Yesterday I spoke on a panel at the GNoTE conference, and I have to say, I had a great time. For the past few years, one aspect of my role has included evangelism (or as Guy Kawasaki referred to it, “secular evangelism”). While evangelism became more widely known through Guy’s actions, the reality is there are still only a handful of people who formally have this role. Which makes it quite rare to spend half a day in a room full of them, including Guy himself.
Guy opened the event with a great keynote, “The Art of Evangelism,” which I’ll not-so-briefly summarize. He gave a bit of his background, then went straight on to talk about other events he’s attended. He mentioned why he liked the “Top 10” format so much, because (a) most speakers suck, and (b) you never know how long they’re going to go on for. With Guy’s Top 10, you know where you stand, even if he sucks. Which he probably doesn’t do very often. BTW: he used the term suck, this is purely an homage. He then proceeded to give this session’s Top 10:
- Make Meaning – it’s very hard to evangelize crap
- Make a Mantra – your typical team of stellar MBAs will lock up the whole management team in a room for a 2-day offsite hosted by Moonbeam who has you practice falling and trusting each other and at the end of the day you have a bunch of meaningless mumbo-jumbo. A mantra is quick, easy, and to the point.
- Roll the DICEE – I don’t actually remember what all the letters stood for, but it came down to making good products and having emotional reactions to them
- Niche Thyself – forget trying to appeal to everybody on Earth, build great products for specific markets and own those markets
- Let 1000 Flowers Blossom – Mao was wrong in general, but right in the aspects of listening to the people. Focus on your customers, not your not-customers.
- Make it Personal – what does your product/service/good/etc mean to people at individual levels?
- Find True Influencers – the CxO’s of an organization are not necessarily the key decision-makers on a given purchase or agreement.
- Enable Test Drives – if its good, “try before you buy” should work!
- Look for Agnostics, not Athiests – this was one of my favorites, rather than try to convert the unconvertable, focus on those who are potential converts. For example, Apple found it easier to sell Macs to Apple II owners or even non-PC owners than it was to convert those who liked MS-DOS.
- Provide a Slippery Slope – in other words, get your darn foot in the door with your targets, rather than trying to get invited over for dinner!
- (yes, there were 11) Don’t let the Bozos get you down – there’s always a naysayer, can’t live your life by them
I had to step out during the next speaker, but then my panel followed. Our moderator Jean did a great job keeping the discussion moving forward. Our topics ranged from “How do you really spend your time?” (email, travel, phone calls, blogging, IMs, travel, speaking, training others, travel, email) to “What is the single hardest thing you had to do as an evangelist?” (dealing with two particularly hostile topics regarding the Slingbox this past year) to “How do you measure the value and effect of evangelism?” (sales numbers specifically reflected the success of non-traditional marketing programs). Great panel overall, although I particularly enjoyed listening to Jeff Barr from Amazon.
The event also provided for some great networking time. I got to chat with Rafe Needleman (who showed his class by giving an update on James Kim during his time), Anil Dash, and Jeremy Zawodny (hehe). I’d have liked to stay for their entire panel, but had to run a little early unfortunately (sorry guys).
Drive down to Santa Clara? 90 minutes each way
Venti coffee to make the drive palatable? $3.50 (depending on your area)
Event cost? $40
Opportunity to find a roomful of your peers when you work in a tiny tiny field? Priceless.