By Amarnath Halember
Some years earlier, businesses were struggling to remain relevant in a supersaturated market, when the holistic marketing approach emerged. The model’s USP was to focus on business-as-a-whole and have all functions work together towards a common goal, so as to present customers with one unified messaging be it via corporate messaging, advertisements or social media. This system viewed marketing as an integral company function that’s equally involved in the creation of a unique brand image and great customer experience as are all the other functions. This approach seems tailored for retailers, given the market saturation levels and the need to remain profitable in it.
Since this approach aligns the services, systems and processes of a retailer, its proper implementation results in a consistent brand building exercise that’s efficient and effective. This is because the model provides dependable, best-in-class customer service that aligns with the integrated messaging and thus wins their favour. At the backend, the approach also works on increasing company efficiency and effectiveness, thus justifying the term ‘holistic’ in its name and providing growth opportunities.
Key to unified messaging
The foremost thing that this model does is identifies a common goal and then lets all activities follow from there, based on four chief marketing principles, namely relationship, internal, integrated, and socially responsible. By virtue of the first principle, the retailer engages in a successful relationship with customers to ensure customer satisfaction, retention and brand loyalty; increased profits and word-of-mouth publicity. With internal marketing exercises, the brand gets employee buy-in which results in good customer experience, per sales of goods and services leading to an overall brand acceptance and recall value among its competitors.
Integrated marketing, another name for the unified messaging that retailers should display across paid, earned, and owned media, is the next pillar that ensures that all business functions work together. And finally, socially responsible marketing lets customers know how they’re making a difference with their retail purchases as they are selecting a socially and environmentally responsible brand that believes in giving back to society.
Why is this shift necessary?
For the retailers of today, their market extends to both offline and online. With rising competition, the digital spending has increased which has slightly reduced the superior sales. To become a true differentiator, retailers have to create a unique brand identity that speaks the same language across every medium. This way, customers will be able to easily identify their favourite brand among the rest and opt for it.
Traditionally, retail sales and marketing have been a multi-layered effort that’s managed by different functions leading to a lack of message coordination. The result is a mix of different messages that ends up confusing the consumer. In keeping with the holistic marketing approach, it works best when marketing and digital as well as other functions collaborate as one team with a defined purpose.
To make it work, retailers will need to build a collaborative culture and encourage cross-channel performance, thus creating the necessary unified sales/marketing mix. As an example, when search engine optimisation and search engine marketing are planned and executed collectively, the result is phenomenal compared to each search marketing working on its own. This is because retailers now enjoy a holistic view of their digital, sales, and marketing performance, with each stakeholder recognising the part they play and that of others as well. Hence, when every step is a mutual effort, assessing performance and collecting insights enables long-term retail success.
Holistic Marketing: A beneficial model
The comprehensive holistic marketing model is gaining more and more followers in the retail domain as its long-term benefits have begun to catch the eye of the market players and leaders. The approach is being applauded for building cohesiveness into the company’s fabric and binding all functions together, ensuring the same information flows from every channel of the brand and presenting a consistent brand story, which is responsible for growth opportunities.
No wonder this model is being sought by retailers of all kinds and sizes since it works equally well for all. In fact, according to Salesforce, 86 per cent of brand marketers believe adopting this approach is important as it incorporates every aspect of a business, while offering great return-on-investment with only a few fundamental changes. While re-evaluation sounds like a scary proposition, there are enough examples in the market to show how without being prohibitively expensive, this model can turn around the retail businesses quickly. Hence, while this approach is a relatively new one, its popularity—based on a cohesive retail image and excellent customer experience—is consistently on the rise.
(Amarnath Halember is the executive director and CEO of NextG Apex India Pvt. Ltd.)