The New Religion: Marketing Evangelism

With the passing of Apple founder and technology giant Steve Jobs, there’s been much discussion among technology and media experts about the impact Jobs’ creations have had on not only our daily life in American society, but also on the way we do business. Technology, media, and marketing are no longer merely tangentially linked, but are now so intrinsically tied that to discuss any one without the other two is practically unthinkable. And quite a bit of that has to do with technology that works for the way we live: technology Steve Jobs created in a visionary career the likes of which we are, in all probability, not going to see again for a very long time.

Evangelism in Marketing
Evangelism used to be relegated to religious movements. People so proud, so content, so invested in their faiths that they almost couldn’t help but share and spread the word were (and still are) evangelicals, missionaries, eager voices preaching the gospel. In modern society, while evangelism still exists in religious circles, it’s also spread to the business world. And in no other industry is this movement so pronounced as in technology.

Apple is a prime example of a company with proud marketing evangelists. Who hasn’t met a former PC user who, upon converting to one of Apple’s Mac computers, promptly began telling anyone and everyone what a phenomenal product the Mac is? This is product evangelism, and for Apple, it came about because Jobs envisioned technological advances that didn’t simply fill a need but actually showed consumers what they were missing. Through those advances, we’ve changed how we interact, how we share our product recommendations, and how we get recommendations from evangelists in our own social circles. Simultaneously, by creating those tools, Jobs spurred the movement of product evangelism.

The New Word-of-Mouth
Product evangelism is similar to affiliate marketing, but without the incentivizing. Consumers who are so overwhelmingly impressed and pleased with their purchases, with the service they receive, or with the innovations available to them take word-of-mouth recommendations to a new level by actively promoting products or services with no personal stake in the company itself. And that makes all big difference: consumers are much more willing to listen to testimonials from people with no personal agenda, particularly people they know.

While this type of knowledge sharing is still accomplished through word-of-mouth, a very useful marketing tool, much of it now takes place exponentially via social media. People log onto Facebook on their iPhones, “check in” at business destinations, and comment about their experiences. People “like” business pages, and therefore share their opinions with their entire social media network.

Building An Evangelical Following
The next question, naturally, is “How do I get consumers to be evangelists for my company?” For this, there’s no single specific answer, but there is one definite place to start: make sure you have outstanding products and services. Satisfied customers will share their experiences, true, but dissatisfied customers take to the Internet and actively let the world know just exactly how unhappy they are. So, not only do small businesses need to ensure that their customers are not dissatisfied, but they also need to strive to take their clientele beyond satisfaction and into evangelical mode. That is, make your clients such believers in your company that they actually market for you with nothing to gain in return.

Much of this has to do with something quite far removed from technology: it goes back to a fundamental principle many companies have lost. It goes back to remembering that the customer is always right. That means giving people what they truly want, and providing it through the kind of knowledgeable, personal service consumers still long for.

Do you promote evangelism through social media campaigns? Tell us how you encourage your clientele to speak up about your business!