Below-the-line marketing is often mistaken for the other type of marketing—above the line. Below-the-line relates to lower forms of marketing that involves more personal and direct contact with the consumer, such as print advertising and public relations. Above-the-line marketing, on the other hand, has a higher cost and requires a bigger budget but provides higher impact and reach (such as print media or direct mail campaigns to reach target audience).
Ideally, below-the-line forms of advertising should be implemented in conjunction with above-the-line tactics to provide maximum exposure.
What Is Below-the-Line Advertising?
Below the line marketing (or BTL advertising) generally refers to marketing practices making use of forms of promotion that do not involve the use of mass media, where, in a firm’s use of an advertising agency, there is usually no commission charged by the advertising agency, and thus the expense typically appears ‘below the line’ on the ad agency’s bill to the firm.
Whenever a start up, or a small businesses, begins advertising, it begins with Below the line marketing. Below the line marketing methods include comparatively low cost methods which are targeted towards a specific audience, and the communication is meant to reach directly to the customer. Most top companies use a combination of both – Above the line as well as below the line marketing.
If you have read my post on Above the line marketing (or ATL advertising), you will notice that ATL marketing involves television, radio, newspapers or use of other such mass media where the shelf life is very low. Compared to that BTL advertising has a larger shelf life. But it ultimately depends on the skill of the marketer, and the strategy that he uses to execute his BTL marketing plans.
Let us now look into the various tools of Below the line marketing activities…
Below-the-line Advertising Examples
Below are some examples of types of below-the-line advertising in comparison to above the line marketing:
1) Internet Marketing
Quite undoubtedly, one of the favourite tools of digital marketing strategy nowadays, considering the mass level penetration of the internet. In fact till date, many marketers are confused whether internet marketing (such as search engine marketing and other online marketing campaign) can still be considered as below the line. Internet marketing itself is divided into two types
a) Social Media Marketing — marketing through social media channels like Facebook, twitter, linked in, google plus or others. Facebook pages can be used by companies to offer products to their customers and to get in touch with customers. Sponsored products can be used for promotions. Similarly, linked is in fact a proper B2B portal with many head hunters using linkedin for recruitment. Thus, social media marketing is by far the most commonly used tactics of below the line marketing
b) Email Marketing — Email marketing does not only involve push marketing like the old days. It has instead converted to a combination of push and pull marketing nowadays. Major banks and corporates communicate various offers to their customers through email to retain them or to cross sell products. Many companies start tapping into a database via email marketing. Many blogs and affiliate sites are also using Email marketing to sell products.
Internet marketing can also use tools like Google or IOS apps. Viral videos too can be a part of internet marketing. The list of things you can do on the internet is ever growing and hence it is one of the strongest and fastest growing vehicle for BTL advertising.
2) Outdoor Advertisements
Another massive tool of below the line advertising campaigns, outdoor advertising has been used since ages in the field of marketing. In fact, where outdoor advertising mainly involved large billboards, they have now moved to using large televisions or pixel screens in public areas like restaurants, parks etc. And the hoardings are reserved for highways or out of city locations.
The target of outdoor advertisements is to get a higher mind share from the customer. Just by looking at the ad in a restaurant, or while driving on the road, or while sitting in the park, the customer begins to recall the ad when he is making a purchase, thereby giving the ROI as well as the brand equity to the brand which is advertising via outdoor advertisements. However, calculating ROI via outdoor advertisements is very difficult.
3) Sales Promotions
Ever noticed how E commerce companies have boomed in the last decade because of the word “SALE”. Every other month there is a sale. If not by one E commerce company, then by another. And each of them are at loggerheads on who can sell cheaper.
Why do these companies wanna sell cheaper? Because then they can sell in high volume. Which is the dream of any company. And hence sales promotions are a common tactic used in below the line marketing.
Sales promotions of 1 + 1 free, 30% free, are all used to push the stock in the market or liquidate old stock. Alternatively, sales promotions can also be used as a product introduction gimmick.
Sales promotion is not used only at the customer level. At the dealer level, the dealer can be given additional discounts just so he picks up higher volumes and hence focuses on the product to sell it better. A dealer might have 10 different products in front of him. And he is bound to concentrate on the 1 product which is giving him better margins.
4) Pamphlets, Brochures, Paper Inserts
The list of paper material which can be used for BTL marketing is huge. You can use visiting cards, flyers, pamphlets, banners, brochures, paper inserts, anything and everything that your mind can think of. Alternatively, nowadays even Kiosks are in high fashion. There are vehicles which have rotating ads on the sides, and these vehicles keep running around in a designated area to attract customers.
The ideas for various types of Below the line marketing techniques keep coming up and each of them are being implemented and polished. When people became blind to display ads, then most websites started showing related content ads. When people became blind to Outdoor hoardings, the ad guys started showing ads on televisions within restaurants and public places.
Like any other form of advertising, Below the line marketing too is ever evolving. However, the effectiveness of some traditional marketing techniques like Pamphlets and brochures cannot be ignored even today. On the other hand, in internet marketing, every new day brings a new way to market a product to customers.
The marketer who has enough budget in his hand will go for Above the line marketing, where the ROI is calculable, an can be at least researched. The marketer who has a low budget, but wants to make an impact, will think of tactics which fall under the domain of Below the line marketing.
Difference Between Above-the-line vs Below-the-line Advertising
In the advertising world, there is a distinction between above-the-line and below-the-line advertising.
Above-the-line refers to advertising that is placed in print or broadcast media, such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television. This type of advertising is generally considered more traditional (generally used by advertising agencies) and is more expensive than below-the-line advertising, which is often seen as more effective in driving sales.
Below-the-line refers to other forms of marketing (like direct marketing) that are not found in traditional media but still influence consumers’ opinions about products and brands (e.g., internet marketing, direct mail).
Below-the-line advertising is more effective at driving sales, but it can be a challenge to measure the results of this type of marketing. To combat this problem, many businesses turn to tracking codes or other technologies that allow them to track how consumers interact with their advertisements and marketing campaigns.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Below The Line Marketing.
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imran shaikh says
You have given wrong examples according to me because ATL marketing involves high reach to mass audience where as BTL marketing is a kind of target marketing and reaches targeted customer, so outdoor advertisement, brochures etc are a part of ATL marketing and Direct sales,Trade shows, face to face marketing, Kiosk marketing are included in BTL marketing,
Very true Imran these things are the part of AT. The author needs to do a deep research as his concept is not cleared yet.
Hitesh Bhasin says
Hi. Let me explain with a swift example. If we are talking of Outdoor advertising and ur statement that outdoor advertising is ATL.
Any ATL medium has mass penetration as u said. I agree. So if Nike wanted to advertise its store, it will have different creative for Delhi and Mumbai. In mumbai it will point out separate stores. Possibly the creative will point u to the nearest store. However, Nike was releasing a television advertising, that would be common all across. In Delhi and Mumbai, same ad will air.
Thats the reference to ATL advertising or marketing. ATL has a mass reach and therefore is generic in nature. BTL has a specific reach and therefore outdoor advertising or marketing, which has limited reach is a part of Below the line marketing.
yes Outdoor advertising of national brands can use the same creative. But the reach of the medium is still limited as compared to ATL methods like Radio, TV and others which are broadcast across the country.
U may discuss further :) But i dont think u will find a book or reference which references outdoor advertising as ATL.
Very well quoted Mr. Bhasin. But I must point out that, amidst the plethora of choices of media vehicles and the communication being conveyed to the target audience of and by a particular brand, there is a very think line of demarcation between one particular advertising option being treated as an ATL mode vis a vis the same one being treated as a BTL mode. It gets confusing for a lot of people. Having said that the example you have given is perfect.