What my kids, a car wash and $1.50 teach us about perceived value

Belinda Weaver, copywriting coach, leans against the side of the image. The words say "From sandy cars to savvy kids - What my kids, a car wash and $1.50 teach us about perceived value

It’s summertime here in Cali and the kids have about 17 years of holidays. We hit the beach the other day and it turns out, they’ve developed this new game. I call it ”Smuggle the Sand”. It’s a hoot, unless you’re the one responsible for the now beach-like state of your car.

Seeing a learning (and cleaning) opportunity, I offered them the chance to monetise the mess. I suggested a very generous rate of $1 each to vacuum my car. However, in a twist that would impress any seasoned negotiator, they started haggling for $2 a child.


I agreed but then, plot twist: they suddenly fancied themselves as car washers. They told me vacuuming was not only difficult, it was “super boring”. More tedious even than having to listen to their Dad’s favourite history podcast on long drives. 

Jeff Goldblum looks bored and yawns apologetically.

I, however, was having none of it. 

Let’s start with the basics – my kids wanted to switch the task of vacuuming the car to washing it because to them, washing was more fun and seemingly easier, making it worth more. 

This in itself is a classic case of perception of value.

A sand-free car is more valuable to me than a wet car with spread-out dirt. 

Now, I’m not suggesting your copywriting services are like a wet car with spread-out dirt, but how often have potential clients asked if you can take out elements of your service delivery?

Like your voice of customer research or wireframing, a round of revisions or even proofreading

A mismatch in the perceived value of your service (or elements of your service delivery) leads to a point of friction that’s stickier than my kids eating cotton candy in the midday sun. And it can sink the entire project before it begins.

But all is not lost.

You can take charge of how your clients perceive the value you offer.

#1 Explain the value of each component of your service.

In many cases, a client simply doesn’t understand what a particular aspect of your service flow makes possible for them. 

They don’t know that voice of customer research (VOC) means you can nail the challenges, desires and phrasing of the ideal buyer in the copy and help the reader feel seen, which of course means more sales.

They don’t know that your third round of revisions, while sometimes not needed, is when you smooth out any last bumps and make sure they’re in lurve with the final version.

Spell out how they will benefit.

#2 Pay attention to what your clients find most valuable. 

This can often show up most prominently in your testimonials and reviews. 

Do clients talk about how the copy sounds like them? Or how it nailed the target audience? 

You can tie this back to your research: customer and brand voice.

Do clients highlight how easy it was to work with you? 

You can tie this back to your strategy skills and project management processes.

You might actually be surprised about what your clients find more valuable. 

In the end, I met the kids halfway

We settled on $1.50 each for vacuuming – a victory made sweeter with the promise of ice-cream later, naturally. Little did they know they provided me with food for thought and the perfect story for you wordy warriors.

Write on.

3 Responses

  1. I’m learning, learning, learning!

    This is helpful for a newbie in the writing space.

    Thanks, Belinda!

  2. I love the approach that many coaches/counsellors/health practitioners etc use in terms of a free consult of around 15 minutes.

    Its great practice for the provider in terms of learning how to promote themselves & realise their value while its great for potential clients to get a sense of whether they gel with you.

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