Many new roles are emerging with the growing need of both enterprises and startups to continually drive forward innovation and progress.
In doing so, the chief evangelist champions their company cause, helping them gain critical mass and success in the short and long run.
With the demand for chief evangelists growing, it is critical to understand the responsibilities and challenges of the role in both startups and enterprises.
The Startup Evangelist
If there is one thing startups are known for, it’s passion. To create a startup is to go against all odds, and the only way to do that is by believing fiercely in your cause.
That is why every startup needs an Evangelist. Beyond believing in the success of the company, the role of the evangelist is to preach their benefit and convince all “non-believers” of the value of the company.
They need to believe that the company will disrupt the market, transform an industry and/or encounter wild success. But they also need to be able to sell the company to everyone who isn’t already sold.Beyond believing in the success of the company, the role of the evangelist is to preach their benefit and convince all “non-believers” of the value of the company. Click To Tweet
That includes new employees who need to join the company mission and bring their passion to their job each day, investors who need to be convinced that the company has a chance of thriving, and the customers who need to be convinced that the product or service is one they cannot live without.
Ultimately, the most effective evangelist is the one that turns the non-believers into evangelists themselves.
As startups begin to transition from startup status to established enterprise, they often experience a shift in the vision, positioning and market message, and at that point hire a dedicated chief evangelist.
In doing so, the startup is signaling its growth and its ability to scale further.Ultimately, the most effective evangelist is the one that turns the non-believers into evangelists themselves. Click To Tweet
The Enterprise Evangelist
In enterprises, the role of chief evangelist is often closely tied to the marketing and branding departments. They need to be able to inspire passion in employees and consumers, creating an inspiring story that people can connect to and want to be a part of.
To do so, they often focus on the big picture and have a direct impact on the product roadmap, marketing strategy and messaging.
But some large companies perceive enterprise evangelism in a similar way as startups and look for well known personas to fill the role. Invictus, for example, brought on rock legend Gene Simmons of the band Kiss as their chief evangelist officer.
Other companies view the chief evangelist as a more holistic position. Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist at Apple and current Chief Evangelist at Canva.
Kawasaki once said:
“Evangelism isn’t a job title, it’s a way of life.”
This approach distinctly differentiates evangelism from sales and marketing, and showcasing the mind shift enterprise chief evangelists need to make.
During his years as Chief Evangelist at Apple, Kawasaki was responsible for preserving and strengthening the Apple consumer cult, using transparency to convert consumers into evangelists themselves and being motivated by making history rather than making money.
Despite their differences in roles, both the chief evangelist at a startup and the chief evangelist at an enterprise often encounter the same challenges.
In order to continually ensure the message they are preaching is relevant, chief evangelists need to continually adapt their positioning and vision.
To do so, chief evangelists need to have a strong understanding of their own product as well as a comprehensive overview of the market, and have the ability to understand the impact market changes have on the product and on their consumers.
Since chief evangelists need to spend their time preaching to the non-believers, they may often encounter controversy, difficulty and confrontation. As a chief evangelist, it is important to ensure ones passion continues to drive them forward despite dissent and adversaries.