Article by: MaryEllen | Friday, June 27, 2014

By Bob Bly

Do you remember Wimpy, the character on the cartoon Popeye?

He was always mooching from the luncheonette where he ate, asking the proprietor: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Well, QN is the Wimpy on my subscriber list! A few weeks ago, he e-mailed me this message:

“I hope this note finds you well. Thanks for your generous offer on ‘Writing for the Christian Market.’ I want the product but I only have $20 at the moment [editor’s note: the product costs $39].

‘I believe the product is a perfect fit for me and will help me land my first copywriting client (and more). How can you assist me sir?”

I immediately replied with an answer I think is both fair and sensible:

“QN, when I want items I do not have the cash for, I save my money until I have enough to buy them. Why not do the same?”

Now, for about 5 seconds before I clicked to send this e-mail to QN, I considered just sending him the book for only $20 … or even free … because it is an electronic file, and so my out of pocket cost to help QN would be zero.

But I decided against being soft and giving it to him … and instead took the hard line and refused his request … for 5 good reasons.

First, giving QN the book is not fair to all my other subscribers. They paid full price for it. Why should QN get a pass?

Second, my experience is that people take things more seriously when they pay for them. When people get something for free, they usually value it based on what they paid for it: nothing.

Third, I frankly don’t believe that QN, if this is truly important to him, can’t come up with the nineteen bucks.

If he lives in a dwelling where he pays rent, utilities, or mortgage, then he is not bankrupt.

Unless he is starving, I assume he will have a few meals today. Whether you eat out or go to the grocery store, you need $20 to do that.

I wager that if I bumped into QN on the street right now and asked him to open his wallet, he would have at least twenty bucks in it.

I know some people do not have a lot of money. I was one of them once.

But even those folks who plead poverty are virtually never at zero.

Decades ago, I had a copywriting client who asked me to lower my $3,500 fee to write his company’s brochure because “we have no money.”

I made a good decision by not budging. Because when I left his building, the car parked in his reserved space was a new BMW!

Fourth, I am not selling dialysis treatment to kidney failure patients.

The stuff I sell is all “nice to have” – not “must have.”

No one goes hungry, gets sick, or is denied a basic human right if he cannot buy my little e-book.

Fifth, I am not cutting him off at the knees.

Both Terry Whalin, the author of the e-book QN wants, and I have a lot of how-to content on writing and publishing we give away free on our sites and elsewhere.

On my site, there is a separate section dedicated to resources for writers, some of them inexpensive, the rest free.

So if QN is on a budget, he can get a lot of what he wants by digging around a bit on our sites – or reading the free e-newsletters Terry and I publish every week of the year.

Bottom line: I want to walk into the Rolls dealership, and when he quotes me $250,000 for the car I like, tell him, “I want the product but I only have $45,000 at the moment.

“I believe the product is a perfect fit for me and will help me enjoy driving more. How can you assist me, sir?”

The day the Rolls dealer lets me drive away with the $250,000 car for $45,000 payment in full – no loans or leases – I will give QN my e-book for free.

P.S. When I told this story to my friend superstar copywriter AL, he suggested that if QN only had enough money for half the book, I should delete 50% of the PDF and send QN half the pages. This suggestion made me chuckle!

About the Author

2014-06-25-bob_bly_working_moms_only_expertBob Bly, America’s Top Copywriter, is a master of getting clients and business-building with more than 25 years of experience in business-to-business, high-tech, industrial, and direct marketing.

He has written copy for over 100 clients including Network Solutions, ITT Fluid Technology, Medical Economics, Intuit, Business & Legal Reports, and Brooklyn Union Gas…and has won numerous industry awards.

Bob is the author of more than 70 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books) and The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt & Co.). His articles have appeared in numerous publications such as DM News, Writer’s Digest, mtrak Express, Cosmopolitan, Inside Direct Mail, and Bits & Pieces for Salespeople.