Are you close enough to your customers?

This week a major milestone was achieved by Tesla, the electric car company.

In California, they became the third biggest selling luxury car, behind only the Mercedes E Class and the BMW 5 Series.

That's an extraordinary achievement for a brand that didn't even exist a few years ago.

How did they do it?

Well certainly the car has got highly positive reviews (although not universally so), but few people have noticed the radical marketing technique at the center of Tesla's sales strategy.

The strangest car showrooms of any car maker in the world.

For starters, they are not located along main roads like every other car dealer, they are in shopping malls - right alongside brands like Zara, Bloomingdales and Sees Candy. Secondly the showrooms are only the size of a small shop, often only squeezing in a single vehicle into the space. This radical departure from car marketing norms completely changes the traditional customer math.

Most cars dealerships would be lucky to get a hundred potential customers perusing the cars on their lot each day.But because of their location, Tesla gets tens of thousands of people walking right past their car, every single day.

Incredibly, many sales have come from people who had zero interest in buying a car until they saw Tesla's showroom (They were probably in the mall to buy a dress or see a movie). Impressed by the car's design they could walk right in and immediately talk to a sales person - rather than have to specifically drive out to a dealership.

It's been a brilliant move for Tesla, as this week's sales figures demonstrate, but is it not possible that you could use the same concept to grow your business?

I'm not suggesting you open a retail store necessarily, but rather that you look at the bigger idea at work here; getting physically closer to your potential customers, so that they are more likely to consider your product or service.

Opening a showroom is just one way of doing it. You could also get a booth at several industry conferences in the next year. Or sponsor a series of lunches that your target customer would enjoy attending, in their local area. Perhaps you could design a van or truck filled with your product that goes out to visit your potential clients, rather than asking them to drive to you. Or open a series of small satellite offices, staffed by part timers.

However you do it, the idea of going out to your customer in an exciting way has great merit for many businesses, yet other than in the traditional retail world, the strategy is rarely used.

Watching the success of Tesla, I think that's about to change.

Read more articles like this on Siimon's blog

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Are you close enough to your customers?

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