What is above the line advertising? The best examples are most television, internet, and radio commercials; the bigger the event, the more above the line (think Superbowl). AoL advertising foregoes targeted, specific marketing for very broad, non-targeted ads. Think of a shotgun instead of a rifle, or casting seeds rather than putting individual ones in the ground.
AoL goes for as many people as possible with material as broadly geared as possible.
The big question you should be asking for your business, is whether you should go Above the Line or Below the Line (more on BtL next week) OR a third option that’ll be covered the following week.
And the answer to that question is another question, or rather, two more questions:
1. Who is my audience?
If you are making something that appeals to young and old, male and female, American or Chinese, Buddhist or Mormon…you should go with AtL. Examples of this include food & beverage, automotive, and medical. If your audience is 55 year old women from Buenos Aires…maybe do something more targeted. These are two extremes, and finding which side of the spectrum you’re on between these extremes will provide a more consistent answer to your question.
2. Why not both?
Seriously. If you have a preferred demographic, but want to open channels to a bigger market, doing AtL and BtL can have a synergistic effect that your business may benefit from tremendously. While I’ve been highlighting the virtues of AtL in this article, that doesn’t mean you’re limited to using one or the other…it’s more a question of which one serves your needs best.
After all, marketing costs money and relegating that money where it is most effective is the difference between successful or unsuccessful campaigns. For example, even if you got one dollar from all 8 billion people on earth because of your marketing, if you spent 8.1 billion dollars in your campaign…it’s a massive failure!
This is why arming yourself with the differences between AtL and BtL and budgeting accordingly is so important. It’s not just a question of if the marketing works…it’s a question of whether you’re using your precious time and resources appropriately and efficiently.
Bottom line: sometimes either side of the line, above and below, can have their own respective rewards. It’s a matter of prioritizing what works best for your situation.