning “bringing the good news,” so Guy brought the good news of Macintosh to developers and explained how it would, in the words of Steve Jobs, “dent the universe.”
Initially, the response was enthusiastic because Macintosh was so different from the Apple II and the IBM PC. Macintosh offered a way for many developers to write the software they always wished they could use. The graphic user interface and color provided a brand-new palette.
After the positive initial reaction, the honeymoon period wore off. Developers found writing Macintosh software difficult because they lacked tools and documentation. Anyone who was used to developing 80×24 column-based software had to work with MacPaint and MacWrite. Also, developing for a graphical user interface required a completely different mindset.
Guy explains how his background in jewelry sales (an intensely personal business) helped him with evangelism for Macintosh. Because Macintosh was new technology, it required the suspension of disbelief. People needed to believe this new personal computer platform could succeed. Instilling developers with that belief is also a very personal interaction.
Today, the concept of evangelism is similar to how it was back then, whether you’re creating graphics with Canva or computing with Macintosh. The difference is a product evangelist has so many more tools now. There’s social media, video conferencing, all kinds of things that break down distance, barriers, and costs.
Listen to the show to learn what tools Guy had for evangelism back in the day.
Benefits of Evangelism
The difference between evangelism and sales is an evangelist typically has the other person’s best interest at heart. It’s not about fulfilling a sales quota and earning commission.
When Guy worked for Apple and asked people to support Macintosh, he believed it would empower them and add a new line of revenue to their businesses. Today, as the evangelist for Canva, when Guy asks people to use it, he truly believes it will make them better graphic designers and enable them to create graphics that will increase their effectiveness as a communicator.
If someone uses Canva, bought a Macintosh, or wrote Macintosh software, it was good for him, Guy adds. However, it was also good for the other party. That’s the crucial difference between evangelism and sales. Guy also emphasizes that evangelism requires a great product.
Today, social media makes product evangelism fast, free, and easy. As long as you have a great product, you can show how it works on live video and reach people all over the world quickly and effectively. The downside is that evangelists have more competition because more people are evangelizing products.
Listen to the show to hear Guy discuss whether he’d rather do product evangelism before or after social media tools became available.
How to Evangelize
To be an effective evangelist, you need to find or create a great product or service. After that, the most powerful tool for an evangelist is the ability to do a great demonstration.
When you demo a product, you’re saying, “I think you’re smart, and because I think you’re smart, I’m not going to bludgeon you into becoming a customer. I’m going to let you decide by trying the product or service.” The key is enabling people to see and test-drive your product.
For instance, many companies ask people to download an app. Guy likes how he can reach millions of people and ask them to download something, rather than visit their office and install it on their computer.
You can also create videos rather than do a demo in someone’s office. Live video gives you the best of both worlds because it allows people to respond and ask questions in real time. Video is also archived so you have something you can continue to share.
For live video, Guy likes using Wirecast because it enables you to switch cameras during a demo. With Wirecast, you can first use your MacBook Pro camera for your face, switch to show an open window on your Macintosh, switch cameras to your iPad or iPhone screen, and so on.
Except for an in-person, small-group situation, using Wirecast on Facebook Live is probably just as good, if not better, than doing a demo in a large auditorium on a big screen. And live video is much better than lugging around a Macintosh 128k from place to place, as Guy did working for Apple in the early days.
I ask Guy if demos are effective for a complex sale, where you’re asking people to put work into something new. Guy says yes and recalls that the most effective part of his product evangelism for Macintosh was his demos of MacPaint and MacWrite (Mac’s early image editing and word processing programs).
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Remember, at some point all of this evangelizing needs to turn into a sale. It’s ABC, Guy says: always be closing. However, evangelizing focuses on why the features you’re showing are good for your audience (emphasizing the good news), rather than just showing how features work.
When I ask about using testimonials, Guy says it would have been difficult with Macintosh because the product wasn’t out yet and everybody was under a non-disclosure agreement.
However, if he was trying to evangelize Social Media Marketing World, Guy might say, for instance, “Here is Sally Smith. She runs social media for Procter & Gamble.” And her (hypothetical) quote is, “The effectiveness of Procter & Gamble social media doubled because I went to this conference.” Who wouldn’t come to a conference if Procter & Gamble said that?
Canva shares profiles of all of the organizations that use it. For instance, Canva has a use case of Huffington Post that lets the world know one of the most popular web content sites uses Canva to create social media graphics.
Testimonials help other people feel comfortable using your product. People believe large brands know what they’re doing and demand great results. If those brands are using Canva, or if they’re attending Social Media Marketing World, people think the product must be good.
Listen to the show to hear how Guy suggests we could demo Social Media Marketing World.
Ethics of Evangelism
Here’s the moral compass for evangelism: “Is the product truly good for the other person?” You need to have some degree of intellectual honesty, especially because you might need to tell people that your product or service isn’t right for them.
For example, Guy asks me how I would answer if somebody said, “My primary concern is SEO. Is your conference the right place for me to get a ton of knowledge about SEO?” I reply, “Absolutely not. Go to a Moz conference.”
There’s power in saying no and explaining your reasoning. Say, “Don’t come for SEO.” And then say, “Do come to learn how to use Instagram for marketing.” Because you told them not to come for one reason, they believe your recommendation to come for another reason.
Listen to the show to learn what Guy would say if someone asked about designing a logo in Canva.
Evangelism for Companies
Evangelism is one path to success, but not the only path. It’s not suited for products that aren’t great. For example, if you’re in a commodity business and you’re fighting only on price, evangelism clearly isn’t the way to go.
The most important quality of an evangelist is that the person loves the product and has an infectious enthusiasm for it.
Even though Guy was a Macintosh software evangelist, he had no technical background. He’d never written a program in his life but was working with developers because he loves Macintosh. That’s what enabled him to succeed.
When a company selects somebody to work for them, they look at education and work experience. For companies hiring a product evangelist, Guy suggests looking at a third quality: Does the candidate “get” the product and love it? Someone could have the perfect education and experience but not love the product.
Case in point. If Microsoft asked Guy to be an evangelist for Windows, he has the perfect background but he couldn’t do it. He doesn’t believe in it. A great evangelist needs to know what good news is for a person or at least for that person’s function.
For example, Macintosh evangelists needed to understand they were looking for people who were frustrated and found computers difficult to learn and use. The evangelists wanted people who didn’t want to be controlled by a central IT department but did want to explore and learn by themselves. Anyone who didn’t want to expand their capabilities or the capabilities of their job probably wasn’t a good fit.
Listen to the show to discover more about Guy’s evangelism course.
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Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:
- Learn more about Guy on his website.
- Check out his course, The Art of Evangelism: How to Promote Your Product, Service, Company, or Idea.
- Read The Art of the Start and Enchantment.
- Take a look at Canva and Apple.
- Learn more about Guy’s evangelism for Canva and Mercedes.
- Learn more about Wirecast.
- Read Canva’s Huffington Post case study.
- Take a look at Moz.
- Check out Percentage Calculator.
- Watch our weekly Social Media Marketing Talk Show on Fridays at 10 AM Pacific on Crowdcast or tune in on Facebook Live.
- Learn more about Social Media Marketing World 2018.
- Download the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on product evangelism? Please leave your comments below.