In organisational business and marketing communications, Below the line (BTL) is an advertising technique. It uses less conventional methods than the usual specific channels of advertising to promote products, services, etc. than Above the line (ATL) strategies. These may include activities such as direct mail, public relations and sales promotions for which a fee is agreed upon and charged up front.
Above the line is a type of advertising through media such as TV, cinema, radio, print, banners and search engines. Below the line advertising typically focuses on direct means of communication, most commonly direct mail and e-mail, often using highly targeted lists of names to maximize response rates.
In addition, according to Kunal Bhardwaj, Above the line is much more effective, when the target group is very large and difficult to define. But, if the target group is limited and specific, it is always advisable to use Below the line promotions for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Say, for example, if a manufacturer of pen is going to promote its product, it may take the ATL route, but if a company manufactures computer UPS, it will certainly take the BTL route, as the target group is very limited and specific.
More recently, agencies and clients have switched to an 'Integrated Communication Approach.' BTL is a common technique used for "touch and feel" products (consumer items where the customer will rely on immediate information rather than previously researched items). BTL techniques ensures recall of the brand while at the same time highlighting the features of the product.
Through the line (TTL) refers to an advertising strategy involving both above and below the line communications in which one form of advertising points the target to another form of advertising thereby crossing the 'line'. An example would be a TV commercial that says 'come into the store to sample XYZ product'. In this example, the TV commercial is a form of 'above the line' advertising and once in the store, the target customer is presented with 'below the line' promotional material such as store banners, competition entry forms etc.
Promotion can be loosely classified as "above the line" and "below the line" promotion. The promotional activities carried out through mass media like television, radio, newspaper etc. is above the line promotion.
The terms 'below-the-line' promotion or communications, refers to forms of non-media communication, even non-media advertising. Below-the-line promotions are becoming increasingly important within the communications mix of many companies, not only those involved in fmcg products, but also for industrial goods.
Some of the ways by which companies do BTL (below the line) promotions are by exhibitions, sponsorship activities, public relations and sales promotions like giving freebies with goods, trade discounts given to dealers and customers, reduced price offers on products, giving coupons which can be redeemed later etc.
Below the line sales promotion
Below the line sales promotions are short-term incentives, largely aimed at consumers. With the increasing pressure on the marketing team to achieve communication objectives more efficiently in a limited budget, there has been a need to find out more effective and cost efficient ways to communicate with the target markets. This has led to a shift from the regular media based advertising.
A definition of below-the-line sales promotion given by Rohan Salvi:
'An immediate or delayed incentive to purchase, expressed in cash or in kind, and having only a short term or temporary duration'.
Methods of below the line sales promotion
1. Price promotions
Price promotions are also commonly known as" price discounting". These can be done in two ways:
A discount to the normal selling price of a product, or
More of the product at the normal price.
Alt Price promotions however can also have a negative effect by spoiling the brand reputation or just a temporary sales boost (during the discounts) followed by a lull when the discount would be called off.
3. Gift with purchase
4. Competitions and prizes
This is an important tool to increase brand awareness amongst the target consumer. It can be used to boost up sales for temporary period and ensure usage amongst first time users.
5. Money refunds
Here, a customer receives a money refund after submitting a proof of purchase to the manufacturer. Customers often view these schemes with some suspicion – particularly if the method of obtaining a refund looks unusual or onerous.
6. Frequent user/loyalty incentives
7. Point-of-sale displays
Shopping habits are changing for the people living in metropolitan cities. People prefer big retail outlets like Big Bazaar to local kirana stores. Most of the decisions of buying are taken by the virtue of point-of-sale displays in these retail outlets.
Examples of BTL promotion
Most of the big brands are following the suit of BTL promotion because of rising prices of media based promotion, advertising clutter and increased impulse purchasing.
Some of the interesting examples are:
Most of the educational institutes like career launcher, Time and PT are holding informative workshops and free tests for students which give a direct interaction of these institutes with the target customer and hence a suitable platform to sell themselves.
Ring tones and music videos on cell phones are helping the entertainment industry to promote for a music video or a movie for dirt-cheap rate as compared to media promotion.
Various companies sponsor sport events to promote their brand, but nowadays media companies like Hindustan Times are holding weekly events through out the country in which companies can put up their stalls, display banners and posters and arrange for some fun activities. These events give the companies a platform at very low price to promote their brand and increase visibility among target consumer. These companies also give discount coupons to winners in the games, which in turn boost the sales of the products and ensure that first time users try these products as well.
Pepsi organized an inter school cricket event for 425 schools across 14 cities which did wonders for the company by promoting the brand amongst the right target customer for almost no cost.
Most of the pharmacy companies do BTL promotion by getting shelf space through doctors to display their products or by giving away free calcium tablets again through doctors, knowing that for a patient a personal advise from a doctor would hold more value as compared to a commercial advertisement.
Another interesting BTL promotion was by NIKE. An athlete dressed up in Nike sportswear could be seen jogging on an elevated treadmill for the whole day on National Highway 8, Delhi.
Tata Shaktee is a strong rural brand from Tata Steel, for roofing products, has BTL activity in the form of Haat participation. By having a stall at Haat, Tata Shaktee engages potential consumers in interactive games around differentiating attributes of the product. Also, discount coupons are given for interested buyers, with details of nearby retailers.
BTL promotions are gaining popularity among all big companies nowadays considering their effectiveness because of the "individual customer promotion" at a price, which is much lesser than the normal media promotions.
ATL - Above the line activites are those that the agency receive a income from the ( i.e. Commission) media company . E.g. : Advertisements on Newspaper, magazines , TV & RadioBTL - Below the line activies are the other type of acivites in the promotional mix Like : Sales promotoions , Personal selling .Direct marketing & PR activies
Will you please tell me in detail what is the meaning of ATL and BTL in advertising? Which one is better?
ATL and BTL stand for Above-the-line and Below-the-line respectively. ATL represents traditional marketing channels that strive to reach a mass audience with messages that reinforce the brand, communicate product information or incite an emotional response. BTL represents methods aimed at establishing a relationship between a brand and an individual consumer. The aim is to create relationships between brands and individual consumers.While there is some measure of crossover, ATL usually encompasses TV, Radio, Print Advertising, Outdoor Advertising, etc. BTL typically incorporates Direct Mail, Event Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Promotional Marketing, etc. to reach its targets. To say that one is better than the other would be remiss given the advances in technology and the trend towards more customer-centric marketing. Brand-oriented advertising was once a key driver of consumer behavior…today however marketers are increasingly honing in on the benefits offered by BTL marketing such as increased consumer engagement, interactivity and measurability. The line is becoming more and more blurred as marketers strategically blend traditional ATL mass media approaches with more direct, targeted and ROI-driven BTL approaches. Those touted successful are the usually ones who have struck an optimal balance between the two channels.