Keith Parnell

Attracting customers and growing your retail business requires a clear strategy and the right execution. That’s where I come in. I specialize in crafting data-driven digital strategies that get results for retail businesses like yours.

Data-Driven Decisions: Forget guesswork. I leverage data insights to identify the most effective digital channels and tactics to reach your target audience.

Focus on ROI: Your hard-earned dollars deserve a return. My strategies prioritize activities that deliver measurable results and steer clear of dead ends.

Cutting Through the Digital Clutter: The digital landscape is complex, but I simplify it for you. I translate complex strategies into actionable steps that are easy to implement and manage.

Essentially, I unclutter the digital world for small businesses.

With over 30 years of experience in marketing and technology, I have a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by retail businesses. I’m passionate about helping you leverage the power of digital to achieve sustainable growth.

CIO / CMO Case Study | CTO / CMO Case Study

Digital Strategist in Norfolk Daily Responsibilities

Keith works in the day-to-day as a Data-Driven Digital Strategist helping B2B, B2C, SaaS, eCommerce companies grow through 8-figure+ revenue.

Keith serves at Fractional Chief Technology Officer & Chief Marketing Officer for Tidewater Safety Shoes Service, Inc. overseeing digital efforts for the in-store point-of-sale system and its inventory management, sales processing, financial system integration, and eCommerce activities.

Keith serves as Fractional Chief Information & Chief Marketing Officer for Ghent Eats LLC overseeing digital efforts for the GE brands, including three multi-million-dollar restaurants in Norfolk Virginia — Cogans Pizza Ghent, Cogans Pizza North, and Hank’s Filling Station — and the new Craft on Colley.

Education & Speaking

Keith has advanced education in business, information systems, and software engineering from Christopher Newport University and Kansas State University, and has had the privilege to speak to and teach MBA students at The College of William & Mary Mason School of Business and Old Dominion University Strome College of Business, and to professionals at Alpha College of Real Estate on multiple occasions.

Giving Back to The Community

Keith has served as the Virginia Governor’s Appointed Commissioner to the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (Hampton Roads Transit’s Governing Board), has served on the Board of Directors for Transit Management Company, on the International Board of Directors for Cosmopolitan International, on the Board of Managers of the Cosmopolitan Club of Norfolk Virginia, and on the Board of Directors for Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance.

Days Gone By …

Keith was Chief Executive Officer & Strategy Chief of JASE Group LLC, an innovative Creative Advertising & Technology Agency, a company he founded in 1997 and successfully sold in 2018, and a company that guided many clients through million-dollar growth increments.

Keith Parnell, Digital Marketing Consultant in Norfolk
Keith Parnell, Digital Marketing Consultant in Norfolk

Chief Information Officer / Chief Marketing Officer Case Study

How Ghent Eats Used Technology and Marketing to Drive Restaurant Success

The Challenge

Ghent Eats, a restaurant group encompassing Cogans Pizza Ghent, Cogans Pizza North, Craft on Colley, and Hank’s Filling Station, faced a common dilemma – managing and marketing four distinct restaurant brands under one umbrella. Disconnected data, inconsistent branding, and limited online presence hindered their ability to reach a wider audience and maximize profits.

Enter the Changemaker

That’s where I, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) / Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), stepped in. Recognizing the power of technology and strategic marketing and its merged power and effectiveness, I embarked on a mission to unify Ghent Eats’ brand efforts and propel each restaurant to new heights.

The Solution: My Leadership in Action

I recognized that disjointed data was a major barrier to growth. To address this, I spearheaded the implementation of a centralized data management system. This system acted as a single source of truth, connecting all Ghent Eats restaurants in real-time. Here’s how it transformed operations:

  • Customer Insights: Gone were the days of siloed data. This system provided a holistic view of customer preferences across all locations. I used this data to identify top-selling dishes, understand buying habits, and tailor future menus to maximize customer satisfaction.
  • Inventory Optimization: Real-time inventory tracking across all restaurants allowed for proactive management. This eliminated overstocking and potential waste, while ensuring popular items remained readily available.
  • Sales Trend Analysis: By analyzing sales data across locations and timeframes, I identified peak hours, popular menu items, and even seasonal trends. This empowered me to create targeted promotions and make data-driven decisions for maximum profitability.
Unified Marketing for a Stronger Brand

I understood that a strong brand identity was key to attracting and retaining customers. Here’s how I fostered a cohesive brand for Ghent Eats while preserving individual personalities:

    • Cohesive Brand Identity: I spearheaded the creation of a unified brand image for Ghent Eats, encompassing logos, color schemes, and messaging. This established a strong, recognizable presence in the market.
    • Unique Restaurant Voices: However, I recognized the importance of each restaurant’s distinct character. Within the Ghent Eats brand umbrella, I ensured each location retained its unique voice through targeted social media content and website design elements that reflected their individual personalities.
Digital Domination: A Seamless Customer Journey

My commitment to a robust digital presence brought Ghent Eats to the forefront of customer minds. Here’s how I transformed their online experience:

    • User-Friendly Websites: I championed the development of user-friendly websites for both Ghent Eats ( and each individual restaurant. These websites showcased each location’s unique offerings, ambiance, and menus, attracting new customers and driving traffic to their specific pages.
    • Mobile Optimization: Understanding the shift to mobile browsing, I ensured all websites were optimized for mobile devices, allowing customers to easily access menus, order online, and make reservations on the go.
    • Online Ordering: Recognizing the growing demand for convenience, I further implemented and grew online ordering capabilities across all Ghent Eats restaurants. This streamlined the ordering process, increased customer satisfaction, and boosted revenue.

By implementing these strategies, I not only strengthened the Ghent Eats brand but also empowered each restaurant to thrive in a competitive market.

The Results: Measurable Success

My vision for a data-driven, digitally connected Ghent Eats translated into undeniable success. Here’s a closer look at the quantifiable impact:

Soaring Sales Despite Challenges

In the face of the challenging Covid-19 pandemic, Ghent Eats experienced a surge in sales across all restaurants compared to other community activities. Revenue remained better than stable, a testament to the effectiveness of my strategies. This highlights my ability to navigate difficult circumstances and drive growth even in a disrupted market.

Explosive Online Engagement

My focus on a robust digital presence paid off. Social media engagement and SEO rankings for all Ghent Eats restaurants skyrocketed by over 30%. This translated to a larger, more engaged online community, fostering brand loyalty and driving new customers through the doors.

Streamlined Operations, Boosted Efficiency

By leveraging data insights, I helped optimize operations across all locations. This resulted in a significant reduction in waste, improved inventory management, and optimized staff scheduling. These improvements directly translated to YoY increases in operational efficiency, boosting profitability, and allowing Ghent Eats to reinvest in further growth.

Beyond the numbers, my leadership fostered a culture of data-driven decision-making within Ghent Eats. This empowered employees to take responsibility and contribute to the continued success of the restaurant group.

My Expertise, Their Success: A Blueprint for Your Restaurant’s Growth

Ghent Eats’ transformation is a powerful testament to the transformative power of technology and marketing, wielded with strategic expertise. It’s not just a success story – it’s a blueprint for your restaurant’s future.

Here’s what Ghent Eats’ journey reveals:

The Need for a Unified Approach

Disjointed data and inconsistent marketing efforts hinder growth. My leadership brought a unified vision to Ghent Eats, allowing them to leverage their collective strengths and maximize impact.

Data-Driven Decision Making

In today’s competitive landscape, data is king. My ability to harness the power of data analytics empowered Ghent Eats to understand their customers, optimize operations, and make informed decisions that drove success.

The Power of a Strong Digital Presence

Customers increasingly turn to online platforms to discover and connect with restaurants. My leadership ensured Ghent Eats had a robust digital presence, attracting new customers and streamlining the customer journey.

My experience at Ghent Eats is more than just a single case study. It’s a demonstration of a replicable framework that can be applied to restaurants of all sizes and specialties.

Ready to Replicate this Success Story?

Are you a restaurant owner looking to take your business to the next level? Contact me or visit to learn how proven strategies, led by a visionary CIO / CMO, can unlock your restaurant’s full potential.

Chief Technology Officer / Chief Marketing Officer Case Study

A CTO / CMO’s Playbook for Growth

As a Data-Driven Digital Strategist with over 30 years of experience in both marketing and technology, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of a collaborative approach between a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). In this case study, I’ll be focusing on how Tidewater Safety Shoes, a company I deeply admire for its commitment to customer satisfaction, leverages this leadership duo to achieve significant growth.

Tidewater Safety Shoes is not just as a trusted retailer, but as a dominant force in the safety footwear and work wear market, attracting new customers, retaining existing ones, and driving sales through a seamless online and in-store experience. This vision is entirely achievable by establishing the CTO and CMO roles and empowering them to work together.

This case study is specifically for retail business owners like yourself. By exploring the specific contributions of a CTO and CMO at Tidewater Safety Shoes, I’ll provide a blueprint you can adapt to propel your own business forward. I’ll delve into the strategies I, as the CTO / CMO, would implement to leverage technology and marketing to address the unique challenges faced by retailers in the safety footwear industry.

Get ready to discover how a data-driven approach, exceptional customer experiences, and targeted marketing campaigns are turn Tidewater Safety Shoes – and potentially your business – into a leader in its field.

The Tidewater Advantage: A Legacy of Customer Satisfaction

For over 50 years, Tidewater Safety Shoes has been a cornerstone of customer satisfaction in our community. As a family-owned business, we understand the critical role proper footwear and work wear plays in protecting workers across industries, from shipyards to construction sites to bustling municipalities. Our retail store in Newport News, Virginia, has been the go-to destination for quality safety boots and shoes, along with work clothing and outerwear. But the world is changing, and so are the needs of our customers.

Beyond the Brick-and- Mortar: Embracing the Digital Frontier

While our commitment to exceptional customer service remains unwavering, we recognize the growing importance of a robust online presence. This case study explores how Tidewater Safety Shoes leverages the combined expertise of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to bridge the gap between our physical store and the vast potential of the digital marketplace.

Keith Parnell: Your Guide to Growth

For over 30 years, I, Keith Parnell, have navigated the ever-evolving landscape of technology and marketing. My experience spans across various industries, from founding and successfully selling my own company, JASE Group LLC, to leading teams as a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer. Currently, I leverage my expertise as a Data-Driven Digital Strategist, helping B2B, B2C, SaaS, and eCommerce companies like Tidewater Safety Shoes achieve significant growth.

A Passion for Innovation, a Drive for Results

My approach is rooted in a deep understanding of how technology can empower businesses to connect with customers on a deeper level. At Tidewater Safety Shoes, I see a company poised for greatness, with a long-standing reputation for quality and a commitment to worker safety and customer satisfaction. However, the digital age presents both challenges and opportunities. This case study is my blueprint for unlocking Tidewater’s full potential, leveraging the power of a combined CTO / CMO role that I would embody.

Bridging the Gap Between Expertise

Having worn both the marketing and technology hats throughout my career, I understand the unique challenges and opportunities each presents. This holistic perspective allows me to bridge the gap between these two crucial functions, ensuring seamless collaboration and a data-driven approach to achieving Tidewater Safety Shoes’ growth objectives.

The Challenge: Standing Out in a Crowded Marketplace

The safety footwear and work wear industry is very competitive. While Tidewater Safety Shoes has a loyal customer base and a reputation for quality products, the retail landscape is evolving. Here are some of the key challenges we face:

  • Increased Online Competition: The rise of eCommerce giants and online safety footwear retailers means customers have more options than ever before.
  • Price Pressure: The focus on competitive pricing can squeeze margins and make it difficult for Tidewater Safety Shoes to differentiate itself solely on cost.
  • Customer Awareness: Reaching new customers and educating them about the importance of proper safety footwear in a crowded online space can be challenging.
  • Evolving Customer Needs: Modern customers expect a seamless omnichannel experience, where online and in-store shopping experiences complement each other.

Beyond the Challenges, Opportunities Await

These challenges present significant opportunities for growth. By leveraging technology and marketing in a strategic way, Tidewater Safety Shoes can:

  • Create a Compelling Online Presence: Develop a user-friendly eCommerce platform that showcases our product selection and expertise.
  • Become a Trusted Resource: Provide valuable content and educational resources to establish Tidewater Safety Shoes as the go-to authority for all things safety footwear and work wear.
  • Personalize the Customer Journey: Utilize data and analytics to understand customer needs and preferences, offering personalized recommendations and a seamless shopping experience.
  • Bridge the Gap Between Online & In-Store: Integrate online and in-store inventory and customer data to provide a unified shopping experience.

This case study explores how a CTO and CMO working collaboratively, and as one person, does address these challenges and unlock the vast potential for growth at Tidewater Safety Shoes.

The CTO Role: Building the Digital Foundation for Growth

As the CTO / CMO for Tidewater Safety Shoes, my technology focus is on building a robust digital infrastructure that empowers both internal operations and customer experiences. Here are some key initiatives I spearhead:

eCommerce Platform Development

Creating a user-friendly and secure online store is paramount. This platform seamlessly integrates with our POS system and inventory management system, ensuring product availability and accurate pricing. The focus is on providing a clear and informative shopping experience, highlighting product features and benefits relevant to specific customer needs.

Implementing a Modern Point-of-Sale (POS) System

A new POS system integrates seamlessly with the eCommerce platform and inventory management system. This provides real-time data on sales, customer behavior, and inventory levels across both online and in-store channels. Additionally, this modern POS system offers features like faster checkout times, improved customer service interactions, and the ability to accept a wider range of payment options.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows us to capture valuable customer data, including purchase history, preferences, and interactions. This data is then be leveraged to personalize marketing campaigns, optimize product offerings, and improve the overall customer experience.

Operational Efficiency & Automation

Streamlining back-end processes through automation frees up valuable resources and improve overall efficiency. This includes automating tasks like order fulfillment, inventory management, and reporting.

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Fostering a culture of continuous improvement within the technology team ensures Tidewater Safety Shoes remains at the forefront of technological advancements. This involves exploring new technologies like augmented reality (AR) for product visualization or virtual reality (VR) for employee training on safety protocols.

By implementing these initiatives, I am creating a solid technological foundation that empowers the CMO role to develop targeted marketing campaigns and deliver exceptional customer experiences. The seamless integration of technology and marketing is the cornerstone of Tidewater Safety Shoes’ growth strategy.

The CMO Role: Transforming Brand Awareness and Customer Engagement

As the CTO / CMO for Tidewater Safety Shoes, my marketing focus is on leveraging data and technology to create a customer-centric experience that fosters brand awareness, loyalty, and ultimately, increased sales. Here are some key initiatives I am implementing:

Developing a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Strategy

This strategy encompasses a multi-channel approach, utilizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and social media marketing to reach a wider audience. SEO optimization ensures our website ranks prominently in search results for relevant keywords, while targeted SEM campaigns allows us to reach customers actively searching for safety footwear online. Social media marketing focuses on building a community, sharing valuable content, and engaging with potential and existing customers.

Content Marketing for Thought Leadership

Creating high-quality, informative content that educates customers about safety footwear and positions Tidewater Safety Shoes as the trusted advisor in the industry is crucial. This content takes various forms, including blog posts, infographics, safety tips videos, and industry white papers. By establishing ourselves as a knowledge resource, we work to build trust and credibility with potential customers.

Personalization and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Leveraging data from the CRM system and website analytics, we can personalize the customer experience. This involves sending targeted email campaigns based on purchase history and preferences, offering personalized product recommendations, and providing exceptional customer service through multiple channels.

Building Brand Advocacy

Developing a strong brand identity and fostering brand loyalty are key to sustainable growth. This involves collaborating with industry influencers, creating customer loyalty programs, and actively soliciting customer feedback to continuously improve our offerings.

Omnichannel Marketing Integration

Ensuring a seamless customer experience across all channels, online and in-store, is paramount. This involves integrating online and in-store inventory data, offering click-and-collect options, and providing consistent messaging across all marketing materials.

By implementing these initiatives, I create a data-driven marketing strategy that attracts new customers, fosters loyalty, and ultimately drives sales growth for Tidewater Safety Shoes. The close collaboration with the CTO role ensures seamless integration of technology and marketing efforts, creating a powerful synergy that propels the company to a leadership position in the safety footwear market.

The Collaborative Approach: A Symphony of Technology and Marketing

Our future is achievable by establishing a collaborative leadership duo: the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Here’s why this combined role, which I would embody, is the key to unlocking significant growth:

Breaking Down Silos

Traditionally, technology and marketing have often operated in separate silos. By combining these functions under one leader, we foster a culture of collaboration and ensure all efforts are aligned towards a common goal – driving growth for Tidewater Safety Shoes.

Data-Driven Decision Making

The CTO, with expertise in data analytics, provides the CMO with valuable insights into customer behavior, website traffic patterns, and marketing campaign effectiveness. This data then informs the development of targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with the right audience.

Seamless Integration

Imagine a seamless customer experience where online browsing seamlessly translates into a smooth in-store purchase, or where targeted email campaigns reflect a customer’s specific needs identified through website behavior. The CTO role and CMO role working together ensures technology and marketing efforts are fully integrated, creating a unified customer journey.

Innovation at the Forefront

Together, the CTO role and CMO role explores new technological advancements to enhance the customer experience. For example, the CTO develops an augmented reality (AR) app that allows customers to virtually try on safety footwear in their workspace, while the CMO develops targeted marketing campaigns to promote this innovative technology.

Metrics and Measurement

By working collaboratively between roles in one brain, the CTO and CMO establishes a clear set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of both technology initiatives and marketing campaigns. This data-driven approach ensures that resources are allocated effectively and that both efforts are working towards measurable goals that contribute to Tidewater Safety Shoes’ overall growth strategy.

This combined CTO / CMO role is not just about efficiency; it’s about fostering a culture of innovation and agility. By working together, we ensure Tidewater Safety Shoes remains at the forefront of the safety footwear and work wear industry, delivering exceptional customer experiences and achieving sustainable growth.

Expected Outcomes: A Roadmap to Success

Again, by implementing a collaborative approach that leverages the expertise of a combined CTO / CMO role, Tidewater Safety Shoes is unlocking a future brimming with exciting possibilities. Here’s a glimpse of the expected outcomes:

Enhanced Brand Awareness and Market Share

Imagine Tidewater Safety Shoes not just as a local retailer, but as a recognized brand synonymous with safety footwear excellence. Through targeted marketing campaigns and a robust online presence, we can reach a wider audience, establish ourselves as thought leaders in the industry, and capture a larger share of the safety footwear and work wear market.

Customer Acquisition and Retention on Autopilot

Imagine a world where new customers discover Tidewater Safety Shoes effortlessly through targeted online advertising and informative content. By leveraging data and analytics, we can personalize the customer experience, nurture leads, and convert website visitors into loyal customers. Additionally, a focus on exceptional customer service across all channels will foster loyalty and encourage repeat business.

A Seamless Omnichannel Shopping Experience

Imagine a customer browsing safety footwear and work wear online, then seamlessly completing the purchase in-store, or vice versa. The CTO and CMO working together in one brain can ensure a unified customer experience across all touchpoints. This includes integrating online and in-store inventory, offering convenient options like click-and-collect, and providing consistent branding and messaging across all marketing materials.

Increased Sales and Profitability

The combined efforts of technology and marketing will ultimately translate into a strong bottom line. By attracting new customers, retaining existing ones, and optimizing the customer journey for higher conversion rates, Tidewater Safety Shoes can experience significant and sustainable sales growth. Additionally, operational efficiencies achieved through technology implementation can lead to improved profitability.

Data-Driven Decision Making for Continued Growth

The CTO and CMO roles, working collaboratively, will establish a data-driven culture within Tidewater Safety Shoes. By measuring the success of marketing campaigns, analyzing website traffic patterns, and understanding customer behavior, we can continuously refine our strategy and optimize our efforts for even greater growth in the future.

These expected outcomes paint a compelling picture of a thriving Tidewater Safety Shoes, a leader in the safety footwear and work wear industry. However, it’s important to remember that this success hinges on a collaborative approach, where technology and marketing work in unison, fueled by data and a shared vision for growth.

Ready to Replicate this Success Story?

Are you a retail business owner looking to take your business to the next level? Contact me or visit to learn how proven strategies, led by a visionary CTO / CMO, can unlock your small business’ full potential.