What is holistic marketing? Your guide to developing a holistic marketing strategy
What is holistic marketing? An increasingly popular concept among promotional professionals, the holistic marketing approach encourages a “bigger picture” view of marketing strategy.
Designed to improve the customer experience and drive a more consistent brand image, holistic marketing can help companies to build a more effective presence.
Marketing is a diverse and complex thing. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to advertising which works for every company. Rather, companies often experiment with a range of different avenues and strategies to eventually build successful models.
Holistic marketing simply asks business leaders and marketing teams to avoid looking at any part of the promotional strategy in a vacuum. Instead, companies are encouraged to consider how each part of their marketing strategy affects the others, and subsequently, the overall brand.
So, could a holistic marketing approach be an effective tool for your company?
Let’s find out.
What is holistic marketing? Holistic marketing meaning
Let’s start with the basics: what is a holistic marketing strategy?
There are over 100 different kinds of marketing. From experiential marketing and social media advertising to television ads and email, you can reach your customers in a host of different ways.
As many companies discover, there’s more to effective marketing than simply bombarding your audience with messages from all sides.
A strong approach to marketing creates a consistent narrative for your target audience, one perfectly suited to make your business stand out. Holistic marketing builds on this idea.
The concept of holistic marketing asks business leaders to consider the whole of the business and the different marketing channels it uses as part of a singular system. Using this strategy, companies create an aligned approach to advertising, so each campaign and message emphasizes the others.
According to Philip Kotler, leading author, holistic marketing is based on the development and implementation of advertising strategies based on the concept: “everything matters”.
While holistic marketing has been a concept for quite some time, it’s gaining more attention lately, as customers spend more of their time exploring different avenues to connect with companies. In today’s diverse digital landscape, you need to ensure you’re sending a unified message across all channels.
Around 86% of brand marketers have defined “holistic marketing” as a top priority for their business.
What are the components of holistic marketing?
To deliver a holistic marketing strategy, companies need to consider a variety of different “types” of advertising, under one broad umbrella.
Experts identify four major pillars of holistic marketing:
- Relationship marketing.
- Integrated marketing.
- Internal marketing.
- Socially responsible marketing (societal marketing).
Let’s look at each element in more detail.
Relationships are crucial to running a successful business. The better your relationship with your target audience, the more likely you are to keep customers coming back for more. This means increased profits, and more referrals (word of mouth marketing)
Customer retention generated through relationship marketing can lead to a 25% increase in profits. Without strong relationships, your entire business begins to crumble.
The purpose of relationship marketing isn’t just to sell products, it’s to deliver a personalized, memorable experience for your target market. Today’s consumers want a shopping experience to feel like it was made specifically for them, and this includes accessing emotive, relevant marketing.
Your relationship marketing should also make your customers feel closer to your company, through a sense of affinity and shared values. Showing a human side in your marketing, highlighting the things you stand for, and drawing attention to your mission can all help with relationship branding.
Take a look at the ads from Nike, for instance.
Nike’s entire brand identity is built around the idea “anyone” can be an athlete. Nike wants everyone to feel inspired and empowered by their products. This is something we see on all of the campaigns the company puts out.
Nike advertising is emotional, engaging, and intended to help you visualize yourself in the shoes of the people you see in the ads. This human approach to branding makes it very easy for customers to build a relationship with the Nike company.
The term “integrated marketing” applies to the strategies companies use to send unified messages to customers throughout the sales funnel. Integrated marketing is one of the most fundamental concepts of holistic marketing, because it focuses on ensuring every part of your advertising strategy supports the rest.
Imagine, for instance, you were running a social media campaign asking customers to share pictures of them using their products for a chance to win a prize.
An integrated marketing strategy would share snippets from those social media shares in your email campaigns, promote them on television, and add them to your blog posts.
All media activities in an integrated marketing campaign, from advertising, to public relations and online communications, should be working in sync towards the same goal.
When Taco Bell wanted to build an image for itself as a modern, digitally-savvy brand, they introduced an app for ordering your food online, revamped their website for a more streamlined ordering experience, and started working with influencers on social media.
The idea is whenever you implement a new aspect of your advertising strategy, you also consider how you can align it with the rest of your campaigns.
You’ll need to consider all aspects of your marketing strategy to do integrated marketing correctly, including:
- Paid media: Such as PPC advertising and influencer marketing.
- Earned media: Like press releases and news reports.
- Owned media: Like your website content and social media profiles.
One of the most overlooked parts of a successful marketing strategy is internal marketing. What many companies forget is when they’re building a brand to attract people, they’re not just trying to reach customers who can buy their products – they’re also looking to connect with potential employees.
Internal marketing is all about caring for your business employees, freelancers, partners, and contractors. The idea is you make sure your brand resonates with the people who promote and support your company, so they can help you to make a lasting impression on your audience.
The more your employees understand your brand values, and feel engaged by your business, the more likely they are to deliver a meaningful marketing experience to your customers.
Your internal marketing efforts involve things like your employer brand – the kind of image you build specifically to attract and retain talent. For instance, how do you present your business when writing job descriptions. What do people say about you on employer review sites like Glassdoor?
Internal marketing campaigns should also involve any documentation or guides you create for your employees. For instance, what kind of editorial guidelines do you share with your team? Do you have a training system in place, and how does it convey the values of your company?
Think about the Apple business, for example. If you’re having a problem with an Apple device, you can take it into an Apple Store and rest assured all of the employees there are properly trained to address the issue.
This approach to training is an important part of being within the Apple team. It ensures employees are empowered to serve customers correctly.
Sometimes referred to as “socially responsible marketing”, societal marketing is all about demonstrating your commitment to making the world a better, safer place.
In today’s competitive marketplace, customers want to work with companies who understand the impact they make on the planet. If you’re not eco-friendly, or socially responsible, you’ll miss out.
Societal marketing strategies involve looking at everything you do, and how those actions have an impact on the planet. For instance, Numi Organic Tea doesn’t just tell customers they’re eco-friendly.
The company also makes donations to environmental non-profits on a regular basis and implements tracking for carbon emissions into its content marketing plan.
The Numi brand also uses environmentally-friendly packaging. This means the packaging for the company’s products is simultaneously advertising the item for sale and highlighting the underlying values of the company.
Your approach to societal marketing is likely to be particularly important these days, as consumers are becoming more discerning about who they associate with. Clients in today’s social and connected world believe the companies they buy from are a reflection on themselves.
This is why companies like Patagonia are ranked as some of the best brands in the world. The purpose of the company (to save the planet) resonates strongly with like-minded customers, to the point where they want to spend more to support the company.
To support its societal efforts, Patagonia specifically:
- Donates tax cuts to environmental interests.
- Uses images from actual customers to illustrate products (rather than paying for marketing).
- Gives priority to hiring team members who are socially responsible.
- Contributes one percent of sales to environmental causes.
- Only sells co-branded products to companies who share their stance.
What is the purpose of holistic marketing?
The holistic concept of marketing can seem a little complicated at first, but it’s actually more straightforward than you’d think. With a holistic strategy, you simply ensure all parts of the marketing efforts in your business are working towards the same goal.
By embracing a holistic marketing strategy, you ensure you’re sending a more consistent and memorable message to all of your customers.
In today’s multi-channel marketing environment, it wouldn’t make sense for a company to present itself one way on its website, and another way via its social media campaigns.
The entire marketing strategy you implement should focus on building relationships, connecting with employees, demonstrating your value, and building a community.
Look at Wendy’s for instance. Every part of the company’s marketing strategy is built to convey a fun and relatable company. The company uses the same tone of voice and brand colors across every brand channel (integrated marketing).
They build relationships through emotional and playful content (relationship marketing).
Wendy’s also connects with its employees, by giving them a voice, and allowing them to enjoy the community they’re a part of (internal marketing). Plus, Wendy’s is also committed to reducing their environmental footprint (societal marketing).
If you use holistic marketing concepts correctly, the result should be better:
To build a successful brand, you need a consistent, comprehensive image. A holistic marketing approach allows you to look at the assets your brand shares from a wider perspective.
You can use your holistic strategy to develop a stronger brand voice, demonstrate affinity with your target audience, and make your business stand out from the crowd.
Since the aim of the holistic marketing concept is to ensure everyone in the company an outside of the company sees the same message, consistency is key. A consistent brand is inherently more memorable and trustworthy.
Your customers develop a deeper relationship with you based on your reliable approach to marketing.
A holistic marketing technique is efficient because it helps you to build a more powerful advertising strategy, by aligning multiple different channels. Everything works more seamlessly when you’re following the same guidelines and using the same values in all of your marketing efforts.
A holistic marketing strategy is effective because it hits home on multiple levels. With holistic marketing, you can ensure you’re connecting with the employees who will help you run your brand, your community, and your specific target audience.
You’ll also improve your chances of standing out from the competition.
How is holistic marketing implemented?
Like many marketing strategies, the exact approach you take to your holistic marketing efforts may vary depending on a number of factors.
For the most part however, companies will usually start with the following framework:
The analysis stage of the holistic marketing strategy involves examining your position in the current marketplace, your target audience, and your competition.
During the research phase, you can gather as much information as you might need to determine how you’re going to build relationships with customers and employees, what you need to do to make a societal impact, and which marketing channels you’re going to use.
Within the identification phase, you determine what kind of consistent themes and values you’re going to convey throughout your marketing methods.
What kind of shared values are you going to be building connections with staff and customers over (for instance, sustainability, or a friendly approach to business).
Which channels are you going to be using for your marketing campaigns, and how will you stand out from the crowd?
In this phase, you’ll begin to create the kind of assets you’re going to be using throughout your holistic marketing strategy. This may involve the development of a business website and blog where you can post content, as well as various social media channels, and email marketing strategies.
During the creation phase, you’ll also be creating brand guidelines and documents to assist your employees with conveying the right information about the brand. User personas will be useful in this stage too.
This involves actually implementing your marketing campaigns. You begin to create holistic strategies and put them into action, making sure you consider all of the pillars mentioned above.
Having access to measuring tools, like website, email, and social media analytics will be extremely useful for the last stage.
As you continue to learn about your brand, your target audience, and the wider industry you’re involved with, you continue to work on expanding and improving your holistic marketing strategy. Your analytics and reporting tools will be essential here.
Holistic marketing examples: What is holistic strategy in action?
Although many companies are still getting used to the idea of holistic marketing, the reality is you can already see examples of the practice in various locations, among a wide range of amazing companies.
Starbucks, for example, is one of the world’s better-known café chains, because of its holistic marketing approach.
The priority of the Starbucks brand is to create a relaxing and engaging atmosphere for customers, it does this in a range of different ways, from building comfortable café areas, to making sure their employees are as laid-back and friendly as possible.
Starbucks implements amazing customer experiences using incentives like loyalty cards and stamps so customers can collect rewards. What’s more, all of Starbuck’s messaging, both online, and in-person follows the same friendly approach.
All the while, the company continues to make an impact on the environment by supporting things like reusable cups, and access to coffee grounds for composting.
Elsewhere, we can see examples of holistic marketing with Coca-Cola. The entire marketing plan and strategy of Coca-Cola is built around the idea of creating “happiness”.
The company added the “taste the feeling” concept to their marketing based on this purpose, and consistently implements advertising campaigns based around the idea of promoting joy.
The holistic marketing strategy from Coca-Cola also involves a focus on sustainability, with commitment to create more sustainable bottles and cans. Plus, the company supports its employees with a wide range of initiatives to help ensure strong staff experiences.
Learning from examples of holistic marketing
Using holistic marketing strategy in your business ensures everything you do in your company is aligned towards the same goal – making an impact on your target audience.
Taking a holistic view of your marketing campaigns and initiatives requires some practice, but it pays off in the long-term, by providing you with a more relatable, memorable brand.
If you’re planning on using your own holistic marketing strategy, remember to:
Always look at the bigger picture
Consider the entire lifecycle of the product or service you’re offering your customer and think about how you can make the biggest impact in the long-term.
When you decide you want to promote a new product, ask yourself how you can do so in a way that builds relationships with your customers, connects with your employees on a deeper level, and demonstrates your commitment to society.
Embrace multi-channel marketing
The chances are you’re going to be using a wide number of marketing avenues to connect with your customers already in today’s digital world. With this in mind, look for ways to align these environments on a deeper level.
Think about how you can connect social media, your content marketing efforts and your email strategy so you’re sending a more consistent message.
Make sure your team members have everything they need to embrace a holistic marketing approach. Make your values and goals clear with plenty of brand guidelines and policies to guide your marketing team.
Give your staff the power to focus on the bigger picture, by making the image as clear as possible.
Is it time to embrace holistic marketing?
As a concept for promotion in today’s competitive world, holistic marketing is a strategy likely to grow in value in the next few years.
Companies need to make sure they’re considering their entire promotional approach with a wider lens, rather than isolating each strategy and trying to connect their efforts at a later date.
Holistic marketing can take some practice if you want to get it right. However, focusing on a “big picture” view with your advertising methods does make more sense overall.
If you continue to practice and work on this aspect of your marketing strategy, you should benefit from a more engaged audience, and greater opportunities for growth.
Fabrik: A branding agency for our times.