The real secret of Elon Musk’s success is not the breadth of his vision; or his abilities as an engineer, entrepreneur, businessman, and industrialist. Instead, Musk’s real secret is that he is a great salesman and a brilliant marketer.
None of the projects Musk is undertaking at either Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) or SpaceX is original or unique. Many companies; including Ford (NYSE: F), Tata Motors (NYSE: TTM), Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM), Daimler, and Volvo, are building electric cars. Some of those electric vehicles such as Tata’s Jaguar I-Pace appear to be more advanced than Tesla’s products.
Volkswagen’s electric vehicle plans are more ambitious than Tesla’s. VW is building its own version of Tesla’s Giga Factory to produce batteries and is planning to offer out 50 electric models by 2025. Volkswagen AG (OTC: VLKAY) plans to spend €20 billion ($24.80 billion) on electric-vehicle technology and create a network of charging stations to rival Tesla’s in the United States.
Tesla is currently producing three models of electric vehicles and has plans for two more. It only has three factories in operation while competitors like Volkswagen and Toyota have dozens. Yet the public perceives Tesla as the master in electric vehicles, why?
Elon Musk Marketing Genius
Tesla is the most prominent electric carmaker today because Elon Musk is a genius in modern marketing and media manipulation. Musk knows how to manipulate the media to project the image he wants.
Elon is helped in this by media-friendly persona and his movie-star good looks. He has; or has managed to cultivate, an attractive personality that comes through on television.
It is not Musk’s plans or ideas that are new or original, the basic ideas for electric cars, solar panels, batteries, and space travel have been around for decades. Musk’s ideas about Mars colonization sound as if they come out of a 1950s American or Russian magazine article. Instead, it is how he markets those ideas that sets Musk apart.
Marketing Lessons that you can learn from Elon Musk
Not surprisingly, there are important marketing lessons one can learn from Elon Musk. Anybody with an idea, plan, business, product, service, or proposal to sell can learn a lot from Musk.
Here are the most important marketing lessons Elon Musk has to offer:
Big ideas sell. Much of Musk’s success comes from his willingness to promote big ideas and visions. He succeeds in capturing the imagination and silencing critics by offering a big compelling vision. Promoting big ideas such as space travel, electric cars, and solar power allows Musk to dominate the conversation.
Offer something better. Like a great political leader, Musk understands that many people are uncomfortable with today’s world and want something better. Much of what Musk is selling is the idea of a better, cleaner world. Instead of complaining about pollution or a limited future, Musk offers a compelling alternative.
Use Social Media. Like Donald J. Trump, Musk is a nonstop Tweeter who is constantly bombarding his followers with new ideas and messages. Using social media allows Musk; like Trump, to control the message, bypass gatekeepers, and take the message directly to his followers.
Be accessible to the media. Unlike a lot of CEOs, Musk is very accessible to the media. He is constantly appearing on television, and sitting for interviews. This allows him to get his message out for free and reach those who do not use social media. It also buys vast amounts of free publicity for his products and companies.
Create an army of followers. Like Donald J. Trump, Musk has built up a large contingent of loyal followers whom he treats with a large amount of respect. He achieves this by communicating with followers over social media, responding to their concerns, and even answering questions.
Paying attention to customers and followers pays off. When a customer Tweeted Musk with a complaint about a “pushy sales guy” at a Tesla shop in California on 18 September 2017. The CEO himself actually responded and sympathized with the customer, CNBC reported. “Musk turned one customer’s bad experience into another reason for his fans to adore him,” CNBC writer Catherine Clifford noted. That is only one many examples of Musk responding to followers on Twitter. He even took time out to help a passenger in a Tesla Model X find the mirror, Clifford noted.
The most important lesson you can learn from Musk is to believe in yourself and take a risk on your ideas. The final reason why Musk is so successful is that he is willing to risk everything on his ideas including his fortune and reputation.
Even though Tesla reported losses of $771 million, in 4th Quarter 2017, Musk is heavily invested in its’ stock, The Week’s Jeff Spross noted. If Tesla succeeds, Musk might make up to $50 billion, in 10 years, but if it fails he can lose everything.
Beyond that Musk’s whole reputation is tied up in Tesla if it fails he becomes a laughing stock. Musk understands that perfectly, and he is still willing to take the risks.
That might be Musk’s greatest appeal, people understand that he; unlike many businesspeople and politicians, is taking a real risk on his dreams. People are willing to listen to Musk and follow him because he is taking the biggest risks.
Simply observing Elon Musk’s activities will give an entrepreneur or a politician a great education in modern marketing. Everybody with something to promote should take a close look at Elon Musk and his methods.
Musk might just be the greatest living marketer in today’s world. Following his example might help you build a large following or customer base.