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Does Tesla’s $0 Marketing Strategy Actually Work?

Tesla boldly asserts that it allocates $0 towards marketing and advertising. The notion of spending nothing on marketing prompts questions about its feasibility and effectiveness.

How does Tesla manage to be omnipresent in the market without investing in advertising?

The answer is surprisingly straightforward:

Tesla banks on its loyal customers to champion the brand and promote its electric vehicles. In essence, Tesla’s marketing strategy can be encapsulated in just two words: “capturing attention.”

Let’s delve into the intricacies of Tesla’s marketing approach and address some of the questions surrounding it.

Key Takeaways

  • In contrast to many players in the automotive sector, Tesla operates without a designated marketing budget and refrains from utilising paid advertising.
  • Tesla’s marketing strategy centres around building a dedicated customer community and depends on word-of-mouth promotion facilitated by compelling content or unconventional marketing stunts.

Does Tesla Do Marketing?

Tesla doesn’t do marketing and advertising in the traditional sense. And unlike all other major car manufacturers, Tesla does not have a marketing budget. 

In 2020, Brand Total reported that Tesla has a $0 paid marketing budget, making the company an outlier in the automotive industry. Instead of “traditional advertising”, the electric car company has so far favoured the advocacy of the Tesla community—Tesla owners and fans.

This brings us to our next question:

What is Tesla’s Marketing Strategy Then?

Unlike other players in the automotive industry, paid marketing and traditional advertising have not been Tesla’s primary focus.

But if not on paid marketing, what does Tesla’s marketing strategy focus on?

From making the cars dance to accepting dogecoin as a payment method, everything Tesla does is about getting attention. And the attention, they get.

Elon Musk’s Influence on Tesla’s Marketing Strategy 

You might have picked up on this one already if you’ve been following Tesla’s online presence: At the core of Tesla’s marketing strategy lies its CEO, Elon Musk.

Once a praised figure in the tech world, Elon Musk’s presence and demeanour were considered a positive element in Tesla’s marketing strategy and brand image. This, however, has changed over time.

We can’t deny that Musk is a magnet for media attention, but the said media attention does not always have a positive effect on Tesla.

It’s been reported that Tesla stock has lost more than 45% of its value following the 2 months after Musk’s acquisition of Twitter (now rebranded “X”) because investors were worried this would cause Musk to divide his attention and even offload Tesla stocks to support the social media platform.

Tesla’s YouTube Marketing Strategy

Just because Tesla’s marketing strategy doesn’t involve paid social ads doesn’t mean the company never uses social media. 

Tesla’s social media strategy focuses on creating engaging and educational content as a way to connect with its target audience. You can find informational content about Tesla products or behind-the-scenes looks at Tesla operations on Tesla’s YouTube channel.

And sometimes those two things come together in a cheeky video like “Hot Single Robots In Your Area 💞”, Tesla’s version of a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign:

Was the Tesla Cybertruck Window Break a Marketing Stunt?

During the Cyberturck’s public demonstration in 2019, Elon Musk invited designer Franz von Holzhausen to the stage to demonstrate the armoured windows.

However, things went differently than expected.

Holzhausen threw a small steel ball at the Cybertruck’s window from a short distance. The steel ball, however, did not bounce off the window as expected. Instead, the window cracked. And as if this one “disaster” was not enough, they tried again with the rear window, only to get a similar result.

Was this a brilliant example of guerrilla marketing as part of a carefully planned marketing strategy or a good old-fashioned PR disaster?

We may never know, but it gave Tesla precisely what a brand always wants: People talking about it.

I guess it’s a good time to remember that The Wall Street Journal once called Tesla’s Cybertruck “more marketing than profit machine”, saying the pickup truck isn’t good for Tesla’s finances.

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