Last week, Elon Musk unveiled the much-anticipated Tesla Model 3, which is set for release in 2017 at a starting price of $35,000. Much has been written about the car itself, encompassing everything from its affordable price point to its standard autopilot feature. Yet perhaps the most impressive feature of the launch is not the car, but its future drivers.
After only five days, Tesla has racked up over 275,000 pre-orders – a staggering number outright when you consider the audacity of launching a car that is yet to be built or driven by potential buyers. Yet the reputation of the brand and its driver-friendly marketing strategies – including a $1000 refundable deposit – has ushered in a new generation of drivers inspired to revolutionize the auto industry at the side of Elon Musk.
The Model 3’s success began with the introduction of the Tesla brand itself over ten years ago. Rather than merely launch a revolutionary auto brand, Musk was very clear that the mission of Tesla was ‘to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.’ In fact, he (not so secretly) shared his ‘Master Plan’ in a blog post on August 2, 2006:
This ‘Master Plan’ has unfolded before our eyes, but not without course corrections along the way. Initially, Musk intended to protect Tesla’s valuable battery technology IP, as you would expect any automaker to do. But on reflection in the context of his stated mission, Musk wrote: “Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
Musk changed his mind in response to undeniable facts that would increasingly affect all of humanity. As Musk stated, ‘“I don’t think people quite appreciate the gravity of what is going on [with regard to global warming] or just how much inertia the climate has. We really need to do something. It would be shortsighted if we try to hold these things close to our vest.”
With that decision, Musk demonstrated that Tesla is a mission with a company, not a company with a mission. And, in doing so, he set the standard for next gen marketing that leverages social technologies to build an effective movement, rather than launch a brand or product. Let’s examine the three keys steps he took to achieve this:
With all this in mind, we can see that Elon Musk did far more than launch the Model 3 last week; he executed another critical stage of his ‘Master Plan’ and movement to both lead and make sustainable mass transportation possible. And it all began with a clear articulation, and commitment, to his original purpose and mission. Tesla’s socially-conscious philosophy has proven vital to both its growth as a brand, and the explosive success of the Model 3. It’s also why ‘Step 5’ in his plan is only half meant in jest – why would Musk need to tell anyone about what he is doing when his legion of drivers will do it for him?
Reading Time: 1 minutes