Tell me, have you heard of Tesla? Chances are you have. It seems as if Tesla has been dominating the electric vehicle industry and the social consciousness of millennials, so much so that they have reached record profits and the number of cars sold. But how have they achieved this and how have I utilized their methods in my marketing endeavors? Let me tell you.
Like many companies, Tesla has a referral program to encourage customers to talk about their cars and suggest buying them. And consumers tend to trust recommendations from people they know and trust.
In exchange their customers get something they desire from the company, adding to their overall enjoyment of the company. And the rewards of their referral program have evolved over the years. Going from $1000 in credit towards the purchase of Tesla products to having your photo launched into deep space orbit, and now with their current reward being 1000 miles of free supercharging.
In effect, giving the person making the referral free fueling for their car; which is far more valuable to them than credit towards a new Tesla product, especially when the average length of ownership for a new car is about 6.5 years according to IHS Markit. Their referral program has evolved over the years by the growth of their consumer base and their interests. Thus effectively creating a symbiotic relationship that benefits both Tesla and their consumers, in which Tesla gets marketing from their consumers.
And a great example of how their word of mouth and referral marketing has grown and benefited them would be to look at YouTube! Many YouTube channels discuss the everyday Tesla news and the positives and negatives of their cars. Many of those channels have a link to their referral codes as well, such as Andy Slye’s Tesla Model Y video with a referral link in the description where he and the person referred get free supercharger miles. And a majority of them aren’t sponsored by Tesla even, they’re just happy customers that have become fans and love talking about Tesla! But this opens up their word of mouth marketing to thousands, even millions, of potential customers through the views on those Tesla videos.
Tesla’s utilization of word of mouth marketing is so great I ended up using it as inspiration for my work as a bartender. Since I am a bartender at AMC Theatres, I utilize our A-List membership program in order to do this. It’s a membership that isn’t heavily promoted in the theater, but it has the most benefits. With the main benefit being that you are able to see up to three movies a week all for a monthly price of $24; when compared to the price of a standard ticket this is an amazing deal. So I market this to guests and ask them to tell their friends and family about it, thus creating word of mouth marketing for the membership and the helpful bartender that told them about it!
Since this is a membership program that allows the viewing of multiple movies a week at a monthly cost, I sell this membership to my customers and regulars in the bar to ensure that I have a consistent amount of customers coming into the bar who I already know.
On top of this, due to my excellent service in the bar my regulars suggest coming into my bar to their friends. And I further utilize this to market myself explicitly by having those happy regulars talk about my other services such as helping people set up home bars, house bartending courses so people can show off to their friends, and even to talk to people about my other endeavors outside of bartending such as my podcast, The Royal Animal Podcast.
Another key tenet of Tesla’s marketing, and one that isn’t easily replicable, is Elon Musk. The CEO of Tesla is a naturally charismatic and social man, he is always having fun and participating in internet memes while constantly talking about his companies and their products.
Musk has been a driving force behind the Tesla brand. When one thinks of Tesla, Musk isn’t too far behind.
And just as Tesla has turned the automotive industry on its head, Musk has done the same for CEO behavior. In most cases, CEOs tend to be careful with what they say and don’t utilize social media consistently, but not Musk. Although there has been some controversy around his social media presence at times, it has served as a key way of promoting Tesla.
Tesla’s primary means of communicating news and promotion is Musk’s Twitter account. There aren’t TV or radio commercials, or some social media strategy trying to take advantage of whatever social media craze is trending. Yet somehow random tweets from Musk get far more news coverage beyond social media, even reaching people without social media accounts like Twitter, such as my parents for example. As of February 2021, Musk has 47.2 million followers on Twitter, compared to the official Tesla Twitter account having 7.9 million followers. Musk has a far greater social media reach than Tesla itself, yet due to Musk using his account to market and discuss Tesla products and services, Tesla still gets the benefits of this social media reach.
In addition to product announcements Musk will ask his followers for “dank memes” and have fun joking with them, and gain massive amounts of likes and followers from doing this.
This isn’t something you’d see from automotive CEOs such as Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess, but more along the lines of how celebrities use their social media accounts. CEOs who are more active on social media, socially responsible and charismatic can have a tremendously beneficial effect on their brand’s recognition.
This is something we can all learn from and implement into our own lives and businesses. Take for example my Instagram account, in addition to showcasing a bit of my personal life, I readily engage with my followers through polls and videos asking them about what they want to see from my podcast and travel vlogs and having fun with them so they feel engaged with and have my businesses on their mind. By being more social and active on our social media accounts and interspersing a dialogue about our business, products, and services we can greatly expand our marketing endeavors.
Tesla’s marketing is phenomenal and a great standard to stove for with your own marketing endeavors! They build up goodwill with their customers with high quality products, services, and rewards that encourage those customers to spread the worth about Tesla. And Elon Musk also leans heavily into utilizing social media through the use of his Twitter account to directly converse and engage with his followers in a charismatic and jovial manner to raise awareness to Tesla. A CEO using social media in such a way is definitely out of the norm, but can be used as a guide for utilizing social media in marketing. Just as Tesla continues to grow and change the automotive industry, I too will continue to grow and utilize and expand upon their marketing methods!