Location may be everything in Southern California, but positioning is worth even more.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University - Location may be everything in Southern California, but positioning is worth even more.

Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business felt squeezed – by juggernauts like USC and UCLA, and by lesser-known business schools scattered throughout the Los Angeles metro area. While it had the will and means to compete, Pepperdine lacked a well-orchestrated integrated marketing plan to guide its activity and spending.

Conventional Wisdom

In the hunt for part-time, evening and weekend prospects—graduate and undergraduate—staff from Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business found themselves running a perpetual marketing treadmill. Open houses, pay-per-click, radio, direct mail, email, public relations, social media. . . the list of events and collateral seemed endless. On top of it all, Pepperdine promoted dozens of programs across multiple locations: a Malibu main campus, five regional centers and a presence in Silicon Valley.

Elliance Perspective

In tough economic times, smarter use of budgets and human resources prevails. Elliance believes you can always outsmart your competition, regardless of whether or not you are being outspent on one or more fronts.

Cross pollination of ideas and coordinated use of new media distinguish smart and effective marketing. Your ability to think from a keyword-driven perspective and to repurpose content effectively distinguishes good intentions and great results.

Elliance Approach

Rather than simply feed the frenzy with more messages and media buys, Elliance first crafted a strategic marketing plan that defined priorities.

Position Pepperdine against National & Regional Competition

The first question to be answered was where and how to position Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business against national and regional competition. Once the positioning felt right, Elliance moved to articulate a content strategy, design and brand voice for a re-launched web presence.

Revised website now leads the brand

With the revised website now leading the brand, Pepperdine's internal teams could reference a common source for inspiration and keywords. Pepperdine's marketing, enrollment, public relations and advancement teams learned the power of working from a shared understanding of keyword-driven communication and flexible content.


The Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business today finds itself winning more prospects, and waging fewer marketing battles. Elliance identified a series of steps to make the school's pay-per-click campaigns achieve more with less. Organic search marketing focused initially on a set of hyper-local phrases promoting the part-time MBA degree. Page one, sometimes number one search engine positions drove qualified traffic, taking some of the enrollment marketing load from traditional media such as radio and cable.


Freed from frenzy, Pepperdine-Graziadio currently executes a variety of strategies and tactics to drive applicant demand to programs and improve alumni engagement.