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Monday, August 28, 2006

Differentiation...and the lack thereof

I began my college career in microbiology for pre-med. Unfortunately a chronic illness forestalled that idea. I changed to marketing and business finance. In marketing, there is a term called differentiation. Even if you don't know exactly what the term means, you can easily infer it. How are you, in the customers eyes, different than your competition? Is it a real or perceived difference? Is it significant and/or meaningful to the customer (if not, you're dead in the market)? And it's all about the customer. In politics, the customer is the voter. And he buys your product by voting for you. And differentiation exists in politics also. And remember, perception is reality.

I blogged about Mark Kennedy and his lack of differentiation from Amy Klobuchar regarding oil. With the exception of just one point, he completely agrees with Amy Klobuchar's policy on oil and energy. And so, with great anticipation, I was waiting for my friend and Congressman John Kline to debate his opponent for the Second Congressional District Coleen Rowley on the Jason Lewis Show at the State Fair. And I was crushed in what I heard!
Here was Congressman Kline arguing for ethanol! Supporting ethanol subsidies. Telling us how it was proper to have heavy tariffs on imported ethanol. That the tariffs were to protect the "emerging ethanol market". Despite myriad studies (for over 30 years) showing ethanol is a failure, is an energy sink that gives us a net energy deficit (it takes more energy to produce than we get out of it), that producing ethanol raises food prices for you and me, and that all those subsidies go to support large ethanol producers like Archer Daniels Midland. (And a BTW: ethanol producers do not use ethanol in their ethanol producing plants. Why? Because it's inefficient and too costly). And I thought "where on earth is the differentiation between John and his opponent?"
And in marketing, if there is no differentiation between you and your competition, well...
If ethanol is viable, the free market will bring it to the public, not Congress.
After all , why would we trust Congress on energy when they can't even get a flush toilet or a washing machine right?


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