Author: Alex L. Goldfayn

Publisher: Ben Bella Books – 260 pages

Book Review by:  Paiso Jamakar

Evangelist marketing is not like any other kind of marketing at all that typically communicates good or great features and benefits of products from the maker or seller to consumers. Evangelist marketing is about consumers enthused and happy about products proclaiming excellent features of products they love to their friends through a variety of means, particularly social media.

Alex Goldfayn’s background makes him uniquely qualified to write this book. For five years, he was a syndicated technology columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He wrote about electronic products and he read comments from thousands of readers about what they loved and hated about many different tech devices, gadgets and gizmos.

This book is about people who don’t just use some products but who like them a lot. As a matter of fact they don’t just like them – they love them. So much so that they don’t stop just at loving them, they tell their friends about the neat capabilities and outstanding features of those products.

These consumers pretty much proclaim to the world – to anyone and everyone they come across in person or otherwise – that the products they use are the best in that industry. They evangelize about those products. They are called consumer evangelists – the main subject of this book, thereby the title Evangelist Marketing.

There are hundreds of electronic products out there in the market. What specific products is the author talking about that are being evangelized about by consumers?

They are mainly five products of three companies. Three of those five products – the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac are the creations of one company: Apple. The fourth product is the Kindle by Amazon and the fifth is the video streaming device by Netflix.

Consumer evangelists are more than components of a form of word-of-mouth advertising. This is because they have certain unique characteristics about them that mere consumers do not have, Alex Goldfayn points out.

But be aware that for any product to be so well loved that it is evangelized about, it must reach a high level satisfaction of certain needs among its users. So what are the qualities of consumer evangelists?

They are mainstream, meaning that they are not just “early adopters” but have used the products for a while and constantly communicate with other users about them with a high level of energy and frequency.

The second characteristic about consumer evangelists is that they are passionate about the products. Their level of enthusiasm about those products exceeds that of sports fans about their favorite teams, Goldfayne points out.

A third quality of consumer evangelists is that they are not just happy but thrilled about how some products (most notably Apple products) improve their daily living. Those products not only give them high value but exceed their expectations.

Other characteristics of consumer evangelists are: they are on the lookout and seek news and information about new product releases from the manufacturer; they generate word-of-mouth buzz about them in their circles of friends; they defend the products from negative talk; they trust the company for always acting in the best interests of their customers; they are forgiving of the company for product errors; and they are “hyper-repeat” customers, buying as many products as they can.

How do companies acquire consumer evangelists? Naturally, the process starts with identifying a problem that consumers are beset with and creating a product that provides a good solution to it.

Goldfayn suggests in one of the key chapters of the book that the best way to identify consumers’ problems and needs is to simply arrange 15-minute phone conversations and to talk to them. Ask questions as to how a particular product can be improved, and what it can provide or do for them (beyond what it does now) to improve their lives.

People at all levels in the company should get involved in this process of gathering information and insights on how consumers use their products, what difficulties they have with them and how the user experience an be trouble-free, and time-saving.

For the company CEO or its business development executive looking to harness this new power of evangelist marketing, this book is a very good starting point to gain the necessary tools.

The book is organized well into five basic parts with a lot of detailed suggestions in its 260 pages. Goldfayn gets you excited at the outset in Part One with the first chapter entitled “Good News and Bad News: You’re Leaving Billions on the Table.”  He asks you pointedly: where are your consumers in your consumer marketing plan?

He suggests a dramatic change in your mindset by stating illustrating that 90 percent of technology products are perceived by consumers as commodities and they are bought on the simple basis of best price. Another nine percent are bought on the basis of brand.

That leaves only one percent of all electronic products perceived as “special” or “single” products by consumers. Consumers communicate about these products “warmly” and “positively” within their circles of influence. Goldfayn writes that these are the types of unique products whose popularity and sales volume can grow dramatically through evangelist marketing.

Part Two deals on how to achieve product excellence which is a key component of success in evangelist marketing. An entire chapter in this section is devoted to functional excellence. The author lays out five factors of singular or special products that make them stand out from all other products in a particular category. This is definitely a must-read, probably the most important chapter in the book.

Part Three is on consumer insights. This section helps you understand the importance of finding out what your potential and existing customers are looking for, what their pains are and how you can alleviate their pains through your product, to win their hearts and their dollars.

Part Four covers the area of communications – how to understand what customers are writing about your product and how you can improve it and communicate the improvements through the various means out there: the blogosphere, mobile devices, product manuals and packaging, social media, and other platforms.

Part Five focuses on consumer evangelism and discusses how to build buzz on your product, showing how Apple, has developed communities of people who build buzz around its well-loved products. In this section you learn how to acquire evangelists for your products, what they can do for you and how to maintain hem.

A very useful feature of this book is a practical tool provided at the end called the Evangelist Marketing Assessment – a checklist of questions that asks what you have and what you lack, but need, to get started in evangelist marketing.

These questions focus on and give you a score on your perspective, leadership, product, product name (e.g. is it short and easy to remember?), customer insights, consumer insights, language, public relations, platforms, word-of-mouth buzz, and evangelist maintenance.

I would call Alex L. Goldfayn a pioneer in the field of evangelist marketing because of his unusual consumer-centric perspective developed from his years of experience and focus on this method of promotion, which goes to the very core of reasons why consumers buy a given product. This book represents excellent work and demonstrates unique insight.