Friday, 14 September 2012

Above and below the line marketing - what's the difference?

At university one of the majors I did in my Bachelor of Commerce was Marketing and this where I first heard the terms "above the line" and "below the line" marketing. To many this is an unknown term, it certainly was to me so allow me to explain briefly. Traditionally above the line marketing is the stuff one usually thinks about when they hear the word "marketing"; it's your print, radio, television and so on. Below the line is everything else. 

It initially troubled me that the path I was heading down was below this famous line. Who drew this line? Where does he live? Could I take him in a rumble or at least beat him in a bare cheek 100m dash after a full night's drinking games?

If you do something - anything in fact that gets your company's name into the minds of your customers then it's marketing - pure and simple. In fact research has shown that below the line marketing and digital the fastest growing sector in the marketing mix.

The trouble is that there are some huge companies out there who don't seem to know the difference. Dozens of times every day when myself or members of my team are speaking to a company who straight away tell me that they don't have a budget for marketing and yet we will have taken their phone number from an advert in a national paper which will have set them back several thousand pounds/dollars! Untargetted, unimaginative and with a lifespan of one day - there are moths that have lasted longer than these people's marketing efforts and so in an attempt to spend wisely, they repeat the very same advert a week later - genius!

Why are these smart marketeers so ready to dismiss promotional merchandise as a viable way to generate more business? Now don't get me wrong - giving away a random pen to some passer by at a trade show is about as useful as a bacon sandwich in a synagogue. People throw money at advertising because it's the done thing, but that doesn't necessarily make it the right thing.

But it's not all pens and mousemats. These things certainly have their place but there are over a million other ideas out there. People are happy to spend so much money and yet so little time on their marketing and the costs can be huge. I pride myself on giving good advice - sometimes a pen is the right way to go, but I need to ask a lot more questions before I arrive at that conclusion. I'm not trying to make a sale here (although I have no objection to your buying from me) but I am trying to make sure that you get the best advice.

The person working at the newspaper advert office only wants to know the size of advert you want to buy and on what date you want it printed. He doesn't care about your business because he doesn't need to - and yet you form a strategic alliance with this person?

So let's dispense with this concept of what I do being "below the line" - I know that my clients have had great responses to the merchandise that they have given out. It's lead to more business and more long standing relationships between them and their customers. When was the last time a newspaper advert did that?

And so it is that I draw a new line - and all marketing, from the multi million pound TV campaigns to the humblest ballpoint pen will be above it. Now that's out of the way, can we talk about your marketing?

No comments:

Post a comment