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How Marketers Should Plan for AI with Raj Venkatesan

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Raj Venkatesan is co-author of the new book The AI Marketing Canvas and a professor of marketing at the University of Virginia. This week he joined me on the On Brand podcast for a timely discussion about artificial intelligence and marketing—how should we be thinking about it and what should we be planning for the new year ahead.

About Raj Venkatesan

Rajkumar Venkatesan is the co-author of The AI Marketing Canvas: A Five-Stage Road Map to Implementing Artificial Intelligence in Marketing. He is the Ronald Trzcinski Professor of Business Administration in the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. His writing has appeared in the Journal of Marketing and Harvard Business Review, among others, and he is the co-author of Marketing Analytics (2021). For more information, please visit the book’s website.

Episode Highlights & Takeaways

“AI is something that’s going to help marketers,” Raj began, noting that many worry about AI being something new and different. “If you’re in marketing, you do what you do best. Provide excellent and superior customer service. And what AI does is allow you to scale this customer service and personalize it.”

Where should marketers get started with AI? “Start with first-party customer data—you have to have a strong data foundation. From here, you look for value pockets where AI can help you scale.”

A good reminder/warning about your data: “You will never have perfect data. And if you wait for it, it will be too late—your competition will beat you there.”

What brand has made Raj smile recently? Raj began by claiming that I made him smile. Host flattery? I’m here for it. Raj followed up with his real brand smile—Ford. Recently, the automaker announced that they’ve stopped taking orders for the new electric Ford F-150. This made Raj smile as it’s a good sign that we’re moving away from fossil fuels.

To learn more about Raj Venkatesan, check out his book at The AI Marketing Canvas book website, his Coursera courses, and his University of Virginia webpage.