Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery E-Marketing Assessment
Small and medium businesses (SMB) often see the Internet as a luxury, not a necessity, and as a result significantly reduce the opportunities they have to attract, sell and serve new customers. Traditional marketing of using print media is what many SMBs rely on as the foundation of their marketing strategies. Citing limited time, resources, people and a perception their customers don’t consider websites or e-marketing relevant according to research into e-marketing adoption by SMBs (Gilmore, Gallagher, Henry, 240). Ironically the Internet is making the process of e-marketing more efficient, less costly and indispensable for staying in touch with customers. E-marketing is by definition the creating, communicating and delivering value to customers over the Internet (Gilmore, Gallagher, Henry, 235). The fascinating dynamic associated with e-marketing however is how rapidly the tools, technologies and strategies for creating relationships with customers and continually communicating with them are changing. Social networking’s influence on customer relationships (Bernoff & Li, 37 & 38) and the growth of Web 2.0 as an approach to creating and sustaining trust with customers (O’Reilly) is leading to entirely new approaches to staying aligned with their unmet needs. SMBs have the innate ability to be more agile and responsive to their customers’ needs and a few early adopters are turning to social networking and Web 2.0 technologies, tools and strategies to gain consumers’ insights (Cooke, Buckley, 267). E-Marketing in a Web 2.0 is more about getting into a conversation with customers online and creating collaboration that leads to customer loyalty, increasing the value of the customer over time. The business chosen to be profiled in this paper is Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery in Villa Park, California (www.rockwellsbakery.com)
Assessing Rockwell’s E-Marketing Strategy
Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery was founded in 1987 in Villa Park, one of the more affluent suburbs of Orange County, California. The founder had relocated from New York City where he had been a professional pastry chef, and chose to move to Villa Park, CA as the demographics of the city and the lack of higher-end bakers and cafe’ competition led to a relatively captive market. In 2004 the founder sold the restaurant to one of his senior managers who launched the first generation of e-marketing efforts that has not changed in four years.
From 2004 to present e-marketing has been comprised of a relatively spare website design that does not provide operating hours of the restaurant, and has only a single location to get website visitors to enter their e-mail addresses. There are a total of seven pages on the site, and one is a copy of the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus all combined together into a single large list that is many pages long. Throughout the entire site not a single first and last name for contact is given, and there are spare pictures of the catering completed. When the source code of the website is viewed using the View Source option in Internet Explorer there are no keywords in use for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Nothing is included on the website to drive search traffic from Google, Yahoo or other search engines to Rockwell’s site in the event a person is new to Villa Park and looking for a nearby place to eat. As embedding keywords within the header of the HTML for the website doesn’t cost anything and assist search engines in indexing the site, this is an immediate issue Rockwell’s needs to resolve.
The e-marketing efforts of Rockwell’s is comparable to many other SMBs globally who have not yet committed to develop a more interactive and collaborative approach to working with their customers. What Rockwell’s must do is first realize that static HTML pages a single e-mail opt-in entry on the front page of the site is out-of-date with e-marketing practices today and they are missing many opportunities to better serve existing customers and generate new ones. The recommendations section of this paper provides advice on how better to use social networking (Bernoff & Li, et.al.) and Web 2.0 technologies as defined in Table 1 of the Appendix of this document, based on O’Reilly’s (et.al.) Web 2.0 definition.
Marketing Analysis of Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery
This small business has many opportunities for improving its e-marketing effectiveness, as today the website is static and doesn’t interact with website visitors at all, and doesn’t have any value to existing customers to visit either. The e-marketing at Rockwell’s needs major work. Prior to defining a set of recommendations, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis (SWOT) is provided below:
An excellent location in the only shopping center in Villa Park, CA that has a large grocery store next to it and over a dozen businesses along each side of the diagonally shaped shopping center.
An affluent yet small and aging customer base of retirees in the Villa Park immediate area. These are the regular customers who come in for breakfast and sometimes dinner.
Excellent reputation throughout all of Orange County, CA for their specialty cakes and the special projects they are called on by Disneyland Resorts to produce. Rockwell’s provides specialty cakes for New Year’s celebrations at Disneyland and California Adventure. Voted Best of Orange County for their bakery goods five years in a row.
Founder and existing owner both rely on word-of-mouth as their marketing strategy, often placing advertisements in the Orange County Register or Villa Park newspaper only two or three times a year.
Too dependent on an aging customer base and not attracting younger families in the area, despite significant new home building throughout the surrounding cities of Orange and Tustin.
Lack of innovation in the use of e-marketing in general and on the website specifically.
Lack of originality and innovation in new dishes on the menu, which has not changed in early ten years.
Increasingly being branded as “my grandma’s favorite place” instead of be favored by couples and families.
Opportunities wealth of opportunity to differentiate on the five consecutive years of winning the Best of Orange County Award for bakery goods, in addition to capitalizing on the relationship with Disneyland Resorts and their holiday parties.
Connecting with younger families who are new to the area through a concerted e-marketing campaign including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery will be found during Google searches for local places to eat is also critical.
Rockwell’s does not sponsor any sports teams in Villa Park and does not advertise on the local cable TV access channel, and isn’t a sponsor of the Villa Park High School sports programs. Villa Park High School is located across the back parking lot from Rockwell’s near the main entrance to the school where parents drop off their kids every day.
Pricing competition from Denny’s, which has a location two miles away and the pervasive use of coupons from a local International House of Pancakes is a threat to their retired customer base.
Bakeries with lower overhead due to being in lower-rent locations are vying for the Disneyland Resort business, which would take away the majority of Rockwell’s revenue stream today and a potent differentiator it has yet to use.
Their aging customer base switches to a national chain and the cafe operations cease due to a lack of continued business.
Recommendations for Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery
Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery must embrace e-marketing strategies quickly to gain new customers before its existing retired customer base moves on to national chains due to the senior discounts and innovative new menu items. In many ways Rockwell’s is stuck in a time warp of the mid-199os from the use of the website through the decor of their business. What’s needed is an aggressive use of e-marketing to capture the younger, affluent families new to Villa Park and Orange.
Starting with a website that is re-designed to have SEO supported throughout the content in addition to the page descriptors in HTML, Rockwell’s must focus on becoming the top-rated restaurant and cafe when anyone searches Google for a place to eat in Villa Park or Orange, CA. Second, the website needs to be more informative as there is not a single first and last name contact listed, and the hours of the cafe and bakery aren’t included. Third, there is no mention of the five years of Best of Orange County Awards or the extensive catering done for the Disneyland Resorts and California Adventure. Fourth, there’s nothing to bring visitors back to this site, no coupons, no specials, no innovation in new menu items. What is needed is a rejuvenation of creativity to the menu items and the cakes. Under what’s new for example on the existing site more cakes are shown; this is not new, this is what this small business has been doing for years.
What’s needed is a re-aligning of the menu strategy of Rockwell’s to bring greater innovation and uniqueness to their menu, which has not changed in ten years. By doing this and actively promoting it, Rockwell’s will create greater excitement in the local community for their cafe business. In conjunction with this is the need to put more interactive media on the site, including video of a tour of the kitchen, which is one of the best equipped for creating pastries in Orange County. The e-marketing changes also need to include a customer forum area where the cafe’s management asks for ways to improve and make their business more attractive to younger families. In keeping with the idea of making the cafe more accessible to younger families and students, offering free WiFi is a must-have. Students would stop in before classes started at the local high school to finish up homework, bringing their families for breakfast. In keeping with the change in image to being more innovative, free WiFi would attract a younger and more affluent customer base over time. Free WiFi would also be heavily promoted on the website as well.
The greatest measure of a successful e-marketing strategy is the ability to connect with and build collaboration with customers (Nadeem, 218). Web 2.0 technologies, tools and strategies as defined in Table 1 of the Appendix of this document need to also guide SMB’s continual refining of e-marketing strategies to ensure they stay connected with customers and prospects. For Rockwell’s specifically, the need to attract younger, affluent and Web-savvy customers will spell the difference between staying financially viable or not within the next five years. Research supports that the greater the level of e-marketing the greater the Return on Customer (ROC) investment (Nadeem, 218).
Brodie, Winklhofer, Coviello, Johnston, et.al) Rockwell’s is in need of a complete refurbishing of their product and positioning strategies to ensure their new marketing campaigns will attract and retain a younger and more affluent family customer base that is Web-savvy.
Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery is much like the majority of SMBs in the U.S. And globally. With a small but loyal customer base and the Disneyland Resort being a major customer for their specialty cakes, Rockwell’s has been comfortably myopic in their marketing efforts. Yet the customer base is aging rapidly and this small business must embrace aspects of e-marketing that immediately make them a viable choice for younger, affluent families in the city of Villa Park and Orange if they are to remain viable. Only by relying on an increasingly higher level of effort to also bring innovation to their services in the cafe (like offering free WiFi) and the developing of new menu items can Rockwell’s hope to win over new customers. Ultimately Rockwell’s need to realize that revitalizing their entire business to be more innovative and relying on e-marketing to assist in promoting their more innovative image is critical for their long-term viability.
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WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS
Online diary or journal entry on the Internet, which primarily supports text, photo (photoblog), video (vlog), and audio (podcast) formats
Google, AOL, and Yahoo offer free blogging platforms
Web service that gathers related content from more than one source
IBM’s mashup applications enable project managers to match team resources with a map to identify the geographical locations of the resources
Peer-to-Peer Networking technique for effectively sharing music, audio, and text files
Napster and Gnutella are popular peer-to-peer networks
Real Simple Syndication (RSS)
Feed-based technology that, with the aid of an RSS reader, enables users to subscribe to newly released content such as text, Web pages, sound files, photos, and video
RSS feed may contain the full content, for example a podcast, or simply a link to the content
Encompasses all online tools (blogs, podcasts, Wikis, social networks, vlogs) and Web sites enabling people to share content, such as text, audio, picture s, and videos
Popular social media sites include YouTube (video) and Flickr (photos)
Web sites that permit users to create online networks and communicate with friends and colleagues
Social networking sites include MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, and Friends Reunited, and business networking sites include LinkedIn and Ryze
Allows users to bookmark or rate online content to share their recommendations with other online users
Typically used by publishers of media sites attempting to benefit from users’ recommendations
Popularized by sites such as Digg and del.icio.us, which enable users to publish, categorize, and share their bookmarks
Enables users to create and edit the content of a Web site, leveraging the expertise of online users
Consumer Wikis enable users to comment on content, in addition to editing content
Wikipedia, a community Wiki encyclopedia, includes approximately 1.3 million English-language articles
Sources: (Josh Bernoff, Charlene Li. et.al.) (O’Reilly, et.al.)