What can Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ teach us about Marketing?

Elon Musk


Elon Musk is definitely a man who needs no introduction, engineer, inventor, magnate, billionaire, visionary… the list goes on! He is most recently renowned for being CEO of electric car company Tesla, and his aspirational aerospace program SpaceX which successfully launched the Falcon Heavy Rocket this week! Elon has stated that all his professional goals revolve around his want to revolutionise the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming, creating sustainable energy, reducing the risk of human extinction and taking life to the solar system through establishing a human colony on Mars. It is this amazing and eccentric desire that puts him in the forefront of the world’s influencers.

Back in 2016 Elon sent a tweet out to his 18 million followers that he was fed up of traffic as it was ‘driving him nuts.’ He followed this statement up with the fact that he was going to start a company to build a tunnel network under LA, and that he would name it ‘The Boring Company.’ Elon not one to hang around started digging a trench on his SpaceX premises in February 2017. The end game is to have a fully traffic alleviating network of low cost tunnels enabling rapid transport in areas such as LA, New York, Washington DC etc. But what does all this have to do about marketing?

For starters we shall begin with the name of the company, a name he attributes it's creation of, to his ex-wife British actress Talulah Riley, “The Boring Company.”  This is a name that not only explains what the company does, but also provides comic relief. The play on the word ‘boring’ is a fantastic example of great PR material, I have seen hundreds of news articles all using the word ‘boring’ in a different contexts, gaining exposure that he possibily would not have attained without the smart word play on the name.

The part that particular interests us here at BTC Group was his marketing ploy of using the sale of promotional branded ‘boring company’ hats to raise funds for his company. The hat is a simple black baseball cap embroidered with the company logo (a logo he attributes the creation of to director JJ Abrams!) Elon only advertised the sale of 'The Boring Company' hats on his through his twitter account, but again thanks to the PR power of ‘The Boring Company’ name, word soon spread, and it was featuring in articles across the world. According to Elon in his own words he was going to build that tunnel ‘one hat at a time.’ In just over a month the 50,000 baseball caps Elon had invested in sold out, raising approximately one million dollars through sales!

It is this combination of utilising his social media influence, the cleverness of the company name and promotional product marketing that makes this campaign the marketing masterclass it has become. Believe it or not he then moved on to fundraising through $600 flamethrowers, another complete success, although we're not too sure how well branded flamethrowers would go down in the UK promotional market!

An Introduction to Personalised Marketing and Promotional Products

Introduction to Personalised Marketing and Promotional Products


In last week’s 'thank you blog series', during the episode of thanking people for their business, I briefly mentioned the topic of giving the customer a personalised marketing experience. Personalised marketing can be summed up as when a company aims to deliver individualised marketing material to suit the specific customer’s needs and requirements. These needs and requirements can be based on website behaviour (e.g. which parts and/or products on the website a customer visits tracked by cookies), data profiling and personal influence.

Promotional MarketingAmongst those who know what personalised marketing is, there is a common misconception that personalised marketing only works in a business to consumer environment. This is totally incorrect as buyers in a business to business environment are people too and are influenced exactly in the same manner as consumer buyers do. Ultimately there is a decision maker in every B2C and B2B purchase, personalised marketing material just need to be adjusted to that decision maker. 

Before the Digital age, personalised marketing on a large scale was nigh on impossible, but now with the introduction of computers and the internet, everything is measurable. Through the data from customer buying habits and yearly spend combined with customer profiling, you can really narrow down what your customer is likely to buy and when they are going to buy it. For example you know that ‘

Customer X’ spends Y on buying items in Category Z during April every year. Using this information in February/March you can send an e-mail to Customer X, asking if they are due to place their order in April, as there have been some updates in Category Z which also work well with items in Categories A, B and C.

This communication not only encourages the customer to purchase from you by putting yourself in the forefront of their mind, but it also encourages them to spend more with your company by introducing them to product categories they may not have seen before. This example is just using three measurable factors, imagine how personalised you can make the buying experience with more identifiable information.

How does personalised marketing work with promotional products? This form of marketing is all about Personalised Calendarsproviding a customer experience that is unique to that person. As I mentioned in the thank you blog, we are seeing more and more of our manufacturing suppliers investing in machinery that can individually brand names. This trend is laregly down to people wanting to provide this personalised experience for the customer. The great thing a personalised product does is, it adds percieved value to the product. In the UK I specifically remember in my school years how cool it was to have stationary with your name on it, we don't lose this feeling years later, products just seem to hold, if not a higher monetary value, a higher sentimental value when they have your name on them. Here at BTC Group we obviously love branding, but we definitely love to see branding in unique ways, a fantastic example of this are these amazingly designed personalised calendars. Calendars are always useful, no matter who you are or what job role you are in, organisation is key! Each page has an different design incorporating your name in some way. 

Saying ‘thank you’ in a professional environment: Episode five – ‘Thank you’ to your employees

Thank You Employees

Handwritten Thank YouGratitude is a prime example of the saying ‘a little bit can go a long way’ especially in the workplace. According to research from reward gateway, almost half of British workers would leave the company the worked for if they didn’t feel like they were regularly thanked for their efforts. Even more interestingly the majority of people that took the survey said they would rather work for a company that had a culture of incentivising their staff, than a have 10% pay increase. This is an incredibly insightful statistic, but it does make sense, we will spend approximately 35% of our total waking hours during our working years in the workplace, why wouldn’t you want that to be an enjoyable experience? It doesn’t always have to be a monetary incentive; fans of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ know that a simple handshake and acknowledgement for good work can mean more than any other form of gratitude.

Be The Person you want to WorkThis is not just beneficial for the employees, happy employees mean happy business, and happy business means happy customers! Take something as simple as sick leave, happier employees are healthier employees. The 2008 ‘Gallup’s global health study’ managed to quantify the average cost of an unhappy employee. It found that those who are unhappy take significantly more sick leave, staying home on average of 1.25 days more a month! Happy employees not only cost less, they make more money, provide better customer service, are more creative and provide many more benefits, all by showing them regular genuine gratitude.

When thanking your employees it’s important to do so in a variety of ways, it may be a good idea to scale your methods of thanking, showing what you feel is appropriate gratitude for the great work they’ve done. For example if someone has shown an example of good customer service, publicly thank them (if they don’t mind) and tell everyone about their exemplary service.  If a staff member has constantly shown great service throughout the year, overcoming perplexing challenges, and still maintains a positive attitude, a great idea would be to present them with an award. An award shows recognition of excellence; it creates an emotional connection between employees and their company, a concept that if done correctly can resonate throughout your workforce, creating a team of brand advocates.

Glass Awards

If you’re looking for something more than a glass award, and/or plaque to reward your employees, there are a number of high-end corporate gifts that make perfect recognition incentives for your staff. We are seeing a great deal of tech companies investing in high-end tech products, individually branded, to give to their workers, products like, Bluetooth headphones, speakers even branded tablet computers, with personalised cases. Whilst on the subject of personalised cases, leather products work very well also. Leather items simply emanate sophistication and look amazing when stamped with a person’s initials.

Whatever your method is, no matter how big or small, all thank you’s are appreciated, whether they are in a professional environment, or personal, if you feel someone is well deserving, why not thank them today! Thank you for reading our #PPWeek2017 #ThankYouPPW inspired blogs, we update our blogs weekly with what we feel is useful not just for our customers, but for everyone in the marketing environment, I hope you continue to read on and stay tuned!

Saying ‘thank you’ in a professional environment: Episode four – ‘Thank you’ for attending event

Corporate Gifts at Events

The UK events industry is a humungous sector by any measures, over 1.3 million business events are held in the UK every year! Through exhibitions and trade fairs alone, the UK attracts over 13 million visitors, generating £11 billion spend. The amazing part is the events industry hasn’t even reached its peak yet with 83% of agencies predicting a growing headcount for next year. But how can these events continue to grow, what brings people back year upon year to these trade shows and exhibitions?

Trade ShowsThe world of events is incredibly versatile to say the least, as the years go by the visitors change, and as they change, their needs and requirements change, for example 20 years ago, do you think there was a requirement for widespread Wi-Fi? Now free Wi-Fi is almost a pre-requisite feature when selecting an event venue. It is this constantly changing adaptability combined with great exhibition and trade show content that seems to be the reason why trade shows and exhibitions continue to thrive today. One aspect that has remained the same is the corporate gifts and giveaways or as they are known across the pond ‘Swag Bags!’

Swag Bag

Today more than ever the success or failure of your event can pivot upon the gifts you distribute, I saw an example of this earlier in the year when a blogger was judging the success of a large tech conference before the event, solely judged on the contents of the goodie bag. Ultimately it is important to thank the attendees at your events because without them your event is sure to be a failure, but how you thank them is purely up to you.

There are so many instances that provide you with the opportunity to thank people for attending your event:

  • Thanking people for registering for event as described in previous blog, this can be done before or during the event
  • Exhibiting at a show and thanking people for visiting your stand by distributing trade show giveaways
  • Thanking people on entry to your event with a bag containing information and show guide, this gives the person a bag to collect items from previous scenario
  • Thanking people for coming as they leave your event with a bag containing a selection of gifts
  • Thanking people for coming to your conference providing them with the tools they need during the event

Each one of these scenarios require a different strategy, for example the exhibition giveaways would need to be a product that you can buy enough of to distribute to everyone who visits your stand. This product needs to be affordable whilst remaining interesting enough that people would want to keep it and use for brand re-call purposes. On the other hand you have scenarios where you will need to give corporate gifts to VIP attendees, these gifts should pertain a high perceived value to reflect the importance of that person visiting your event.

Whatever your event is the message seems to be clear, it is important to thank people for attending, as they may become a loyal customer, and if you’d like to learn more about loyal customers check out yesterday’s blog!

Saying ‘thank you’ in a professional environment: Episode three – ‘Thank you’ for your loyalty

Customer Loyalty

We have touched upon customer loyalty once or twice already this week as it does find its way into the other ‘thank you’ subjects, but as it is such a big and important topic, it unquestionably needs to have an article of its own.  It is important today more than ever because we live in a world where your customer has access to all your competition at the simple click of a button, not to mention the barrage of e-mails they receive telling them that they can receive better products elsewhere. With GDPR coming into play allowing free movement of data, it is becoming easier and easier for the customer to give their loyalty to someone else.

Customer Loyalty

Did you know on average your loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more than their original purchase? To be fair we really don’t need to tell you how much your loyal customers are worth, as it should pretty much be evident in your sales figures, in some cases 75% of business’ turnover can be attributed to loyal customers or their referrals. So considering customer loyalty is so important, do you have a customer retention strategy?

We have definitely noticed in our industry, price isn’t the driving factor, according to a recent survey by the British Promotional Merchandise Association the most decisive reason for using a regular promotional merchandise supplier is good service. Many people are internet savvy enough these days to realise that they could spend all day shopping around searching for the best price, but in modern day’s society, time is money and if they receive great service from a company who saves them the time of dealing with their painpoints they are likely to stick with them.

Online Loyalty ShopWe are seeing a great resurgence in loyalty programs, especially in the B2B environment, business owners a realising that a supportive reliable service combined with non-financial incentives is looking like a great recipe for success. Mirroring the B2C market, B2B companies are looking into what makes their customers tick, giving them more than just discounts on their products, identifying their buying habits and reacting to them.

From a marketing perspective, what can you give a customer that would not only inspires them to buy, but provides great recall value, keeping your brand in front of the customer when they are making buying decisions? This is where the world of promotional products comes in to play! Promotional merchandise is so much more than giveaways at exhibitions or conferences; bigger than mugs, caps, pens and t-shirts. Promotional products can be anything, from cuddly toys, to large electronic goods.  A tactic we are seeing work particularly well is a company will have set up a loyalty website for their B2B customers that has a great range of company branded products on it, whenever a customer makes a purchase or fulfils a service they get points to spend on the promotional products from that website.

Having a great customer is like having a great member of staff, you want to keep them happy, and ensure they are loyal to your company (rewarding staff loyalty is an upcoming topic also, so keep an eye out for that one!).
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