Marketing Tools : Above the line and Below the line
The Art of Marketing… It lets one flirt with his or her creativity to sell / advertise / brand a product or service. And surprisingly, there exists a hypothetical line to differentiate between the kind of marketing one indulges into. Lets take a look…
Companies market their products in a number of ways. These ways fall into either of these two categories:
Above the line (ATL)
Above The Line (ATL) refers to promotional activities done at macro level. It is done at national, regional or at bigger territory level and mass audience is covered in this type of promotion. A brand image is created about the company and its product. Media such as television, cinema, radio, newspapers, and magazines are used to create an impact about the company and its product. ATL communication is more of conventional in nature.
Below the line(BTL)
Below The Line (BTL) communication is unconventional in nature, done at micro level and forms part of non-media communication. Measures include direct mailing, distribution of flyers, brochures, and usage of sponsorships, public relations, tele-marketing and point of sale
Interestingly, ATL and BTL terms were coined at Proctor & Gamble in 1954 where accountants differentiated advertising agencies’ payments vis-à-vis who undertook promotional activities other than advertising for fixed fees. Gradually, marketers started to differentiate activities other than advertisements as separate marketing practice called Below the line (BTL).
Today, ATL is used for branding effect, to generate mind share while BTL is used to generate loyalty and repeat sales. ATL is tailored for mass audience while BTL promotions are targeted at individual level according to their needs and preferences. ATL promotions are difficult to measure while BTL are measurable in terms of sales and feedback and it gives marketers valuable insights on their return on investment (ROI). Since BTL focus is targeted and customer centric, it is efficient and cost effective, apt for start-ups.
Social networking sites such as face book, twitter, my space, you tube help generate leads and enable companies to develop eCRM and use data in a varieties of ways. Though, social media is an integral part of BTL activity today, but it beats even television, audio, magazines in creating brand value in terms of numbers and is way more rewarding.
Through The Line (TTL)
“Through the line” refers to an advertising strategy involving both above and below the line communications. This strategic approach allows brands to engage with a customer at multiple points (for example, the customer will see the television commercial, hear the radio advert and be handed a flyer on the street corner). This enables an integrated communications approach where consistent messaging across multiple media create a customer perception.
The advent of social media has blurred the ‘line’ segregating the marketing techniques. These days, companies use an integrated approach involving both ATL and BTL and it is called Through The Line (TTL) approach. This approach allows brands to engage with their customers at multiple points and thus generate a solid perception regarding the company and the product, the main aim of Marketing!