How a Product Evangelist Can Take Your Brand to the Next Level

Serving as the expert on your creation

Product evangelists and developers can make sharing your product seem almost easy. Getty Images

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is coming up in a few months—June 4, to be exact—and Facebook’s annual F8 is shortly after that. Have you ever wondered how they select their partners to highlight during their keynotes?

If not, you’re likely missing out on one of Silicon Valley’s least-kept secrets. For brands looking to expand reach or develop cutting-edge technology, there are some incredible opportunities available by partnering closely with Apple, Google, Facebook and others.

In the world of platform plays, success is determined primarily by the company’s ability to win the developer community. Whoever has the best apps on their platform gets people to buy their product. It’s no surprise that everyone builds first on Apple’s iOS and second on Android. Apple has one of the most impressive product evangelist and developer relationship teams in the world.

Product evangelists came out of the war for developers. These teams generally sit under the product, have their own developers and have the sole goal of helping great companies flush out ideas and develop on their platform. But if you don’t have engagement with these incredibly helpful and influential people, then your company is missing an opportunity to influence the end product.

So how does one contact these people? Well, it’s actually not that hard. Depending on the company, they are either aligned by industry (i.e., Apple), by product (i.e., Facebook) or service (i.e., Twitter). These evangelists are measured by their ability to take their respective platforms to the next level. Therefore, you have to think big to get their attention. Something hasn’t been done before, and you need advice on an API or SDK? Done. The more innovative the opportunity, the more resources these firms will send your way.

In the world of platform plays, success is determined primarily by the company’s ability to win the developer community.

Back in 2014, as a part of a rock star team at Starwood Hotels, we were attempting to build the first keyless door access app in the industry. We asked our evangelism team to help us pick through the capabilities of Bluetooth within the newly released iPhone and Apple Watch. When working on hardware and software, natural questions will arise, and thus, the evangelism team is there to assist.

So how did we get in touch with the team? We aligned at the product manager level because we didn’t have a digital business development team.

If you’re wondering how you can start out, think about who should own these relationships: product, engineering or BD? Then seek out your appropriate industry contact and develop a relationship. When you have ideas, test them out and work with your partner.

When releasing new software, the large platform companies like to highlight those who are being the most progressive with implementation. There are added benefits, other than beaming pride, to being highlighted in a keynote. I’ve always used it as a recruiting tool—for hard to find product, design and engineering talent, being in an Apple keynote is like winning a nerd Oscar. There are also millions to watch, write and cover the event, so it’s great brand equity to be aligned with the largest tech titans.

In a world of Xcode, APIs and SDKs, don’t forget the people behind the software you love. Push your team to find inroads with the players defining the future of business, and leverage new relationships to create the best products.

@arliej Arlie Sisson is the CEO of Woven Digital.