We are operating in a world that is changing faster than ever. Your customers have become conditioned for change because it is in every facet of their life, work included. We have reached a point where, if something is NOT changing, there must be a problem. Technological advances are a prime example of this.
If your company is small or medium in size, it has an advantage over many of your competitors. Your size makes it easier for you to adapt quickly. If you are too conservative, though, you lose this advantage. An open door can close quickly and an opportunity is lost. You are obligated to make educated decisions and act on them. You cannot be afraid to succeed.
“Holistic Marketing” is defined as the development, design, and implementation of marketing programs and activities that recognize the breadth and interdependence of their effects. The short definition is “In marketing, everything matters.”
Everyone employed by your company needs to recognize that ALL activities affect customer relations.
In the “Holistic Marketing Model,” there are four equally important components to consider. These four key ingredients will help to build the foundation that you need so that you are sure that you are doing the right things every step of the way, including adapting when you need to adapt.
1) Internal Marketing – are you working together and truly thinking about the customers?
Vertically, you must have the support at the highest level of ownership and senior management, as all successful companies do.
Horizontally, your internal and external departments must be working in conjunction with each other. Departments such as Customer Service, Inside Sales and Marketing, and Outside Sales are obviously linked in that the customer has direct contact with these groups. What is not so obvious is the impact of the departments that have indirect contact with the customers. Customers don’t usually engage with your company’s Production, IT, Accounting, Shipping/Receiving, Human Resources, etc., but the activities of those departments is felt by the customer in one way or another. If we remember that we are all customers ourselves of many companies and product types, this concept of truly servicing the customer becomes more relevant.
2) Integrated Marketing – the coordination of advertising, promotions, events, and channels (direct and indirect). Done correctly, this satisfies the customers’ needs but also surpasses their expectations and keeps your company at “top of mind.”
Though you may sell through distribution, the practice of direct marketing is becoming more prevalent. End-user relationships are critically important because it is the end-user who is the ultimate customer. Think of it this way – if you lose a distributor for an end-user, you can find another. Your product still gets consumed. The only difference is that the reseller is different. If you lose an end-user, your product stays on your shelf. To be successful, you must develop and implement both PUSH (selling through distribution channels) and PULL (promoting directly to the end-user) strategies.
Given the size of your company, you are likely not large enough to focus entirely on the PULL technique. You need the right distributors to help you create an awareness in the market. The role of the distributor has changed significantly, but they will remain obligated to act as an extension of your company.
3) Relationship Marketing – when you hear “relationships”, the natural tendency is to first think of your end-user customers. In commercial business, though, you have relationships with other groups as well, and they are important in keeping your company’s brand healthy and thought of positively.
You may have marketing partners such as ad agencies, web design consultants, suppliers of premiums for give-away promotional items, distributors, and your own employee base. You must be building long lasting relationships with all of these groups.
You choose those advertising vehicles that give you the best exposure to your target customers, and you need exposure to grow the brand. Your web design consultation is key to help keep your website at the forefront as being educational, navigable, and the face of your company to a large segment of customers. Distributors are important in that the customers’ experience with your company depends on how your distributors respond and act. Many of your end-users’ only experience with your company’s brand is solely in their interaction with your distributors, so you need to spend resource marketing to this indirect channel. What is important to distribution? What motivates the distributor to promote your products?
Finally, your employees must understand their role. To help with this, you are obligated to meet regularly with your employees of all departments to make sure they are kept abreast regularly with what is transpiring outside of the factory. “Town Hall” type gatherings are effective in fostering the desired goal of “Strategic Intent.”
You absolutely need to focus everyone’s attention on winning by motivating them.
You need to communicate not only the value of the target but also emphasizing to your team that what they think, say, and do matters to your organization’s success.
4) Performance Marketing – how are you actually performing? Is the balance between sales and cost of sales correct? Are you spending money appropriately on marketing initiatives? Is your Return on Investment in line with winning while satisfying the financial goals of your company?
Examining what you may now have:
- The products that you manufacture are among the best in the world in their category.
- You can measure cost savings with credibility.
- You are positioned to capture a premium price where it is deserved.
- Being confronted with abundant, low priced competition has forced higher priced manufacturers like your company to come up with innovative products that lower customer costs. You have proven that you can answer successfully by being able to demonstrate a strong value proposition.
- When premium priced products are not necessary for an application, you have other options for your customers.
Count up these and other attributes that apply to your company and consider them as assets. That is what you have.
Having won half the battle by creating tangible value for customers, the other half is in effectively communicating this value to the market. You probably do not do this nearly as well as you should be doing, given the story that you have to tell.
One of your goals should be to spend only in those areas where value is created. For example, to advertise in a magazine that is not read by your target customer is of no value. Spend wisely be ensuring that you are capitalizing on the new and very real potential that has been created by your own investment in salespeople.
David Packard, founder of HP, once said that “Marketing is too important to be left to the Marketing Department.” If your company truly adopts the Holistic Marketing mindset, you will find this sentiment to be true. Everyone in your company will come to understand that they too work in the Marketing Department.