The terms ‘Above the line’ (ATL) and ‘below the line’ (BTL) are used to categorise the different communication tools and channels you can use in your Push and Pull communications strategy.
Above the line communication
ATL communications use media tools and channels which broadcast your message to a mass audience; for example the press, magazines, radio, cinema, TV and search engines.
Below the line communication
BTL communications on the other hand are focused on a more niche audience and can deliver a more personal message; for example telemarketing, email marketing (could be ATL too), direct mail and promotions.
There’s one more…
Another term you may hear is ‘through the line’ (TTL), which is a blend of ATL and BTL communications and in my experience yields the best results – especially for products with a longer buying cycle, such as a car.
Working Example of TTL
Whilst minding their own business on a Saturday afternoon, an unsuspecting target customer for MINI sees a TV advert about the new MINI One – they get excited, but before they can say anything, a little voice says “forget it, we can’t afford one!” – it’s probably for the best.
The plant food
Then on the way to work a few weeks later, an ad from their local dealership comes on the radio which is promoting a great new finance deal on the new MINI One – “hmm maybe I can afford one after all”.
The watering can
As they’ve been into their local dealership before and handed over their email address for the chance to win a new BMW, they now receive a personalised email with more details about this fantastic offer.
Because the dealership are smart, they track who opens their emails and therefore this future MINI owner gets a call asking if they’d like a test drive…”hmm why not, what harm can it do…” and as they say, the rest is history!
So by using TTL communications you can target your mass audience with ATL channels such as TV and then hone in on some of them with BTL tools such as personalised emails. A key part of TTL communication, as with all marketing strategies, is consistency; make sure your communication channels complement each other and re-enforce your messages – this nurturing process is a crucial part of any successful marketing campaign.