Elon Musk has never been one to shy away from controversy and showmanship. But with the Launch of the Tesla Cybertruck , I began to wonder – is it the act of a passionate madman; or indeed – the acts of a crowdfunding, marketing mastermind?
On the surface it may seem a simple case of a hot-topic (climate change, electric cars and the like), a huge corporation leading to easy numbers – but let me explain why I think there might be more than meets the eye and some valuable lessons that can help with your new launches.
Tesla Cybertruck – Savvy Business through Automotive Hot-Topics?
Bringing a car to market, whichever way you look at it, is not cheap. Many car makers shy away from it as much as possible, by engaging in joint ventures to keep down development case.
But when you think of it, Tesla’s approach is a great combination of crowd testing an idea and crowdfunding it. In case you weren’t aware, crowdfunding at its most simple, is a way of launching a product or service, sourcing the initial development finances by sourcing the fund openly to an audience usually in exchange for a reward – for example advanced receipt of a product, preferential pricing, rewards or in this case a pre-order. After all, why undertake such a costly process without at least supplementing if not funding it with other people’s money?
One of the harsh realities and indeed hurdles to overcome in any venture is that ultimately people by default, don’t care on your company’s goals. So how do you MAKE them care at least, about your product?
Let’s break it down. It’s probably reasonable to say that the Cybertruck’s budget has been modest so far. It essentially boils down to a concept, some 3d renders, a prototype, likely utilising as much existing infrastructure as possible.
Grab their attention – the hard part of crowdfunding.
Next up we have a huge media circus to launch what at best can be described as a controversial design. Kids of the 80’s would likely feel an affinity with it on some level, be it through nostalgia or general aesthetic admiration. Many outside of that would likely hate and criticise it with the neutrals being swayed either way by which camp shouts the loudest.
It’s instantly ”share-worthy”.
The usual outlandish comments, commitments and swipes at existing products generates the hype train momentum further – if you haven’t seen it out-pulling a Ford truck, look it up and you will see what I mean. I’ve personally had 7 people show me it.
Build in some more controversy – the art of crowdfunding
The cynic in me says that the window shattering during the show was no accident. You can’t tell me that after spending all that money on a concept and a launch, nobody thought to extensively test the glass against the situation it was going to be in at the launch?
I find it hard to believe.
What I do know is that the only thing that spreads as fast as a hot or controversial product – is a product that has failed and is being laughed at. Ultimately it leads to even more hysteria. It captivates a hugely broad spectrum of people from haters to admirers and everyone in between.
But at the end of the day, the hard concept is clear, focused and targeted – that is – Tesla intend to make a Truck, capable of huge towing capacity, sports-car performance, big vehicle comfort and flexibility – and to have cutting edge (literally) tech.
So let’s see how it stacks up.
A wildly controversial concept? – Check
A clear undertone / end-product beneath all that? – Check
Crowdfunding engagement? – Check
A marketing strategy and captive audience? – Check
Testing for perspective buyers? – Check
Buy-in from investors? – Check
All in all, Tesla have arguably followed the start-up’s blueprint. They of course can leverage their current market position to do this but it is still starkly noteworthy.
The comparatively low-cost showcase has already netted them around a reported 300,000 pre orders at $100 USD a piece on average. That is, Thirty Million Dollars. A drop in the ocean on the typical billion dollar cost of car development – but when much of the infrastructure already exists, it’s not too obscene to suggest that Tesla’s development cost will be significantly lower.
Search volume in google is also at its highest value following the Launch which should go some way to offsetting Elon’s $700m loss following the share price drop following the launch drama.
For Brand interest, engagement, and a method of seed funding however, you can’d but admire the play by Tesla shown here and therein lie some superb considerations when launching any business endeavor, especially if you’re looking towards crowdfunding as a funding source.