The first time I came across the term "Evangelist" in the context of technology was in San Francisco in early 2000, I remember thinking it was a laughably silly and self-aggrandising title. However, like so many terms, it has gradually been more and more broadly used and now seems to be simply a useful descriptive for an important job function.
People with the title Evangelist tend to be full-time cheer-leaders who are able to motivate large numbers of customers to become vocal in their defence and promotion of a particular product or company. However, the way in which they connect with people and build enthusiasm for a business product or service is highly-relevant to all of our business-to-business communications so I though I'd have a look at how they operate. I found the article below from Forbes a useful place to start.
One thing that struck me was that Evangelists have an overwhelming tendency to be human. This may sound a bit thick (human, as opposed to what?) but is an important point in an ever more mechanised and automated world. "Evangelism creates a human connection with buyers... And in a world of data-driven and automated marketing technologies, evangelism is something you just can't hand over to a robot."
If you want to create an emotion about any thing or issue, you need people to connect. And that requires conveying information in a way that resonates with the audience, which relies on authenticity. That said, the Evangelist does not work alone, they leverage the resources of the entire company but again, this is more or less identical to the way that Subject Matter Experts and Business Development can work together to deliver knowledge to the clients and prospects that matter to their business.
It seems to me that taking a leaf out of the Product Evangelist's playbook could help us all connect with our audiences better (even if we decide to pass on the job title)
Evangelism creates a human connection with buyers and consumers to technology way beyond typical content marketing means because there's a face and a name relaying the story, expressing the opinion, and ultimately influencing a decision. And in a world of data driven, and automated marketing technologies, evangelism is something you just can't hand over to a robot.