A few weeks ago I posted some advice to Darren Beaman, an independent tailor on Savile Row, on the StyleForum website. Mr. Beaman was seeking advice and help on improving his website.
Here's my advice in full form:
I've done some internet/technology consulting and I find a common myth about websites is that you just slap something together and you'll be fine. I actually think it would be a useful exercise to keep in mind some things when establishing a web presence:
(1) Understand whom you want to target Not all customers are equal in terms of value to your business and presumably you would prefer to serve certain kinds of customers over others.
To that end, you can ask yourself if you'd rather target specific kinds of customers such as:
Upgraders (from RTW or MTM)
Experienced (customers switching from other tailors)
Without being a tailor myself, I can easily imagine that different types of customers require different levels of service and attention.
(2) Develop key marketing messages "tailored" to customer intents on your website (pun intended) Below are some sample messages by customer segment:
Novice = Patience, knowledge and experience to help you develop the right attire for you and your lifestyle
Experienced = No compromise on detail or quality
American = Best value in bespoke, flexible visiting schedule
Asian = Unstinting service and quality, local language version
(3) Develop content and features to support key messages For example, the novice user might be interested in an tailoring tutorial while more experienced users may want to see your fabric selection. Or, if you want to make more of a splash and shake things up a little, consider doing something different. I believe Thomas Mahon was the first bespoke tailor on Savile Row to offer up his own weblog (or blog). Quite avant-garde.
But perhaps even more avant-garde, the latest tech trend is "podcasting" which is basically audio-on-demand or audio broadcasts that users can download. You could be the first bespoke tailor on the Row to podcast! Perhaps you could record a "day in the life of" a Savile Row tailor as you interact with a customer or visit a textile mill to order fabrics. The latter could be fascinating and quite informative. In addition, since it is all audio recorded, you wouldn't have to worry about the extra work needed to edit text.
(4) Finally, remember to drive traffic to your site
Research and consider buying Google keywords relevant to your business and brand (e.g. Savile Row, bespoke, affordable)
Have suppliers, partners and associates link to your site - One idea is linking to a textile mill that you're a customer of (e.g. Holland & Sherry customer page). The reasoning is simple. There are probably quite a few eyeballs going to H&S website, which are relevant to you. You can quite likely divert some of that traffic to your own site.
Develop a comprehensive list of metatags relevant to your website and insert in your homepage (e.g. Savile Row, bespoke)
Build good old fashioned word of mouth, PR and advertorials (apparel articles highlighting your work)