Let’s talk about marketing. A journey through choice.

4 June 2024

Interview with Barbara Lorenzini, consultant for more than 20 years on marketing topics and branding strategies, and author of the book and podcast Parliamo di Marketing.

At BBS Barbara teaches Marketing at the Professional Master in Business Management.


What is the role of storytelling today in marketing and more specifically in the world of online retail, where there is no contact with the seller, the natural brand ambassador?

Let’s take a step back for a moment: I believe there are four keywords in marketing they are content, relevance, transparency, and people.

Talking about storytelling means talking about content, and content, whether we are referring to the online world or the physical world, must always be something that enriches the value of the product. The “poetry” of a salesperson in love with the product translates into a pursuit of content.

Let me give a concrete example: in my podcast “Parliamo di marketing” I talked with Fabio Bin, co-founder of WeRoad, who was also a guest speaker in the Tourism, Heritage and Events track of the Professional Master in Business Management.

He told me that he wants people to fall in love with travel through the content he publishes. From there, from contact with quality content, the customer will engage, and perhaps, after a few visits to the site, they will be inspired to buy a trip. This is what storytelling does: it creates a bond between the customer and the brand through content.


What is relevance for a brand and why is it so important?

The brand is a key strategic asset for a business. It is that thing that in people’s minds translates into a “guide to choice.”

To be strong, to survive in a world of constant competition and overlapping proposals, having a valid reputation is crucial: it means being not only recognizable but relevant. What does it mean? Although the world changes, the brand continues to bring value to people’s lives. The company must be able to listen to the changes to continue to produce value, hence relevance.

An example is the very famous Swiss Army knife that is rebranding by eliminating the blade from its multifunctional classic: at a time in history when being associated with a weapon lowers its value, here is a company that has always produced multi-purpose knives and camping tools makes a strong choice and decides to continue producing the object that has made it recognizable, changing its backbone. In a world that does not want potentially dangerous objects, Victorinox wants to continue to be relevant.

The Heinz case is emblematic. The world of gamers is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. There are people who spend their day glued to their screens playing games, often without even taking a break to eat. Here’s where Heinz had the foresight to enter that sector for the strategic company and did it by creating value for the potential customer: the partnership with the world-famous game Call of Duty is based on interactivity with the game, getting the Heinz customer some benefits and creating a strong attachment to the product. The company thus stands by the customer in a world that is important to him.




Let’s continue with his four basic marketing words: transparency.

Today the customer is evolved and very demanding. He evaluates the purchase following several parameters, including certainly price, but not only.

The transparency in communication that the brand puts in place rewards and works.

I continue with practical examples: The Ordinary, a skincare company, after the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine and with the resulting global economic crisis did a very interesting operation. It raised prices by communicating this to customers and explaining that they would not be able to maintain quality standards due to the increase in various costs. The message was understood and appreciated, and the company did not lose market segments.


We close the quartet: people.

There is a branch of marketing that studies the “human to human” approach: everything that determines product choice not on a rational scale, but on an emotional one. There are not only practical reasons that drive us to purchase, but also emotional, and sentimental ones. This whole area related to what makes us more human – feelings, sensations – must be considered in a brand’s marketing strategy.

Then, in marketing comes the value of people. In a world that depends more and more on machines, on artificial intelligence, people remain a key element: everyone does marketing, even if they don’t know it. All employees of a company participate in creating its reputation, and its engagement with the brand.

A.I. makes it possible to ensure efficient customer experiences, but it does not exclude people: machines track and study big numbers, but then there is sensitivity, the “human touch.”

We need to rethink the role of people in companies. Will they be less and less occupied by repetitive, low-quality work? Then they will have to be trained again to move from operational to managerial roles.


What are the most relevant marketing strategies for the Made in Italy today?

First, as we have already said, the content. I have to keep pushing the mental association that links the product to the world that I imagine when I talk about Made in Italy, and this is done by producing quality content.

Then, the customer experience. Made in Italy begins with “the way you answer the phone”: the customer must be wrapped in the luxury that the Made in Italy concept expresses in every moment of contact with the brand or company.


What is the brand purpose?

The most classic example of purpose I can recognize it in brands such as Patagonia: the purpose is why a company wants to legitimize its existence in society, beyond creating profits for the company.

It applies to every company in the world and in every industry, and GenZ consumers are very attentive to this topic. They even demand that companies take a role in society. It is a transversal theme; the purpose of a company today is a strong differentiator, and thus a potential choice, for a customer who increasingly takes the functional dimension for granted in a world of choices.

Companies today should have the courage to stop and answer the question, “Why do I want to be chosen?” This is where awareness of one’s positioning comes from.

It is necessary to have the courage to give oneself a distinctive voice. In a world where everyone is talking, it is essential to be heard.

One must remember that marketing is the set of activities put in place to continue to be chosen in a world of choices. It is therefore essential to study the subject with a systemic, very practical, and business-related approach.

Bologna Business School‘s Master Programs have always aspired to provide tools and mindsets suited to the global market and, thanks to the holistic and pragmatic vision on which they are designed, they become a guarantee of concrete personal and professional growth, expendable and linked to the market demands that come from the School‘s international network.


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