After giving their new album away free to half a billion iTunes users, U2’s Bono had to apologise for it last week.
(Well, it is said that no good deed goes unpunished.)
People weren’t just annoyed, they were offended. It felt like an invasion of privacy. Nobody wants to think that Apple (or Bono) can reach into our iTunes folders and fill them with any old studio scrapings.
I was one of the half a billion ‘lucky’ recipients. I’d heard about the promotion. But I certainly wasn’t expecting (or hoping) to find the album in my new downloads folder. I wasn’t too happy about it either.
Perhaps, if I’d had the option to download a free U2 album, I might have felt a bit differently. It might have seemed more like a gesture. Less like an imposition. Less like spam.
As someone who believes in the power of altruistic marketing – (or giving stuff away) – I was surprised by the vehemence of my reaction. So what do we take from this?
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’re selling…
… If your prospects aren’t interested, you can’t make them interested.
Not even a free gift that would otherwise retail for £7.99 as an iTunes download – is going to change their minds.
Sometimes you can give away too much…
The album market is dwindling. U2 aren’t the creative powerhouse they once were. Their last album was poorly received. Oh, and they had a nice little $100 million pay-off from Apple too.
Four big reasons that make this gesture seem rather less generous.
Sometimes a teaser is all it takes
I like giving away copywriting tips. That’s why there are plenty of how-to guides on our Downloads page. But if you give away everything, you devalue your service.
It doesn’t leave any incentive to pay.