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There are two ways in which marketers conduct promotional activities. They either advertise the product for the market as a whole or they create a focused communication for a specific customer group. Today, these marketing strategies fall into two distinct categories – Above the Line (ATL) and Below the Line (BTL) activities.

With consumption trends shifting constantly, marketers needed to find ways to address these changing demands. Through the Line (TTL) marketing activities help marketers use an integrated approach to advertise products to both mass and focused markets simultaneously.

Let’s take a look at each of these approaches:

Above the Line (ATL) advertising

ATL strategies focus at directing the communication towards the mass market. All promotional messages are untargeted, meaning they do not focus on a specific target group. The idea behind this is to inform customers about the availability of the product. Marketers seek to encourage customers to visit stores and actively seek the product. These strategies help companies reach a larger audience and create brand visibility.

Implementing ATL activities:

  • Television: Advertising campaigns directed at the regional or national level
  • Print media: Promotional messages in newspapers, online articles, and advertisements
  • Radio: Pan-country or pan-city radio broadcasts

Below the Line (BTL) advertising

BTL activities are more focused and they are directed towards specific groups of customers. They are highly targeted, with advertisements being created keeping in mind the demographic and psychographic characteristics of particular customer segments. The communication is highly personalized and the objective is to gain conversions.

The major advantage of BTL advertising is that the results of the campaign can be easily tracked. ROI is also higher here. Additionally, campaigns can be tailored for different subsets of consumers within a single segment.

Implementing BTL activities:

  • Outdoor advertisements: Billboards, fliers, banners, sandwich boards, and so on
  • Direct marketing: SMS, emails, social media posts, pamphlets
  • Sponsorship: Events, competition
  • Public Relations: Press conferences, viral marketing
  • In-store promotion: Visual merchandising, retailer pop-ups, sampling, sales promotions

Through the Line (TTL) advertising

TTL advertising involves an integrated approach where both ATL and BTL strategies are combined. The objective here is to get a holistic view of the market and communicate with customers in every way possible. Considering that both ATL and BTL activities are used here, all TTL strategies lead to better brand visibility and brand recall.

The major challenge of TTL activities is the cost associated with implementing various promotional campaigns. It is usually only established or financially secure companies that can implement TTL activities successfully.

Implementing TTL activities:

  • 360-degree marketing: Using both ATL and BTL activities – for example, a television advertisement supplemented with pamphlets of the product attached to newspapers.
  • Digital marketing: Online banners and buttons, social media posts, blog articles.

Final thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to marketing. While ATL activities may work for some companies, others may need to supplement it with BTL. Everything depends on how well marketers read the market and whether there is a fit between the customer and the communication.

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