“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” Elon Musk
Have you ever heard a Tesla advertisement on the radio? Have you seen a Tesla car commercial on television while watching the latest re-runs of Friends or Seinfeld? I’ll bet one share of Tesla that you haven’t.
Tesla is a company that does not market its products like others.
Indeed, some people even go as far as to say that Tesla is a PR company that creates cars to earn revenue. The Tesla community would state that the company allures potential buyers with its cutting edge innovation and development. Tesla buyers become brand advocates, shilling Tesla products without even holding any TSLA bags. But word of mouth becomes one of the key generators of sales.
Most Tesla owners love the product and this love generates excited advocates who convert others within their network by letting them take a spin in their Tesla. Let’s face it, car people love showing off their vehicles and Tesla owners are no exception.
But what makes Tesla so compelling and, concurrently, reviled? How does the company capture the hearts and minds of people all over the world while outright antagonizing and causing distress to others?
Let’s find out about Tesla, Tesla’s origins, and Tesla’s marketing campaigns.
Tesla: A Brief History
Tesla came about in July 2003, about 16 years ago!
That’s pretty crazy if you think about it.
Right off the bat, it shows you that it takes a while to create an impression and to do things that matter consistently over the long-term.
One crucial fact is that Musk didn’t create the company but came to be an investor in Tesla Motors in the early stages of the company.
Elon Musk would buy up shares of the private company at the Series A investment round and buy more over time to finance the company. He would then join the company as a chairman and would oversee critical objectives.
Remember that Tesla was a mission-driven company from the start; its main objective was to scale up electric vehicles within the automotive marketplace.
From a personal perspective, being mission-driven in a world where many people show up to work like zombies and yearn the weekend can help to draw people to a compelling brand like Tesla.
Going the Distance
Key people at the company knew early on that they would have to break stereotypes associated with electric vehicles. They knew that they would have to make electric cars sexy, cool, and compelling to their target audience. Tesla engineers would not only focus on aesthetic design but product design as well.
They started by making a pricey Tesla roadster that would go fast and look really nice.
The brilliance in Tesla’s marketing was first making it an aspirational product.
Tesla invited celebrities to their debut event and associated people that you live vicariously through the purchase of a Tesla roadster.
People like Ocean’s Eleven actor, George Clooney, had a Tesla Roadster – and by god, you wanted one too.
A Tesla roadster allows you to express yourself differently.
You didn’t just want to have a gas-guzzling car that would take you from point A to point B.
No. You want something that will make a difference in the world and make you look good while doing so.
A Tesla Roadster is electric and sustainable. The vehicle makes you a forward thinker; someone cut from a different cloth, someone unique, someone interested in pushing the boundaries by paying for innovation.
You don’t buy a Tesla because you’re conforming. You purchase one because you are a contrarian thinker and have the means to buy one.
The Tesla Roadster made a splash from the start, and it showed people that Tesla was about doing epic things, being innovative, and leading a green revolution in a critical aspect of life, transportation.
That is the core driving Tesla, that’s what many people are loyal to, and that’s what many people are buying when they drive a Tesla over a Porsche or a BMW.
Bucking the Trend and Rooting for the Underdog
Tesla promises to make life more enjoyable by bringing about amazing experiences with its vehicles and ensuring a cleaner and more sustainable world.
You also want to root for Tesla because its an underdog.
The narrative is that Elon and company are going against big bad oil and associates, where Elon and company represent a flickering light in a world ruled by the darkness that is the oil companies.
Tesla wants to disrupt an entrenched oil denominated world.
Everywhere you look, you see gas-guzzling cars. You see the entrenched and powerful oil companies of Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP (famous for its oil spill), and other entities related to the old and stodgy oil industry.
Oil or derivatives of mother oil courses through the transportation veins of the world and is still a dominant input in the transportation supply chain.
Don’t believe me?
As of 2019, the total EV market share is only 1.8% within the U.S.
Yes, total EV sales do trend up each year but are far from any real substantial position within the marketplace.
Tesla is most certainly an underdog.
Everybody wants to root for the underdog.
It makes life more enjoyable.
Tesla Transforms the Whole Process and Creates Rabidly Loyal Fans
Remember that Tesla is one of the first car companies that went direct to consumers.
They did an event, had a presentation, then said, go forth and pre-order our latest Tesla vehicle.
People did. Actually, a lot of people did.
People ordered online, paid online, and received the product, as simply as if they’d ordered it from Amazon. It was a different experience from a typical car buying experience with the stereotypical sleazy car salesman at the dealership.
Tesla doesn’t have a dealership, they now have showrooms with professional sales associates.
Tesla does everything differently, and customers love them.
A Gregarious and Fearless Leader
Many people say that Musk reminds them of Steve Jobs, a charismatic leader who makes compelling products that change the world and that people love.
Tesla and Apple products have similarities, and once you try them out, you never go back to anything else.
You become invested in the product and the overall ecosystem.
Elon ruffles feathers just like Steve Jobs. You love Apple products or prefer Android, you either love Tesla or just can’t see what the hype is all about with the product.
Elon’s other ventures and activities like the Boring Company, and SpaceX, also add an element of value to Tesla.
These additional activities reinforce a culture of being future-forward and being a part of massive technological disruption. You feel as though you are on the right side of history, being a patron to the Edisons, and inventors of the current era.
Are You Surprised By The Tesla CyberTruck Orders?
In this context, is it hard to be surprised by the CyberTruck orders?
Tesla recently suggested that it processed over 200,000 deposits for its Cybertruck.
That’s 200,000 deposits of at least $100, totaling $20,00,000 collected by Tesla over a month after the Cybertruck event.
Again, are you surprised?
Tesla has built a brand around being innovative and disruptive and did it again with the Cybertruck. You get an EV truck that outperforms its gas-guzzling peers and helps to make the world cleaner and more sustainable.
Remember that everything didn’t go according to plan in the Cybertruck reveal, but that bumbling error was genius marketing.
The Cybertruck was possibly evangelized more by those who hated it than those who loved it. They mocked the glass breaking, the “ugly design”, and other aspects of the car, which caused it to trend and let even more people know about the vehicle.
The Cybertruck looks like a car you would want in a time where more people are turning pessimistic, in a time where protests are seen around the globe.
Recession fears are a real factor, and billionaires like Ray Dalio and Tudor Jones warn of more vitriol and anger from the general populace if the economy doesn’t change provide more opportunities.
The Cybertruck created a new market, those who don’t typically buy trucks are going to buy the Cybertruck because of its unique design.
Tesla sticks with a specific mission and makes that mission relevant you with each product it delivers.
So here we are with remarkable sales of Tesla’s CyberTruck with virtually no marketing beyond their announcement, and rather embarrassing display of unbreakable windows that shattered at the unveiling.
It makes one wonder if the marketing focuses on the vision of the man or actually the machine. When that line is blurred, it makes for unicorn marketing that just cannot be force. Rather, it is a force of its own.
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