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
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
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.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.