Secrets of successful marketing to Latinos

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    Are you a “gringo” when it comes to marketing to Latinos? Only companies that make a long-term, integrated marketing commitment to Latinos “get it.”(Photo by Shuttershock)

    According to the Urban Dictionary, “gringo” is a “non-derogatory term used to refer to US citizens. Folklore says it was generated when the USA invaded Mexico, wearing green uniforms, and the people shouted at them ‘Green Go Home’.”

    In my experience, “gringo” is referred to someone who is an outsider of Latino culture, or someone who does not “get it.” When preparing the article, the idea of “getting it” came to mind. Marketing to Latinos and other diverse populations is an art; companies either get it or they don’t, and mainstream advertising agencies sometimes are not of great help.

    Before stepping into these waters, companies need to understand the cultural challenges and obstacles they face when reaching out to the Latino community, especially if their products or services are not known by this market, are not traditionally used or requested by Latinos, or they have a large competitor established within this market for longer time. A well-known example that comes to mind is selling frozen goods to a community whose diet is based on fresh groceries.

    As business owners, we all think our products and services are the “best thing since sliced bread”. However,  customers might have a different idea, might be used to other type of products or brand names, are unfamiliar with the use of our products and their benefits, or these products might be technically difficult to use, assemble, carry or incorporate to their lifestyle. An example is Latinos preference of mobile devices over laptop or desktop computers.

    Marketers know that with enough money and dedication, almost any product can be “sold.” However, that is exactly what companies are not willing to try when faced to Latinos or other diverse populations showing different cultural characteristics and lifestyles.

    Getting to know your Latino audience is the number one priority I advice –and train- my clients to achieve, so they can evaluate in advance and with certainty if the expected gain –targets, ROIs –is worth their  willingness to invest the money, the time and the effort for the long haul.

    We all have witnessed the “pilot” programs, several-month, multiple-location campaigns being pulled out of the market because the product did not move as fast as expected. Too many times, large companies launch multicultural marketing campaigns without really understanding the implications of changing a product’s perception in the customer’s mind and the need of targeting the market until these changes take place. They apply expectations of the general market –but not resources–into a multicultural campaign. Yes, they “don’t get it,”  both the concept and the market.

    Once your company is aware of the internal and external resources needed, and the target market particulars, you need to position your products, services and brand name among your potential customers.

    Your Latino customers not only would like to know about your products and services but also what your company stands for, and  what you have done or planning to do to create credibility in their community.

    Frequency and consistency are two major factors in successful advertising campaigns to Latinos so they know you are there to stay. Targeting Latinos also includes aiming at their influencers, people they trust for advice and recommendation.

    Media diversification is instrumental in making your multicultural campaign a success. For instance, advertisers relied for years on radio and TV ads when targeting Hispanics, knowing their preferences –Spanish channels experienced the largest growth among all major TV stations last year. Now the power of social media in the Latino community cannot be ignored. In addition, they can access any publication and local or international website by means of their mobile devices.

    If you are building your campaign around holidays and events, it is not enough to drop a couple of ads here and there for Hispanic Heritage Month, or Christmas jingles in Spanish. A culturally driven campaign will work around those holidays and events meaningful to the community you target: it might be Cinco de Mayo for Mexicans in Los Angeles, but it might be the Puerto Rican parade in New York City.

    Finally, your company needs to be aware that Latinos expect a “holistic experience.” If you translate your website into Spanish, make it a mirror of your English one. Your translations and images need to be impeccable and culturally attuned to the target market. If you ask them to push a button for “español” better have someone culturally trained speaking the language on the other side of the receiver.

    Their buying experience must be satisfactory and so needs to be their customer service support. Otherwise, in your customers’ mind, you will just continue to be a “gringo”.

    Read related Hispanics, a growing market

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