Is Evangelism only for Not-so-Hot Companies?

Let’s face it. All marketing stems from evangelism. And all evangelism from religion. The King of all Marketing today is undoubtedly Apple with their demo-god Steve Jobs firmly at the helm. One of my recent posts, focused on the fact that Apple currently doesn’t have a team of evangelists as they did during their Mac times. Looks like Apple has slipped into the old school style of evangelism

Here’s what I mean — the 2 schools of evangelism:

1. Old testament/Old School evangelism: This is about the power of miracles that is announced by prophets. Life changing commandments or the iPhone that you better believe in for your own good. Here the non-believers are converted en-masse before even trying the service (I can’t tell you how many of my friends & myself are already raving about the iPhone service and the products is still not released) and we in turn go about spreading the message converting other non-users by sheer enthusiasm.

So it’s God -> prophet -> masses

2. New testament/New School/web 2.0 evangelism: This focuses on the community and considers all as equal members of the viral marketing message that each user takes from one to the other. What’s key here is that users are more rational, interested in trying out the service and they in turn evangelize the benefits of the product/service to people they care about a.k.a the community via the blogosphere and other tools at their disposal.

So it’s user -> user  -> user

I bet pre-iPod Apple would have definitely engaged in an evangelist like Guy Kawasaki to spread the message. So,

Is the blogosphere/community marketing only for startups and Not-so-Hot large companies?

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  1. Mario Sundar


    Of course I believe the same way! Bloggers/Podcasters or evangelists in general are the first ones you want to infect in order to spread the viral message. However, when I meant equal, I meant a blogger is equal to a journalist from MSM, since now the reach of user-generated content has expanded.

    Makes sense?

    Thanks, Jonathan.
    Since you’re a former APPLE employee I’d be interested in finding out how their evangelism has evolved. Feel free to cite examples.

  2. Jonathan Kantor

    Hi Mario,

    I think you nailed it. As a former Apple employee who experienced evangelism firsthand, the difference between then and now can be compared to either “one-to-many” or “one-to-one”.

    I referenced your post in my blog today. It can be found at:



  3. Mack Collier

    “This focuses on the community and considers all as equal members of the viral marketing message that each user takes from one to the other.”

    Great point Mario, and I think that all members may have the equal desire to spread a company’s message (on average), I still think it’s smart for companies to reach out to the community members that have the ability to reach the most people, such as bloggers, podcasters, etc. And I believe you feel the same way 😉

  4. Mario Sundar

    I’ll differ on the type of business count. Either way, I think its finally a product/service you evangelize and whether it’s a bank (service) or a iPod (product) there’s always room to evangelize…and you’re right, that HAS to be organic.

    However, community marketing is when you harness that group of organic evangelists who speak on behalf of your company without any hidden/ulterior agenda.

    And, you’re right, sooner or later, companies will confront the evangelist communities…

  5. Damon Billian

    Hi Mario,

    I think that people forget that customers evangelize first, companies second. A customer that likes something will tell friends & the internet is a great resource for consumers to help “spread the word”. A company, on the other hand, does have a vested interest in trying to get people to talk about it (on/off line) & the web is a great place to interact with your customers.

    I personally look at community marketing as a tool that helps to bridge that gap between the company and consumer, something that wasn’t really possible in the pre-internet days. I also don’t think community marketing only applies to startups and large companies…I just think it really depends on what type of business you’re in. A large bank? Probably not. A local restaurant? Iffy. A chain restaurant? Probably. Consumer electronics company? Yes. Internet company? Yes. Car company? Probably (that is, unless you build crappy cars…Yugo?).

    The bottom line for me: companies can’t remain as insular as they were in the past. If they do so, they run the risk of alienating the future generation(s) that will largely depend on the web for the bulk of the information that they digest about a wide variety of things, including what they are going to purchase.

    Note: I am referencing blogs largely. But all companies should be interested in what people are saying about them online, be it a blog, forum, or a review site.

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