Company survival depends on marketing

Company survival depends on marketing

In my travels around southern Calif it is SHOCKING how many people have no idea about Tesla. The survival of the company IMHO lies with marketing.
Since the company is relying on word of mouth I would humbly suggest each car delivered come with 10-20 brochures. When people ask about the car (and trust me they DO)
hand out the brochures...... Word of mouth alone is tough and it will save you a lt if talking which after a while gets old.
Southern Calif is more car savvy then most places and the level of awareness here is alarmingly low.
What do you think?
Power to the people!

cgiGuy | 19 mars 2013

I'm sure Tesla's marketing will ramp up as the waiting list ramps down. Can't imagine they would rely on word-of-mouth sales if they're not meeting max factory production.

But, it never hurts to hand out brochures, as you mentioned.

bungakelty1 | 19 mars 2013

Whenever I go by the Tesla store here in Denver it's packed with people checking out the S and Roadster. Seeing several on the roads also. I get the looks and questions all the time. I think one or two timely placed TV adds would sky rocket the interest.I know it costs money but you have to spend to make. The car sells itself when you get in and take a ride. They might have to reconsider the $5K deposit to get a spin.

tylerhen | 19 mars 2013

I know the Tesla store I went to near Seattle, you did NOT have to have a reservation to go on a test drive. The only thing the reservation got you was unlimited test drives.

TikiMan | 19 mars 2013

Trust me, anyone who doesn't know about Tesla at this point, couldn't afford one right now anyway.

At this point, Tesla is better off spending their money on refining quality, adding more service centers, and making their charging infrastructure larger. They already have more demand than cars available (which no other car company on Earth can tout).

When Gen III comes, that will be the time to spend the money on advertising (print ad, commercials, billboards, etc). Also, when Gen III get's going, average folk will look up Tesla, and read about the fastest and most amazing super-car on Earth (the Model S) and say to themselves... "OMG, I didn't know I could afford one of those?!?!?!!!!". The rest will be history.

Carefree | 19 mars 2013

I am with TikiMan. I suspect that Tesla knows exactly what they need to do. If they saw a dramatic drop in reservations they surely would start advertising. Given their order book they can afford to save that money. The car sells itself - at least for now.

Kal-el | 19 mars 2013

they could do online ads

JZ13 | 19 mars 2013

Tesla is using their marketing budget to build out the Supercharger network. They don't need to market the car as long as they already have all 20,000+ cars mostly sold for 2013. I'm sure they will start to market the car once the world-wide reservations start to get filled. That will be around the time the Supercharger stations are mostly built out and they can convert those dollars to marketing.

@kal-el I agree with you that an inexpensive youtube video would be great however.

@celtrog I have had my S in So Cal almost a month and have had no strangers approach me about the car. I keep brochures in my trunk. All my friends have driven it but the locals don't seem to curious about it. I think most around here already know about it.

wolfpet | 19 mars 2013

IMO the company survival depends on how fast they can bring $35K car with 300+ mile range to the market.

Captain_Zap | 19 mars 2013

I started with a 4 inch stack of brochures. Half are gone already. They fit perfectly in the cubby under the 17"screen. They go flying under moderate accelleration though.
I don't think that there is any shortage of new customers on the horizon yet.

Brian H | 19 mars 2013

ALL other auto co.s would kill for TM's word-of-mouth. There is no more effective form of promotion or advertising. They jump through hoops identifying "opinion leaders" and trying to get them to talk their products up. For TM, it happens spontaneously.

mika_ | 19 mars 2013

I think having these cars out in the wild is all the marketing they need. I've had mine for about 3 weeks and practically every time I take it for a spin it's getting ogled. Sometimes people want to stop and chat about it in parking lots, but more often its just people snapping pictures or turning their heads. And I live in California, so it's not like these things are rare around here... one time I saw three other Teslas (another S and two roadsters) while on a 2 mile drive to the grocery.

SteveHand | 19 mars 2013

I can vouch for that. I have roadster #447 with 50,000 miles and saw three Model S on way to airport today.

Word of mouth is very effective. I've given 100s of rides to captive audiences :)

We have 300 people at our office in Sunnyvale and 15+ are commuting to work in 100% EVs. That's 5% and growing every month.
This includes 2 roadsters, 1 Model S, a Volt, a plugin Prius and a bunch of Leafs. We have 10 level 2 chargers.

Word of mouth IS the most effective advertising. So get some brochures and spread the word!

jeroens | 19 mars 2013

Marketing will become more important but not today,
what is the use to marketing, increase demand if your supply can not meet it...

best would be to to focus/invest now on quality and adding some cool features (and on the Press) and bump up the marketing engine as they see that supply will outpace than order intake... IMHO

Seira321 | 19 mars 2013

I think Tesla could put a sign with battery size and price information at the superchargers. This way people that are interested that happen to drive by can get an idea how much the car costs. Got a full charge at a supercharger today and a person had stopped to talk to me getting information on the car. Price was one of the questions asked. If a sign were there, then they wouldn't have gotten such a price shock at how much my car was. Haha.

Also, from reading the forums here and at TMC, if the delivery and/or pick up processes are more in sync, I believe there would be more customer satisfaction. They wouldn't have the problem of some customers receiving screen protectors and some not; some with badges and some not, some with new unwrapped charger cables, and some not; some with fobs still in plastic bags and some not. These are minor issues, but to a person whose biggest car investment is this Model S, these minor things could sweeten the delivery or make it a little sour.

Right now, I wouldn't try to persuade anyone to purchase the Model S, but I would encourage people to test drive the car to make sure of what they can expect out of the car, the pluses and minuses.

exPGAhacker | 19 mars 2013

The MS owners are indeed the best marketing for the company right now. Yes, I also agree that creating the Supercharger network is a good use of funds at this time. But trust me, the public is a mighty fickle lot. Brand recognition is key, but so is building a future pipeline of demand. The guys out there planning to purchase the BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, Jaguars, etc. today ARE the future of Tesla. We need to grab a bunch of them on a consistent, annual basis.

I'm sure there are a bunch of people a lot smarter than me at headquarters who are thinking the same.

cb9 | 19 mars 2013

@kal-el I really like the "gallons of light" YouTube commercial that was on tesla's FB page a while back.

So, if we all posted that on our FB pages and said "share if you love the earth" (or whatever, there's a reason I am *not* in marketing) that could be a pretty effective (and free) campaign.

+1 to everyone who says no point in spending money to advertise when they have a nice backlog. But that doesn't mean we can't help them with enthusiast-driven social media to help them keep that backlog strong and turn a profit sooner.

TikiMan | 19 mars 2013


TRUST ME... Those who can afford a high-end luxury vehicle, know about Tesla, and the Model S. I haven't run across one person who is a TRUE car-person who didn't know what I was driving. In fact, the majority of the nods and kudos I get are from other high-end luxury vehicle owners like myself.

Car buying isn't a blind decision, and most that opt to buy a high-end luxury $60k+ vehicle, know what is what in the marketplace. In fact, the majority of us who own a high-end luxury vehicle know more about the industry than the dealers who sell them.

Besides, where I live, I am 100% sure all the BMW, Porsche, MB, Jag, Audi, etc are taking SERIOUS notice when they see a fantastic looking high-end luxury vehicle zip passing them in the HOV lane, with only one occupant in the drivers seat. I am positive many of them are either shaking their fist with envy, or kicking themselves as to how stupid they feel sitting in 5 MPH traffic in a $100k vehicle, that costing them $200.00 (USD) a week to fuel and maintain, so they can feel like a complete idiot knowing all that money didn't buy them any real privileges, other than innate bragging rights to things they will never do in their expensive car, unless they move to Germany. (I know this, because I was that person a few years ago seeing a Tesla Roadster blast past me).

awaite | 19 mars 2013

@TikiMan, re: "Trust me, anyone who doesn't know about Tesla at this point, couldn't afford one right now anyway."

I have to disagree with you. I live in Marin County, CA (Across Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco). There are enough Teslas here (I see multiple daily) that there is a service center in San Rafael (centrally located in the county) and have had the car for less than a week and have been approached by 3 people who I'm pretty sure could afford it based on what they were driving and they had no idea who tesla was and were shocked when I told them it was a plug-in EV.

It certainly would have been helpful had there been a stack of brochures delivered with the car, I would have passed out 3 already in less than a week and expect more inquiries to come.

Sudre_ | 19 mars 2013

The companies survival depends on getting the delivery process smooth with no hassles. I don't think they are there yet. Once they start getting to the everyday car buyer Tesla will start getting a bad rap if the customer has to wait on parts, charging doesn't work because of a bad cord, car is not clean, paperwork for plates is late, inspection stickers not present (in states it's needed), and much more.

I think the have everything before delivery down pretty good.

DallasTeslan | 19 mars 2013

It seems to me that there is still a fair amount of ignorance about EV's in general. Common things I hear from right leaning people I know:

1) The energy required to make a new vehicle/battery far exceeds what is saved by driving an EV. You'd be more environmental by driving an old gas guzzler until it falls apart.

I'm very skeptical about this one for many reasons. It's not exactly energy efficient to drill for oil and transport it all over the country either. This is aside from the fact that the less foreign oil we buy, the better. Not to mention the fact that there is no reason we can't have our manufacturing plants using less energy (solar powered production facilities)...

2) Many people will charge their cars using coal powered grids. This may be true but at least it's not foreign oil. I live in DFW and I have been on wind energy for many years, which a lot of people don't even know is available here.

3) "Our government has no business supporting car companies or funding clean energy"
I would disagree with this one, and the plan to pay back govt. loans early is a huge selling point on why it's a viable plan.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here but I am on several different forums where this topic has been brought up and these are the criticisms which have been brought up repeatedly. I believe they are ignorant, I don't quite have any hard evidence to disprove #1 however. So should marketing be geared to win the "naysayers" over? Or is it safe to assume these people will slowly be won over, and some are just too darn stubborn to ever change? I have a family member who is a hard core Republican, he got to drive one and he was blown away. He is a huge fan.

Oil has been a huge part of our culture for a very long time. At least here in the south, there are a lot of people who are stubbornly opposed (and in many cases ignorant) about clean energy. I'm not sure if these people should even be targeted with marketing or how to do so. But it seems to me that the progressive people I know who are passionate about clean energy/environmental issues already know about Tesla, and others just haven't made an effort or don't have an open mind......

DallasTeslan | 19 mars 2013

One other thought I had: A great ad campaign would revolve around the fact that Tesla is growing fast---and putting people to work. No matter what your political leanings are, this is something people support and might even make some right leaning people open their minds to learn a bit about Tesla.

(Of course the ad should also feature the incredible vehicle itself)

lph | 19 mars 2013

I don't think it will be long before Tesla get its crash rating. Knowing how well engineered the car is, I suspect that there will be another round of free marketing (via press) when they find out that it is the safest car you can buy.

cprenzl | 19 mars 2013

All they should do is run the Supercharging ad by Jordan Bloch!!!

Just show your friends that!! They should run it on hulu, people watch those ads!!!

murraypetera | 19 mars 2013

First impressions are the last impression.

Their survival depends on taking care of all the risk takers that have kept them afloat when the rest of the world did not believe in them. We are their best advertising agency or their worst nightmare depending on our experiences.

Brian H | 19 mars 2013

TM will advertise when new owners stop recruiting more new owners at less than about a 2:1 ratio.

Not gonna happen anytime soon.

David Dennis | 19 mars 2013

The concentration of Tesla owners in California definitely helps people think their market share is much higher than it actually is.

Here in South Florida, I have seen a Fisker Karma a couple of times in the freeway, but so far not even one Model S :(.

Bear in mind that Tesla only needs 20,000 sales a year to be viable. Right now, they also need a very special type of customer: The early adopter, who is willing to deal with broken windshields, painful delivery errors and still enjoy that Tesla Grin.

I think that's the main reason they are not running TV commercials. A car advertised on TV has to be flawless. Instead, Tesla customers are a super vanguard of something special, and that helps them get the right people who are willing to deal with flaws.

So basically, Tesla has the advantage of being able to effectively pick and choose its customers, and that's probably a very good thing at this stage of its development.


carlk | 19 mars 2013

It will be the best advertisement money can't buy when the Consumer Report publishes its car review. I'm pretty sure CR will give is a very favorable review which will likely also be quoted by many newspapers.

GoTeslaChicago | 19 mars 2013

Tesla's survival depends on many things. One of the is wise use and deployment of both their human and financial resources.

Spending big bucks on advertising when you have a backlog will only create frustration, and not be a wise use of funds.

However if the backlog continues to shrink, the time for advertising will come. | 19 mars 2013

@ GoTeslaChicago +1

ziggy | 19 mars 2013

agree with GoTeslaChicago

I am selling the thing everyday..

jbunn | 19 mars 2013


inverts | 19 mars 2013

When I told some folks at the gym that got an iPhone to communicate with my tesla, I expected a big question mark on the faces, but got "you are the second person I know who's getting a tesla." I am in SoCal, la, 818- valley. Will get my MS on Thursday, that will be the true test. Recently seen one on the road I woodland hills, one on the freeway and one in a parking lot in Santa Barbara. So they are popping up quite a bit.

negarholger | 19 mars 2013

Being a design/production guy for the last 25+ years the best news for me in the 4Q EC was that TM wants to focus on Models S production efficiency in 2013. Production is an absolute gold mine if you pay attention to the details. Worst risk to your bottom line is chasing growth. Advertising at this point would do more harm then good.

Gen3 is pie in the sky. Next big step is Model X. Model S is a "gentlemen car" who are willing to accept early deficiencies and helping to build the TM manfucaturing team and charging infrastructure. Model X is targeted at the sweatspot of the american car market - the utility car for the soccer moms. I live a block away from an elementary school... Every morning from 8:30 am to 9:00am the same procedure - our neighbourhood gest invaded by these $40k to $90k big boxes... all the soccer moms I know love their big boxes, but hate the drive to the gas station and pay the price. Once they figure out coming home at night all it takes is "honey can you please plug in the X" and next morning they are ready for another day... word of mouth will spread fast. But soccer moms are not gentlemen... they demand working utility vehicles.

Make or break for me is not Model S but Model X. Once TM mastered that sweet market then we can talk about advertising and Gen3.

Brian H | 20 mars 2013

I agree, but TM projects lower sales of the X than the S.

Fog | 20 mars 2013

only time will tell. About half the Model Ss that I've seen being driven have women behind the wheel. I agree that there will be strong demand for the Model X and not just for soccer moms, Americans like big cars. The key to TM doing well is selling in Europe and Asia.

cdabel114 | 20 mars 2013

The untapped potential is enourmous. Even here in Norway, where we have the highest per capita reservation rate by far, the level of Tesla awareness is very low. Except for four or five car entusiasts, no one I´ve told about the Model S (and believe me it´s been more than a few) has even heard of Tesla. And it´s not about who can or can´t afford one either, since here the Model S is the greatest bargain ever. The interest level will explode here once they get cars on the road.

Brian H | 20 mars 2013

Say it like it is. In Norway, the MS is dirt cheap. It will be the choice of both upper and lower income purchasers. It will annihilate competing brands.

Brian H | 20 mars 2013

To give a comparison, it will be like selling Mercedes for the price of KIAs. Norway will become a nova explosion of Tesla awareness and success.

Brad Holt | 20 mars 2013

I'm a filmmaker guy like Mr. Bloch, and I've been working on some ideas for a "fan-made" commercial of my own since taking delivery last month. If anyone here has an idea or concept for a commercial, send it my way!

GeirT | 20 mars 2013

The best marketing is very simple: Happy customers and cars on the road!

Forget about advertising on TV, newspapers and magasines. Keep it simple! Please TM, don't waste money on old times marketing. Be as inventive in your promotion as your car is.
TM is only producing 20,000 cars a year! It is minor in the totality of it all, even in the luxury market. And still they have not supplied any car overseas! In Europe we are begging for cars. This is a market that by word of mouth and media exposure would easily take 1/3 to 1/2 of the total TM capacity of 85 models. I question the decision by TM not to start supplying before summer though.
The world is one place, so anything going on in the US everybody knows about immediately. Cars should be dripping into Europe in order not to place all the eggs in one basket.

Words from a very, very, very impatient Norwegian awaiting his P85 full package...

GeirT | 20 mars 2013

@ Brian H

Once again - you're spot on!
We could possibly do 5,000 cars once happy customers are on the road. But with no cars, no happy customers, no word of mouth thus no people promotion... nothing happens.
Come on TM.
Start moving!!!

shop | 20 mars 2013

Tesla Motor's execution so far has been pretty darn flawless (or as flawless as could be considering they started off Model S design during the 2008 economic meltdown). I have no doubt they haven't forgotten about something as basic as marketing. I have full faith they will do more marketing when the need arises.

jat | 20 mars 2013

I'm not sure why there is any talk of marketing when they have reservations that cover most of the year's production -- once the order backlog starts to get lower, it might be time to consider marketing.

jdesmo | 20 mars 2013

Sent a message thru the website of the L.I. store to contact me by phone. Twice in the last week - nobody called. What are they doing in there all day.........

Another aspect of effective marketing is truth/accuracy in advertising. Meaning, these cars are for north america, not only some sections of the country where electricity is cheap (Tesla says average is $0.11/KWH)

Here on Long Island, utility costs are very expensive. Total cost all inclusive of taxes and other fees is $0.22/KWH. This is from my last home statement in Feb. 2013.
This also means, that if you want to calculate true equivalent MPG for the MS 85KW in NYC/LI area, you come to approx 34 MPG.
This is based on the following: $4.50/Gal, 84% charge efficiency , 124KWH vampire loss/month, 350wh/mi, 15,000mi/year

Neech | 20 mars 2013

If they could get the cars delivered in a consistent and predictable timeframe, it would make for even happier new owners and would give Tesla something else to brag about. I would expect long delays in deliveries would have been eliminated by now but they continue.

Pungoteague_Dave | 20 mars 2013

Backlog? There is effectively no backlog. Some people are now getting their cars within 60 days. Except for unusual configurations like the 40 or no air, there is almost no backlog. (Ducking)

DanielR | 20 mars 2013

Picked up my Model S last March 16 at their LA design studio. Our delivery specialist said "We will advertise when we have to."

Neech | 20 mars 2013


There continues to be some delays (I would call them backlogs) because some people get their cars in as little as 4 weeks and some are still taking 3 months. These cars are 85's and 60's. I would think that if Tesla is making up to 500 cars a week, there wouldn't need to be such inconsistencies (even with batching).