I just got off the phone with a potential client talking about podcasting and ROI (Return on Investment). I brought up the idea of a spokesperson – or evangelist for their product. I talked about in the 70’s Bill Bixby promoted the Vic-20 computer and Bill Cosby promoted the TI-99 lines. Even today celebrities like Lea Michelle promote L’Oreal, Paul Giamatti voices Liberty Mutual commercials and – even though he was fired from it – Gilbert Gottfried’s “Aflac” can still be pointed back to him.
So you as a podcaster – are you an evangelist?
I wrote this post up on the Google+ Community asking people about it:
Topic of the Day: How important is it for you to be a Podcast Evangelist?
What I mean is out of your show, do you focus on one or two items that you excel in? For tech, are you focused more toward PC or Mac? I am told I am an evangelist for podcasting and (more to the point) Wirecast – because I have talked about it on my shows. As a drummer, I can tell you I know more about Zildjian cymbals over Paiste and Sabian. I use Zildjian cymbals on my drum set and don’t see ever switching.
So when you give your opinion, does that opinion ring throughout the show or quietly get mentioned?
A lot of people ask how they can be like +Robert Scoble . He is an evangelist for #Rackspace . When it’s all said and done, his voice is part of a company that supports him wholeheartedly. That is how he gets from location to location and creates some great interviews.
On the same token, +Leo Laporte is an evangelist for many areas. Sure he has sponsors, but he also has people that listen for specific reasons. I am not sure of the crossovers between TWiT, iPad Today, the Tech Guy and other shows that have hosts +Tom Merritt, +Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ , +Paul Thurrott , etc. Keeping with Leo shows, I can bet those watching TWiT are a completely different audience than those who listen or watch The Tech Guy.
Why? Because they have different tones. The Tech Guy is a show geared toward people asking one-out questions. “Long time listeners, first time callers” – sort to speak.
TWiT brings in a panel of experts to discuss topics of the week in tech. If you have no interest in that, you might just not listen to the 90 minute program.
Still, Leo is an evangelist in each of those shows. People listen to him and respect his opinion.
So I ask again, what is your evangelistic points? Do you think that being an evangelist can help you gain audience?
Podcasting has been known to be about opinion over facts. What people think of this or that instead of being agnostic to anything more than the news itself. Broadcast journalist have to hold their tongues and tell people whats going on (except for editorial departments who still don’t have a full voice because they are being redacted by the news organization).
What a Podcast Evangelist can Accomplish
I don’t want to make it sound like you back a product. Its just more about what you believe in. A lot of people wondered if Sally Struthers (for example) treated Christian Children’s Fund as a job or something she believed in. Even though she was satired on shows like South Park and more recent Grey’s Anatomy, Struthers is a big supporter of what she talked about on those commercials.
Your voice can be a powerful one. Remember the old Ethan Hutton commercial? The same thing can go with being an evangelist.
What’s in Your Business Toolbox? The evangelist hook
I have always asked “What’s in Your Business Toolbox” when it came to promoting a certain products that are tools for your trade. I call this a hook – . This line becomes something to make you think and imagine. Just like Capital One asking “What’s in your wallet”, or Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef”.
Hooks have been known to be powerful items of suggestion. As the Blues Traveller line goes, a hook can bring you back – I ain’t tellin you no lie. These hooks – when used right – make people think of you and the ideals you are promoting.
Do You Profit off Brand Evangelism?
Even if you are trying not to, yes you can. Let’s look at it this way: I talk highly about a candy bar; I state at the beginning that I am not getting paid to talk about it. I give a description that shows my passion toward said candy bar. You, in turn, think nothing of it – until you are faced with buying a candy bar.
Even if you don’t buy the candy bar I suggest, you do stop and think of that moment I talked about that candy bar. Heck, you might not even remember who said it for it to come to the forefront of your brain. But it got there.
Changing Your Mind – Evangelism Can Do That
A few years ago I got behind a specific product. I liked them over their competition because this company was being proactive in future technologies – i.e. they had an iPhone app and a better web interface. I spent a 18 months evangelizing this product and it was showing in the numbers and affiliate sales.
Then one day, the company changed their policy and removed their unlimited plan . I was taken back by the new model and how much a consumer would have to pay if they didn’t fall under the normal limits. I took case (to their staff) the competition (who by this time matched technologies) had an unlimited account plan. Their reply was “No they didn’t”. This came even after I showed them the page.
When they said that, I not only was taken back but I also changed my mind of this company. Even though I could have continued to make yearly commissions off the clients that used my codes, I literally stopped and ended the campaign. I had no passion to talk about them anymore.
I tried a different angle with them a few months later but I still wasn’t happy with their price plans. Keep in mind that is the only problem I have with them to this day. The competition still has an unlimited plan and they actually are doing better in the media space.
How Many Thing Can You Evangelize?
That is a tough question. I can have a good opinion on multiple items. I would say its like your daytime job – you might do a lot of stuff for your company but you excel in 3-4 items.
Sticking to 3-4 at most might prove acceptable. Remember: a good evangelist can walk up to a conversation about the item in question and be able to answer and debate any issues of the item. If you evangelize a pencil, then say something like “The lead is the most important part of a pencil”, you may get laughed out of the conversation.
Conclusion – Podcast Evangelism
Talk about what you know and what you feel comfortable talking about. Learn what you don’t know and convey those messages to your audience. They will see what you are an evangelist on. Just look at Klout: they can separate what you are most knowledgable in.
Most important, ideas can change. Be passionate of what you do and you will find people that see the passion.