“A lot of companies get confused. They spend money on things that don’t actually make the product better. For example, at Tesla, we’ve never spent any money on advertising. We put all the money into R&D, manufacturing and design to try and make the car as good as possible. I think that’s the way to go. Ask yourself: Are the efforts you’re expending resulting in a better product or service. If they’re not, stop those efforts.”
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk
This quote shouldn’t lead you to believe that Elon Musk places no value on marketing or public relations. In fact, it can be argued that he is particularly adept at attaining exposure for his endeavours. If Tesla has never launched a large advertising campaign, it’s because it’s never needed to.
The fact that both Tesla and SpaceX are at the bleeding edge of modern technology, and socially very relevant, means that these companies rarely need to pay someone to write about them. Just about everything Tesla and SpaceX do is newsworthy.
Elon Musk is also good at generating excitement around these two brands. How? By making sure he feeds the media and the public just enough to ensure that they remain interested, yet hungry for more.
Musk, who boasts a not-insignificant 3,5 million Twitter followers shared this enigmatic tweet last year:
Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015
Predictably, the tweet generated a lot of interest and speculation. It is a tactic that Steve Jobs also used to great effect.
Whether by luck or design, Musk has a cult-like following that is similar to the one Jobs enjoyed (Musk has even been called ‘The Real Iron Man’), and he is leveraging this into tons of free publicity. He has realised that his name is as much a part of the Tesla and SpaceX brands as any car or spacecraft. He doesn’t seem particularly comfortable in the spotlight, but he has managed — mostly though Twitter — to turn celebrity into a marketing strategy.
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