Parker PR

As a marketeer I'm always on the lookout for inspirational ideas and stories about how businesses and business people are successful in marketing their products and services.  Few business people will fail to recognise the face of Alan Sugar, even fewer will fail to acknowledge the value of reading his autobiography - What you see is what you get. I'm currently about half the way through it and thoroughly enjoying the read. Apart from it giving me an insight into the man, it is also challenging a key tenet of my belief about the value of low pricing as part of a marketing strategy. The Amstrad strategy was always built on "stack them high and sell them cheap" and without a doubt it was a successful ploy; the company made millions that way. In my marketing workshops I advise small and medium sized businesses to avoid this strategy and to focus on quality and customer care because only the big boys with massive buying power can win in a low price war; it's a well documented marketing theory and one that's easily understood. Once the undercutting begins, only the player with the biggest and deepest pockets can win out.

So how did Amstrad, far from the biggest player in the field at the time, manage to succeed by flying in the face of accepted marketing theory? Key to the phenomenal success was being able to source materials, production and manpower at a far lower rate than its competitors. That way it could control costs and maintain the low unit price that allowed it to sell at sometimes 1/5 the price of its competitors. Yet critically Amstrad cornered the market by doing something different, something very simple - it gave its customers exactly what they wanted. At a time when advances in consumer technology were ever increasing in speed, the now Lord Sugar and Amstrad stayed ahead of the game, giving "the lorry driver and his wife" precisely what they wanted, affordable technology that was of the time and did what they wanted it to do.