Kelly McDonald, author of award-winning, best-seller, How to Market to People Not Like You: “Know It or Blow It” Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers and president of McDonald Marketing, presented at the September Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA) social event this week.  As a specialist in multi-cultural and diversity marketing, her presentation, “Relating, not Translating: How to Reach the Hispanic Market Online, Today and Tomorrow” was data-driven, witty, and incredibly impactful.  Kelly spoke to the “size of the prize” of the Hispanic market, presented a model for understanding the different mindsets of the Latino population (or any immigrant population), and highlighted the importance of connecting to your target market in ways that matter to them.

Why is the Hispanic Market important?

Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. 1 in 4 children are Latino, 1 in 6 U.S. residents are Latino, and by 2020 that statistic is expected to be 1 in 5.  There are over 50.5 million Latinos in the U.S. – that’s more Canadians than there are in Canada – and that makes the U.S. the second largest Hispanic country in the world (Mexico is #1).

Latinos are early adopters of technology, highly engaged online, and active mobile users – according to Kelly, 25{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} of 1st generation iPhone purchases were made by Latinos, and Hispanics make up the largest percentage of users of MySpace and Facebook.  However, Hispanic social media usage is different from non-Hispanic usage in that they are more likely to:

  • Engage in social media for personal use rather than business
  • Use social media to reach out to extended family or communicate with friends they know, rather than building networks of new people
  • Need an effective and affordable way to communicate with family in different countries

So how do you get started?

Understanding Acculturation vs. Assimilation

According to Kelly, one of the biggest mistakes companies make when marketing to Hispanics is to assume that they’re all just one big group of Spanish-speaking people.  There are Hispanic people from many different countries, with their own customs and traditions, but there’s more to it than that.  Successful living in a foreign culture is often more about acculturation (acquiring a 2nd culture) than assimilation (forfeiting one’s culture and taking on another).

In her presentation, Kelly went over her trademarked “Latino Acculturation Stratification” model, which breaks out Latino U.S. residents into four groups based upon how long they and their family have been in the U.S., their language abilities, and other factors related to their history, their preferences, and how they identify themselves.  Each of these groups hold different values, and you should consider how they would prefer you to engage with them (like you would with any market or demographic).  Don’t just consider the demographics though, think about the psychographics – what are they interested in and what matters to them?

How do you connect with Hispanics?

  • First of all – try doing it in their language.  Many Hispanics don’t speak English at all, but even those that do often prefer to speak Spanish.  This is especially critical for the more complex offerings, like financial, real estate, and insurance transactions, which include contracts, legal obligations and other fine details which may get lost in translation.
  • Consider including additional content for your Hispanic market.  But translating is not enough.  Kelly discussed the importance of building different content (including images, copy, color, etc.) and sending messages that are relevant to your audience and what’s important to them – their values.  In her book, she goes into the difference between translation and transcreation.  Basically, make sure you’re not just translating your English copy word-for-word.  Ideally, work with a marketing agency that understands Hispanic marketing to create culturally-relevant messages in Spanish. However, if you don’t have the budget to hire an agency to create new content, at least simplify your copy before translation – remove idioms or turns-of-phrase and use language that leaves no room for interpretation.
  • Next, make sure your company is prepared to do business in Spanish.  Have at least one employee who can provide friendly and helpful customer service in Spanish.  Post signage in Spanish.  Record a voicemail in Spanish, or offer a separate number for Hispanic customers.  Prepare your office or store to accommodate your customers and their family – Hispanic families often make decisions together and run errands as a family – offer treats or toys for children, or even just extra seating.

In case it wasn’t plainly evident, Kelly McDonald is a wealth of information and insight when it comes to multi-cultural marketing, and her presentation at the September AZIMA social event was an eye-opener. Read her book – you’ll learn about more than just demographics and cultural differences; you’ll learn how to pay attention, listen to your consumers’ needs, and make better connections with everyone around you.

Guest Post By:

Jen Cykman is a Web Analyst at Cardinal Path, a premier Digital Intelligence and Optimization firm, with offices throughout North America. It has received two WAA Achievement nominations, and features some of the top minds in the Digital Intelligence community. Jen specializes in SEO and web analytics, with a passion for content and user experience.  Find her on LinkedIn.

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