Could 'marketing' be a side effect of Elon Musk's disruptive ethos?

It would be a bit ironic to call Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s moves “marketing” after the company disbanded its public relations department in the U.S. in 2020. However, a few specific strategies from Musk have helped the automaker and fellow company SpaceX reach wide audiences, providing a kind of marketing of its own. 

Business leaders can learn a lot from what Forbes explains are Musk’s marketing strategies for Tesla. There’s no doubt Musk understands his customer base — last year he became the world’s richest person — but strategies like his candidness on social media and his charitable endeavors have helped him take his companies even further.  

Musk’s wide range of punchy memes, provocative opinions, and intriguing insights have made him a popular, albeit controversial, Twitter account to follow. In addition, his environmental contributions through electric vehicle company Tesla are well-regarded by many — especially young investors who are hyperfocused on socially- and environmentally-conscious stocks.

But these behaviors aren’t the only ways Musk has maintained the spotlight for Tesla, even including certain actions not taken for clout, such as some of Musk’s charitable endeavors.

For one, amidst the ongoing Russian invasion into Ukraine, Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX has been providing the country with Starlink satellite equipment to aid the nation’s communications and internet access.

Recently, Musk spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about increasing supply of the Starlink terminals to Ukraine, for which Zelensky actually praised Musk, saying he was supporting the country “with words and deeds,” according to Reuters.

Musk also offered Starlink terminals to Tonga last month when the company’s internet was disrupted by a volcanic eruption. In the early days of the pandemic during mass mask shortages, Tesla pivoted towards producing N95 masks for hospitals and researchers.

And while Musk is known as quite an intense leader at times, a Bloomberg report last month depicted his softer side, with filings from a lawsuit showing the CEO exchanging words of comfort after a father’s son was lost in an accident while driving a Tesla.

Whether it's business or hardship, Musk has shown his willingness to read the room and adjust accordingly — be it a virtual room of 77 million users on Twitter, a shareholder meeting with Tesla investors, or a community in times of need. 


Sources: Forbes / Reuters / Bloomberg