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January 12, 2006

The Art of Evangelism

1984mac Out of curiosity, I went to SimplyHired, a vertical search engine for jobs, and looked for openings containing the keyword “evangelist.” Amazingly, there were 611 matches--and none were for churches. It seems that “evangelist” is now a secular, mainstream job title. Indeed, the first eight matches were for evangelist jobs at Microsoft--go figure.

As people hit the streets with this title, they need a foundation of the fundamental principles of evangelism. Fulfilling this need is the purpose of today's blog.

  1. Create a cause. As the previous blog called “Guy's Golden Touch” explained, the starting point of evangelism is having a great thing to evangelize. A cause seizes the moral high ground. It is a product or service that improves the lives of people, ends bad things, or perpetuates good things. It is not simply an exchange of things/services for money.
  2. Love the cause. “Evangelist” isn't simply a job title. It's a way of life. It means that the evangelist totally loves the product and sees it as a way to bring the “good news.” A love of the cause is the second most important determinant of the success of an evangelist--second only to the quality of the cause itself. No matter how great the person, if he doesn't love the cause, he cannot be a good evangelist for it.
  3. Look for agnostics, ignore atheists. A good evangelist can usually tell if people understand and like a product in five minutes. If they don't, cut your losses and avoid them. It is very hard to convert someone to a new religion (ie, product) when he believes in another god (ie, another product). It's much easier to convert a person who has no proof about the goodness or badness of the evangelist's product.
  4. Localize the pain. No matter how revolutionary your product, don't describe it using lofty, flowery terms like “revolutionary,” “paradigm shifting,” and “curve jumping.” Macintosh wasn't positioned as the third paradigm in personal computing; instead, it increased the productivity and creativity of one person with one computer. People don't buy “revolutions.” They buy “aspirins” to fix the pain or “vitamins” to supplement their lives.
  5. Let people test drive the cause. Essentially, say to people, “We think you are smart. Therefore, we aren't going to bludgeon you into becoming our customer. Try our product, take it home, download it, and then decide if it's right for you.” A test drive is much more powerful than an ad.
  6. Learn to give a demo. An “evangelist who cannot give a great demo” is an oxymoron. A person simply cannot be an evangelist if she cannot demo the product. If a person cannot give a demo that quickens the pulse of everyone in the audience, he should stay in sales or in marketing.
  7. Provide a safe first step. The path to adopting a cause should have a slippery slope. There shouldn't be large barriers like revamping the entire IT infrastructure. For example, the safe first step to recruit an evangelist for the environment is not requiring that she chain herself to a tree; it's to ask her to start recycling and taking shorter showers.
  8. Ignore pedigrees. Good evangelists aren't proud. They don't focus on the people with big titles and big reputations. Frankly, they'll meet with, and help, anyone who “gets it” and is willing to help them. This is much more likely to be the database administrator or secretary than the CIO.
  9. Never tell a lie. Very simply, lying is morally and ethically wrong. It also takes more energy because if one lies, then it is necessary to keep track of the lies. If one always tells the truth, then there's nothing to keep track of. Evangelists know their stuff, so they never have to tell a lie to cover their ignorance.
  10. Remember your friends. Be nice to the people on the way up because one is likely to see them again on the way down. Once an evangelist has achieved success, he shouldn't think that he'll never need those folks again.  One of the most likely people to buy a Macintosh was an Apple II owner. One of the most likely people to buy an iPod was a Macintosh owner. One of the most likely people to buy whatever Apple puts out next is an iPod owner. And so it goes.

Live long and kick butt.

Written at: Marriott Hotel, San Francisco, California


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Great Post!

Great stuff of course; I read you blog but hadn't seen this until someone commented on my blog about the need for an evangelist.

Amazing post. Seriously.

Look for agnostics, ignore atheists???

i think its not a thing Jesus would do. and when I read my Bible I see dat the apostels (the first evengalistst) talked to everybody included atheists. ofcourse it is not easy to try to confince atheists but I belief it is not my duty, i know i can be used as a tool in the hands of God and if he thinks its a good idea that the atheists starts to belief, it will happen. and if the atheists choses te ignore the things you said, it does'nt feel good but you did what you could, and after that its in Gods hand. but when you talk to atheists you should'nt think about a product that's gonna give new meaning in his/her life, but a faith that's gonna break this persons way of live and rebuild a whole new life Gbu marnix

The division of Campus Crusade that I work for is charged with helping churches do evangelism and discipleship better. Our main mission is to equip spiritual movements with resources to advance the Great Commission.

Recently, we’ve developed a new outreach program for churches called “Prayer on the Porch.” It is a strategy designed to include even the less-involved church members in a form of outreach that helps move them up in their level of commitment as they experience success.

This strategy has a new web site, also developed by Campus Crusade: www.prayerontheporch.com

The web site includes a download of a FREE 8-page pdf Prayer on the Porch Strategy Guide, designed for leaders, and those who want to impart the vision of relational outreach.



Will Graham
Assoc. National Director, The Prayer on the Porch Movement

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"One of the most likely people to buy a Macintosh was an Apple II owner."

Yes, there's nothing like having your multi-thousand-dollar investment (both in money and, more importantly, time) gratuitously nullified to make a fellow want to stick with the company that did the deed.

Very good.

BzzAgent generated some interesting buzz at Brains on Fire a while back. Here - http://www.brainsonfire.com/blog/post228.aspx and
here - http://www.brainsonfire.com/blog/post239.aspx.

Isn't this just PR checklist?

What do you call the people who are evangelizing for a fee? Every compnay now wants to "hire" everyday people who talk up their products. Here is one such story http://unpapier.com/blog/2005/12/12/beware-of-the-everyday-man-talking-about-a-product/

A company called BzzAgent is providing exactly this for every business who wants everyday people to spread the word.


Glad to see you using the word "oriental". For the last ten years or so, obnoxious white kids have tried to jump down my throat for not saying "asian", as if "oriental" were a pejorative.


Inspiring ideas. Thank you.
Do you have 10 guidelines about giving a demo?

Interesting find -- the job trends graph below confirms this -- almost all "evangelist" jobs are either technical, marketing, or software, and almost none are religious:


Too bad we don't have job posting data for the past 30 years!

Great stuff. It makes so much sense to adopt this approach -- when you actually have a cause-worthy product or service that you truly believe in. Maybe that's why so many companies haven't adopted this approach :-)

Deepak, if you haven't read The Tipping Point yet you should. Highly relevant to evangelism...MG's theory about who are the effective evangelists, and why.

Amen, brother Guy. And, the term evangelist is in use everywhere...and I mean everywhere in the tech world. You played no small part in that.

--Sucky Marketing Guy

Great tips from da Man ;) I'm starting today to Evangalise the formation of an open source version of VMWare. I've written to them today to ask if they would support such an idea. Once up and running they could always sell thier professional line of products to any enterprice customers. Anyone else interested?

Oh, thought VMacWare sounds cool, better get off to sourceforge after this ;)

Does being "evangelical" have to pertain to a product or service. What about a concept (such as the potential of post-genomic medicine to cure certain diseases)? Here the product or service may only exist in theory or in papers, but if someone can champion the cause, that concept may become a reality.

hello, guy!

i finally had time to sit down and start reading your blog and this is the second entry i read. what a great way for me to start here.

i read these points years ago in one (some) of your earlier books and was able to bring that enthusiasm to nokia when i was hired 5 years ago.

i started to apply the kawasaki evangelism ideals when promoting series 60. later, i was able to put it all in action for lifeblog (i asked you about buzzagent, remember). one of my favourite evangelists turned out to be anina (anina.net) who brought her own enthusiasm and i helped her evangelize. it's really increadible when it happens.

i would like to think that i was the first marketing person at nokia to start to use blogs and interact with bloggers to promote a product. my attitude was driven by kawasaki evangelism philosophy.

now 'evangelism' is a regular word in nokia, they are starting to learn how to participate in the conversation, finding evangelists is starting to be the norm.

i think they still have a bit more to go, sort of understanding it in a bookish way, but not in their heart. yet.

but, i want to thank you for sharing your thoughts (i've read a bunch of your books) and helping me have an insanely great time promoting our products.

you can count on me to be a regular reader and commenter here.

welcome to the conversation in the 21st century way.



808 evangelist jobs on www.indeed.com, 5 on a random UK search engine. I guess Scoble is right and it is a US thing with not much traction in the EU.

I think "church" evangelists maybe got a bad name because people began to associate them with "fundamentalists." Fundamentalists see the world in black and white. Brand evangelists may be as single-minded about a product, but the stakes aren't so high when you're talking about, say, a computer, versus a supreme being.

And not many people like to be preached to, anyway.

Wonder post, Guy - the 10 points are great.

I wonder why churches of almost all stripes gave up on having evangelist ? There are missionaries, but even in this area there is a lot of discussion of what mission is like in a post-post world. One of my fav writer Vicent Donovan talks about evangelism from the ground up, rather than the colonialist model that perpetuates the modern church and old style business.

Thanks for the ideas here.

For those of us that are not in sales or marketing, how does the Evangelist role differ from Business Development or Marketing? As I read this, I was wishing that our Business Developer was more of what you're describing here.

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