BTL: An integral part of Rural Marketing

The importance of Below the Line (BTL) activities in any rural marketing effort can never be underestimated. The need for focused communication aimed at specific target audiences, with varying traditions, cultures, languages and dialects.The traditional belief is that mass media does not reach everyone in rural India. Today, the rural market is a vast area with around 895 million people in over 664,000 villages. It is estimated that this population will increase by 1.7% by 2022.

All BTL activities are aimed at generating word of mouth publicity for the product or service being promoted among the target audience, in a specific geographical location using specially developed communication packages. I would include any non-media activity or roadshow which takes the route of either one on one or group communication using different delivery mechanisms.

For expensive consumer durables or services, where promotional efforts have to build in the ‘touch & feel’ or demonstration aspects, the term used most often is ‘Experiential Marketing’.

India has a treasure trove of folk and traditional art forms, right from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, and from Maharashtra to Arunachal Pradesh. Folk art is a cherished ornament in the kaleidoscope of our cultural heritage. Every region of the country has its own distinctive folk art form. The appeal of folk media is quite personal and it has got direct influence on people. Since it operates at an intimate level, numerous forms of mass media can be exploited to cater to the needs of the people for immediate and direct rapport.

Use of magic shows to promote products and brands in rural areas is not unusual. Cigarette companies used this form to sample/sell cigarettes almost 50 years ago. But the new concept is to blend the brand message with the magic show to create better brand equity.

Companies are known to organize their own special events to create excitement among the target audience. Organizing special exhibitions, special edutainment shows etc. come under this category. Such shows are usually aimed at getting large audiences under one roof.

The most popular form of road show is the ‘video on wheels’. It has been found that one sure way of reaching promotional efforts to remotest villages of the country is through branded vans fitted with the necessary AV equipment and carrying other collaterals required for conducting shows. An effective van operation can not only help in promoting a brand but can also be used to get valuable data on markets, help in sales and distribution, and sampling and demonstration of products.

In this modern age, many rural marketing strategies in India are available that help marketers reach rural consumers. Complex planning and effective rural marketing strategies will help your brand flourish in rural areas. From hoardings to mobile vans, many methods are available in the rural market. With time, rural marketing in India is getting updated, and now reaching rural markets has become easy.

For instance, it has been found that residential areas produce greater opportunities for women to participate, especially if you conduct the shows during specific times, when women are free. Other popular locations in the villages are near tea shops, panchayat offices, primary health centers, local temples or other religious locations, and in local community halls and schools.