Give away your goods for free!

A brilliant marketing move by U2 and Apple last week is a lesson you can apply to your business.

Last week, iPhone users were shocked to find U2’s new album, “Songs of Innocence,” was automatically downloaded onto their devices through iTunes. Even with the complaints, it was a huge success.

The band’s manager, Guy Oseary, said in an interview with Mashable that they had anticipated backlash and negativity from the start.

I love this idea and it fits in perfectly with the concept in my blog post last week, Stop Chasing and Start Helping, where I discussed the power of helping people as your number one priority to growing your business.

While this marketing stunt may have angered a bunch of people, it actually was a huge success for both Apple and U2. Immediately after the release of the album, 26 U2 titles charted simultaneously on iTunes top 200 and the U218 Singles landed in the top 10 in 46 countries. Crazy!

A day before the Apple event there was not one U2 album on the iTunes chart. Two days later, there’s 26, so that’s very exciting for me to think that new people are discovering this band and some are rediscovering it. From what I hear, a lot of people are listening to the new album, which is great. – OSeary

Jay Z and Samsung did something last year with their Galaxy launch and his new album “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” And one that I loved a few years ago was when Louis CK sold his “Live at the Beacon Theater” special on his website for $5, rather than doing a huge TV network launch and charging people more. He then gave half of the money away to his staff and various charities. He left a note on his website asking people to please not pirate it. “People told me everyone’s gonna steal it,” he told Jimmy Fallon. “So I just wrote a note that said please don’t do that … And they didn’t.”

And remember a few months ago when Tesla made their patents open source to challenge competitors to step up?

All of these examples remind me a very powerful tool for building your brand:

Give your best stuff away for free

I often talk with business owners who try and keep their best information a secret from potential customers. They try and hold their cards close to their chests and they wonder why they struggle to attract, retain, and serve their customers.

Especially if you have a service that solves a problem, instead of trying to entice people to buy your service so you can solve their problems, why not solve their problems and build trust first? Keep in mind that you are never going to solve all their problems, but you can start with one. And why not start with the biggest one? They then imagine what it would be like to work with you.

It may sound counter-intuitive to be giving away your best stuff, right? But it works!

Your customers are overwhelmed with too much information

Your job is to simplify their lives.

Put yourself in the shoes of a customer right now. With all the information that is out there today, it is harder than ever to find the right solutions. And it seems like everywhere you turn, people “have the solution” to your problems. There are promises of success, features & benefits overload, and earnings claims that leave you scratching your head. What do we do with all that information? We get confused.

And confused people do nothing.

So make your customer’s life easy and help them solve a problem. Build their trust, catch their attention, and earn their business. Simple.

Don’t sell, sample

If you are a coach or consultant, are you using your sample sessions effectively? Do you use that time to actually solve problems, or to simply promote? I see it happen all the time with business owners, especially when networking. Somehow everyone has it in their brain that selling is about telling. NONONONO.

Selling is really about solving. But more specifically, it is about adding value and insights. How well can you provide insights into people’s problems in ways they haven’t thought of? Instead of telling potential customers how you would solve a problem, show them.

  • Give them answers
  • Help them navigate ideas
  • Show them new ways to innovate their business
  • Help them plot the right course of action
  • Show them hidden opportunities
  • Help them succeed more, and fail less

This does take work, but what are your alternatives? Endless follow-up and chasing? Discounting?

You will never run out of solutions (If you’re good)

One of my clients was concerned about giving all his secrets away. What will people pay for then?

Customers don’t pay for information, they pay for solutions to problems.

So start understanding what problems your customers have and provide solutions to them. And even if you put all your information online, here’s two things you must keep in mind:

  1. Nobody will read/watch/listen to all of your stuff. Nobody
  2. People will decide if they want to buy from you pretty quickly after seeing your information, so put your best info out there!

So if you have a website, keep it loaded with fresh ideas, content, and solutions that potential customers can use now. If what you provide them works, then they are more likely to buy from you.

Some awesome people giving away free stuff

Here are a few of the people that I follow that always have amazing things to offer:

  • Derek Halpurn, Social Triggers: Derek is switched on, man. I have been following him for the past few years and his business is growing in leaps and bounds. He offers amazing insights on behavior, marketing, and sales. Definitely, check his stuff out
  • Michael Hyatt: “Intentional Leadership” is really what he is all about. I have been following him for a while now and absolutely love what he has put out there. Huge value. I found so much value in his content, that I just joined his Platform University to help build MY brand. Very excited.
  • Stefan Pylarinos, Project Life Mastery: Stefan is a solid dude who really gives a lot back to his audience. He is a best selling kindle publisher, online marketer, and life coach. Tons of value on his site.
  • Chris Lema: I stumbled onto Chris’s site this year when looking for an answer to something I was building for my site. His content is super high value and he puts a ton of detail into everything he writes. Definitely someone who knows his stuff.

These are just a few examples of people doing awesome things.

Look at the story of U2 from the beginning of this post. They just gave their latest album away for free in order to attract a new audience. Enough people listened to the free album, discovered the music, and made purchases that it skyrocketed their rankings. It is kinda cool that one of the biggest bands in history was rediscovered, right? They just massively increased their fan base, and it will be interesting to see what’s next for them.

So what can you give away for free? Do you have something free you would like to promote? Leave it in the comments below. Tell people what problems you solve, what you offer for free, and where they can get it. I look forward to seeing what you got!