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March 08, 2016

Fundamental Concepts: Features and Benefits [Weirddave]

When people have a product or service that they want to sell you, they will spend an inordinate amount of time telling you about all the features that they offer. They think that this is a good thing, and it is; but what is important to the listener is not what features are offered, it's how each of these features would benefit the user. It's really simple, here's an example:

Suppose your name is Carolyn McCarthy and you're on your first day of the job as a gun salesman. You eagerly await your first customer, and when Tucker Carlson wanders in to your shop looking for a tactical advantage in the DC media wars, the two of you begin to talk. He asks you which of the weapons in your shop feature barrel shrouds. Well, first of all you need to know that it's not a shoulder thing that goes up, but more than that, you should know why your weapons feature barrel shrouds: to keep you from burning your damn hands on the hot barrel. Beyond that, is Tucker looking for appearance or pure practicality? Would he be more interested in a Mini-14 with a beautiful hand carved and finished wooden barrel shroud, or an AR-15 with a strictly utilitarian one made of T6 aircraft aluminum? The feature “barrel shroud” is less important than the benefit that Tucker receives from it.

And what of that “shoulder thing that goes up”? That's a feature too, but nobody cares about that. What they care about is that its lightweight for carrying but still provides stability when firing so you can hit what you're aiming at. “Shoulder thing that goes up” is the feature, but “Lightweight, stability” is the benefit. People buy benefits, not features.


With that in mind I'd like to turn to something that Ted Cruz is doing in this campaign, and analyze how he needs to do it better. Cruz speaks about recreating the “Reagan coalition”, which is mostly code for getting the votes of blue collar workers. He needs their votes, because these people have been hammered by globalization and they are flocking to the pablum that Donald trump is peddling in droves. Cruz is in the ballpark, but he's still out in left field talking about features (a very lawyerly thing to do). Reagan's gift was that he was able to bring it home for voters by showing them the benefits of the policies he proposed. Ted needs to figure out how to do that. It might look something like this:

“I talk to Americans every day as I travel across this country trying to earn your vote for President, and I have to tell you that there is a common theme I hear coming from almost all of them: Economic uncertainty. America's working men and women and women have been hammered by the last 7 years of Obama's no-recovery recovery, and they're nervous. Nervous that they might wake up one morning and find that the jobs they've been doing for decades are moving overseas. Nervous that they might not be able to feed their families and raise their kids in the environment that they aspire to. Nervous that even if their job doesn't go overseas, they might be given to lower skilled workers with lower salaries. Nervous that they might even be forced to endure the indignity and insult of being required to train their replacements! You know what? Under the current administration, and under a Hillary administration, they're right to be nervous; in fact, they should be downright terrified.

“So what will a Ted Cruz administration do differently? Well, first of all, of all of the candidates in the race, I'm the only one who is absolutely committed to building the wall and enforcing our existing immigration laws. You know, Donald Trump likes to tell you that he's going to build the wall, the biggest, most luxurious wall the world has ever seen. Every time someone challenges him for details, he just roars “The wall just got higher!”. I think in Donald's mind the wall reaches to Mars by now. What Donald also says, something that the media has taken great pains to hide, is that his wall also has a great big door in it, the biggest, most luxurious door you've ever seen. This is called 'touchback' amnesty and it's about as stupid as it sounds. Would you build a dam with a great big hole in the middle of it? Of course you wouldn't. Touchback amnesty makes about as much sense.

“My other opponent, Marco Rubio, has the most consistent position on amnesty in the race. He's consistently been in favor of it. When he introduced the Gang of 8 bill, its purpose was to grant amnesty to people here illegally. I stopped that with a poison pill amendment removing that provision. Guess what? Without amnesty, the bill couldn't pass, and it didn't pass. Then Marco decided to run for president, and he found out that amnesty wasn't a real popular position to hold. What did he do? Like any good politician, he pivoted. He pivoted to border security. “Amnesty?” he says, “Amnesty? Oh no, we won't do amnesty UNTIL we secure the border. (pause) Then we'll do amnesty”. All he's done is change the order in which he wants to do things! First, last and always, amnesty is Marco Rubio's ultimate goal.

“Well, that's them, but I'll tell you something friends, Ted Cruz will never support amnesty. My record is clear, I never have and I never will! (should be applause here)

“So what do I propose aside from building the wall? Three things. Number one, under my administration, ICE and other agencies will be instructed to enforce the immigration laws laws that we currently have on the books. President Obama has prohibited these agencies from doing the jobs that we, the taxpayers of America, pay them to do, and that ends the first day I'm in office!

“Number two: All business will be required to use the e-verify system when hiring new workers. If they are found to be employing people who are not eligible to work legally in this country, they will be fined accordingly.

“Number three: I will issue a 180-day moratorium on issuing H1B and H2B visas. These visas were designed to allow businesses that couldn't fill positions domestically to draw upon foreign workers for those spots. I used to approve. That's a valuable flexibility for a business to have in a global marketplace. However what I didn't realize was that companies were misusing these visas not to supplement their domestic labor force, but to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. That must stop. During the moratorium, we will reconfigure the visa application process, requiring that any corporation wishing to fill positions with foreign workers must first provide documentation that American workers are unavailable. If they can't do that, then those visas will be denied.

“Now, I know what some of you are thinking. “That all sounds good, Ted, but what you're proposing will make labor in America more expensive. Companies will simply move overseas, and then we'll have no jobs at all. Carrier just announced that they are moving their Indianapolis plant to Mexico, and thousands have been laid off. What you're proposing will speed that process up”.

“You know what? You have a point. American labor is expensive, and why shouldn't it be? American workers produce the highest quality goods in the world. There is a reason that “Made in America” means something around the world. If you want quality work, you have to pay for it, and honestly, would we want it any other way? The dream of America has always been that this is a place where you can work hard and make a good living, leaving your kids better off than you were when you started. My father came to this country and worked washing dishes for $.50 an hour, and now his son is running for president. Is this a great country or what? We have to preserve the American Dream for ourselves and ensure that it will still be there for our children.

“What you're missing, however, is that labor is only part of the picture. There are many reasons for a company to decide to locate itself in any given location, but there are five big ones: Stability, infrastructure, energy cost, labor and regulatory expense. The United States of America has an unquestioned advantage over the rest of the world in the first three categories.

“Stability: Ask any businessman what the foundation of running a successful business is, and he'll tell you it's the ability to reasonably project what the future will bring. The United States has been a free market republic, based upon rule of law, for 240 years. If you were starting a business, would you do it in Venezuela? Labor costs are dirt cheep down there, nobody has a job, but anyone who tries to build something immediately has it taken away from them by the government. I'd stay here if I were you.

“Infrastructure: The US is tied together by a tight web of roads, ports, utilities, airports and railroads unmatched in the world. If you want to build a factory here, all you have to do is hook up to public utilities and pave a road from your parking lot to a public thoroughfare. That's a tremendous advantage that much of the world doesn't offer.

“Energy: Who here remembers $4.00/gallon gas? Remember dropping 60, 80, even 100 dollars or more, just to fill up the tank? Well, today you can fill up for 20-30 bucks. As much as I bet you like that, businesses like it more. Despite the best efforts of the Obama administration, private energy production in America has exploded in the past decade, giving us the cheapest energy in the developed world. My administration will lift the shackles that Obama has placed on the energy sector. We'll build the Keystone pipeline and we'll open up federal lands for energy development in an environmentally friendly manner. When I first started driving, gas was $.95/gallon. There's no reason why it can't be that cheap again.

“Labor: We've talked about labor cost, but as we agreed, that can't be helped. American labor is the best in the world, and it shows. The problem is that labor is the only one of these things that employers think they have control over. If some other country makes them an off that they believe balances out the USA's advantage in stability, infrastructure and energy, and if that country has a much lower labor costs that top shelf American workers, that employer may see a high incentive to relocate, costing American workers their jobs. It would also seem that there is nothing that can be done about that, unless we curb...

“Regulatory expense. This is a big deal, and it is something that the Democrats are NEVER going to talk about. Regulatory compliance costs US companies just over 2 trillion dollars per year. Two trillion dollars. Even in Washington DC that's a lot of money, it would retire the entire national debt in less than a decade. Hillary won't talk about this. Bernie certainly won't talk about this. No Democrat is ever going to mention the cost regulations impose upon American businesses and thus American jobs, because Democrats have only one solution to every problem: more regulation. It's been said that when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and Democrats have been hammering away American jobs with their regulatory hammer for decades.

“It's actually insane. Clinically insane. Something is seen as a problem. Pass a new regulation! Don't bother to see if existing regulations already exist or if your new regulation contradicts them, Let the peons worry about that, just pass a new law. Look! We DID SOMETHING!! Cost? Who cares about cost? Full speed ahead.

“More regulations mean more money and more power for the Washington cartel. Meanwhile, out here in the real world, businesses are getting hammered until moving out of the country entirely seems like a good solution. That $2 trillion? That works out to about $10,000 for every working man and woman in the country. Wouldn't you like to see some of that money come back into your paychecks? (should be applause here too)

***”That's why the cornerstone of my administration's economic policy is going to be eliminating burdensome regulations on all businesses, large and small. The good news is that the government agencies in charge of these regulations are under the control of the executive. The men and women I appoint to run agencies like OSHA and the EPA and NLRB are going to have a strict mandate: Within one year of taking office, each of them will be tasked with cutting 25% of the regulations imposed by their agencies. A couple of years later, we'll do it again. The core responsibilities of each agency will remain intact, but all of the extraneous regulatory costs will be eliminated.

“Think about what that means for you, the working men and women of America. A much lower regulatory burden means much less incentive for businesses to move offshore. Suppose we handed half of that $10,000 per worker cost back to American businesses. Would you be willing to split it with them? A $2500 raise for you and a $2500 incentive to keep your job right here in America. Heck, I bet we could entice a lot of businesses to come back home with numbers like that, meaning more jobs, for better pay. How does that grab you (municipal location)?”***


OK, this one got away from me a little bit, I didn't actually mean to write a stump speech, but I think that you get the idea. At each step, I have attempted to tie the feature (energy production, regulatory reform) to specific benefits ($.95/gal gas, higher wages, more jobs) that that policy would deliver to individual Americans. So many time politicians get tied up in buzzwords or policy shorthand that they forget that they need to spell out exactly HOW that policy would benefit the average man on the street. That's what Reagan was a master of, and that's what needs to be done to sell the electorate on voting for you instead of the demagogue.


*** In this section I am proposing specifics WRT regulations that I have not seen Ted Cruz endorse, although he should. I know he has mentioned regulations holding American businesses back, I have just never seen any specifics. This is my extrapolation of one form that those specifics might take for the purpose of illustration.

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posted by Open Blogger at 05:57 PM

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