Back in April 2005, I wrote a "marketing 101" entry for bespoke tailors and thought a recent discussion thread I created would be a useful sequel. A few weeks ago I posted a marketing related thread on AskAndy about the web as an underutilized marketing channel for tailors, shirtmakers and other bespoke artisans. I listed a few examples of tailors and workshops such as Anderson & Sheppard, Knize and Caraceni (Rome) who continue to operate today without a website.
One customer of Anderson & Sheppard mentioned that the firm believes websites violate their no advertising policy. The thread generated fairly vigorous arguments for and against a tailor such as Anderson & Sheppard (probably the largest tailor on Savile Row) having a website. A major point of contention was the mistaken notion of websites as purely vehicles of advertising.
This is an unfortunate misconception since websites are much more than that. In fact websites:
(1) Create a highly convenient channel to convey inbound inquiries, orders and other types of communication from existing, former and potential customers to the merchant or maker
(2) Build brand loyalty (every business has a brand, the web is just another way to build it)
(3) Enhance customer service (both inbound/outbound)
(4) Educate/convert consumers
Fundamentally, my premise is simple: a well-executed, integrated website can only help a business rather than harm it.