As I mentioned in my previous blog advertising can typically be grouped into two categories: above-the-line and below-the-line advertising. Above-the-line advertising is typically marketing that is done by ad agencies and includes television, radio and press promotion. Below-the-line advertising is typically conducted by the company itself.

Direct Mail Marketing

While direct mail can have mixed results, when used properly, it can be an effective means of advertising. Direct-mail campaigns should be professionally designed, and copywriters should be hired to create compelling messages that your intended customer’s can’t ignore. The costs for direct mailings are directly dependent on the size of your campaign but generally are lower than most above-the-line advertising techniques. The key to a successful direct mailing campaign is of course to have a database of relevant names and addresses- otherwise you won’t be doing much mailing at all. It never hurts to have an interesting piece of mail designed too- for example a 3D pop up envelope.

Door-to-Door Marketing

Door-to-door marketing takes selling to a personal level, and this is one of the most common forms of below the line advertising. This technique requires highly trained sales staff that know how to build customer relationships and can walk that fine line of being persistent without being annoying. Most door-to-door marketing campaigns are set up to pay on commission, so upfront costs can be kept low and salespeople have more incentive to make sales. An example of door-to-door marketing would be mobile phone packaged sales. An agent goes through their territory, knocks on doors and then tries to sell a data plan if the person is interested in learning more about what they have to offer.

Exterior Location Marketing

Exterior location marketing involves driving interest to an event or sale through the strategic use of employees placed outside the location. Typically, these methods include sandwich-board style promotions or even dressing up the employee in a costume to draw more attention to the location. These employees may stand alongside the road, getting the attention of passing drivers. While this technique is not often employed, it can be beneficial for small companies, restaurants and auto dealers.

Email Marketing

Email marketing can also be a form of below-the-line advertising if your company conducts the campaign on its own. You are communicating directly with the consumer through this form of marketing and can direct them to a landing page where they can learn more about what you are offering. This in turn gives you the ability to measure campaign effectiveness. Email marketing is generally inexpensive, and results can be good if the email list is targeted and fresh and follows double opt-in guidelines Double opt-in refers to the process where consumers have to confirm their subscription to an email list before emails can be sent to them. Don’t spam people- there are laws against it. You will need their permission first- having a function on your website where people sign up to a mailing list can be an easy way to achieve this.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media marketing is a great way to communicate with anyone who has a social media account on facebook, twitter or myspace (for example). Social media is a great way to target people interested in your brand and update them on sales promotions or any other activity you wish to inform them of. Don’t over do it though! Whereas it’s appropriate for a person to update their face book page every 15 minutes- a brand should maybe give updates every few days or even once a week. Remember Social Media requires people to choose to want to follow your activity- so by the time you’re engaging with a customer at this level you have most likely successfully implemented other media- such as above the line activity or other below the line methods. Social Media is free to use and very easy to use. If your brand doesn’t have a facebook page get one yesterday! Assuming your B2C, B2B it probably isn’t so important.

Catch you Later.

Ollie W

Next post: A look at building customer based brand equity- business school models and examples.

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Bread and Butt

This blog defines and discusses the neologism of above, below and through the line advertising. Because the bigger half of anything is to understand the vocabulary used, a logical start is for us to put definitions in place for these terms.

Mostly the business world is made to sound more complex than it really is through the use of confusing jargon and non-descript terminology.

View this article as a brief educational piece for new comers to the world of branding, and perhaps a refresher course to those who are already here but didn’t get time to do their homework for one reason or another.

Above the Line Media

Above the line media are mass media formats such as television, cinema, radio, print (newspaper and magazines), out-of-home (billboards, bus stops). It is the advertising method of choice when the target group is very large and/or difficult to define.

Below the Line Media

Below the line media are generally targeted and specific forms of communicating with customers such as email, internet games, smart phone applications, direct mail (posting information out to a specific person), face-to-face selling and social media.

Below is a chart I’ve taken from the DARE website which outlines the differences between above and below line nicely:


Above-the-Line Media… Below-the-Line Media…
Are tailored to reach a mass audience Are targeted at individual consumers, based on their expressed needs and preferences
Establish brand identity or reinforce emotional concept surrounding a product or brand Issue a “call-to-action,” inspiring specific customer activity or tailored messages about a product or a brand
May or may not drive customer response Drive individual responses
Are difficult – if not impossible – to measure with any accuracy Are highly measurable, allowing marketers insight into their return-on-investment, as well as those tactics that are (and are not) working
Cater to the mass market Establish one-to-one relationships between consumers and marketers
Source: V12 Group

Through the Line (Integrating Media)

Through the line is when you successfully point customers to your Below the Line media from information given to them in your Above the Line media (or vice versa). For example, a Radio ad for a Sportswear distributor might mention a new product line in store that will be discounted if you go to their website and sign up to their mailing list. Or a Newspaper ad which encourages potential customers to “like” their face book page. Assuming you sign up to the mailing list or “like” the face book page the advertiser has successfully driven you through the line. In essence, through the line is an action whereas above and below the line are general terms for some of the tools that marketers use when building brand equity.

Follow the YouTube link below to see a good case study on a strong real world example of how to integrate marketing communications well…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwIM6Gwk0kc&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLD4597CBE66AE29CB

Have fun.

Ollie W

PS My next blog will be up in the next day or two. I will spend more time discussing Below the Line Advertising there.

In times of recession people spend less money overall and become far more selective about where they spend the little money they have. This rationale tends to expose and amplify brand weaknesses. As consumers are far less forgiving and far more price-conscious, they abandon brands that fail to provide clear, meaningful and relevant value.

This article will focus on the importance of building clear, meaningful and relevant brand value through storytelling. When organizations, causes, brands or individuals identify and develop a core story, they create and display authentic meaning and purpose that others can believe, participate with, and share. This is the basis for cultural and social change.

Stories are about collaboration and connection. They transcend generations, they engage us through emotions, and they connect us to others. Through stories we share passions, sadness, hardships and joys. We share meaning and purpose. Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others.

The Super Organic

Unique to human beings is the concept of the super organic, which was coined by an American anthropologist named Stanley Kroeber in 1972. In summary, life forms in the organic world develop their knowledge systems in the form of biological adaptation and this knowledge is transmitted to the next generation genetically, however the tools of human survival and ways of living must be transmitted in otherways. Most commonly oral and pictoral histories have been the means whereby the experiences of a society or individual have been passed on to succeeding generations. Commonly stories are used.

Invented Traditions

Going forward it is important to understand the notion of invented traditions, that is the way historical events are reconstructed to satisfy an ideological goal in the present. An obvious (perhaps scary) example is the story telling capacity of the late Kim Jon Il- who used the tools of the North Korean media to tell his citizens that he averaged 11 hole in ones every time he stepped out onto the golfing green, or that he was born under a double rainbow on a sacred hill.

The notion of invented traditions isn’t Government specific however. Successful traditions have been created by brands such as Marmite, Weet Bix and the All Blacks/Rugby Union in New Zealand. And in the United States good examples are those of Coke and the Boston Red Sox/ baseball.

Originally not all of these invented traditions were entirely manufactured by specific people with a media planning schedule- however in modern day these brands embrace their organic histories and integrate them into their stories assuming they inject a positive/desired meaning into their brands.

Dramatic Structure/ Story Structure

When discussing story structure in his Poetics the Greek philosopher Aristotle put forth the idea that “A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end”.

Later Gustav Freytag elaborated upon Aristotle’s credo and proposed that drama should be divided into five parts, which some refer to as a dramatic arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement.

To learn more on dramatic structure/how to tell a good story according to Freyburg click here: 

Story telling and Brand Building

Fundamentally when you tell the story of your brand you should aim to guide customers to answering the following four questions favorably:

1)      Who are you? (Brand Identity)

2)      What are you? (Brand Meaning)

3)      What do I think or feel about you? (Brand responses)

4)      What kind of association and how much of a connection would I like to have with you? (Brand Relationship)

A Brand Strategist should be aiming to maximize the breadth and depth of awareness. Brand awareness gives the product an identity by linking brand elements to a product or product category and associated purchase and consumption situations.

The depth of brand awareness measures how likely it is for a brand element to come to mind, and the ease with which it does so.

Whereas the breadth of brand awareness measures the range of purchase and usage situations the brand applies to. For example do I have Coke with rum AND whiskey? Or just rum?

A Good Example

A good example of a Brand which successfully got it’s story into the hearts and minds of New Zealand consumers in 2010/2011 was DB Breweries. Through the integration of TV and cinema ads and some clever print executions DB Breweries increased sales for several of their brands in 2011. All directly attributable to telling a darn good story (and very few budgetary constraints I might add).

Check out one of the DB Breweries cinema ads here to see how it’s done.

Happy story telling.

Ollie W