It can often be overlooked by small business owners, but having a marketing plan is one of the best things you can do for your business.
Most marketing activities can be split into two broad categories depending on the approach to the audience: either advertising to the market as a whole or targeting specific groups of customers.
The former is called ‘Above the Line’, or ATL, marketing, and the latter is called ‘Below the Line’, or BTL, marketing.
Because consumption trends can shift rapidly in the modern world, more and more marketers are pursuing blended approaches that blur the traditional distinction between ATL and BTL advertising.
This has led to the rise of an integrated approach that addresses both mass and focused markets. This is called ‘Through the Line’, or TTL, marketing.
Some more depth on each approach:
Above the Line (ATL) Marketing
Strategies for conducting ATL advertising typically concentrate on casting the widest possible net. Promotional messages are distributed without a specific target audience in mind. In this approach, increasing consumers’ awareness about the availability of the product is the highest priority.
When marketers use calls to action in ATL marketing, the goal is typically to encourage customers to seek out the product. ATL marketing is good for fostering greater brand visibility and expanding the seller’s audience.
Typical ATL Activities:
* Outdoor: Billboards, banners, flyers, sandwich boards
* TV: ad campaigns targeted at the national or regional levels
* Media: Promotional messages placed in newspapers, magazines, and websites
* Radio: Broadcasts targeted at the entire nation or an entire metro area
Above the line, marketing is good for businesses that want to build brand awareness. The feel-good professionals at Knead Massage and Natural Therapies used ATL strategies to improve their brand awareness by “advertising in local directories that were distributed in cafes and salons all over our city. We included a 10% discount for anyone who mentioned seeing the advertisement as a way to track the effectiveness, and had good success.”
Below the Line (BTL) Marketing
Because BTL marketing is directed at one or more carefully-defined groups, the activities employed are generally more focused. Ads and other messages will be carefully crafted to reflect the demographic and psychographic features of their target audiences.
BTL communications are made as personal as possible, and campaigns are typically targeted at conversion as the highest priority.
BTL advertising is increasingly attractive to marketers and their clients because efforts and results are easy to quantify and track.
Sellers also typically see better ROI from BTL marketing. A further advantage of BTL advertising is that it can target multiple consumer sub-groups within a wider segment of the market.
Typical BTL Activities:
* Direct Marketing: Email, social media, telemarketing
* Social media and other targeted digital advertising
* Influencer marketing (read our blog on influencing influencers)
A real-life example of BTL marketing would be a social media campaign run by the defence lawyers at Drink Driving Defense Melbourne who “used social media paid advertising to reach the people who need our business. We identified that young men were the most likely to get in trouble with the law for drink driving and so we used social media advertising targeting young men in Melbourne with ads for our services. We saw a significant increase in conversions compared to previous general campaigns.”
Through the Line (TTL) Marketing
In TTL marketing, strategies from the realms of ATL and BTL are combined holistically. The goal here is to cultivate a thorough understanding of the market and engage with customers wherever and whenever possible. Because of its wide array of possible techniques, TTL strategies can produce excellent improvements in brand visibility and recall.
One of the greatest challenges in launching and maintaining a successful TTL campaign is in meeting the significant financial cost. This sort of full-spectrum marketing is best undertaken by companies that are large, well-established, and financially secure.
Typical TTL Activities
* 360-degree Advertising: e.g. Presenting the same message in television advertisements and on social media advertisements.
An example of a small business using TTL marketing strategies would be the pain and injury specialists at Remedial Myotherapy Melbourne who used a mixture of both ATL and BTL techniques to build a through-the-line campaign. Last year they saw success in “using a billboard advertisement at local football fields around the area, as well as the implementation of online banner ads. The billboards reached a broader audience, while we were more specifically able to target people who had searched for injury and pain relief services recently with the banner ads.”
Marketing has a huge number of potentially-effective strategies, but approaches must be tailored to the needs of the seller and the product. Marketers need to provide their invaluable expertise so that promotional messages reach the right customers and have the right impact.