8 Takeaways From Tesla’s Marketing Playbook

I saw an interesting thread on Twitter by Alex Garcia that I wanted to share here along with some of my thoughts. Alex Garcia is an Austin-based marketing professional who often shares tips and thoughts on Twitter about marketing practices. He pointed out that Tesla’s market cap is larger than 9 of the largest car companies combined. He noted that the “meteoric growth” is a testament to Elon Musk, brilliant products, and radical marketing. The latter is something he’d been studying obsessively, which led to Alex sharing his 8 takeaways. Let’s dive in.

1. Share The Vision

Photo by CleanTechnica

If you want to love what you are doing, you have to believe in it as well. As Alex pointed this out, it reminded me of a similar message that I read from one of my favorite new authors, Billy Carson.

“You may be trying to figure out what you are supposed to do in your life, how are you supposed to make money? The first thing you have to do is find a need and fill it. To do that, find your passion.”

It all comes back to what you love.

In the case of Tesla, Alex pointed out its vision:

“Create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

Image by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica

Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to the market as soon as possible. Alex also went over the plan, which CleanTechnica has written extensively about. Those Master Plans that Elon created followed this formula that Alex laid out:

  • Build a sports car.
  • Use that money to build an affordable car.
  • Use that money to build an even more affordable car.

While doing the above, Tesla also aims to provide zero-emission electric power generation options. Alex noted that those who align with these values become ride-or-die fans.

2. Build In Public

Alex’s takeaway is that everything starts with attention but ends with trust.

“This is why building in public is so powerful. People watch you succeed and fail and get to tag along for the journey. Elon understands this.”

He cited Elon’s 2006 blog post where he shared Tesla’s Master Plan as being the beginning.

“Since that moment, he’s been building Tesla in public. Displaying the up and downs has created super fans. If they fail, customers support the next attempt. When they succeed, customers rave as they feel they were a part of the journey, too. By building in public, your consumers unconsciously develop trust in you and what you’re doing. Elon even went as far as to release their patents to help further advance the EV industry.”

3. Free Ads

In this section, Alex brings up Tesla’s Project Loveday, which was based on a letter Elon received from Bria Loveday, who was 10 at the time. This led to a pretty neat video contest where you had to film a no longer than 90-second ad for Tesla and upload it to YouTube. The winners were selected and broadcasted. Alex noted that there were hundreds of submissions that generated millions and millions of views and PR.

“Imagine generating millions of views without making a single ad.”

The winner of that video contest was Marques Brownlee, whose video had well over 1.2 million views. Alex calculated that the top 10 finalists from Project Love Day racked up over 3 million views (and counting).

4. Own Titles

In this takeaway, Alex points out that Tesla has some interesting titles.

“People want the best of the best. Owning titles creates the unconscious desire to want the next best thing.”

Some of the titles that Tesla owns are:

  • World’s quickest production car.
  • Safest car ever built.
  • Longest-range electric vehicle.
  • World’s fastest SUV.

For those who want to learn more about this, Alex suggested reading Differentiate or Die: Survival In Our Era of Killer Competition by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin. The phrase “differentiate or die” means that you need to give your customer a compelling reason or difference to buy your product as opposed to your competitors. In Tesla’s case, that reason is clean air. However, those titles attract those who want the best of the best even if they don’t care about the mission.

5. User Generated Content

Alex pointed out that there’s not an automotive company that generates more user generated content than Tesla. Then he breaks down the types of content:

  • Reaction videos
  • Dancing car videos
  • Tesla vs. X car (ex. Lambo)
  • Ludicrous Mode
  • Falcon Mode
  • Fart Mode
  • Romance Mode

I have even created some of this content — in my first ever experience in a Model 3 when Wade Anderson came to Baton Rouge on his epic road trip. He recorded my reaction to Tesla’s insane acceleration. That list above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tesla’s user-generated content. There are also spec ads that are created by fans, reactions to Dog Mode, and tons of Sentry Mode footage, as a few more examples.

“The experience tied to owning or riding in a Tesla is unlike any other car. When someone experiences something new — they tend to share it.”

6. Lead Gen (Experience-Driven)

Alex pointed out that many companies offer ebooks, webinars, email series, and free trials as lead generation. In Tesla’s case, it doesn’t really do this. Instead, it offers some product prizes and once-in-a-lifetime experiences as its lead magnets, such as a chance to race in a Tesla Semi. In this case, for those who signed up for the newsletter, they were entered into a raffle for a chance to race a Tesla Semi around the track.

“Something so epic — you can’t help but sign up.”

Image courtesy of Tesla

7. Purchase Speed

What’s the traditional way to buy a car? You go to a dealer, spend a day doing paperwork and hassling over the price. Depending on the type of car you want, the dealer probably wants to upsell you on things you don’t need. And then, finally, you get your car. This isn’t the case for Tesla.

“In Tesla’s case, you can go from 0 to Model 3 in 1 minute.”

You go online, choose your features, select any upgrades, pick a payment plan, and wait for delivery instructions.

8. Return Policy

Tesla’s return policy makes its customers feel confident in their purchases. The vehicles come with a 7-day/1,000 mile-return policy.

“If you weren’t feeling confident in your purchase — you will now.”

Final Thoughts

As the owner of a small side business of selling jewelry, I’m definitely taking notes. One can certainly learn from Tesla’s marketing strategy and business strategy and Tesla will most likely be a case study for many marketing and business classes in the future. I wanted to revisit his second point — how Tesla is building in public.

Not only is Elon Musk building Tesla in public as Alex described, but he’s made himself accessible to his customers via his Twitter page. Look at me as an example of this. I knew nothing about Tesla, Elon Musk, or this sector three years ago. If you were to go back to January 2018 and tell me that I would be writing about electric cars for a living in the future, I would have thought you were nuts. Interacting with Elon Musk on Twitter has led me into the world of Tesla, EVs, and my work here with CleanTechnica. It’s also opened the doors to some pretty amazing friendships with people all across the world — many of whom are only on Twitter because of how involved Elon Musk is there. I, someone who has never driven nor owned a car before, am now a reservation holder for the Cybertruck. I also hold 4 shares in Tesla. (I also never knew about the stock market before — it was all financial mumbo jumbo to me back then.)

If it wasn’t for Elon Musk, I wouldn’t even be involved in Tesla or writing for CleanTechnica today. This is what I mean by how he has made himself accessible to his millions of followers.

Since writing this, Alex has posted a new Twitter thread on similar topics. It starts here:


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