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Claudio Ludovisi, of the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, on brand purpose, paid vs. organic media, AI and fan engagement research

I was delighted to chat recently with Claudio Ludovisi, of the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. Before arriving at Pepperdine, Claudio served in high-level strategic marketing positions at Walt Disney, NBC, IMAX, Amgen, and Warner Bros.

We discuss strategies for aligning brand promise and pricing, along with mistakes often made by marketers in this area. Claudio emphasizes the importance of considering all five P’s of marketing, including product, price, and placement, (not just promotion and positioning). He also highlights the folly of overly relying on paid media and the need for marketers to leverage technology to establish continuous two-way relationships with customers.

Claudio discusses the connection to purpose and how it strongly influences a marketer’s effectiveness. He emphasizes the significance of finding a story in what a company does, regardless of the industry, and the importance of addressing broader societal problems to engage customers.

As he observes, “sometimes marketers end up working in places where they don’t have a lot of affinity for the purpose of the organization. And that’s a mistake. Because ultimately, your ability to be powerful as the leader of power in your job powerful influencing the C suite has a lot to do with how aligned you are with the vision and mission of the place. And why I mentioned this is because that connection with the customer ultimately, really is empowered by purpose. As we know, advertising can only take you so far, so people can smell a fake purpose. You can’t fake purpose. You know, people, especially with the newer generations, have a really good eye for that. And you can’t “purpose wash” things — you really have to be in a place that is serious about what they’re doing and solving problems that matter to people. And so good marketing begins with connecting with customers in a powerful way, and therefore solving a real problem, not having to make up a problem that doesn’t exist.”

We delve into Claudio’s research on fan engagement, the impact of organizational purpose on trust, and the willingness of customers to share personal data. Claudio’s research is part of a DBA degree “Doctorate in Business Administration” at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the school allows experienced professionals to do scholarly grade research in an area of practical applications, become experts in their field, publish in journals and identify new frontiers of knowledge that can change the world of business. Our discussion touches on influencer marketing, where trust and authenticity are crucial, and the need for influencers to align with the brand’s purpose. Claudio underlines the significance of maintaining consistency in values and politics to preserve trust with the audience. He also stresses that marketers, whose budgets typically depend on favorable opinions in the C-Suite, must strive to speak the language of highly placed executives and demonstrate – through data-driven storytelling – that the marketer’s budgetary requests are warranted.


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