In August 2022, Slam Media Lab (Slam)’s Founder Silvia Li Sam was interviewed by Think Now’s Founder & President Mario X. Carrasco on marketing to bicultural Latinx marketers. In the New Mainstream podcast, we chatted about how Hispanic and Latinx consumption has changed since the pandemic. And while many brands have adapted to target these demographics, most still fail to understand that Latinx and Hispanic consumers in the U.S. are diverse. Marketers often choose to target them by their country of origin, without considering the biculturalism that exists in Latin America and Hispanic-speaking communities. I grew up in Lima, Peru as Chinese Peruvian, so I know what it feels like to have these narratives ignored. I started Slam to become one of the best Hispanic Marketing Agencies out there, so we can truly show the real stories of our community.
If you didn’t listen to it, no worries! We’re bringing it to you.
At Slam, we work with mission-driven companies in education, health, immigration, climate, tech, and venture capital to make their online experience the #1 driver of traffic and growth. We do it through SEO, content strategy, and web design and development through Webflow. We're a mission-driven branding, SEO, and web design agency based in SF.
In this article, we dive into everything you want to know about Slam Media Lab and Hispanic Marketing Agencies, such as:
- The history of Slam Media Lab
- What it takes to found a Hispanic/Latinx agency
- What it means to be a mission-driven company
- The ins and outs of Hispanic marketing
A History of Slam Media Lab
Even as a small business, Slam Media Lab operates internationally, employing team members from across the United States and around the world. With such a diverse team, it should be no surprise that its origins backtrack all the way to Guangzhou, China.
The early days of Slam Media Lab
Slam CEO Silvia Li Sam’s founder’s journey began with her parents. Farmers in China, Silvia’s father and mother sought better opportunities abroad. Through a contact in Peru, they emigrated c. 1984 with the goal of building a better life in a new country. They worked multiple jobs at once–washing dishes and performing manual labor–with their sights set on one thing: opening their own restaurant.
Silvia recalls, “I remember them telling me the first day that they opened the restaurant, we didn't even have enough money to buy rice. And so they had to go to the neighbor, borrow rice, and then pay them at the end of the day. That's how they got started. And obviously you see me now here. And they've made it in life. They owned a successful Peruvian Chinese restaurant, which we call Chifa.”
Silvia credits her upbringing in her parents’ restaurant with giving her the early blueprints for founding her own company. Drawing from this dual identity and small business experience, Silvia began her journey to founding a Hispanic marketing agency.
About Slam CEO Silvia Li Sam
Born and raised in Peru, Silvia grew up with a dual identity, working in a Peruvian-Chinese restaurant, eating Cantonese food, and attending a Peruvian-Chinese school in a predominantly Spanish-speaking community.
Even with a sense of dual identity, there was a clear disconnect between the Asian and Peruvian communities. With an estimated Asian-Peruvian population between 500,000-1 million, Silvia experienced firsthand the homogenized treatment of Latinx communities.
Marketing to Hispanic and Latinx communities “never hits the nail on the head,” Silvia says. With a growing Chinese and Japanese population in South American countries, much of the targeted marketing overlooks these communities for simpler catch-all definitions of Hispanic and Latinx. Silvia applied this knowledge to building a more inclusive Hispanic marketing agency.
Silvia’s path to founding a Hispanic marketing agency
At the age of 16, Silvia emigrated to the U.S. to advance her education and pursue a career in Marketing.
She enrolled at USC to study Business Marketing with a Minor in Design. Her focus in UX design led her to start the UX club on campus, an early step in her founder’s journey.
Silvia credits her move from Peru to California for discovering her talents for Marketing.
Silvia says, “It was a really good experience in the sense that I learned a lot and grew a lot, and when I first moved, my English wasn't as good as it is now. And so as a way to practice, I started writing about things I found interesting. And actually that's when I learned that I was talented in marketing, specifically, and in writing.”
She put these talents to use in her personal writing, gaining attention after going viral with an article about her upbringing. Silvia quickly determined that a career in marketing was her future and set to securing employment.
Silvia’s work experience prior to founding a Hispanic marketing agency
Silvia’s first foray into the tech industry was at Startup Grind, a global community of entrepreneurs. During her time with the company, Silvia:
- Grew the publication readership from zero to 250,000 in 3 months
- Connected with an audience that included founders and fellow writers
- Secured a green card through her work
She then expanded her work experience through various tech companies, eventually landing at Laurene Powell Jobs’ social impact foundation Emerson Collective. Silivia worked as the first digital marketing hire at XQ, the leading organization “rethinking” the American high school experience. She went from building one of the largest education publications through SEO, growing from 5K to 30K clicks/month, to leading the marketing strategy for Graduate Together, a one-hour telecast produced by LeBron James featuring Bad Bunny, Zendaya, and President Obama.
The boldness of this organization to reimagine a set-in-stone way of doing things inspired Silvia to rethink work life and the status quo. She set her sights on founding a Hispanic and Latinx marketing agency that would do the same.
Silvia set a new direction for her career: founding her own company - Slam Media Lab.
The first days of Slam Media Lab
While on a trip to Utah, Silvia experienced an epiphany. With no parents looking over her shoulder, no fiscal weights holding her down, and a pandemic forcing the majority of the world to reset their priorities, Silvia made a conscious decision: she decided to invest in herself.
“I knew that I wanted to start a company, but I wasn't sure what specifically. And I did what people usually tell you to do, which is quit your job. I talked to a lot of people. I reached out to every single person that I had ever worked with. And I told them, this is where I am. I have some ideas.”
Silvia’s last day working for someone else was February 2021. Her first client was signed to Slam Media Lab before the end of the month. Slam was yet to even be incorporated (don’t worry, we incorporated March 1st, 2021).
Silvia recognized an underrepresentation for the Hispanic community–especially Asian-Hispanic–in marketing, with only 6% of industry investment going to Hispanic communities.
Slam Media Lab works as a Hispanic marketing agency to change this underrepresentation by rethinking work life and providing more opportunity for underserved communities.
How Slam Media Lab Became a Leading Hispanic Marketing Agency
Before launching Slam Media Lab, Silvia settled on three verticals for a successful digital marketing agency:
- LTX Connect: Connecting and empowering Latinx and Hispanic professionals, LTX Connect curates talent from Tech, Media, Philanthropy, Advocacy and Entertainment industries. Slam assists LTX through digital marketing, social media presence, and branding.
- Upskill: Providing free training and resources to upskill, the Community Skills Initiative offers the training for Hispanic and Latinx individuals through Spanish language courses to develop and improve valuable skills. Slam partnered with Upskill to focus on their website redesign and SEO to increase access for Spanish-speaking users.
- Peer Health Exchange (PHE): PHE provides health and wellness resources to Hispanic and Latinx youth so they can make healthy decisions. Slam has worked with PHE to redesign their website, improve their nonprofit Instagram and nonprofit TikTok, and partnering on all things digital!
Slam Media Lab tackles every project with the determination to advance our clients’ missions. With every contract, we commit to this core principle: we are a mission-driven organization, helping other mission-driven companies achieve success.
What it means to be a mission-driven Hispanic marketing agency
“Mission-driven” is often associated with social impact, and rightfully so; the majority of our clients operate with social awareness as a primary factor. At Slam, we define mission-driven a little differently.
Mission-driven agencies have four key elements:
- Founder-led and founder-focused: A mission-driven agency rejects the ‘roomful of marketing strategists’ way of doing business, opting instead to follow the original vision of its founder.
- Impact beyond the social: Mission-driven agencies seek out new ways to affect change in daily life by reimagining work life and day-to-day responsibilities.
- Reprioritizing time: Developing and implementing tools to save time, enabling more time for personal goals, and allowing for new modes of work (i.e., remote) pushes mission-driven agencies to break free from the nine-to-five limitations and reclaim wasted time.
- Rethinking company values: Beyond the empty mantras– “Teamwork makes the dream work”–putting actual thought into company values drives the mission. Working with creatives, promoting a singular vision, and impacting daily life are building blocks for a mission-driven agency. As Silvia says, “Do things that bring you joy. The best ideas we have come from that.”
Slam Media Lab succeeds as a mission-driven Hispanic marketing agency through our own company values:
- We give a sh*t and have fun.
- We prioritize openness, transparency, and optimism.
- We value finding joy because life is short.
Hispanic Marketing in a Growing Market
Latinx and Hispanic companies saw marked growth in recent years, and that isn’t expected to slow any time soon. Latinx-owned businesses (LOBs) are projected to add over $1 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 15 years.
So why is the funding rate for Latinx and Hispanic-owned firms a full 2% lower than non-Hispanic and Latinx companies?
The answer lies in marketing.
Where Hispanic marketing is falling behind
There are obvious mistakes marketers are making when targeting Hispanic and Latinx consumers. The most glaring are:
- Not accounting for diversity among Hispanic and Latinx communities. Many agencies target Hispanic and Latinx consumers as one single group, failing to account for the 28 million Latinx citizens that identify as multiracial.
- Ignoring Hipanic and Latinx consumer trends. Did you know Hipsanic and Latinx consumers are 24% more likely to use their mobile devices for entertainment than other users? This research can improve marketing to underserved communities.
- Relying too much on Spanish-language ads. Not only are more Hispanic and Latinx communities speaking English, distilling Latinx down to “Spanish” can be demeaning. Creole, Mayan, Quechua, even Dutch are spoken languages in Latinx communities.
- Using Google translate. Don’t do this. One surefire way to avoid an embarrassing translation mistake? Hire more Hispanic and Latinx employees!
Slam Media Lab has long recognized the need for more service to these underrepresented communities. We succeed as a Hispanic marketing agency by addressing these failures through a few key ways.
How to serve Hispanic and Latinx communities as a Hispanic marketing agency
Slam Media Lab uses its own history as a template for helping Hispanic and Latinx companies grow. Through our CEO, our origins, and our team, we provide the keys to success as a Hispanic marketing agency. These are:
- Understand Latinx and Hispanic cultures here and abroad. Representation matters, and our CEO Silvia understands this. Much of Hispanic and Latinx marketing fails to account for a growing Asian-Hispanic population. We maintain this representation as a pillar of our work with underrepresented communities.
- Research your target audience. This may be obvious for marketers, but Hispanic and Latinx consumers are still an underserved demographic in marketing. Research can uncover the diverse communities–such as Peruvian-Chinese–and open up new audiences to your agency.
- Build a diverse team. Hiring more Latinx and Hispanic team members not only adds valuable talent and resources, it exposes more employees to diverse multiculturalism. Like a smart portfolio, successful companies diversify their team.
- Focus on small businesses. From watching her own parents successfully start a restaurant to founding her own company, Silvia knows the demands of building a small business. That’s why Slam provides resources for small businesses. Latinx and Hispanic entrepreneurs are starting businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic, so it is necessary to provide these founders with the resources to succeed.
We pride ourselves in the success of Hispanic and Latinx communities and small businesses as much as in Slam’s own success. Here are some of the success stories we’ve loved watching unfold in recent years.
Success Stories in Hispanic Marketing
There may be too many to choose from, so we’ll narrow it down to a few of our favorite Hispanic and Latinx marketing successes. They are:
- Chifa Encalada
- Bad Bunny x Telemundo Puerto Rico
- Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty
How can we not return to our origin story? Silvia’s parents started Chifa Encalada to bring Chinese cuisine to their Asian-Peruvian community. They built up their own small business into a success, all the while giving Silvia the blueprints on how to found, run, and succeed at starting a company.
Bad Bunny x Telemundo Puerto Rico
In maybe the boldest move of its history, Telemundo PR streamed international superstar Bad Bunny’s concert in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Bad Bunny made the most of the live stream, decrying Puerto Rican politics–specifically the monopolized electrical system on the island–bringing out trans rapper Villano Antillano, and refusing to censor himself or his music on the occasionally conservative channel.
The Puerto Rican rapper made one major statement for the future of Latinx, Hispanic, or any marketing for that matter: the future of success for branding is bold and it’s inclusive.
Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty
The Mexican-American actress and singer has been in the spotlight for the better part of two decades, but it’s Selena Gomez’s release of her makeup line Rare Beauty that has us intrigued. Is it the vegan and cruelty-free product? That certainly helps. It’s more the Rare Impact Fund, Gomez’s foundation established to support underserved Latinx and Hispanic communities. They team up with other organizations, like our friends at Peer Health Exchange, to educate, fund, and serve communities in need.
Learn More About Slam and Hispanic Marketing Agencies
From her parents’ restaurant in Peru to the offices of Slam, Silvia has years of experience in Hispanic and Latinx marketing, small business development, and UX design. Slam Media Lab knows what it takes to succeed in a hypercompetitive industry, and we pride ourselves in helping Hispanic and Latinx agencies find the same success.
For more ways to help you grow your small business, check out our free resources. Want to partner with us? Book an appointment:
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