You Think You're Ready for Hispanic Marketing?

Planning Ahead Will Help You Maximize the Opportunity

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Alberto Ferrer Alberto J. Ferrer
In previous posts, I've encouraged marketers to invest significant and appropriate resources in Hispanic Marketing. I've also talked about the importance of marketing to Hispanics as a real business driver and not as a feel-good, check-the-box, I-gave-at-the-office activity. But when a business is ready, where does it start?

I submit that the definition of "ready" needs to be reassessed. In business today, across categories, most of the time readiness is defined as having a budget and a team assigned to manage it. And so, when clients ask us where they should start, they are usually referring to starting the communications portion of the program.

In my opinion, the readiness needs to begin much earlier and further back in the process. Here are some elements to keep in mind when embarking on Hispanic marketing.

Establish Objectives
Of course a marketer will have clear objectives whenever a new program is being launched. But objectives also need to be achievable so that there is a reasonable expectation of success. They need to be long term so that short-term campaign-driven objectives don't overshadow the strategic importance of the audience.

Put Metrics In Place
Objectives are all well and good, but without Hispanic-specific metrics in place, how will you know whether you achieved them? Marketers need to be able to compare the results of their programs to general-market programs, as well as across Hispanic Market programs. That will allow the Hispanic efforts to stand on their own with their own performance data. It may sound obvious, but many clients out there don't have metrics that are audience-specific, and they just measure the lift to overall results that Hispanic programs generate. That's not enough.

Seek Quick Wins and Learn
Leveraging Hispanic-specific metrics to measure performance towards the Hispanic-specific objectives, marketers should strive for quicker, smaller wins that will then inform longer-term, larger programs. Being able to leverage these wins allows marketers to build credibility with senior management as well as build learning that will help fine tune future programs. So test, test, test, and learn, learn, learn, and grow, grow, grow.

Start at the Back
An element that is very commonly forgotten by clients is what I sometimes categorize as the back end. Everyone wants to rush to produce a TV spot or some other piece of communications. Very few assess their company's readiness to address the Hispanic market.

This is a pet peeve of mine. Company X will run Hispanic-targeted advertising on Spanish-language media, yet they'll have no Spanish-speaking staff at their stores, no bilingual signage, or no Hispanic-targeted website, wasting all that consumer attention that can't convert to sales because of a language issue. Company Y will flash toll-free numbers on its Hispanic advertising, but won't have bilingual reps at its call center (and if it does, it's measured the same way as general market reps, which ignores the cultural nuances of the market).

I've always been an advocate of conducting an audit of a company's consumer touch points from the Hispanic consumer's point of view to see where the areas of opportunity are. This allows the marketer to build that reality into Hispanic marketing plans as well as make changes as necessary.

This doesn't mean that if the company doesn't have everything available in Spanish it should not market to Hispanics. It does mean, however, that a marketer should be fully cognizant of the limitations of the organization and take those into account when launching its Hispanic marketing activity.
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