6 Business Lessons From the Tesla Cybertruck Launch

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the Cybertruck, he did so to much fanfare. In typical Tesla style, the big reveal was glamorous and remains the talk of the auto and tech worlds days later.

There’s no denying the risks Tesla is taking with its Cybertruck, but with 250,000 preorders in just a matter of days, there are obviously many lessons to be learned. Sometimes risks pay off in a huge way, and early signs suggest that the risks inherent in the Cybertruck’s design could reap major benefits.

Here are six valuable lessons for business owners from the Cybertruck.

#1. Cater to nostalgia and the inner child.

The Cybertruck caters to nostalgia and the inner child. The design is reminiscent of several vehicles from various films, including the DeLorean featured in the Back to the Future films from the 1980s and 1990.

Musk himself has also said that the design was partially inspired by the car in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. He shared a clip in which Bond is racing away from a storm of bullets fired from a helicopter.

He drives off the end of a pier, and the car plunges into the water. As the car dives, it transforms into an underwater vehicle before firing a missile to destroy the helicopter.  

Small business owners who can create something that triggers nostalgia for their target customers will attract more than just their typical customer. Nostalgia touches customers’ psychology by making them remember a time when things were simpler.

Childhood is usually a more carefree time than adulthood. Reminding customers of their childhood draws a line between a carefree time of life and the business owner’s product or service.

There is also a certain novelty associated with nostalgic products because they unite the new with the old in a unique way. The Cybertruck will feature the performance of a sports car, which is also something no one is asking for in a pickup truck.

The rapid acceleration is a novelty that truck buyers wouldn’t even think to request, but they might like the idea of it simply because Tesla is offering it.

#2. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to take risks.

The Cybertruck’s appearance is extremely polarizing as commentators either love it or hate it. It’s such an unusual vehicle that the company faces possible rejection by many truck buyers.

There seems to be no middle ground. However, both extremes are turning out to be great for business. The public often responds strongly to extremes, and the Cybertruck is no exception.

The boldness inherent in the design of the Cybertruck can’t be denied. Tesla is marketing the vehicle as offering “better utility than a truck with more performance than a sports car.” According to the company, the single-motor model can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in only 6.5 seconds, while the dual-motor model can manage it in 4.5 seconds.

The tri-motor all-wheel-drive model accelerates from zero to 60 in only 2.9 seconds, so clearly, Tesla management had sports cars in mind when they designed the technology behind it.

And yet, the company’s presentation made it very clear that it wants to use the Ford F-150, which many consider to be the standard when it comes to pickup trucks, as the main comparison. Musk shared a video of the Cybertruck towing a Ford F-150 uphill on Twitter, billing it as a tug-o-war competition between the two vehicles.

Ford VP Sunny Madra was quick to say that they would do an “apples to apples test” of the two vehicles. In an email to TechCrunch, a spokesperson for the automaker later described Madra’s comment as merely “tongue in cheek to point out the absurdity of Tesla’s video.”

Musk is nothing if not bold, and he takes a bold approach when designing vehicles. Unfortunately, his boldness has gotten him into trouble with regulators for some of the statements he has made, especially on Twitter.

Thus, it is important to point out the need to be careful to speak transparently when making bold statements.

Being bold is about more than just making impressive statements. Bold business owners don’t care what anyone else thinks and aren’t afraid to step apart from the crowd and create something totally new. It is only by being bold that the great inventors of the world have been able to create new things.

Being bold requires truly out-of-the-box thinking to transport customers away from the ordinary and to the extraordinary.

Small business owners who are ready to be bold will find that the world is ready to listen to what they have to say simply because what they’re saying is unique from what the rest of the world is even talking about.

#3. Toss out the rulebook.

When Musk said he wanted to develop an electric pickup truck several years ago, everyone thought they knew roughly what it would look like. It was expected to sport the same shape every other pickup truck on the market has.

However, when the Cybertruck was revealed, it became clear that Tesla had thrown out the rulebook when designing it. The Tesla team obviously started from scratch without any preconceptions about what their electric truck “should” look like.

They even moved away from traditional terminology when it comes to the parts of the truck. Instead of a bed, the area in the back of the Cybertruck is referred to as the “vault.” Instead of the back being open, it’s protected by a cover.

This isn’t entirely unheard of with pickups because some drivers do prefer to have a cap on the back of their truck. However, it is unusual because the cover is part of the rest of the truck’s body. The cover isn’t optional because it’s simply part of the design.

The most obvious difference between the Cybertruck and every other pickup on the market is its shape. It looks angular with sharp corners instead of rounded edges. In fact, it looks more like a tank than a truck, and it will certainly turn heads going down the street.

Business owners who start from scratch by throwing out the rulebook will discover that things could be lonely at first. However, if they have really thought through their business model and found it to be beneficial for their customers, it’s worth the risk.

The key is to start with an idea for something no one else is doing. Of course, a business only works if there is demand for its products or services.

A savvy business owner looks for what’s missing in the market and tries to create something to fill the gap by thinking outside the box. In the Cybertruck’s case, what’s missing is an electric pickup, but instead of designing one that looks like every other truck on the market, Tesla started from scratch.

#4. Go above and beyond to wow customers.

Any business owner can go above and beyond with their products or services, but the Cybertruck even takes this another step further. The vehicle features a bulletproof design capable of withstanding a hit from a sledgehammer without denting.

The average driver is not asking for pickup truck that’s bulletproof, but being offered one might seem rather enticing. Bulletproofing isn’t even necessary for regular daily use.

Offering it provides a sort of wow factor that makes the customer think it might be a good idea on the off chance something unexpected happens.

The Cybertruck will also feature special glass that can withstand a strike from a steel ball, or at least, it could by the time it is released. The presentation went awry when both windows on the driver’s side cracked when the ball was thrown at them.

The same glass was able to withstand having a steel ball dropped on it, so by the time the truck comes out in two years’ time, the issue may be fixed. Additionally, the fact that the ball didn’t go all the way through the windows when it was thrown at them is a testament to just how strong the glass is.

Having glass that can withstand a major impact also goes above and beyond what customers expect when buying a car.  

In the same way, business owners can go above and beyond by offering something extra no one else is expecting. Customers may not even have thought about wanting the extra feature or service that’s offered, but they like the idea of it when they hear it.

Small business owners can achieve this by looking what the competition is offering and then thinking about what extras they can offer to wow their customers. Those extras need not be anything customers have requested because they might not even know they want them.

However, they should be something that can entice potential buyers.

#5. Create something totally new.

It’s pretty common for automakers to call a vehicle “all-new” after they have merely redesigned it. However, the Cybertruck truly is all-new in the real sense of the word.

There hasn’t been another vehicle exactly like it—except vehicles shown in fictional movies and TV shows. It may seem impossible to tap into nostalgia while also creating something totally new, but the Cybertruck shows that it is possible.

Movie and TV show creators often come up with ideas for futuristic products that don’t actually exist at the time of production. Thus, there is room to remind customers of their childhood while also creating something that’s totally new.

Another way to create something that’s totally new is to take something from decades ago and revamp it for the future by adding features it didn’t have when it was popular. Small business owners who can do this will find that they fill in gaps left by prior version of products.

#6. Tap into pop culture for free marketing.

Tesla has long avoided spending money on marketing, but despite the lack of a marketing budget, its cars sell quite well. All 250,000 preorders have been the result of free publicity provided by a plethora of media outlets.

It’s still far too early to know how many of those preorders will actually result in a purchase. However, it’s clear that interest in Tesla’s unusual-looking truck is high, despite the polarizing nature of its appearance and the lack of advertising.

The key to attracting free publicity is to follow these other steps on this list and look for ways to tap into pop culture. Of course, it helps to be fully prepared for the onslaught this can bring.

Tesla could not have foreseen the wide array of memes that have stemmed from Thursday’s presentation. However, much of the jesting seems to be in pure fun, and Tesla could never have paid for such attention.

Many of the memes referred to the windows that broke when the steel ball was thrown at them. Safelite received quite a bit of free publicity as people poked fun of the broken windows.

One of the more interesting memes came from gaming YouTuber Pewdiepie, who made fun of the Cybertruck’s shape by adding a huge gun to the back of it in the style of the Warthog vehicle from Halo.

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The truck does look somewhat like a tank, and Musk responded by saying that the Warthog was a source of inspiration for the Cybertruck.

A few of those who have provided early views on the Cybertruck have compared it to the Honda Ridgeline. One Reddit user called ajallee suggested that the Cybertruck would be the offspring of the Ridgeline and the DeLorean if they ever got together.

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It’s certainly easy to see how that could be, and that is what makes this meme so appealing.

On Instagram, someone who uses the handle highsnobiety pointed out the similarities with a vehicle from the 1982 movie Blade Runner. Interestingly, the film was set in November 2019, the same month Tesla revealed the Cybertruck.

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Musk has said the Blade Runner vehicle was another source of inspiration for the truck’s design.

By tapping pop culture references, the Cybertruck has been able to capture drivers’ imaginations, resulting in a truckload of memes. The result has been plenty of free publicity, and it doesn’t look like it will end any time soon.

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