Holistic Marketing



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A Kahnesky
Analyst, Denmark

Holistic Marketing

In today's times, firms that carry out marketing strategies in a standalone fashion, i.e. without understanding and accounting for the ripple effects of these strategies on other stakeholders and functions, often face suboptimal results.
The very concept of marketing is becoming increasingly complex. Firms now resort to many types of communication/marketing techniques such as PR events and experiences, viral marketing, mobile and social media marketing, etc. Firms have also resorted to selling their products and services via multiple direct and indirect channels (see: Multi Channel Marketing). With an increased engagement of and exchange of information with the customers, firms get more and more detailed information about the needs and preferences of their customers and channel partners. Along with a focus on increasing revenue and profits, firms have also become conscious of their roles and responsibilities towards the community, environment, and governing bodies.

All of these changes call for a new, integrated, holistic approach for marketing - one that works in coordination with the various stakeholders of not only the marketing department but also the entire firm. Holistic Marketing is an umbrella concept which involves the designing and execution of marketing activities, programs, and processes by taking into consideration the scale and interdependencies of all marketing actions and their effects. It 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.

  1. INTERNAL MARKETING: The process of marketing is no longer considered the sole responsibility of the marketing department. While marketing drives the company's vision and strategic goals, it is vitally important for the other departments to work in coordination with the marketing department. Internal marketing seeks to ensure that every employee in the firm understands, accepts, and implements the correct marketing principles. Both horizontal alignment (with the other departments) and vertical alignment (with the senior management of the firm) must be established and grown.
  2. RELATIONSHIP MARKETING: Relationship Marketing aims to create and maintain a long-term, mutually satisfying relationship with key stakeholders of the firm. The four key stakeholders are the (1) Customers, (2) Financial Community (investors, stakeholders, etc.), (3) Channel Partners (distributors, suppliers, dealers, etc.), and (4) Employees. Relationship marketing requires building the right relationship with the right stakeholder groups, i.e. identifying the needs, goals, and interests of each of the stakeholder groups and customizing the offers, messages, and services based on them, in order to build stronger relationships. The ultimate aim of relationship marketing is building a strong marketing network (formed from the relationships with various stakeholder groups). This can be an invaluable asset to the firm and according to some competition is not between firms, but rather between these marketing networks.
  3. INTEGRATED MARKETING: Integrated Marketing is based on two themes: (1) The firm should undertake various marketing activities to create, communicate and deliver value to the end consumer, and (2) Plan and implement the marketing activities and programs in a coordinated and holistic manner (the whole should be greater than the sum of the parts). Integrated marketing is based on Integrated Marketing Communications and Integrated Channels. Integrated Communications refers to the use of various communication media to deliver a consistent message, with each of the communication media reinforcing and complementing each other. Integrated Channel strategy needs to ensure that the direct and indirect distribution channels work together towards the common goals of the firm. The integrated channel focuses on the channels so as to maximize the coverage and sales, while also minimizing costs and conflicts. Thus, while selecting channel options, the marketer has to look at both the direct impact on sales and the indirect impact through interactions with other channel options.
  4. PERFORMANCE MARKETING: Performance Marketing involves assessing the success of marketing activities and programs via not only sales revenue, but also via Brand and Customer equity, along with social, ethical, legal, and environmental measures. Marketers are increasingly asked to justify the results of marketing activities to senior management. This necessitates the use of a wide range of metrics (and not just financial and marketing numbers).
Thus, Holistic Marketing requires marketers to recognize and address the multi-faceted nature of marketing. This requires them to nurture a broad and holistic thinking ability to employ the four components of Holistic Marketing Internal Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Integrated Marketing, and Performance Marketing.

⇒ Please share any experiences or further know-how with respect to holistic marketing below. Thank you.

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. L. (2006) "Marketing Management", 2006, 12th Edition.
Sheth, J. & Sisodia, R. (2006), "Does Marketing Need Reform? Fresh Perspectives on the Future", 2006, pp. 300-305.

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