Audio Version 7 mins 30
You’re Not Going To Buy A Cybertruck And Tesla Will Do Fine Without You
You may have noticed Elon Musk launched a new Tesla last week, the Cybertruck, and oh the internet reviewers are not pleased with it.
“Looks like it was designed on MS Paint”
“My 12 yo brother drew a truck like that on his school bag”.
— Kristian Sturt (@FootieWriter) November 22, 2019
And so on.
I’ll admit I’m not attracted to it despite wanting an electric car real bad. Statistically speaking, you probably aren’t either*.
And our opinion matters about as much as your dog’s thoughts on global tariff policy.
We. Are. Not. The. Target. Market.
So much business stupidity and failure comes from believing that every0ne likes what you and your uniform bunch of friends like.
Socials: An Infinite Resource Of Garbage Advice
A key part of the art of business is having the confidence to reject torrents of worthless advice, because if you listen to it, you will get nothing done. Particularly anything that involves creative or innovation.
There’s so much instant, ill-considered feedback available on anything new now. Most people hate anything new with a psychotic passion. Change makes them so uncomfortable.
You get this a lot with rebrands. My god people hate a new logo. When big brands change their identity, there’s always a storm of indignation from online cranks whose tweets fuel the next day’s media coverage. They get really huffy when they read a new global bank logo cost a million dollars. A MILLION DOLLARS!
“I could have done it for half that,” say random punters whose own design skills peaked with a garage sale flyer in Microsoft WordArt.
It’s easy to think these random keyboard spasms are a useful gauge of market sentiment.
No these troll-pinions are a waste of your valuable time. They’re the product version of all those TripAdvisor freaks who hate new places, people and fun.
If you want advice go and talk to people who have actually spent money on your kind of product.
Musk is doing the world a major favor by electrifying a product sector dominated by monstrous gas guzzlers, and people who want massive truck power will want Cybertruck. If you don’t have or want a truck, shut up.
The powerful urge to correct people
Update October 2022: last week ol’ mate Elon tweeted this about Cybertruck.
Cybertruck will be waterproof enough to serve briefly as a boat, so it can cross rivers, lakes & even seas that aren’t too choppy
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 29, 2022
That ‘briefly as a boat’ line is algorithm genius. People love to jump in, correct things and make jokes about how stupid Elon Musk is. Because an armchair could functi0n briefly as a boat ha ha ha.
Which turned the whole thing into a meme frenzy and Musk got exactly the exposure he wanted.
Because he doesn’t have to get his copy signed off by a committee at head office who would say “this could lead to negative coverage in some quarters, we can’t approve this.”
Unleash The Dictator Within
I’ve written before about the value of more heads being across business decisions. It works in management. I’m told it’s good for surgical opinions and high court decisions. The parliamentary democracy model gives you better, saner decisions.
For creative decisions, I’m sorry but the full dictatorship works better. You find someone with the epic vision, and you let them bring that bastard to life. There will be input and support from others, but the final decision is made by one person who answers only to their own quality ethic.
People like that are hard to find and they are easily demoralized by creative input from Janelle from HR.
I’m a pretty collaborative decision maker across our businesses. I bow out of technical decisions because I trust our people, and my skills there are MySpace-era.
But there are creative marketing calls to be made, and here’s how that works: it’s my fucking decision, and I’m not interested in anyone else’s stupid opinion on what color they prefer or whatever.
Timidity is the enemy of your future profit margins.
(Side note: in my old corporate job, there was a polyester shirt guy who fancied himself as a marketing expert, and with each campaign he would weigh in with ‘it’s not corporate enough’ or ‘this makes us look like we’re not serious’. After fighting him for a while I realised he was a valuable part of the process, in that if he didn’t hate something, it was not interesting enough and so it went straight to the bin. That system worked well.)
You Don’t Know The Full Story
Keyboard coaching is done in a vacuum, without any strategic context.
Maybe there’s a perfectly valid reason for the Cybertruck’s look. This Twitter thread is interesting:
I’m seeing posts where people think that the design of the #Tesla #Cybertruck is not in keeping with Tesla’s mission to create beautiful, fast vehicles. And some who think that a tweak to the design to make it less “triangular” would help. Let me explain why that’s wrong. /1
— Brad Garcia (@bradgarcia) November 23, 2019
That brutal design allows it to be a $40K truck not a $70K truck, because panel curves and paint are expensive. So Cybertruck can be mass-market rather than a niche status symbol. Pretty important point to miss if you’re just judging it as an artwork.
What’s Your Cybertruck?
You and I aren’t Elon Musk. He’s an interesting rich maniac. But interesting and mildly successful is 99% as good.
If you have a smaller business, you can still make wild-ass calls using Cybertruck thinking, even if it’s only the design of your website or your packaging.
You have the choice between blazing an amazing trail that you’ll look back on with pride in a decade, or settling on being the fourth-best imitator of someone else’s proven product. Plenty of people choose the latter and do OK, but it’s not getting me out of bed in the morning.
Your competitors in big companies don’t have that choice. Because they have risk committees and layers of bureaucratic opinion-havers who will fiddle with it until it looks exactly the same as everything else in the market. Because that makes them comfortable and comfort is all they care about.
They may have more money and buildings than you, but you’re free to make things interesting. That’s your biggest competitive advantage.
Time to Musk up, people.
* I wrote this article, opened my social stream and saw two Cybertruck order screenshots from people I know, make of that what you will, hi Jeremy and Kris!
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