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6 Marketing Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn From the Big Players Here are six major takeaways you can apply to your next product launch.

By Joseph Camberato Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • Leverage social media effectively to push your brand or product into the public eye.
  • Create mutually beneficial partnerships to amplify excitement around your product and reach broader audiences.
  • Maintain brand consistency to help customers recognize and connect with your products or services.
  • Incorporate user-generated content to create a buzz around your product launch and give your audience a sense of ownership around it.
  • Understand your audience, and start your marketing early to create awareness and test strategies.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Going to the movies doesn't generate the same excitement it used to. The price of tickets and popcorn are higher than ever, and you don't have to wait long for your favorite movies to be streaming on Amazon.

But in 2023, Barbie made people excited to go to the movies again. The film brought in $1.45 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of the year. While Barbie's success is due to the directing and quality of the film, it's hard to overlook the film's excellent marketing strategy.

As a small business owner, you can learn valuable marketing lessons by studying major marketing campaigns like Barbie and, more recently, Dune: Part 2. Let's look at six major takeaways you can apply to your next product launch.

Related: 'Barbie' Was a Marketing Masterpiece. Here's Why.

1. Incorporate social media

A large part of Barbie's success is due to its social media campaign — the movie was heavily promoted on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. You could find behind-the-scenes content, trailers, memes and interactive posts.

There were promotional hashtags, like #BarbieMovieMagic, which encouraged fans to create and share user-generated content. The Barbie team also partnered with celebrities and influencers who shared their experiences and thoughts about the movie.

The Barbie movie is an example of what can happen when you leverage social media to its fullest extent. When used effectively, it can create unstoppable momentum that pushes a brand or product into the public eye.

2. Collaborate with other brands

The Barbie marketing campaign focused on collaborating with other brands to promote the movie. In total, Mattel partnered with over 100 brands — for example, Forever 21 created Barbie-inspired clothing like crop tops, mesh tees and hoodies.

Airbnb listed the iconic Malibu DreamHouse on its site. Restaurant chains like McDonald's, Burger King and Cold Stone also partnered with Barbie to promote the movie. Cold Stone's pink cotton candy ice cream shake even went viral on TikTok.

It's hard to market a product on your own, and Barbie demonstrates what can happen when you create mutually beneficial partnerships on a very large scale. The right partnerships can generate more excitement among your audience and put your brand in front of entirely new audiences.

Related: 5 Ways to Effectively Utilize Marketing Collaborations

3. Create brand consistency

When you think of Barbie, there's probably one thing that comes to mind — the color pink. Barbie pink became a central part of the movie. The color was not only used throughout the movie but also incorporated in all of the promotional materials and campaigns.

Even blank billboards with nothing more than the color pink and the date of the film's release were instantly recognized as promoting the film. Once the movie was released, people began flooding the theatres dressed in their best Barbie pink outfits.

Brand consistency matters because it helps customers create an emotional connection to your products. When customers immediately recognize your brand, it creates familiarity and a greater sense of trust.

4. Encourage user-generated content

User-generated content may not be applicable to every marketing campaign, but if you can use it, it's an effective tool. User-generated content was pivotal to marketing Barbie, and fans were constantly encouraged to engage with the movie.

There was a Barbie selfie generator that allowed fans to edit themselves into the movie poster. And there was tons of user-generated content posted on social media. User-generated content can not only create a buzz around a product launch but also give your audience a sense of ownership around it.

Related: The Beginner's Guide to User-Generated Content

5. Start early

Most people probably became aware of the Barbie movie last spring or summer during the months leading up to its release. However, the marketing team spent years planning its launch and setting up partnerships.

In fact, the first marketing materials debuted in 2022 at CinemaCon with a photo of Barbie in her pink convertible. By starting early, the marketing team could be selective about its partnership and narrow in on the best strategies.

Effective marketing campaigns don't open overnight — the earlier you begin marketing a product launch, the more time you have to create awareness. Plus, marketing early and often gives you a chance to test out different strategies and see what works.

6. Know your audience

One of the biggest things the Barbie marketing campaign demonstrates is a deep understanding of its audience. The Barbie brand has been around since 1959, and the movie embraced the power of nostalgia to appeal to older fans who grew up with the dolls.

At the same time, the movie's focus on diversity and inclusion made it relevant to younger generations. The movie succeeded by giving fans what they really wanted — an experience that resonated with people of all ages.

When you know your audience, you can create relevant, targeted content you know they'll identify with. It also helps you create a relationship with your audience and create long-term customer loyalty.

Joseph Camberato

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of National Business Capital

Joseph Camberato is the CEO & founder of National Business Capital. It was scaled w/o private equity to become a leading SMB Fintech marketplace and offers fast, streamlined, competitive financing options to entrepreneurs. 20k+ transactions completed and $2 billion in funding secured!

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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