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Book Review: Marketing in The Round

Book Review: Marketing in The Round

Cross-posted at Change Marketing


Marketing in The Round
By Gini Dietrich, Geoff Livingston
Published Apr 23, 2012 by Que. Part of the Que Biz-Tech series.

If the marketing leader in your life still doesn’t “get” that advertising, PR, digital and social media all have to be informed by a central strategy, this review offers you two options:

1) Buy them a copy of Marketing in The Round, and make them read it; or
2) Smack them upside the head with it.

Given that this roundup of current best practices is under 200 pages, I recommend the former option.

If you are the kind of person who reads every expert marketing and media blog you can cram into your RSS feed, you will not find anything groundbreaking in this book. You will, however, find it a very useful summary. Authors Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston have managed to take all the traditional and innovative marketing wisdom available to the motivated learner and put it into one system they call “The Marketing Round”.

It’s basically a hub and spoke system, in which the unified brand strategy/strategist(s) is the hub and every marketing and media tactic radiates out from it. It’s simple, intuitive, and so sensible you may reconsider the “smack upside the read” option if your old-school marketing chum who reads it doesn’t immediately become a convert.

The book is not without its suitly clichés, however. The authors take the appropriate but predictable path of basing their advice on a classic war manual. In this case, it’s The Book of Five Rings by 17th century Japanese rōnin Miyamoto Musashi instead of the old standby of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and it is the kind of thing that gets the PowerPoint set all jazzed at sponsored lunch and learns. But as a non-suit, I mostly just tolerated it as a guaranteed shortcut to those people’s reading lists.

Okay, now for some gems:

…is your organization so siloed that all you can do every day is protect your own turf by focusing solely on your own job and not what other disciplines are doing?

Marketing in the round means the silos must disappear. Forever.


Overreliance on a tactical specialty is a fact of the human condition, dating back through the centuries. Fight it. Great strategic choices must stretch beyond core strengths.


There is great debate about whether or not social media can be measured. People are constantly asking, “What’s the ROI?”

By itself, social media is [I would have prefered “are”] very difficult to measure. But that’s why you’re using it as one tactic in your marketing round. Because, when used as part of a larger strategy, it can — and should — be measured.

…part of brand monitoring and listening is to develop a thick skin. You may not like what the groundswell has to say. You’re going to hear things you never considered or don’t want to hear. You’re going to get defensive. You’re going to mumble, “They just don’t get it.”

It will be hard to get all your marketing round to really listen to what’s being said, and to decide how to respond.

It will be hard.

If any of these quotes scared you, you need to read this book. If they got you pumping your fist or making devil’s horns in an embarrassing display of marketing geekery, you will want to read it.

And if your Marketosaurus Rex is still unconvinced after reading Marketing in The Round, and needs a really effective upside-the-head whacking, I recommend my dusty 1996 edition of Strategy in Advertising by Leo Bogart. With 361 thick pages not updated since the dawn of the digital revolution, that’s about all it’s good for anymore.

About the authors:

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communication firm, and Spin Sucks Pro, a professional development site for PR and marketing pros. Her blog, Spin Sucks, is on the AdAge top 150 list, as well as a top 10 online destination for PR and marketing tips, tools, and techniques. An award-winning communicator, her clients have included Abbott, Sprint, Ocean Spray, Bayer, BASF, The Catfish Institute, Central Garden & Pet, and Denny’s. She speaks in venues ranging from trade organizations and international social media and communication forums to Vistage International and PRSA.

Geoff Livingston authored the pioneering social media primer, Now Is Gone (2007) and its successor Welcome to the Fifth Estate (2011). He provides superior communication consulting, training, and strategy to help mindful companies and nonprofits dedicated to social change. A marketing strategist for 18+ years, his clients have included eBay, Ford, Google, United Way of America, Network Solutions, Verizon Wireless, and the Washington Nationals. He speaks in venues ranging from SxSW to PR News.

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more