BTL stands for “Below the Line” promotion, a “not-so-visible” approach of promotion that actually communicates the target message to target audience. It includes, but not limited to regional promotions via pop displays, retail store promotions, in-store posters, promotion through retail sales employees, graffiti, road shows etc. This is more of targeting specific customers/groups with non-mass media communication, where a mass audience is avoided. In contrast to ATL (Above the Line) promotion where mass media is widely used for a large group of audience, BTL is usually more targeted to niche audience and results are relatively easy to measure.
Although both the ATL and BTL can be combined (along with “Through the Line” or TTL approach) in the form of Integrated Marketing Communication, many managers just cannot think of pure BTL as a means of promoting/launching a new brand. I think the problem of lack of trust in BTL originates from two sources: first, the historical background of new brands. Most new brands in Bangladesh used mass media extensively when they launched first time in the market. I have no problem with that, rather, in many cases, it is desirable to give a good first punch in the market. What I am saying is the lack of trust on BTL as a tool when any brand attempts to launch for the first time. Second, in many cases, pure BTL triggers extensive ATL retaliations from competitors, so that the new brand would have hard time when their ATL would show up in the media. Therefore, managers don’t like to take risk by depending on pure BTL approach.
However, there are situations where pure BTL can effectively be used. This could happen specifically for highly functional products, where functional benefit is the key reason we buy things for. Recent arrival of CP Fried Chicken could be an example. You hardly see any ATL promotion of this brand, whereas it is successfully spreading and competing with other national brands. Promotion of Pepsodent tooth powder, purely based on store displays could be another example. The promotion of Dora Cake, purely based on distribution and store displays, could be an excellent example of power of BTL promotion.