The Art of the Hype – 6 Lessons Learned From Elon Musk


Marketing is an essential element that no viable business can do without and the approaches we can take to reach an audience are nearly limitless. Unfortunately, very few companies and brands actually traverse this wide range of possibilities.

Most of them stick to what they know best, which in most cases ends up being the very basic traditional marketing methods. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it works for a specific situation or business model. Still, in most marketing circles the term “hype” gets thrown around quite casually as if boosting your marketing campaign to the level of hype is something that is achieved easily.

This term was so grossly misused that it started take on a negative connotation. In most cases, it is used as a mock term to refer to marketing campaigns that promise more than the product (or object of promotion) can truly deliver. Generally, this means that the marketer is generating a lot of noise over something that really isn’t worth the attention of its audience.

The examples of marketing campaigns that are truly worthy of this term are few and far between. One of the few people that really understands the meaning of creating true hype is the famous entrepreneur, Elon Musk, who was guided directly by the example of Steve Jobs. His track record as an entrepreneur, inventor, and investor, is astonishing and because of this he has become a role model for many people around the world.

As the entrepreneurial giant behind Zip2, X.com (PayPal), SpaceX, Tesla Motors and Hyperloop, Elon Musk has managed to create successful brands that truly generate an unbelievable hype around them, but how does he do it? Well, we are here to answer a few things for you. So, without any further delay, let us delve into the mystery of the marketing hype.

1. Big Ideas Generate A Lot Of Attention

 

Elon Musk doesn’t come up with ideas that are easily achieved. I mean, starting your own space program for interplanetary travel sounds like a ludicrous idea, yet this man pulls it off and gets a $1.6 billion contract from NASA. If you want to get people invested in your idea and keep their attention on it, your idea needs to be very ambitious and worth their time.

Now, in most cases, people will not expect big ideas to work, but those ideas will spark their interest and hold their attention. In some cases they will want to see how it will fail, so they can fill that “Aha, I knew it!” satisfaction. In other cases, your idea will spark genuine curiosity, but regardless of what motivates people’s interest, you will certainly turn some heads.

2. Originality Is The Key to Awesome Branding

Each and every project Elon Musk has started is like no other before it. This goes beyond having an original idea. You need to be aware of the competition and their strong, as well weak points, so you can identify the factors that will make your product or project unique.

This requires extensive research and a knack for innovation. Being unique will not get you headlines every time, but it will help you set yourself apart from the crowd and create unique branding options.

3. Don’t Focus On Your Projects Alone


Mr. Musk is a marketing powerhouse, but he doesn’t focus solely on himself and his projects. His Twitter profile has 3.82 million followers, but if you go through his tweets you are going to come to a conclusion that he doesn’t just share Tweets about his own work.

Sure, he keeps things niche-related, but he is not afraid to share the spotlight and, in turn, people (and businesses) do the same for him. In traditional marketing approaches, the goal is usually to outshine the competition. Mr. Musk isn’t afraid to give credit where credit is due and neither should you.

4. Aggressive Marketing Isn’t Necessarily The Road To True Hype

 

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The bigger a company gets, the more it spends on marketing, and in some cases (like Coca-Cola for example), their marketing budgets surpass the budget of any other aspect of their business. This means that you are investing more into improving promotion than in improving the quality of your product.

Unlike these companies, Musk invests in improving the general quality of his projects. He gets them to such a high level, so the quality can start promoting itself. Only the truly great ideas and products can actually inspire a level of awe required to build up true hype. When you approach your marketing efforts in such a way, spending money on promotional campaigns seems like a waste of your time and money.

5. Try To Solve Problems That Impact Many People

Creating an artificial hype around something is very difficult and, more of often than not, it tends to backfire on its source. It ends up creating negative popularity for people and brands who are interested in doing quite the opposite. I mean sure, you are probably going to reach your desired sales figures, but ultimately an overhyped thing delivers a feeling of disappointment once the hype dies out. Each and every one of Musk’s projects has a definitive, real-world impact on people’s lives.

We can easily say that he attempts to make people’s dreams come true. Sustainable energy, cars that do not pollute, space travel; these are the things that most people want to become an essential part of our civilization and Musk delivers on these dreams. Now, not everyone can really go for these world-changing ideas and projects, but if you really want to get people emotionally involved in your marketing campaign, you need to make an impact on their lives and really reach them. This isn’t easy to do, but it is also not impossible. The biggest problem is the attitude change that needs to happen, and from there on ideas will start flowing.

6. Defend Your Ideas With Vigour

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In order to create true hype around any subject, be it a project, product or something else entirely, you will need to defend it. Anything that is “hypeworthy” will always be a target for sceptics, naysayers or simply for the competition attempting to avoid being overshadowed.

Being that Elon Musk’s projects are very ambitious, usually attempting to innovate something most claim to be impossible, he has run into his fair share of problems with the media. He took on New York Times and Top Gear, both of which are media giants, but he did not do so to be vindictive. He did it to explain where they were wrong and how they misinterpreted his projects. It is true that this is a risky approach, but if done for the right reasons, e.g. to remove slander and misinterpretation, it can really work. After all, if you wish to be a visionary, you have to make others see your vision before you can turn it into reality!

Creating true hype is a very complex thing. It includes getting people involved, reaching them on an emotional level and getting them to root for you. Now there are legitimate reasons why you should be careful when attempting to get people invested like this.

Getting them truly involved and letting them down usually means that you have lost a lot of trust and that you will have problems getting across even the simplest marketing messages.

This is exactly why we took Elon Musk as a prime example of generating hype. He is a guy that promises greatness and delivers greatness. His approach isn’t to try to hype things up, but to create something that will provoke hype with minimum effort because it is obviously and indisputably great. Even the people that are not obsessed with sustainable energy will have a positive reaction to someone working on it, especially if the project attempts to bring in cheap energy.

As far as space travel goes, I mean come on, every time we see the stars on a clear night sky we can’t help but stare in awe. He makes long shots happen and earns trust, which he respects. You don’t need to do things on such a grand scale, but there is a lesson here for anyone attempting to truly reach people through marketing.

The art of hype starts with the product, not the marketing campaign, and this is a fact.

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