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Model S Marketing?

Any thoughts as to how Tesla plans to market their Model S, there are the obvious avenues,

1. Company owned strategically located dealerships in U.S. and abroad
2. Word of mouth, forums, blogs, enthusiast following
3. Events / Auto Shows
4. Website / SEO

But what else... I know they got the Apple/GAP veteran (Blankenship) in to setup their retail strategy but Apple quite frankly don't need any publicity (which in part is why you never see them at CES) and I think TSLA does... actually I think they're having a Model S in Vegas this weekend to promote their NVidia chip deal :) But what do you guys think?

I would so love to see Tesla splash a $1M and create an amazing Superbowl ad that we won't forget, reach part of the market that don't read forums like we do :D So many people I talk to still have never heard of the Model S, whereas they all know about Apple products or even BMW 5 series.

I'm guessing the Tesla marketing machine is still planning something huge with their additional capital... 3000+ reservations by 2010 end and little marketing this could be interesting...

Let me know your thoughts on this,
h8tow8

Good point... I remember Steve Jobs once said "If you take care of the product, the stock will take care of itself"

Honestly, and I say this as someone who works for a large ad agency in a senior role, I've been very unimpressed with Tesla's marketing and communications to date.

Given the unique role they have as first to market with the Roadster (highway capable EV) and how far ahead they were (!!!) with the Model S, they should have taken far better advantage of "earned" media (read social media / buzz).

I agree they need to focus on the production. I also agree they are taking an approach more focused on investor relations for the obvious reason that they lack a product. This is the right call for them. Still, as a reservation holder I have felt let down by their poor communications and poor quality of digital communications in particular. I reserved my car in the first week, so they clearly had a back log. Given the number of simple, cost effective solutions for based e-commerce and e-CRM that was surprising and disturbing to me. I actually go three confirmations and two solicitation all at once. Oops.

The schwag pack I got a few months ago was nice (I use the Tesla mug at the office - status symbol?), but it came 18 months after my deposit. The timing seemed haphazard.

That all being said, I think the web redesign is great. I love the branding! Even repainting the pre-alpha prototype to be in line with the brand colors. Very impressed that they see the value of branding and are taking it to the fullest extent.

I can't wait to see what they do as we are closer to selecting options and even picking up the first cars. That is a marketers dream! I'd love to work a Tesla Model S Delivery campaign (as would just about every ad agency person out there!).

I'm pretty sure there will be no marketing campaign anytime soon. They have over half of the first years production reserved with no advertising an the car won't come out for at least another year.

There is simply no need to advertise a limited production product until you have the capacity to produce more than is in demand. This is Econ 101.

The timing of the "schwag pack" was anything but haphazard. It came on the day of their IPO. I agree that Tesla could be communicating more with their reservations-holders, but, quite honestly, what so far have they really had to say of substance?

I was chatting with one of the roadster sales reps in the Menlo showroom before Christmas, and she pointed out something that ought to have been obvious to me - Tesla hasn't been asking for us to make our reservations. They have been happily taking them, and welcoming us into their community, but their focus has been on selecting a factory site and setting up production, continuing production of the roadsters (and therefore on roadster sales) and powertrains for Rav4 and eSmarts, and in investor relations - both in the IPO and in developing meaningful, profitable partnerships with Daimler, Toyota and Panasonic that will help get them through until they can claim more than just deposits from us.

I'm with qwk - it's too early for a marketing campaign. It is on us to keep ourselves excited about this for as long as we can - but it's too much for them to ask the general public to get excited about a car that still isn't actually being made! But check out the new Blog update. I expect that we will be seeing more of these as the Alpha lines roll off, crash testing is completed, and, then, just maybe, we might might might be able to test-drive a Beta or other early car. If we're really good :)

FWIW, when I put down my Model S reservation I asked how many Signature series were already reserved as I was considering upgrading to the Signature series reservation if I get that cash together. He said that he couldn't tell me the number reserved, just that it was less than half, but that he expected that would change when Tesla starts marketing the model S this summer (I think he said summer, maybe said middle of the year).

Can't read too much into that, but I'd take it to mean the sales force is expecting to market starting in the summer. Marketing plans take a while to put together, so I'd be shocked if it wasn't in the works now if they're targeting summer.

Tesla is an advocate for electric cars in general not just the limited production Model S. Elon mentioned that seeing Volt and Leaf production was exactly what he wanted at the factory opening ceremony.

I actually think Volt and Leaf is aiding Model S marketing in "some" including technology and charging infrastructure. Jones' next door that want to go electric but luxury will opt for Model S, no competition except for Fisker and I think we can all agree that's a long shot.

My concern was with Elon's marketing ability, he didn't have to market to public during Zip2 or Paypal early days (prior to eBay sale), neither did have to do it with Space X. Now it's still technology game but the public is very much involved. He's always surrounded himself with the right people and I think he'll do it again later this year and they need more reservations.

I want to see Tesla grab 20,000 reservations before year before production even starts that would bolster investor confidence with right marketing strategy I think they can pull it off... the product is just that good.

Far too early in the product developement cycle to advertise the Model S yet...I'd wait until closer to when the stores get their demo models...Apple has to sell millions of units to earn a profit...20,000 units in the current EV world will not require a long and costly advertising campaign (let alone 7,500 units in the first year of production.

It is ironic that the very day I wrote my post I get the newsletter with links to the three innovation videos. These are exactly the thing I was hoping to see. They are informative, effective and well produced (not over produced).

So, I take back the criticism on poor use of digital. I'd prefer a higher cadence, but as I said before, now is the time to focus on production and not marketing per se.

@Meredith, I got the schwag way after IPO. I also purchased stock at the IPO... which is my point. Some got it at IPO, others it randomly arrived in late October. Makes no sense to me.

I agree that it's to early for them to market at this time. Did you know that Musk had a cameo in Iron Man 2, unfortunately I couldn't find the clip on YouTube in English:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cWakp35t8A

If you want to see something totally cool, serious engineering, go on little tour with Elon at Space X, think there are 6 videos total, this is one of 'em

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq8HrxfSZMc&playnext=1&list=PL872CEF33E1C...

SpaceX: owner, founder.
Rutan: nada; that's Scaled Composites, totally different outfit.

Use Toyota to create some viral ads and a super bowl spot wouldn't hurt.

Also, group reservation holders from major companies and major locales so they can easily see how many of there bretheren are signed up. Use the enthusiasm of Apple, Netflix, Cisco, Google and Microsoft employees to create buzz.

They're very dynamic company doing nothing because "that's the way it's always been done".

My guess is that part of their marketing strategy wouldn't be following the conventional or traditional route... Like Apple people just fall in love with them and they have ability to create a desire for their product...

It's like iPhone 4 on VZ, it's a 3G phone and yet people don't really care that it's not a 4G phone and they will happily wait another year or more for 4G iPhone.

The 3 Vids for the reservation holders was something I waited for a long time. I missed the time when they were trying to produce their roadster and came up with blogs about their problems and decisions...

I acually don't think they do nothing. There were many articles in various magazines about them. He was in Iron man 2, it's in the new fokker movie... Tesla is already a very known name considering that they sold less than 2000 cars so far... At least here in switzerland 3 of 4 people know what I'm talking about when I dream of my 'new' car..... in 2012.

Christian;
Your arithmetic needs some help. There are 1,500 Roadsters sold, and almost 3,000 Model Ses reserved. That totals 4,500. That's over twice 2,000.

Of course, if you mean sold and delivered, you're correct.
;)

Brian, I would agree with Christian. Reserved is not sold. Remember the "100% refundable" discussion in the other thread? Also "sold" (in the sense that Christian is using the term to emphasize that Tesla already is a surprisingly strong brand) implies actually built cars driving on streets, being exposed to the public. As we know, this cannot yet be said for the model S.

I like the comments from the professional marketers here. This is an interesting marketing problem.

You have a unique first to market product aimed at the upscale niche. Meanwhile mass market manufacturers are entering with big budgets. Presumealby you'd like to eventually own and defend the upscale market with opportunities to sell downscale (Rav-4 powertrains etc.)

What to do?

One idea is to reach out to B-Schools for student consulting ideas and Case development. You'd both mine some good minds for novel ideas and develop a market for buyers.

The event marketing is nice and let me suggest broadening the approach with more high end charity auctions etc. It would be great to see a Roadster at my Country Club's Golf Championship for instance.

Of course real marketing will have to happen pre-launch.

Tesla has a unique story but I should think it has to plan to grow into a Porsche or BMW eventually. I know I don't want to own the next Delorean.

"I know I don't want to own the next Delorean." :-)

You also have to keep in mind the enthusiasm of the current and reservation holders. I believe you have 4 different types of people who are purchasing the Model S.

1. Early adopters always good for word of mouth and converting 2nd wave of adopters.

2. Braggers- they are going to get some converts

3. People with a substantial amount of money (not that many converts to Tesla)

4. People who've been burned severely by ICE engines, current car companies, and sick to death of gas prices. I believe if you can funnel their disdain and contempt for the current car companies into something positive for Tesla (i.e. pointing out 100 year old tech on ICE engines, all the parts breaking on ICE engines, price of gas, etc, etc)- Intentionally trying encourage people to buy a Tesla instead of an ICE car.

Personally, I know I will be bringing mine Model S to local car shows to drive up business to Tesla

@Dan5, are you gonna Pimp Your Ride for those car shows? :-) Not that I would mine but I would love to see one modified and tweaked a little bit. It's a beautiful car if it stays in it's current state but in my younger yearsI have modified cars and love the creativity of the guys who do.

Could always do what they did for the Delorian: feature it in a movie destined to be a cult classic and generate interest that way. :)
I mean, you've already got Elon doing guest spots on Ironman 2. Why not have some environmental hero drive a Roadster to help save the environment. I understand Captain America will be shooting a new film soon :)

The next Bond movie featuring the Model S is totally doable and would make Bond more environmentally responsible in a car of the series caliber. You would never see Bond in a Prius, Volt or anything from Ford... :D

Movie Car... I like it! That's what Transformers did for new Chevy Camaro, more than a year before release the iconic Bumblebee made it's appearance..

People fell in love with Bumblebee, only to find out the new Mustang GT is actually a much better car in every respect :)

I'm sure there 2011 summer movies are being filmed now... so hopefully one of the alpha cars could be make it to the sets in Hollywood!

Oh dear, looks like I forgot to plug in my sarcasm generator again :D

I guess it is an idea you can get behind though.


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