As you know, I run a corporate marketing department as a full-time job for co-working and office space and so I know a thing or two about marketing. One of the very first marketing components and terminology that I learnt was what ATL, BTL and TTL mean and are. You should be using BTL marketing in your day-to-day book marketing strategy but it's also a good idea to consider TTL and ATL (depending on budget) marketing for increased reach and brand awareness.
You may be reading the above not knowing what those letters stand for so in this article, I'm going to give you a basic marketing class! Let's begin!
What is ATL, BTL and TTL Marketing?
ATL stands for Above The Line, BTL stands for Below The Line and TTL stands for Through The Line. These correlate to the types of marketing you'll be doing.
Above The Line — Above The Line marketing uses marketing tactics that generally are untargeted but allow you to appeal to larger audiences and gather a higher reach. Examples include billboard/bus adverts, radio segments, TV segments, TV ads, newspapers, magazines, etc.
Below The Line — Below The Line marketing is marketing on a small level that is highly targeted towards a certain group of people. Most likely, you would have used or should be using, Below The Line marketing. Examples include email/direct mail marketing, social media, online paid ads, blogging, sponsorship, influencer marketing, print materials, PR, etc.
Through The Line — Through The Line marketing is something that businesses are using more of. TTL marketing is a combination of both ATL and BTL. An example of this would be someone watching a TV advert and also receiving a flyer through the door.
Advantages and disadvantages of these marketing types
Above The Line
Reach - With Above The Line marketing, you're genuinely using tactics that allow you to market to a wider audience. This is why ATL marketing is best for increasing overall brand awareness.
Brand Awareness - As per the above point, a wider audience means a higher number of people are seeing your marketing efforts, meaning you'll typically be able to increase your overall brand awareness.
Grabs Attention - An advantage to ATL marketing is that it's a type of marketing that typically is better at grabbing attention than BTL or TTL, this is because these tend to either be visual or audio attractive, which are marketing efforts that tend to engage the reader most, rather than a flyer or social media post for example.
Cost - The main disadvantage of using ATL marketing is that it can be quite costly due to the nature of mass media advertisement. Generally, ATL marketing tactic isn't a one-time activity and so you have to pay for a standard timeframe for continuous advertisement.
Untargeted - As ATL tactics usually involved marketing that reaches a wider audience (for example through the use of a TV or radio ad) you're unlikely to be able to specifically target a niche audience.
Difficult to measure ROI - Unlike with social media, you're not able to see how many people 'like' your TV or radio advertisement. You're not able to see how many people have then watched the advert and looked up your website, or how many people have shared it with their friends. This makes measuring ROI (return on investment) difficult to measure as you don't know exactly who has seen your ATL marketing and converted into a sale.
Trends Shift - In my opinion, we'll always see Above The Line marketing that will get more and more advanced as the years progress. I've already seen the use of holographic billboard ads and it won't be long before that becomes a reality on our TV.
Below The Line
Targeted - BTL tactics are often able to target a smaller, niche audience meaning that you're able to make your tactics more relevant to the customer which will improve your chances of gaining a high CTR (click-through rate) and conversion rate.
Measurable - This isn't the case for every Below The Line tactic, however most BTL tactics, especially those that use digital marketing like social media, or paid ads, allow you to track ROI and measure how well your campaigns are doing. This is usually measured through analytics systems, such as via Google Analytics or the analytics on your social posts.
Connect with your audience - As your BTL campaigns allow you to target a more niche audience, it's easier to connect directly with your audience and build stronger customer relations.
Trends are changing - A disadvantage to BTL marketing is that it needs to be current with the trends and the trends are constantly changing so you need to make sure you're keeping up with the latest content pieces and news to stay relevant.
Your audience may be distrustful - I'm a big fan of direct sales outreach which is when you directly message or email someone in the hopes of selling your product. However, if your messaging is too sales-y your audience will be distrustful and your BTL efforts won't be effective.
Through The Line
Through The Line marketing has all of the above advantages and disadvantages, and this is generally a combination of ATL and BTL marketing. It can be costly and difficult to keep up with the trends, but also you can connect with a niche and wide audience at the same time.