Being the voice and face of a company is hard. Especially today.
Once upon a time, you could probably get away with memorizing the talking points you got in media training, and that was that. You were only “on” when you were called to be so, and it took a lot of setup to get there.
But with the digital age, you’re always “on”, and brands and companies need many people within their organizations to serve – whether officially or unofficially – as evangelists for the brand.
The emergence of roles focused on digital, from strategy to community management to influencer relations, places a heavy emphasis on developing presence, authority, credibility and recognition for an organization across the web, and those opportunities are almost constant and very rarely formalized.
So what does it take to be indispensable as the evangelist – formal or otherwise – for your organization?
1. A strong sense of voice and platform. A successful evangelist knows how to evoke emotion, interest, and passion in the people they speak to. Whether it’s an audience of five in a small room, or tens of thousands online, great brands need distinctive voices and a solid platform from which to spread that voice. Great evangelists know how to craft a voice that’s authentic yet authoritative, approachable but believable, and encourage dialogue between themselves and their audiences almost constantly.
2. Industry knowledge. Evangelists are often the subject matter experts for their industry or at least part of it, with an understanding of what got them there historically, where the industry is in its maturity curve today as well as its current opportunities and challenges, and what trends might materially impact the direction of the industry in the next 2 to 5 years.
3. Point of View. Along with having the industry knowledge, evangelists need to help their company develop a strong and authoritative point of view about how their company is adapting to and embracing its evolution. Marrying the company and brand position and strengths with a point of view on the space and market is how good brands can generate trust and interest from those who aren’t ready to buy, but who may be in that position in the future. Plus, this is the content that industry analysts, pundits, media, and others will gravitate toward.
4. Understanding of sales methodology. You can’t evangelize a product or a service well if you don’t understand how it’s actually sold. That means getting close with your sales organization and understanding their value proposition and pitch, value drivers, typical objections/obstacles, and challenges during the sales cycle. You need to embrace and understand their selling methodology, because being an outstanding evangelist is in part about removing as much friction and doubt as possible from that process before the prospect or buyer ever gets close to their wallet. For that matter, the more you can develop broad business skills, the better off you’ll be.
5. Presentation skills. Evangelists are the storytellers with business acumen. They know how to deliver a powerful and compelling message, but they also know that the message alone isn’t enough. There has to be trust and action involved, and whether they’re presenting to a single customer, a room full of retail buyers, a conference full of practitioners or a media audience full of their target audience, the evangelist knows that the story and the presentation needs to maintain its core but adapt to the nuances of each audience in a way that compels thought and action, not just entertainment alone.
6. Personal brand balance. This is one of the hardest and most delicate skills of a modern-day professional. Brand evangelists aren’t afforded the easy ability to separate personal and professional online or off, as they’re often the type of people who live and breathe their work and very strongly identify with their careers. Finding a comfort zone of brand and company message alongside personal experience and content is very individual, but for the successful evangelist, it’s also a very deliberate consideration.
7. Adaptability. Evangelists are excellent at what they do because they have a constant pulse on their market, and an understanding of the motivators and drivers of their customers and prospective customers. The reality of a digital world, however, is that the target is always moving, so the evangelist always has to be learning, adjusting, adapting, and re-applying their knowledge in new or changing contexts. Evangelists in many ways are the ultimate generalists; a bit of marketer, a bit of sales person, a bit spokesperson, a bit strategist, a bit customer advocate…and in different proportions depending on the day.
8. A love of the game. Passion isn’t enough. You can love what you do and lack all the applicable skills and still fail spectacularly. So I’ve listed this last because while it’s an essential element, it’s lost without all the skills above (and probably several I haven’t mentioned). But it’d be nearly impossible to cultivate all those talents and then some if you don’t inherently have a little (or a lot) of love for what you’re doing. Passion is contagious, and if you’re capable of igniting others’ passion and interest for what you’re doing, they’re that much more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Evangelism doesn’t have to be your job title to be part of your job.
To be indispensable is to be someone that drives value for the business, no matter what you’re working on. If you can bring out your inner evangelist and always be an asset, voice, and authority for your brand and company in whatever your day to day role is, you’ll have a leg up on almost everyone around you, both personally and professionally.
And today, in a sea of noise and sameness, our businesses need more of you than ever before.
So what have I missed? What would you add? The comments belong to you.