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Marketing Promotions – Where is the Line ??

Marketing Promotions – Where is the Line ??

Where is the line???

Two days before I was sitting with my MD and discussing our communication plans, where should we advertise and by what means? So there I was surrounding by some really lucrative terms like advertising, branding, brand language, direct marketing, ATL, BTL, TTL, graphic design, marketing communication, marketing collateral, packaging, publicity, sponsorship, public relations, sales, sales promotion and online marketing.

So, after a good cup of coffee (sadly beers are not allowed in office premises :)) I picked up some of lucrative terms and decide to write something about them. Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), and Through the Line (TTL), in organizational business and marketing communications, are advertising techniques.

ATL activities are specifically for a mass audience, BTL promotions are targeted at individuals according to their needs or preferences. While ATL promotions can establish brand identity, BTL can actually lead to a sale. ATL promotions are also difficult to measure well, while BTL promotions are highly measurable, giving marketers’ valuable insights into their return-on-investment.

“Through the line” 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”.

The ATL or above-the-line propagated traditional marketing channels that strived to reach a mass audience with messages that reinforce a brand communicate general product information or inspire an emotional response.

i.e. ATL focuses on

– Mass Reach

– It creates Brand Awareness

– And has no direct consumer involvement.

It thus has the vehicles like: Print Advertising, Hoardings, Electronic Channels and the Radios.

While the “Below-the-line” initiatives, by comparison, acted like traditional direct marketing efforts – they aspired to establish targeted relationships between marketers and individual consumers, and offer comparable ease in measurability.

i.e. BTL

–     is consumer defined.

–    It generates Trial.

–    and has direct consumer involvement.

It thus has vehicles like Events, Road Shows, Dealer level activities, Consumer contacts, Mobiles etc. Sometimes the same vehicles can act as both BTL and ATL activity complementing each other e.g. Dealer Board.

More recently, agencies and clients have switched to an “Integrated Communication Approach”, or “through the line” approach. In the TTL approach, a mix of ATL and BTL are used to integrate a marketer’s efforts and optimize returns from these separate investments.

Recently the TTL approach has shifted its emphasis more towards BTL. The idea remains to optimize the return on marketing budget spent by focusing one’s energy on winning smaller yet more crucial BTL battles than ATL wars with well-funded competition. According to EBS Worldwide, mainstream mass broadcast marketing is increasingly being viewed as uneconomical, in terms of return on investment, which is where BTL marketing fits in.”

Now when in near future, the market is expected to still behave better, we expect the budgets being re-vitalized. The study reflects that BTL now gaining its importance would surely form an integral part of the plans but integrated and well coupled with extensive ATL plans. A proper mix i.e. TTL and apt utilization of both the vehicles are expected to form the successful means of promotion in the coming years. But, this would also mean a constant innovation and newness in the approach and extensive brainstorming in store for all.

So one can say the line between ATL and BTL is diminishing gradually.

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