Holistic marketing and its components

The face and form of marketing have changed a lot in the twenty-first century. Apart from growing digitalization and the evolution of marketing tools, the approach to marketing has also evolved a lot. Higher consistency in marketing communications and a comprehensive approach to market the entire brand is important for effective positioning. Instead of marketing individual products, companies are focusing on brand building and growing brand equity. Moreover, marketing is not seen anymore as an isolated function but something that is embedded organization-wide into everything including the culture and business processes. 

Holistic Marketing - definition and components

What is Holistic Marketing?

Holistic marketing does not consider marketing an isolated function but instead an integrated function or something that is a part of everything inside the organization. The holistic marketing approach takes an integrated view of organizational marketing objectives. In the words of Kotler holistic marketing is,

based on the development, design, and implementation of marketing programs, processes, and activities that recognize their breadth and interdependencies. Holistic marketing recognizes that ‘everything matters’ with marketing and that a broad, integrated perspective is necessary to attain the best solution.”

Holistic marketing recognizes the importance of individual components in marketing but also ensures that they are integrated and not undertaken in isolation. A broad and integrated perspective considers everything from budgeting to the development of the promotion mix and marketing programs as a part of one. This approach is important for deriving the best results. Moreover, holistic marketing does not consider only the main stakeholders or the customers but instead, it considers all the stakeholders including society, suppliers, vendors, distributors, media, government, and others. There are many reasons that holistic marketing has gained popularity, the main reason being higher alignment and better results. However, making it possible also requires a high level of synergy across various functions and clear cut marketing objectives. Companies may adopt different strategies to achieve their marketing objectives. However, there are five fundamental components of holistic marketing. 

Components of Holistic Marketing

Internal Marketing:

Internal marketing refers to the internal alignment between various functions and the image of the brand among its internal stakeholders. For example, how your employees think of your business also affects your overall market image. While some companies may have created a good brand image in the market, worker dissatisfaction can spoil their reputation. Holistic marketing also considers the internal aspects of marketing. Traditionally, organizations used to focus on the external aspects of marketing only. However, with time the role of employees in the marketing of a business has grown more accentuated since how your employees perceive your brand, how they rate the work environment and the leadership also affects your overall social image.

Moreover, outside the organization what your employees say about you is crucial to your reputation in the market. You cannot be good on the outside and bad on the inside. This is why Holistic marketing seeks to bring higher alignment between your external and internal images. Your organizational culture, human resource policies, work environment and all the other factors that affect worker satisfaction also affect the organization’s internal image. Apart from that, for efficient internal marketing, you need to hire smart people since they are good at marketing a suitable image of the brand. So, hiring smart people and grooming them will help you achieve not just your internal marketing objectives but also external.  Other things that play an important role in internal marketing include culture, leadership, and organizational communication.

Integrated Marketing:

Integrated marketing seeks to bring higher alignment and synchronization in terms of marketing efforts. Consistent marketing communication is an important component of successful marketing and integrated marketing implies higher integration across all marketing channels. Integrated marketing emphasizes a consistent message through all the communication channels. Apart from that, the focus of integrated marketing is on consistent customer experience. The focus of marketing on overall customer experience has grown and marketers are using a number of technological tools to analyze customer interactions and make critical marketing decisions based on the data accumulated. The growth of digital technology has led to marketers using several channels to reach customers from websites to apps, social media, and paid online advertising. However, whichever channel you use, it is important to send a consistent and coherent message across all the channels. Think of your business as the elephant. Stakeholders should not feel like blind men. When your message is clear and consistent across all the channels, your customers and other stakeholders get a clear picture of your brand and your products. Otherwise, the message will lose relevance soon and your marketing efforts will become ineffective.  All the five elements of the marketing communication mix from advertising to direct marketing public relations, personal selling and sales promotions should be in sync to be effective. 

Relationship Marketing:

Relationships are also an important component of marketing and holistic marketing places special emphasis on relationships with all stakeholders. The quality of your relationships with each of your stakeholders also decides the impact of your marketing strategy and its success. The focus of relationship marketing is on building long term and long-lasting relationships with all the major stakeholders including customers, employees, distributors, shareholders, vendors, suppliers, public, media, government, and financial institutions. While companies focus a lot on customer relationship management, the emphasis of relationship marketing in holistic marketing is on deepening these relationships with each stakeholder and establishing strong and long-lasting relationships through higher engagement. It is not just your relationships with your customers that matter but with suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders too. In holistic marketing, relationships are a special focus area and strengthening ties can definitely lead to higher success in terms of marketing and sales.

Socially Responsible Marketing:

Holistic marketing also places a special focus on social image and those aspects of marketing that are directly concerned with or affect the community and society. While most big brands focus on social responsibility to create a responsible social image and earn a strong reputation, holistic marketing considers socially responsible marketing practices integral to the success of all the marketing efforts by a brand. It is important for businesses to be legally compliant, respectful of the society, environment friendly and to adopt ethical business practices. All these factors have a direct impact on the social image of a brand. In terms of marketing as well as the overall business operations, companies need to adopt socially responsible practices and behavior. Businesses can also engage in CSR and philanthropy to help the people in the communities where they operate. However, one most important thing that marketers need to understand is that socially responsible marketing is healthy marketing and that’s why holistic marketing lays emphasis on socially responsible marketing.

Performance Marketing:

Performance marketing is also an important component of holistic marketing. While marketers should try to create an advantage for their brand by investing in marketing activities, generating returns on the marketing investment is also an important responsibility they should not forget. Performance marketing focuses on the performance aspect of marketing. Apart from generating returns on the marketing investment by the company, marketers need to ensure that the marketing activities are having an impact and will help the business earn a competitive advantage.

Advantages of Holistic Marketing:

Higher trust and equity:

Now the consumers’ focus on the brand image has grown and they prefer to buy products made by the brands they trust. It is why businesses are focusing more than ever on creating trust. The first important advantage of holistic marketing in this area is related to brand building. It helps companies strengthen their brand image and thus grow their popularity and market value. Several leading brands in the market in all industries from food to automobiles and technology focus upon brand building rather than the promotion of individual products. Holistic marketing can help businesses generate a strong competitive advantage by strengthening their brand image and helping them create higher trust.

Higher effectiveness and better ROI:

A holistic marketing approach can help marketers create highly effective marketing campaigns and grow the effectiveness of their marketing efforts as a whole. When your marketing efforts are well integrated the return on marketing investment is also high. Apart from improved positioning, you can achieve a better image and reputation through holistic marketing.

Higher consistency and superior communication:

The central focus of holistic marketing is consistency across all marketing efforts to generate a competitive advantage. As it integrates all the elements of marketing together, it helps marketers achieve higher consistency in their marketing efforts to build a stronger image for their brands. Moreover, the focus of holistic marketing is on consistent communication and marketing messages. Consistent communication internally as well as externally helps you generate superior results.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.