Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Elon Musk: A new world of marketing opportunities

I have been a long time admirer of the serial entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor Elon Musk. As the cofounder of Paypal, he has amassed a personal wealth of approximately $13.3 billion and currently sits at number 100 on the Forbes World’s Billionaire list. Like a real life Tony Stark from the Iron Man comics, Musk is every bit the superhero, just without the suit. But do not let his cartoonish ideas fool you, with his vast personal wealth his ideas are quickly changing the world in which we live.

Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_the_mind_behind_tesla_spacex_solarcity

As CEO of Tesla Motors he has already achieved a significant milestone by becoming the third largest selling luxury car company in California. To reach this level of success in such a short time with a petrol engine car would have been quite a feat, but this is an electric car company! Then again, there really is nothing ordinary about Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk.

Typically you would find most car dealers along busy public roads with large extravagant showrooms. Tesla on the other hand takes a very different approach and meets with customers in public shopping malls. Next to your traditional clothes and food outlets you can find their small showrooms that typically house one or two model cars. You might be out for a spot of shopping when you walk past a show room and casually drop by to talk with a Tesla representative about the benefits of electric cars. Moving in to the mainstream shopping outlets has gained Tesla a significant amount of exposure by breaking from the traditional way of marketing and selling cars.

Source: http://www.motorward.com/wp-content/images/2013/11/tesla-uk-2.jpg

Last week Musk made the very exciting announcement of the Tesla Powerwall. The wall mounted energy storage unit can hold 10-kilowatt hours of electric energy. The traditional problem with renewable energy such as solar panels is that you need to store the energy for even distribution through out the day. For the small cost of $3,500, you no longer need to fully rely on getting your power from the traditional utilities providers. How long until we see the Tesla Powerwall being sold in shopping centres alongside their electric cars?

As if Musk didn’t have enough on his plate, he is also the founder of the SpaceX programme. This ambitious project was set up to bring down the costs of space travel using reusable rockets with the ultimate goal of colonising other planets. This is not as far fetched as it might sound. The SpaceX program was awarded $1.6 billion by NASA in 2008 to deliver twelve payloads of supplies to the International Space Station. The significant investment in commercial space travel could make it as common as flying on an airplane in less than a century.

I for one am excited by the possibilities a new future ushered in by entrepreneurs like Elon Musk might have to offer. With change comes opportunity, so as a marketer, I will be watching his business ventures closely to see what future opportunities they may bring. 

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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