While it may be mildly sacrilegious to say so, approaching your marketing strategy from a holistic standpoint does not mean you pray over your blogs, tweets, emails, and other marketing activities before you let them loose. Nor does it require your company to have divested itself of all things materialistic and squirrel itself away in a Tibetan monastery.

Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, is credited with stating that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” This led to the definition of the word turned overused buzzword “synergy,” and gave birth to holistic theory with a seemingly simple — and somewhat vague — statement.

Well, what does “holistic” mean then?

Philosophically, the word “holistic” means to comprehend the individual parts of something and have them be explicable only about how they function as a whole (and not just the sum of their parts). Medically, it describes the practice of treating the whole person rather than the lone injury, ailment, or disease. In the education sector, a holistic approach would explain analyzing the successes or failures of a school system rather than a single student, teacher, or subject.

So how can a marketing strategy be considered holistic?

Most marketing strategies are comprised of many different parts that all work to serve the whole, marketing strategies can quite easily be deemed holistic.

Some of these parts include blogging, social media marketing, mobile friendliness, and email campaigns, as well as the content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and user experience optimization (UXO) of each part. As you will learn later on, however, this small number of items only scratches the surface concerning the possible components that can be included in holistic marketing.

A holistic marketing strategy would evaluate and interpret the effectiveness of the different parts on the level of how and how well they work together, i.e., interdependently, to support and strengthen the overall marketing strategy. In reality, however, many marketers use and view the separate components of their strategy as independent from each other.

This leads to a separation of aspects like planning, testing, implementation, goal setting, and performance measurement–if they are even created at all. The individualization of those aspects can only provide you with a thorough assessment of the part itself, not your strategy as a whole.

What parts will make up my holistic marketing strategy?

That is a tough question to answer as every company has different customers, products, and needs. A complete marketing audit will help you gather the data you need to assess where your marketing stands. Essentially, all the parts of your marketing strategy are interconnected and are separate parts of a complete whole. An important thing to remember is these elements are not limited to those that fall solely within the sphere of what one would consider “traditional marketing” activity, however. While activities like those mentioned above (blogging, social media, and so on) are indeed necessary, a complete strategy could contain parts that you may not easily recognize or that even fall under your company’s direct control, like third party review sites.

Some additional aspects that should be considered when developing a holistic marketing strategy:

  • Consider if there is total buy-in across your business with your buyer personas. At the core of a holistic marketing strategy is a thorough understanding of what drives your customer. This information can be of high value across all departments.
  • Add marketing to your product development. When you include marketing in the product development process, quick and timely access to information like pricing and customer feedback means faster product improvements and a higher quality product.
  • If your company has never had a marketing strategy developed, or have been operating on an old one for some time, you might not have all information you need to evaluate your marketing from a holistic approach. It’s important to do regular updates of your marketing strategy to make sure you have a complete picture of what is going on.

Does your company need to implement a holistic approach to marketing?

Part of the core concept of holistic marketing is that each unit, department, person, strategy, and process should exist and operate in a way that is streamlined and seamless. Each component should support the others and do so in a way that drives everything forward in sync with your company’s goals and mission. Even though the different parts your company and your marketing efforts may be working independently of each other, it is likely that you are already applying certain guidelines and concepts to your efforts that are important to holistic marketing. Some of these may include:

  • Customer-focused product development utilizing community feedback.
  • Highly targeted marketing messages to market segments that match their problems with your solutions.
  • Brand and voice consistency across all departments.
  • Relationship building by the customer service department to heighten trust and loyalty and gain valuable feedback.
  • Cross-channel marketing that supports a central message or concept so that your customers feel at home with your brand where ever they interact with you.

How can a company implement holistic marketing methods?

The only way a holistic approach to marketing can be effective and successful is if it is implemented on an organization-wide scale. In other words, your efforts need to “go big or go home.”

If a holistic approach is implemented in one or two areas and not all others, it will fail.

If some departments cannot or will not adapt and follow through with their role, it will fail.

If your attempts are half-hearted and aimed at merely spurring on a short-lived and superficial boost in lead generation or profitability, it will fail.

Each part must work with and for all the others and do so in a way that focuses on growth. It may be true that Aristotle, who gave life to the concept of the holistic approach, was poisoned by malcontents who did not agree with his theories. While not quite as dramatically, or at the hands of an angry toga-wearing mob, ignoring the benefits of a strategic cohesion of the individual parts of your all your marketing efforts can be poison to your company’s success.