Below the line (advertising)

Below the line (advertising)

Below the line (BTL), Above the line (ATL), and Through the Line (TTL), in organisational business and marketing communications, are advertising techniques.

Promotion can be loosely classified as "above the line" or "below the line".

Promotional activities carried out through mass media, such as television, radio and newspaper, are classed as 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.

"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". 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..

Above the line sales promotion

Above the line is a type of advertising through media such as TV, cinema, radio, print, banners and search engines to promote brands. Major uses include television and radio advertising, web and Internet banner ads. This type of communication is conventional in nature and is considered impersonal to customers. It differs from Below the line advertising, which believes in unconventional brand-building strategies, such as direct mail and printed media (and usually involve no motion graphics).

The term comes from accountancy and is to do with the way in which Procter and Gamble, one of the world’s biggest advertising clients, were charged for their media in the 1950s and 1960s. Advertising agencies made so much commission from booking media for clients that the creative generation and actual production costs of making TV ads was free – hence above the line. Everything else they paid for and was therefore below the line. Since then, models have changed and clients are no longer charged for their media in that way. [ [ Definition of above the line advertising] ]

Used loosely, above the line still means mass media. However the media landscape has shifted so dramatically that advertisers have reconsidered the definitions of mass media.

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 Gaurav Singh:

Below the Line uses less conventional methods than the usual specific channels of advertising to promote products, services, etc. than Above the Line 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.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.Another interesting and very effective BTL is Ssop Intercept. Trained sales personnel, often girls, are deployed at Retail Stores, near the shelves of targeted products category. These girls convince customers visiting these shelves about the better aspects of their brand compared with others. This is ideal for new launches as it generates trials, which if successful result in repeat sales. In addition, according to Kunal Bhardwaj,fact|date=February 2008 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.

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.

Methods of below the line sales promotion

#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
#: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.
#Gift with purchase
#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.
#Money refunds
#: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.
#Frequent user/loyalty incentives
#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. In these times of high inflation and more and more channel surfing, BTL are proving to be a very cost effective tool. As Tariq Ikram, a distributor of FMCG products in Karachi, Pakistan observes," the effect of BTL is immediate and objective, one can know within days about the effective utilization or not of money. We have seen great success in BTL activities done by Continental Biscuits and Engro Foods in Pakistan.

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.

Most of the educational institutes like career forum, 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.


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