Don’t sideline your brand evangelists!
One of the greatest assets in Apple’s marketing system is their brand evangelists. These are the people who love the Apple brand and all of their products. But beyond that, these are the people that tell others just why the latest product or operating system is the best thing ever, and why it’s better than their rivals. Others listen to these evangelists as, essentially, their just like you and me. They are consumers, they are users, they are not paid by Apple to say these things. These people are the early adopters, buying into something on the basis of past form.
Apple are not alone here, many other companies have such evangelists including Microsoft (believe it or not), Linux, Canon, Adobe and of course Google.
The closest I get to being an evangelist would be for Google. I run my domain (mail, docs, calendar etc) through a Google Apps account and have persuaded others to do the same. My default browser is Chrome, I use Google Analytics, Adsense, Adwords, Maps and search. Christ, I even used Wave for something useful! Not only do I use Android, I went so far as to buy a Nexus One directly from Google shortly after launch and had to get it shipped from the USA to the UK.
With all this in mind, people come to me asking me what I think about the latest Google release, whatever it may be. I’ve got a whole bunch of Google+ invites. People asking “what do you think of Google+? Why should I use it instead of (or in addition to) Facebook & Twitter”.
The answer is: I don’t know. I can’t get in.
Despite being open to the public, I can’t get in using my Google Apps account. The Google evangelists, early adopters, heavy users and those that actually pay Google to use their services have been locked out of Google’s brand new social network!
Can you see Apple releasing the latest set of new iTunes features to Windows users only? No. Exactly.
Google have said it will be available “within the coming months, but we want to make sure we do it right”. It’s a bit late for that. To do it right you needed to get your early adopters and evangelists on board from the outset, not sideline them and keep them waiting.
Like the ultimate nerd, Google is undeniably extremely smart, but they have a lot to learn about people.