This is a question I often hear from marketers who have decided to start marketing to U.S. Hispanics. It usually comes from the assumption that in order to reach Hispanics, one needs only to create a relevant message and send it through relevant channels or start a diversity program. Sounds easy enough, but the line of disenchanted marketers who have gone this route only to discover it’s not quite so simple is a long one. Might you be one of them?
The expansion parallel
Think about it. If you were charged with expansion to China, or Brazil, or Canada or Russia, would it be as simple as “creating a relevant message and sending it through relevant channels or starting a diversity program?” More likely, there would be a due diligence process to understand all sorts of political, economic, social, cultural, industry and consumer behavior factors.
These factors would then help assess the risks and the upside opportunity of the investment. The due diligence would give a company a gauge for the size of the investment to be successful in the mid- to long-term. Expansions into another country are not typically done lightly or temporarily. At least that is never the intention going in.
Say it with numbers
In the U.S., there are now more than 50 million Hispanics, a population that is bigger than the population in Canada, and any country in Latin America and Spain with the exception of Brazil and Mexico. Its numbers outrank all but six nations in Europe. Such a significant population anywhere else would require a defining strategy that ties back to a company’s vision, mission, goals and tactics.
Marketing to a population this size would also require high level leadership in the organization to guide it locally and in the U.S. Additionally, without an infrastructure and without the appropriate back-end operations, Marcom reach efforts would be superficial and under optimized.
Companywide investment in growth
Let’s get back to our expansion example. After a company sets up shop in a new country, including a headquarters office and possibly a manufacturing and distribution facility, customer service facility, or established vendor partners, systems are acquired and programmed to generate customer communication, as well as reporting specific to the needs of the business in that country.
The company moves a few high-level employees to provide strategic leadership to new hires in the expansion area. U.S. employees are trained on how to do business in that country. Those in charge of sales learn sales protocols, those in charge of marketing are trained on the culture and consumer behavior. Everyone is indoctrinated on the company’s mission, goal, strategies and tactics for that country and how the subsidiary is expected to contribute to the top and bottom line. Everyone involved would be on the same page about where the company is going and what needs to be done to get there.
U.S. Hispanics market strategy
In a case like this, would you wonder, “What does due diligence, business strategy, organization and infrastructure have to do with building my brand in market x?” In this light, the logic that a company needs to “just start reaching Hispanics with a relevant message through relevant channels or just start hiring more of them” is quite simply, flawed. I think we would all agree then, that in a “country” that is over 50 million people strong, “expanding” into the U.S. Hispanic market can only reach its potential with well though out and implemented goals, strategy, organization, infrastructure and high level accountability.
By Terry J. Soto, Author of “Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative” and President & CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc. a strategy consulting company providing transformative business readiness consulting for profitable and enduring total market success.