MBA Team Adds Up Google for Cupcake Biz

Published on May 26, 2010

UH Bauer MBA Students Take on Google AdWords Challenge for Crave Cupcakes

MBA students from UH Bauer found that a small investment in Google AdWords could pay off for Crave Cupcakes.

A three-week online test showed the owners of Crave Cupcakes how they could use Google’s AdWords program to target people who’ve never seen or heard of the shop in Uptown Park.

Crave Cupcakes was chosen by the four students in the new class created to teach students how to market a business using Google Adwords. The point of the class taught by Steven Koch, Executive Professor and Director of Business Consulting Lab, was to learn how to effectively use an online tool to grow a business.

“They gave us a crash course on” using AdWords, said Elizabeth Harrison, one of the three partners who own Crave Cupcakes. “We felt fortunate that they chose to work with us.”

Google’s Online Marketing Challenge pits the Bauer team against student groups from around the globe. Each had only $200 to spend on the program that displays ads when a person using Google enters certain keywords. The tiny budget forced the team to find ways to make every dollar count.

To maximize the impact, members of the Bauer team, all of whom have worked in marketing, did a detailed study of the business. The goal was to understand Crave’s customers — specifically those who go online to buy at least a dozen of its premium cupcakes for pickup or delivery. Then they built a list of keywords they’d most likely enter when they might want to buy baked treats.

The result was about 20,000 impressions — the number of times ads were displayed on a Google search page — and 386 potential customers, said Victor Cintron, a part-time MBA student who is manager of Demand Side Development eCommerce for Academy Sports & Outdoors.

The group also gathered information on everything from the number of menus downloaded to the surprising number of searches by people from Dallas.

“A lot of those menu downloads were for the keywords, ‘weddings’ and ‘birthdays,’” which could mean future business for Crave, said Mark Ward, an MBA student in the group.

One thing revealed by the study: Crave is a strong brand name for a cupcake shop. The searches showed the vast majority searching for it online did it by name, Harrison said.

The Crave partners will likely seek further advice on how to capitalize on the three-week test by the Bauer College class.

One member of the team, Danny Gavin, an MBA student, went out to the shop to offer personal advice on using AdWords to draw in people who have never heard of Crave, which will be opening a second shop this summer.

Gavin said the test allowed them to narrow their list of keywords that helped likely buyers, as wells as words weeding out those who are not.

“You have to pay attention to how the market reacts,” Gavin said. Google AdWords is “like being in a submarine. At first you are pulling levers and you don’t know where you are going yet.”

By now the group has a good idea what works for Crave, but they have no clue how they’ll be judged in the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

The Bauer team has submitted its results that will be measured using a formula which, like a lot of things at Google, is a secret.

By Stephen Rassenfoss

Posted Under: Graduate

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