Tesla retail chief George Blankenship re-imagines the car-buying experience.
George Blankenship might be the only retail strategist in the world who hopes he never sells anything in his stores. Then again, George is also the only retail strategist whose job it is to convince the world to buy a Tesla — an electricity-powered automobile that not many people have heard of and even fewer aspire to own.
“I don’t want to sell anyone a Tesla,” says George. “I want people to buy a Tesla because they want it. If they walk away from a Tesla store thinking about someday owning one of our cars, then the store worked. That’s all I want the store to do.” That’s why retail stores, situated in malls and other high-traffic shopping locations, are at the very core of Tesla’s marketing strategy. The big idea is to catch people’s attention while they’re out shopping for other things, introduce them to the car, and let them fall in love with it.
This is surely the very antithesis of the traditional car dealership model, with its jam-packed showrooms, high-octane sales reps and blowout sales. If that sounds insane — and vaguely familiar — it’s because it is. Before Tesla, George was the chief retail strategist for Apple, and the plan was similar. “When I started at Apple in 2000, most people knew one thing about Apple computers: They didn’t want one,” says George. Apple changed that, in no small part, by opening stores in busy places, and seducing consumers with eye-popping products and a great retail experience.
Launched in 2003 by PayPal and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Tesla Motors, Inc. is named after Nikola Tesla, the eccentric scientist known for his innovations in all things electric, including the technology that now powers Tesla cars. While the future of Tesla Motors may be uncertain, its contributions –both its cars and the way it is bringing them to market — are too bold to ignore … read >>