Holistic = relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into disparate parts.
The most important component of ALL of your marketing is the definition and targeting of your “ideal customer” … this is the Holy Grail of marketing rules and therefore doesn’t need to be listed as a component itself. Your ideal customer is now, and always will be, your #1 commandment of every marketing effort you’ll ever conduct.
Whether you’re just starting a new business or trying to grow your existing one, use these other key components to create a holistic marketing plan to help your business survive and thrive in the years to come.
1. Employees & Training –Your employees are the Ambassadors representing the country that is your company. To be a proper Ambassador, you must hire them based upon their personality and customer service skills, then you must train them about your products and services so that they may assist and educate your customers. You must think of employee training as an on-going process and realize the value it adds to your entire organization. A properly trained employee can handle 95% of any customer satisfaction issues without having to seek assistance from a manager or owner. Employees should also be trained to move with speed and purpose … we all know how frustrating it is when you’re in a hurry and an employee is moving like molasses in winter.
You must think of each employee/customer interaction as a real-time marketing event. If an employee ever has to say to a customer, “I’m not sure … “, that phrase had better be immediately followed with “… but let me find out for you …” and then have the tools and resources available to do just that.
2. Design & Layout –So many business owners never think about the design and layout of their space until it’s far too late and a glaringly obvious oversight. How often have you walked into a little cafe on a busy weekend and not been able to tell where the order line begins or whose turn is next? Is the register located in the most convenient spot? Why is the register by the front door, but the menu-boards near the back? Where are the restrooms? Are there take-away menus? What materials are those counter-tops? Are those chairs comfortable? Do those tables wobble? Is there enough light to read by?
When an entrepreneur takes a holistic approach to marketing by thinking about and utilizing design and layout as an aspect of their grand marketing plans, then customers will know exactly where to go and what to do. When design and layout are executed perfectly, then they actually almost disappear … because everything compliments and flows together synergistically. Always be thinking of the customer-flow when designing your layout … serving the largest amount of customers in the most efficient manner. The busiest Saturday of the year you say? Wow, I didn’t even notice because it didn’t seem chaotic at all. Words to live by.
3. Graphics & Signage –Although these things seem at first to be part of the design and layout, they get their own entry to signal their importance. Humans are visually attuned creatures by nature. Your graphics and signage should be consistent, eye-catching and poignant. Legible signs in your company colors like, “Order Here” , “Pick-up Here”, and “Restrooms” can do wonders for creating a marketing message of comfort, dependability, and orderliness.
When using graphics, there are two basic categories to decide upon: 1. realistic photos or illustrations, and 2. iconic symbols (i.e. man/woman stick-figures for restrooms). Consistent graphics and signage will create a subliminal marketing message of your professionalism, quality, and even trustworthiness.
4. Charity & Community –Be active in your local community by donating to local charities. Sponsor charity events and incentivize employees to participate in worthy local causes. Get your employees and customers to participate in clothing, food and toy drives … make it into a contest or raffle where whomever donates the most items gets a special gift or discount (hold a separate one for employees). Be sure to capitalize on your participation in charities and the community with your marketing campaigns … you bring greater exposure to the charity and you actively enhance the community surrounding your business.
Make sure your company’s voice is heard and represented in local business groups (i.e. Chamber of Commerce, Merchant Association). Partner up with complimentary businesses in the same neighborhood to lower the costs and dramatically increase the reach and effectiveness of joint marketing programs.
5. Holidays & Special Events –There seems to be a holiday for just about everything nowadays, find some that are suitable to your business type and use this fact to your marketing advantage. If you’re especially clever in tying a holiday to your business in a unique way, then you could potentially find yourself mentioned in local media sources. Many of us might say we’re sick of all the holiday decorations retailers use … but secretly we enjoy them and bask in the comfort and familiarity that they evoke.
Each and every one of your customers has a birthday you could celebrate, or an anniversary, or a wedding, or a new house … the possibilities are endless … send cards and congratulations with coupons or discounts commemorating the special occasion. Have a special sale once a year on the anniversary of your business’ opening … host a VIP party and special “invitation only” sale the night before.
6. Branding & Style –Branding is not just the use of your logo everywhere. Branding is ultimately the way in which you combine and use all the other key marketing components listed above. You need to have a style-guide that details all the visual and design references to represent your brand correctly in various situations (it often includes brand values, ideas for point of sale and packaging, logo resizing dimensions, acceptable color schemes, etc.). Use of a style-guide will ensure that your brand is used consistently across multiple marketing campaigns and initiatives.
The over-all goal of branding is to enrich and enhance your customer’s long term loyalty to, and trust of, your business.
Be mindful that each one of these marketing components is important by itself, but when acted upon and thought of as a holistic whole, they combine to create a goldmine overflowing with rapidly rising success and sales.