BTL Marketing is short for below-the-line marketing, which refers to an advertising strategy in which products are promoted through nontraditional channels. Traditional channels of advertising include mainstream radio, print formats, movies, billboards and television. Below-the-line marketing sets aside these formats in favor of reaching out to people directly, either through trade shows, catalogs, direct-mail campaigns or ads that appear when people use search engines.

Although below-the-line marketing may not appear as prestigious as some other forms of marketing, it does have several advantages.

One of the reasons that below-the-line marketing is preferable in many cases is because it is more affordable. Paying for advertisement space in traditional media channels can be expensive, and this might be particularly harmful to smaller businesses that cannot afford to appear in those channels. A BTL agency finds ways of marketing to consumers even when a business lacks a large budget.

An added benefit is that below-the-line marketing, while remaining affordable, is also a targeted approach to marketing.

This form of marketing is effective at gaining the attention of consumers by directly placing the product in front of them rather than hoping an advertisement catches the customer’s attention. An in-store demonstration, for example, has the potential to connect customers directly with brand representatives who can use that opportunity to sell the product. Likewise, search engine advertisements for a product appear in front of people who have conducted searches for similar products. The advantage of below-the-line marketing is that it is targeted and affordable, in contrasts to above-the-line marketing.

BTL Marketing vs. ATL Marketing

Above-the-line marketing is designed to reach as wide an audience as the budget will possibly allow. ATL Marketing takes advantage of all traditional media channels to advertise a product, brand or service, which means that ATL marketing advertisements can be found everywhere from billboards to television.

The purpose of ATL marketing isn’t to target a message to a narrow audience, but to reach as many people as possible. This type of marketing is best when a business is trying to raise awareness for its products or services.

Because it does not focus on targeting specific niches, ATL marketing is not necessarily the best at driving customer purchases. Instead, ATL marketing is typically part of a larger marketing plan and acts as the first step in raising brand awareness. Future marketing campaigns can build on this increased awareness using targeted advertising, such as that found in below-the-line marketing.

The success of above-the-line marketing is measured in whether it has successfully raised awareness of the brand.

Because brand awareness is the primary goal of an above-the-line marketing campaign, its success is measured in the reach of any given advertisement. Placing an advertisement during the Super Bowl, for instance, would reach one of the largest audiences possible.

A second way that the campaign’s success is measured is through the frequency at which people see the advertisement, which can also increase brand awareness. Unfortunately, this approach to marketing, because it is so broad, is difficult to measure in terms of firm results and hard numbers.

Measuring BTL Marketing Success

Below-the-line marketing measures success very differently from above-the-line marketing. Whereas the success of above-the-line marketing is measured in terms of reach, frequency and increased brand awareness, below-the-line marketing measures success in the form of firm conversions. To a lesser degree, the success of below-the-line marketing is also measured in the form of impressions.

Conversions mean different things in different contexts. In terms of raw sales, conversions refers to any time that a customer actually makes a purchase from the business. The ratio of money spent for an advertisement to profits made off those advertisements is known as a conversion rate. A quick way of gauging an advertisement’s success is by looking at how little was spent to make a sale. There are also other ways of measuring conversions.

When speaking about online marketing, conversions can be measured in website visits and when customers click on relevant links. This is an example of below-the-line marketing because online advertisements are often highly targeted to niches of consumers, and website visits or link clicks demonstrate interest in a brand from a highly relevant audience.

Marketers often measure the effectiveness of online ads in how much is spent per click. To a lesser degree, marketers are also interested in how many impressions an advertisement makes, which refers to how many people see an online advertisement.

BTL Marketing vs. TTL Marketing

Through-the-line marketing, or TTL marketing, combines the best features of both below- and above-the-line marketing. Through-the-line marketing places a focus on not only raising brand awareness, but also on increasing purchases and raising revenues.

As such, TTL marketing uses a combination of approaches from both BTL and ATL marketing, including television advertisements, billboard promotions and targeted online advertisements. Both the BTL and ATL components of a TTL marketing campaign are combined into a single advertising approach that is simultaneously both broad and narrow in its reach.

A prime example of TTL marketing would be any company attempting to launch a nationwide campaign, indicating that reach is an important part of that company’s marketing plan. The nationwide campaign could be set to launch on YouTube, with advertisements playing in front of a large audience all across the country.

This degree of reach, and the frequency with which people view this campaign, would compose the ATL aspect of the marketing campaign.

On the other hand, the BTL aspect of the marketing campaign would mean that the nationwide YouTube campaign consists of several different, highly tailored commercials. While the BTL activities and ideas in each commercial might fall underneath the umbrella of the nationwide campaign, the commercials themselves could be tailored to speak to certain demographic groups or be targeted at different parts of the country.

A business can make multiple commercials that appeal to different groups and take steps to make sure each advertisement plays only for its target demographic. Using this approach, businesses still reach audiences across the entire country, but different people see different variations of the advertisement based on their personal background.

Role of BTL Marketing in Business Success

ATL, BTL and TTL marketing all have different roles in helping a business succeed. For smaller businesses, below-the-line marketing may be a more cost-effective way of spreading the word about its products or services.

A BTL advertisement campaign can be developed without having to worry about the high costs associated with trying to get space on TV, film or radio.

On the other hand, the ATL approach is well-suited for large, more established businesses that can afford the higher costs of being featured in traditional media.

This approach is great for raising brand awareness. However, the major drawback of this approach is that its success is hard to gauge.

In an ideal situation, businesses instead choose to use the TLL marketing approach. This approach still addresses a large audience, but the campaign itself is composed of individual advertisements, each developed for and presented to only people who fit within specific marketing segments.

The TTL marketing approach allows businesses to achieve a large reach while also delivering highly targeted ads and gauging success in hard numbers, such as sales or website visits.