As VP, Global Innovation Evangelist for SAP Timo Elliott has got a fascinating job operating at the “leading edge of innovation”, as he describes it.

He spends his time on finding and sharing innovation with SAP’s clients. So what’s Timo’s Shiny New Object? Timo says brands can become more interesting to customers by embracing the principle of “return on interesting”.

Timo’s role has grown over decades, from being in charge of analytics projects in a small stat-up based in Paris to eventually being an evangelist.

While the word “evangelist” can be quite loaded and conjure up scepticism, Timo talked to us about how this role has actually existed for hundreds of years in one shape or another, and how it is a fundamental part of marketing.

Whether you think of it as an advocate or a subtle supporter, being an evangelist is all about showing people how they can benefit from using your products. 

However, the key is to tell stories subtly and command audiences’ attention, particularly with information that is pertinent and useful to them. Timo says: “Nobody cares about your company or your product. They care about people like them who are consuming your product.”

The search for how to be relevant to people  helped Timo to shape the ‘return on interesting’ concept. It’s a different way to think about the traditional return on investment concept and a means of capitalising on the power of social sharing.

Today’s successful brands provide a great end-to-end consumer experience, which in turn leads to people sharing their positive and negative feedback. This creates a loop whereby prospects check these types of feedback on websites like Tripadvisor or on social media, magnifying the success for those brands that have received good reviews. As a result, we live in world of “social transparency” which means everything is shared. 

At the same time, Timo warns, “it’s never been easier to shout… but it’s never been harder to actually be heard.”

So, if you want your brand to be known, you have to find what makes it interesting. By spending time on understanding these triggers, brands can get the best return on interesting.  

To find out more about Timo’s work as an evangelist and his advice on becoming one yourself, listen to the podcast here.

Tom Ollerton is the Founder of Automated Creative. Subscribe to the ‘Shiny New Object’ Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube and Soundcloud.