What is Holistic Marketing?

The concept of “marketing” means many things to many different people. In fact, as many as 131 different types of marketing have been identified, and when taking into account the latest marketing technology landscape, the picture has certainly become a bit dizzying. As a marketing professional, how do you determine where to spend your marketing dollars and uncover what strategies and tactics make the most sense for your business in such a rapidly changing industry where keeping up with your competitors has become not only confusing, but increasingly difficult?

What is Holistic Marketing?

Did you know that 83% of a company’s market value today is represented by their intangible assets (brands, quality processes, relationships, etc.) compared to 1975, when it stood at only 17%?

(Image Source)

Thanks to the industrial revolution which progressively allowed for our economy to master the skill of producing products cheaper, better, and faster, it has become exponentially difficult over time to compete on quality or price alone. Seth Godin alludes to this shift when he states:

The future feels a lot more like marketing—it’s impromptu, it’s based on innovation and inspiration, and it involves connections between and among people—and a lot less like factory work, in which you do what you did yesterday, but faster and cheaper.

Thomas Friedman also covers this economic shift quite comprehensively in his book The World is Flat, where he discusses the history leading up to this newly emerging global economic model and why it’s important to be aware of the larger-scale changes taking place around us that are substantially affecting the way we do business.

In order to capitalize on these recent economic and marketing industry changes, the only way to truly approach marketing today is from a holistic business perspective: marketing as a discipline needs to be understood from the whole picture of the business and integrated into every aspect in order for a business to remain relevant, engaging, findable, talkable, and most of all, a force to be reckoned with.

Holistic marketing fully embraces the underlying structural economic changes that have taken place by recognizing that marketing, once a siloed function within a company that held a certain level of control, has now not only moved to front and center in terms of business importance, but has become flatly democratized. It’s the end of business as usual, and there are new rules in place for marketing and PR.

In other words, the linear communication model of “one-to-many” (between company and customers) has been replaced with a “many-to-many” discussion taking place simultaneously across a myriad of communication outlets among countless numbers of people (consumers tweeting about their bad customer service experiences, sharing stories on Facebook with their social networks, etc.) It is because of this that a holistic marketing approach becomes immediately relevant by recognizing that ‘everything matters’ when it comes to marketing and that a broad, integrated perspective is necessary to attain the best solution moving forward, paving the way for quality decision-making on strategy and tactics.

Holistic Marketing Defined

Holistic marketing is an integrative marketing paradigm that considers the full scope of a business as opposed to narrowly focusing on the development or execution of particular marketing activities.  Here are a couple of definitions I’ve come across:

  • “A marketing strategy that is developed by thinking about the business as a whole, its place in the broader economy and society, and in the lives of its customers. It attempts to develop and maintain multiple perspectives on the company’s commercial activities.” (Source)
  • “A holistic marketing concept 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.” (Philip Kotler)


  1. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my subscribers would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

  2. the second definition that you gave at the end of the article, as from unknow source, is in fact from Kotlers´s wellknow book “Marketing Management”, p.19 in its 14th edition

    • Thank you! Coincidentally, I did read this book 11 years ago now (!) in a “marketing management” course and am very familiar with Kotler from the AMA. When I wrote the content on this page I was pulling from my own notes and I never went back to research the source so thank you! I’ve added it.

  3. Great article! It clarified a lot. In a way, I try to assess a business by using models like business model canvas or lean startup canvas that in a way have a more holistic approach compared to just looking at financials. Thank you for this great article!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s