What You Need to Know About the Latino Market
Jennifer Stagner manages a multi-million dollar export sales business with clients in Central and South America She knows her stuff and she is ready to give you her tried and true Latino marketing advice for March Marketing Madness.
It is absolutely possible for non-Spanish speaking businesses to engage the Latino market. But there are pitfalls to avoid and definitive ways to facilitate great business relationships.
1. Avoid Bad Translations
A great way to start forging relationships and understand the cultural differences and needs that comprise this demographic is to communicate “with” Latinos and not “at” them. A common mistake is to use a bad online translating service, convert all your English marketing materials to Spanish, and wait for the sales to roll in. Bad translations in Spanish advertising will alienate you from your target customers.
2. Reach Out to Understand
A better starting point is to reach out to Latino community leaders and engage them in a dialogue. It’s important to understand:
- How their needs differ
- How their culture influences their purchasing process
- Where they find the most value from a product or service
- Where they typically seek out information about those products or services
Great places to find participants who may be willing to share their thoughts with you are the local college Languages department, ESL classes, Community Action Councils, Hispanic Clinics, Latino businesses, Hispanic grocery stores and churches. Not only can you find great focus groups, you can often find new and innovative places to market to the people that frequent those establishments.
3. Cultivate Respect
The most important “must-do” when marketing to Latinos is that you must treat them with the same amount of respect as you do their Caucasian counterparts. Never assume that a Latino demographic is less intelligent or more willing to accept shoddy work – you will quickly find out that is not the case. Take your time to craft your messages, be just as timely with follow up and responses, and don’t take shortcuts because you mistakenly assume you can get away with it.
4. Be Patient
Don’t be disconcerted by cultural differences in time and responsiveness. I have often sent out marketing or sales pitches to customers in South or Central America only to receive a response (and often a huge order) months later.
5. Understand Emotion
Don’t take exclamation points or all-caps in email personally. Often my customers are exuberant, full of life and expressive. It reflects in their writing style. Try not to let the communication habits of your cultural background cause you to misinterpret another culture’s writing style.
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