Six Marketing Lessons Small Businesses Can Take from the Barbie Marketing Campaign

3 minutes read
Barbie-mania has swept the world and with its estimated $150 million marketing budget, it’s everywhere you look - online, in stores, on the streets and even on menus thanks to Burger King’s pink burgers.

But not all brands have the luxury of turning mansions pink, organising extravagant events, or teaming up with influencers at six or even seven figures per post. However, small businesses can still learn valuable marketing lessons from the super successful Barbie marketing campaign. Mattel’s massive investment in promoting Barbie’s movie and brand taught us valuable strategies that even modest budgets can adopt. 

Here are six key takeaways:

1. Embrace storytelling

The Barbie marketing campaign showcased the power of storytelling brilliantly. Small businesses can create compelling narratives around their products or services. By sharing relatable stories that resonate with their target audience, businesses can build emotional connections and loyalty. Storytelling is a cost-effective way to engage customers and differentiate from competitors. 

The Barbie campaign also had an air of mystery with teaser trailers. Small businesses could take this concept and apply it to their own marketing, teasing in announcements whether it’s a new product or service, a new client win or even something as small as a visit from the office’s favourite four-legged friend! 

2. Leverage partnerships

While small businesses may not be able to afford celebrity influencers, they can still collaborate with local influencers, micro-influencers, or complementary businesses. Partnering with influencers or businesses in the same niche can expand your reach and introduce your brand to new audiences. These partnerships benefit both businesses, providing exposure without extravagant costs. You scratch their backs n’ all that.

3. Focus on audience engagement

The Barbie campaign invested heavily in engaging its audience, building a community and encouraging user-generated content. Small businesses can replicate this approach by investing time and creativity into social media interactions, hosting competitions and encouraging customers to share their experiences. Engaging with customers creates a loyal fan base, in turn boosting all-important, ever-powerful word-of-mouth marketing. 

4. Celebrate diversity and inclusivity

Barbie’s campaign made strides in embracing diversity and inclusivity, which struck a chord with modern audiences. Small businesses can follow suit by celebrating diversity in their marketing efforts. Showcasing inclusivity in advertisements and promotions reflects positively on the brand and appeals to a wide range of customers who feel represented and valued. 

5. Invest in customer feedback

The Barbie campaign used surveys and customer feedback to understand preferences and continually improve their products. Small businesses can adopt a similar strategy by gathering feedback through social media polls, online surveys, or email campaigns. Understanding customer needs and preferences allows businesses to make data-driven decisions and better cater to their target audience.

6. Keep up marketing momentum in tough times

In times of economic uncertainty, many businesses reduce their marketing activities to cut costs. The marketing team behind the Barbie franchise, however, went all in even though the film was released during a downturn. This strategy meant they secured a big slice of the market’s attention, now and in the future – something for small businesses to consider. The less noise there is, the louder your voice will seem and the more people will hear what you have to say. 

So, while small businesses may not have the financial freedom of a major brand like Mattel, they can still learn valuable marketing lessons from the Barbie marketing campaign.

Remember, marketing success lies not only in budget size but in creativity, understanding your audience and building meaningful connections. It’s about making your marketing budget work smarter, not harder. Big isn’t always better, it’s what you do with it that counts (yes we’re still talking about budgets.)