Book Review: The Smart Marketer’s Toolbox

Smart MarketersI recently finished reading The Smart Marketer’s Toolbox by Eric Schulz, which I first heard about from Jim Stengel after reading his recommendation on Twitter (how’s that for influence?).

I was initially drawn to the book because of its “holistic” nature in that the author provides a 10,000 foot level view of marketing. And who better to glean some perspective from than a 25-year marketing veteran of such companies as Procter & Gamble, The Walt Disney Company, and Coca-Cola?

Specifically, I enjoyed Schultz’s hands-on approach to marketing and hearing about his personal experiences recapturing what he’s learned as a marketer working for some of the world’s top brands. For example, at Coca-Cola, Schultz developed and executed the world’s most expansive and expensive marketing program when the company sponsored the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. According to the book, the plan cost $450 million and was executed across 152 countries. Global sales volume increased by 9%, global profits by 22%, and Coke’s stock price jumped 32% over the nine-month period leading up to the games when the marketing plan was being implemented.

A recurring theme in the book is the idea that too many young marketers are overly  focused on taking advantage of the “next new thing,” while too many seasoned marketers find themselves desperately clinging to old tactics: there has to be some balance. In Chapter 1 Schulz addresses this issue when he writes:

What you CAN do and what you SHOULD do in a marketing campaign, is very different. Too often young marketing managers get caught up in what they CAN do—what CAN we do with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, SMS Texting, Plaxo, LinkedIn, email marketing; mobile apps, widgets, RSS feeds or building micro-sites—because it seems more exciting, cutting edge, and innovative to hurl themselves into this world of evolving technology.

Doing the SHOULD do’s—brand positioning, websites, packaging, traditional advertising, point-of-sale-materials—seems old school and boring. The truth lies in between. Successful marketers need to keep a keen eye on all the possibilities presented by things they CAN do with new revolutions in technology, media and hardware, and integrate it if it makes sense into the plan of what they SHOULD do. The fundamental strategies of marketing  …  the “should do’s” haven’t changed. The ways we can execute them have.

While The Smart Marketer’s Toolbox takes new media into account, my opinion is that this text is a little heavy on the traditional approaches. However, for what the book lacked in helping to understand the “future” of marketing it made up for by providing helpful, time-tested advice.

Needless to say, because there are so many resources for marketers to call upon and tactics to integrate into their marketing strategies these days, he offers the following recommendation:

Think about each of these (tactics) as keys on the piano. Greater marketers need training to learn which keys to push, at just the right moment, to maximize their effectiveness and how to blend them together to act in synergy with the other keys to create harmonious marketing programs that are all singing together from the same hymnal.

In short, I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand more about the big picture when it comes to marketing. This is a clearly laid out, comprehensive primer on “how to do marketing well,” especially as it relates to scalable brands. The book is written in a conversational tone that is easy to follow, and it is filled with loads of practical advice and insights that anyone can apply to their business.


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