Special Report Tama Marketer of the Year: And the finalists are…Compaq’s Woodley quadrupled sales

Don WoodleyPresidentCompaq CanadaEleven years ago, Compaq came out with a successful response to ibm - compatible, high quality personal computers at a similar or lower price.Four years ago, Don Woodley saw the need for a successful response to the customer. It...

Don Woodley

President

Compaq Canada

Eleven years ago, Compaq came out with a successful response to ibm – compatible, high quality personal computers at a similar or lower price.

Four years ago, Don Woodley saw the need for a successful response to the customer. It seems the big corporate buyers liked everything about Compaq computers but the price.

Keeping the price down and the quality up, Woodley has better than quadrupled sales since 1991 to a projected $500 million for 1994.

As he remarks with constrained glee: ‘You can’t do this without gaining share from competitors.’

Woodley has nabbed the competition’s clientele by placing customers on a pedestal.

‘I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to handle a customer complaint, to talk to a customer,’ he says.

And he counts healthy supplier relationships ‘friendly vs adversarial’ as critical, too. Ditto for marketing and sales departments.

Woodley recognizes the oft-ignored business basic that sales and marketing are fingers of the same hand.

He complains the ‘profession’ of marketing is poorly developed here.

‘Many marketers are underexperienced and come from sales only.’ (What about the ones who come from engineering only?)

He attributes his own success to his breadth of intimate experience with the Canadian market – 25 years of sales and marketing across this country with the likes of Crowntek, Forum, Xerox Canada and Memorex Tapes.

Watching the market explode, Woodley regrets that his resources are not infinite. His major challenge is simply keeping focussed on the possible.

Many of the opportunities arise from large foreign competitors’ failing to invest in marketing to Canada.

On moving his own marketing function to Canada, Woodley is enthusiastic.

‘We are able to do things specifically for the Canadian market,’ he says. ‘In Houston, the u.s. influence was just too strong.’

But Woodley sees the new wave of opportunities sweeping in from the consumer sector.

‘Within three years, we expect this to be 50% of our business,’ he says.

Growing consumer interest, low prices, an improving retail environment, multimedia, cd-rom, school requirements, and, frankly, games will be driving serious hardware into the hands of the lumpenconsumer.

This fall, Compaq will introduce a unit that integrates a computer, a cd-rom drive and a tv feed. A sports model of the infobahn, perhaps?

So, with Compaq creating the hardware, and consumers creating the demand, the missing link was the retailer.

But, Woodley has created a solution to that one, too – outsourcing.

Hire the experts – the same sales and merchandising group that trains and motivates the grocery trade.

And, how are the bits and bytes crowd receiving the coaching from the nosh and nibble bunch? Loving it. They rate Compaq the best in the business at this.

And, there’s one more change this marketing professional and ‘kid from the Prairies’ may have had a hand in.

The old dictum, ‘No-one ever got fired for buying ibm,’ now includes the caveat, ‘but they better check out Compaq first.’