A bit of conventional wisdom about Tesla, repeated often in the media, is that the company does no advertising – as Elon Musk has said, if you create a truly revolutionary product, the marketing takes care of itself.
Tesla has not indulged in the mass marketing activities that are so important to other automakers – expensive TV and magazine ads, lavish dog-and-pony shows at the auto shows (Tesla attends only the largest), conferences where journalists are wined and dined (too bad).
However, the company does sponsor test-drive events to drum up sales, and it seems to be building a worldwide sales force under the cryptic name Asset Lite. No one outside the company can say exactly what these people do, but a recent job posting provides some clues:
“The Asset Lite role is the single most challenging sales position we offer at Tesla, one in which only the most entrepreneurial, creative and outstanding performers will achieve success. In this role you will be responsible for developing untapped markets, building a robust pipeline of leads and converting them into Model S owners through charismatic presentation of our product and superb follow-up.”
It looks like classic Tesla strategy: methodically building the systems and assets it will need to massively scale up production in the future. Once the company is producing 500,000 cars per year, word of mouth isn’t going to be enough to keep them moving. However, Tesla isn’t likely ever to invest in the kind of 20th-century marketing campaigns listed above.
Together with Tesla’s direct online sales model, finding creative ways of connecting with individual customers makes much more sense. As several marketing mavens have noted, younger buyers find that dealing directly with a manufacturer makes their transactions more “meaningful.”