Engineering Copywriter Blog

Content marketing tips and insights to help grow your engineering audience

March 4, 2019

13 Marketing Lessons you can Learn from Elon Musk and Tesla as they Announce the reduced price Model 3 and the shift to Online Sales only!

With the news just out that Tesla are finally launching the much anticipated lower priced Model 3, at just $35,000 US Dollars, comes the announcement that they will also move to online sales only. Elon Musk and Tesla teaches us some valuable marketing lessons that we can also use to run our business and improve our company’s ROI.

Elon Musk and Tesla will be closing their physical showrooms – which is more or less unheard of for a car company. Part of the reason is to save money, allowing them to offer the lower priced version to a larger market. Elon Musk cited the Model 3 as “excruciatingly difficult” to make at the reduced price. We can also learn marketing lessons from Elon Musk.

Production costs aside, think about this and the last time you bought a car.

You probably test drove it, had a look around, maybe kicked the tires a bit, asked the salesman some questions, and then rather tentatively got out your checkbook. How would you feel about entering your credit card details for a new car and clicking ‘buy now’?

According to their news release: “You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide.” That’s impressive, especially since a car purchase is often an emotional decision that people usually contemplate for weeks or months. They make it sound so simple.

It’s a pretty daunting thought. But that’s the route Elon Musk and Tesla are going – with confidence.

You can find out more about the 5 key takeaways from their announcement here.

Elon Musk – the man behind the brand

Most of the globe with access to the internet know who Elon Musk is by now. Let’s have a quick recap of his achievements to date. South African born, Elon Musk is known as an Engineer, Explorer, and Inventor. His achievements include:

  • 1999 – Founded which later became PayPal
  • 2002 – Founded SpaceX with plans to colonize Mars
  • 2003 – Founded Tesla Motors, Inc.- now Tesla, Inc.
  • 2013 – Outlined an idea for futuristic transportation
    using the Hyperloop
  • 2016 – Founded the Boring company to dig tunnels for transportation
  • 2016 – Purchased SolarCity

As of January, 2019, his net worth according to Forbes is a staggering $21.6 Billion US Dollars.

He is currently working to revolutionize transportation both on earth and in space. Elon Musk is a force to be reckoned with and is well recorded by various publications as being one of the greatest influencers of our time.

What lessons can we learn from Elon Musk and Tesla’s marketing strategy?

In 2016, this Teslarati article stated that the average spend on marketing per vehicle sold for Tesla in 2015 was only $6 per vehicle, compared with $3,325 by Jaguar. So, what’s the secret to their marketing success? What marketing tips can we learn from them? Let’s have a look:

Brand Identity

When it comes to cars, Elon Musk has been very clear in stating who and what Tesla are. They aim to produce affordable electric cars to the average consumer. Their brand has become synonymous with innovation.

Tesla’s Mission Statement:

Elon Musk and Tesla have a powerful mission statement. In mid-2016, under Elon Musk’s leadership, the company changed the corporate mission to read “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

Tesla’s Vision Statement:

Tesla’s vision statement is “to create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

(For a deeper analysis of how Elon Musk and Tesla’s mission and vision statements, check out this article by the Panmore Institute.)

What does this mean?

It means that Tesla know exactly who they are and what they’re hoping to achieve – which makes it very clear for customers. There is a clear and succinct brand identity that people can identify.
Lesson 1: Focus on developing your brand. Help customers to identify who you are and what you do – as easily as possible.
Do you know what your customers think about your brand? What are people’s reaction when they hear your company’s name? Take the time to speak with your customers to get some insight. The outcome might surprise you and reveal some revelations you never even thought of. Here are a some guidelines to determine how customers see your brand.

Tesla have a great product

Ultimately, Tesla have an awesome product. The company is at the forefront of innovation. It’s pushing boundaries and leading the way in clean energy cars. Not only does it look and feel sleek, but it has a 5 star safety rating, and apparently has the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the US government.

A good product sits at the core of any successful business. In the long-term, a great product will stand the test of time and outsell competitors with inferior products (even if they have good marketing).

Lesson 2: It’s critical you have a product that people actually want or need and that resonates with your customers’ desires.

What can you do to improve your product? Is there room for innovation and improvements based on what your customers are looking for? While it’s impossible to make the ‘perfect product,’ the better product you have, which is marketed well, then the more likely it is that you’ll see improved sales.

Tesla have a strong competitive advantage

A competitive advantage is key for any successful business. Elon Musk and Tesla have not just driven forward an automotive company but built Tesla as a technology company. Aside from just producing cars, it also designs and manufactures the infrastructures to support them, including battery swap stations, service stations, and superchargers. This makes it extremely competitive – by offering the complete package. They are constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation and offering all the products and services to support it.

Lesson 3: Define a clear, concise competitor advantage, and really understand what that is for you and your customers.

What is your company’s competitive advantage? If you need some guidelines, this article will help.

Tesla have clearly defined buyer personas

Tesla know exactly who they’re targeting. Initially Tesla were focusing on more affluent market adopters of the new technology. Model X registrations were shown to be by younger, more affluent customers, from Generation X (aged 35-54). It skewed towards women, which some may presume to be Mums with young children. Whereas, the Model S, skewed towards early adopters to the technology – mostly older males.

In 2016, the company announced plans to roll out more affordable vehicles to “address all major segments.” Tesla’s new Model 3 makes it a more affordable mass market product that will definitely widen the catchment of buyers. It needs to target these customers if it’s to succeed in the long-term.

The point is, they have a defined strategy in place to target specific buyers.

Lesson 4: Define your buyer persona.

You might think you know them. But by working through a process of breaking down who they are and what exactly they want, you’ll have a much clearer picture going forward of who you’re speaking to. Hubspot have a great template here to help define your buyer personas (though you’ll have to enter your details to download it – not affiliated).

Tesla innovates from the front

There’s no doubt that Tesla are leaders when it comes to innovation. Elon Musk and Tesla have ideas that the rest of us may not even have the ability to dream of. Here is just a snippet of some innovations through the years:

  • 2008 – Tesla’s first car, the completely electric Roadster achieved 245 miles (394 km) with a single charge. At the time, this was a run that was unheard of for a production electric car.
  • 2014 – Musk open-sourced Tesla’s patents stating that Tesla wouldn’t take legal action against anyone who wanted to create EV’s using their patents.
  • 2014 – Tesla announce plans to build a Gigafactory to help reduce the costs of its batteries.
  • 2015 – Tesla begins rolling out the autopilot features of its cars.
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There are numerous other key moments, but the point is that they are leading the way. They’re making things happen that other companies are still thinking about. They are building a reputation as innovators at the cutting edge of technology. Does this make their brand more desirable? You bet.

Lesson 5: The best way to stay ahead of your competitors is to innovate first.
What new technology could you adopt for your products or services? Look to the future, 5, 10, even 15 years in advance and visualize what your customers will want by then, and start thinking seriously about it. Don’t just follow your competitors; lead the way, and market it.

Tesla have nailed their positioning

Tesla has positioned themselves middle and centre of the Electric Vehicle (EV) car market. This has become one of its biggest strengths. As well as selling cars, they sell all the technology to go with it. A positioning statement from the company is “the only stylish car that can go from 0 to 100 in 3 seconds without a drop of oil.”

Lesson 6: Position yourself in the right place, in the right market.

Using your buyer personas and competitive advantage, target the ‘sweet spot’ and announce your positioning to your clients in a clear and simple way. Work on your positioning statements. For help and examples on brand positioning, check out this useful Hubspot article.

Tesla address their target market

Tesla speak to their target market. Because they know their buyer personas and have clearly defined mission and vision statements, they know exactly how to address their audience. Their goal is to provide affordable electric vehicles to the average consumer. By working hard to cut costs and drive the entry level price down, they’re speaking to their target customer and showing them that they care about what it is they want – an awesome car at an affordable price.

Lesson 7: Once you define your buyer personas, then adapt your copy to speak directly to readers.

Address their emotions, fears, concerns, problems, whatever that might be and help them understand how your product or service can help.

Tesla build anticipation and hype, then mix it up with a little scarcity

Tesla has been promising an entry level priced Model 3 sedan for over a year. People have been waiting for the announcement. The customers that Tesla are targeting have been waiting for updates while anticipation has been building. Hours before the announcement above, Tesla even closed down its website to new orders, which of course got some media attention and added a level of scarcity, i.e., ‘We’re so concerned our website might crash and can’t serve everyone.’ Did that make people curious about the upcoming announcement? Absolutely.

Lesson 8: Are you about to release a new product, an improved revision, or a new service? Build some anticipation.

Don’t just ‘put it out there’ one day in the background. Write about it months in advance. Update your customers and e-mail list on progress. Talk to them about
the challenges you’ve overcome during development. Add a countdown to release, and build up some anticipation. Build some scarcity by informing them there are limited numbers available initially – provided it’s true, of course.

Tesla keep it simple and guide customers seamlessly through the buying process

Perhaps the most impressive thing is the fact you can now buy a Tesla on your mobile phone within a minute.

How simple does that sound?

As soon as you land on the homepage, there it is. A simple instruction:

Model 3 – ORDER NOW


Their Streamlined vehicle configurator guides customers through each step of the way with ease. It’s smooth, seamless, and easy.

It is broken down into 5 simple steps:

  • 1. Car – choose the model of car you want
  • 2. Exterior – choose the colour and finish of the exterior and your choice of wheels
  • 3. Interior – choose your interior finish
  • 4. Autopilot – decide if you want to upgrade to autopilot
  • 5. Payment – enter card details to pay a deposit

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Considering the size of the purchase, it’s an extremely fluid process. The fact it’s so well designed builds further confidence. It’s very self explanatory. There’s very little reason to doubt anything or misunderstand. It’s got a good balance of visuals with ample explanations that tell customers what to do. There’s very little reason to see that, if someone was serious about a purchase, they would get stuck or have any doubts.

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Lesson 9: Make it as easy as possible for your customers to follow your call to action.

People need specific, implicit instructions like ‘Select colour’ then hit next, or ‘Click here to book an appointment.’ Guide and hold your customers’ hand throughout the buyer journey and you’ll reap many more conversions. Do not make it so the customer has to figure things out. Make it foolproof, leaving no stone unturned.

Elon musk is an authority on Social Media

Elon Musk has built authority.

Aside from his influence in the business world, he has a serious grip on Social Media. Many reviews consider him to be one of the top social media influencers out there. At the time of writing, he currently has an incredible 25.1 million followers on Twitter alone. He’s active. He’s available. He shares updates on SpaceX and Tesla as well as engages in comments.

He’s had ups and downs, but he stands solid. He’s even had spats on Twitter which have made headlines, including that one with President Trump. This all adds to the spectacle. While you may not want to risk upsetting people to build your brand, there’s no doubt this has probably made Elon Musk gain a spike in followers.

It’s like following a reality show for many people.

It’s not unusual for him to have 1,000+ shares and hundreds of comments within minutes of posting something.

Incredibly, even if there’s a complaint about Tesla which seems unusual, Elon Musk addresses it publicly. For a CEO at this level, can you imagine what that does to the company’s image?

Instead of focusing on the negative points raised and thinking Tesla aren’t great, you come away with a positive impression of the fact that nothing’s perfect, but Elon Musk and Tesla take it on board and fix it. Amazing.
Lesson 10: Get active on Social Media. Post things people want to know about – and engage with your customers in the comments.

Post more blogs for your engineering audience and use it to build authority and put more eyes on your brand. Don’t avoid any negative comments and shy away from them. Face them head on, and use it as an opportunity to show people you care and want to improve. No-one’s perfect after all, so it resonates with people.

Tesla portray brand confidence and offer a money-back guarantee

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It’s still hard to believe Tesla are closing down showrooms and going 100% online. You might be thinking ‘no-one would ever buy a car without a test drive,’ but here’s the kicker. Tesla have a solution to that.

You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund.

This is the statement from their website: “Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free. With the highest consumer satisfaction score of any car on the road, we are confident you will want to keep your Tesla.”

Lesson 11: Are you confident enough in your offer to offer a guarantee? If not, then you should ask yourself why.

If you’re not confident enough in your offer, then your customers won’t be. Try to think on a guarantee – it doesn’t have to be a full refund – but something that will make the customer feel more comfortable hitting ‘buy now.’ Guarantees work.

Tesla offer a warranty and ongoing support

Another great marketing hook, as well as a money-back guarantee, is that Tesla offer customers ongoing support and service for peace of mind. Here’s a statement from their website:

“At the same time, we will be increasing our investment in the Tesla service system, with the goal of same-day, if not same-hour service, and with most service done by us coming to you, rather than you coming to us. Moreover, we guarantee service availability anywhere in any country in which we operate.”

They’re aiming for service within 1 hour. That is a serious investment in infrastructure and logistics. So, not only are customers offered a full refund within 7 days, Tesla are aiming to offer service and support for customers to backup their product. All-in-all, it rounds up a great package.

Lesson 12: What extra services can you offer to your customers? Why not promote it and publish it on your website and social media?

Make a big deal about it, upsell it, whatever it takes to make customers feel more confident to buy your offer.

Tesla’s Testimonials and case-studies are self-fulfilling

While most of us are working to speak with customers and ask politely for a case study or testimonial, Tesla don’t need to. Go onto Twitter and you’ll see Elon Musk retweeting many, many testimonials from excited customers who’ve just received their brand new Tesla, or boasting about the number of miles they just drove on a single charge.

This lets other potential customers see raving reviews about what a great product and company that Tesla are. This fills them with excitement and emotion about how they might feel if they were to order a brand new Tesla. It’s great to have fans.
Lesson 13: Testimonials and case studies work, so make sure you have plenty. Get your fans onboard, and spread the good word about your company.

While you may not be at the level of Tesla, who get them without asking, work on speaking with your satisfied customers. If you ask, they’ll more than likely oblige. For some tips on asking for case studies, have a look at this article.

Which lessons will you implement in your business?

There are plenty of lessons about Elon Musk and Tesla to take away and incorporate into your own business.

Have a browse over Tesla’s website to see how they’ve implemented some of these, and how they tell their story. If their style fits with you, why not check out Elon Musk’s other companies, like SpaceX and The Boring Company? They are all consistent at engaging with customers, adapting to change, and putting out regular updates and articles to engage their target audience.

The question is, what lessons will you implement? If you’re already having success with some of the points above, let us know.

Do you need help with marketing for your engineering business? For support with blog creation, contact us here today to find out how we can help you.

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