November 28, 2004
control the conversation by improving the conversation
E-mail to Tom Mahon, Bespoke Savile Row Tailor:
Here are some thoughts I’ve had since our last conversation:
1. I’ve put a Tom Mahon blogad on to the gapingvoid sidebar. I used our line “Forget Armani. These suits are seriously intimidating.” Sure. It’s strong language, but a “power suit” is supposed to be intimidating. And yeah, sure, Armani makes damn fine suits. But they’re a different schtick altogether from the classic English bespoke suit. Armani is all about the “dolce vita”. English suits are about Alpha males locking horns. No messing around.
2. The first rule of Cluetrain is, “All markets are conversations.” From your standpoint, that means you have to start “owning the Savile Row conversation”.
“Conversation Ownership” is not rocket science. Owning a conversation means: that the higher up the foodchain you go, the more likely they’re talking about you, and not somebody else.
For example– when people are talking about home computers, most likely Macintosh, Windows or Dell will be mentioned. These three pretty much own the conversation. Sure, there are others– Sony, Gateway etc– but for the most part, these 3 get to call the shots.
Right now the market (the demand) for genuine Savile Row suits is shared among 10 – 20 thousand dedicated customers, who give all their business to the few dozen established tailoring firms on Savile Row, on a fairly frequent and long-term basis.
Out of these thousands, let’s say there are 1,000 customers who (a) really know their stuff and (b) and have the money and the enthusiasm to give Savile Row their business every year or two. These are what you’d call the Alpha Customers. They’re not just wealthy and powerful, but buying a suit is almost an art to them. They’re smart. They’re with-it. They’re passionate about the product. They care, and it matters. They know the difference between the real deal and the fakers. They can look at a suit on another man from across the room at a fancy dinner party and probably tell you which tailor did the cutting. In other words, they’re seriously informed.
So here’s the question: out of this 1000, how many are talking about Tom Mahon? And how frequently? Seriously.
It’s a simple “power law” Tom, the Alphas are either talking about you or they’re not. And if they’re not, you’ve got a problem.
3. You have the talent and the goods worthy of the Alpha Customers’ attention. But they’re not talking about you, or at least, not enough of them are.
This is where the Cluetrain comes in. Don’t wait for the conversation to magically change to Mr. Tom Mahon. Join the conversation.
Join. The. Conversation.
Start a blog. The Alphas don’t just want the suit. They want “The Information”. They want the substance. They want the gossip, and the insights, they want the insider’s view. They want “The Kinetic Quality”. They don’t just want to understand the mystique, they also want to be part of it.
When somebody at a party gives them the usual, whiney “Actually, I think off-the-shelf JC Penny suits are just as good” crap, they want to be able to respond, and respond with a vengeance. They want the little Beta Male crushed like an insect. They want to be able to say “Actually, Little Beta Male, you are wrong, for this reason, this reason, this reason, this reason, this reason.… Oh, and by the way your girlfriend now wants to sleep with me.“
Like I said, the game is about locking horns.
With a blog, you can start this conversation. Inform, entertain, share insights. Give them “The Information”. And give it to them better than anybody alive. When somebody with a real passion for tailored suits wants his fix, wants to know more, Tom Mahon’s blog should be their first port of call. Tom Mahon’s blog should be where the strongest medicine is first to be found, bar none.
Control the conversation by improving the conversation. It’s that simple.
[You can e-mail Tom Mahon here.]
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