Ethan dives into the chief evangelist role, what makes them successful and how they can be crucial to a SaaS company’s brand perception.
What is a chief evangelist?
When you Google ‘chief evangelist,’ it’s defined as many things, but it can be summed up as hype man or hype woman for a brand. Ethan Beute argues the job entails more than promoting a brand or product. He says the role can look different amongst SaaS organizations. But, the chief evangelist should promote the problem the customers are having, not the product the brand offers.
“You’re solving a problem that didn’t have a solution before. Or, you’re solving a known problem in a way that’s unique from the other solutions,” said Ethan.
What makes a successful SaaS chief evangelist?
According to Ethan, a successful chief evangelist must have a history with the business, depth of familiarity with the brand and trust from internal stakeholders to get the job done.
Ethan expresses the importance of having a trusted chief evangelist because it’s challenging to measure effectiveness in the role. It’s not a position with specific KPIs to report, so having support from internal stakeholders is crucial to avoid questioning about why the role matters.
“Even when you’re working in an unstructured situation that lacks clarity of a lot of other roles in the organization, you need them to trust that you’re working well, working smart, working on behalf of the organization, and producing results,” said Ethan.
When does your SaaS org need a chief evangelist?
Depending on the SaaS company, some CEOs are more interested in — and better suited for — running the business than being a spokesperson due to their natural abilities, interest and talents. Frequently, the thought leadership role defaults to a VP of marketing or a CMO when a CEO declines.
However, Ethan knows the press and external audiences don’t want to talk to marketers because they have all the canned responses and feel marketers are giving the on-message vs. real answers. The chief evangelist has to be willing to go well beyond key messages to become a trusted brand spokesperson.
Ethan cautions SaaS companies to avoid splitting the evangelist duty among multiple key stakeholders because the job responsibilities often get lost in the noise.
“You don’t want to have everybody doing it and have nobody doing it at the same time. Then, no one is owning it and taking on the [project] full speed ahead,” said Ethan.
For more of Ethan’s insights, listen to Episode 317 of SaaS Half Full.