Product Evangelism

03/28/2012 § Leave a comment

Famous grinning poster seen in many parts of the 2nd act of “Full Metal Jacket” is an actual Vietnamese toothpaste ad of the period.

I think I would be good at evangelism. I’ve seen ads from companies asking for people to fill these roles from time to time, and I’ve ignored them, chiefly because I don’t really see myself as a marketer, and product evangelism is a form of marketing, really.

But I’ve been re-thinking that logic over the last few days. I’m not so sure that handshaking and deal making is my forte, but I think being a technology booster might be. I get excited about technology and enjoy talking about it. Could I walk into a Strength Through Technology rally and get people nuts over a particular product? I don’t know, never done it. I see myself as being willing to try it though. I think writing about it is one of my strengths, certainly. I’ve done that to a small extent having written manuals and some marketing literature from a technical perspective, this was for a number of industrial automation products in the past. It’s certainly something I think I’d like to try.

Steve Jobs was the most notable and probably the most successful evangelist ever. It helps to be a founding member of the company, sure. But all that does I think is strengthen the belief he had in his product. You have to admire the guy, he brought a subtle sense of style to the Apple product line. Before he re-joined Apple one of their most innovative products was the Newton PDA. I had a chance to play with it, and it was a pretty nifty machine, one of the more remarkable features of the Newton was its handwriting recognition. It actually worked for me, although I know it was roundly mocked in the media. It was cancelled a little over a year after it was introduced. Two years after the Newton was cancelled and Jobs rejoined the company the first iPod was introduced. Although a rather different function; audio media playback only, it featured a smaller, sleeker design and and a slick ad campaign that has typified Apple’s marketing since. That was Jobs.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I wouldn’t deign to suppose I could be a visionary on that level, but that’s certainly a model to aspire to. Every successful technology has some aspect that makes it interesting, otherwise it wouldn’t be successful. I think the trick is getting everyone excited about it. A good evangelist finds ways of achieving that goal. That’s a challenging goal, and one that interests me.

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