5 Unconventional Marketing Tactics from Top Latin American Startups

With dozens of new companies launching every week, startups often have to get creative to get noticed. Some of the most successful companies used clever strategies to get started. In the U.S., businesses like Stripe and Tinder used unconventional tactics to onboard new customers. For example, Tinder texted the app to 500 random people.

However, marketing for startups in Latin America poses distinct challenges; the home market requires a mobile-first approach, while reaching the US from abroad might demand a completely different strategy. Startups in Latin America have used everything from YouTube videos to SMS messaging to Indiegogo campaigns to bring awareness to their new ventures.

Here are five of Latin America’s best startup marketing campaigns to help inspire you to creatively reach your customers.

1. Rappi uses segmented SMS marketing to get coupons to customers.

Within a year of being founded, Rappi, the “deliver-anything” app from Colombia had been accepted to the Y Combinator accelerator in San Francisco and had over 700,000 active users. However, Rappi’s popularity was not an overnight success.

To assure customer satisfaction and retain users on the app, Rappi adopted a segmented SMS messaging system, called Infobip, to stay on their users’ dashboards. Based on previous purchases, Rappi sends targeted messages to app users, such as coupons and deals for products that could be useful. Their campaigns have been so successful that they once had to shut down a Sunday promotion for a chicken restaurant early because they received 150 orders in the first hour.  

2. Bluesmart had one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever.

The Argentine company that makes suitcases connected to the IoT made it into the top 50 best Indiegogo campaigns, ahead of Elon Musk’s Tesla Museum. What made the campaign so successful? A light-hearted, situational video that showed the suitcase in action in the airport.

The video was so shareable that it received almost 280,800 unique views during the campaign.

Founder and CEO Tomi Pierucci states that four factors made the video so powerful:

  1. Focusing specifically on the problem they are solving (and explaining it in the video!)

  2. Building a community before launching

  3. Paying attention to the outlets their audience reads

  4. Being detail-oriented in the video - it shows their backers they care!

3. Letgo’s 30-second ads are ridiculous and relatable.

Latin America’s Craigslist is on a mission to get people to “let go” of their stuff. Their video ad campaigns, produced by CP+B Miami and directed by ex-Hollywood director Craig Gillespie, place ordinary people in ridiculous ‘dangerous’ situations, hindered by their old junk.

In one video, two friends try to escape an avalanche but must load an ancient video game onto the truck first. In one click, they upload a photo of the machine to the app and sell it to a neighbor, allowing for their timely escape. The situations are silly enough to provoke laughter, but they reflect everyday conversations that families have in their attics about getting rid of old stuff. The secret was to tap into a real problem and put it out of context to reveal the ridiculousness of refusing to part with abandoned belongings.

4. GetNinjas introduces users to their “ninjas” on Facebook.

GetNinjas is a Brazilian platform that helps people hire service people for at-home work such as housekeeping, painting, or even private lessons. Since customers need to trust the people who will be working in their home, GetNinjas debuted a video series on Facebook that introduces each of their “ninjas” or service people personally. The service people on their platform often operate as independent contractors, so these videos also help ‘ninjas’ get more business.

5. OpenEnglish uses YouTube videos to plant English as the solution to every problem.

Similar to Letgo, OpenEnglish, Latin America’s best-known English learning platform, uses short, silly YouTube videos to show Spanish speakers when they might need English. The videos all follow the same theme, using exaggerated acting to make a point that the situations are ridiculous but relate to real-life occurrences.

 

The solution to each puzzle, of course, is to take a course on OpenEnglish. These online classes would prepare the character to face his dilemma with ease, whether he has to pronounce the name of a foreign perfume in a commercial or communicate with Earth from the moon. The silliness counterbalances the overt selling of the ad, helping OpenEnglish plant English-language learning as the solution to an array of problems.

In the battle against tight marketing budgets and waning attention spans, traditional ad campaigns no longer cut it. Startups that want to keep spending down might be able to depend on digital marketing and PR to get the word out, but an unconventional campaign can also be extremely effective. These five Latin American startups have managed to cut through the noise with innovative and attention-grabbing marketing campaigns that helped them make a name for themselves at home and abroad.