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How to Convert Latino Prospects into Customers and Maximize your Hispanic Marketing Dollars

A while back, I was working with a fast-growing HVAC franchise as a marketing consultant. Having placed several highly successful media buys for them in major cities, I began working with their Omaha, Nebraska franchisee, a seasoned entrepreneur who was ready to take his business to the next level. During our discussions, he began telling me a very interesting story about his last media buy.

After placing a strong radio buy with one of the local media groups, additional advertising on the local Spanish station (Regional Mexican) was thrown at no charge as an added value. Of course, he was pleased by the nice gesture and accepted it without hesitation. As soon as the campaign started, the phone began ringing off the hook. Great news, right? WRONG!

The company had to call their radio ad rep and ask for the Spanish campaign to be stopped immediately. Why? Their new Spanish language radio spots were reaching a whole new audience. These potential customers were thrilled by the fact that the company was speaking to them in their native language, and the Hispanic target audience reacted immediately to the advertising message. So, what went wrong? Believe it or not, there was no one at the HVAC office who spoke Spanish! Not a single soul. All those new business opportunities went down the drain.

Another example I want to share with you is that of a well-known, big-box electronics retailer who advertised through inserts in the leading Spanish Language newspaper in one of the Top 5 DMAs (Direct Marketing Areas) in the country. They had an impressive insert in Spanish, which I am sure they invested top dollars to produce and translate. They should have gotten positive results from their advertising efforts.

Unfortunately, decision-makers didn’t follow through with support and marketing materials at the individual store level. People walked into the store, Spanish flyer in hand, looking for signage and, more importantly, Spanish-speaking sales staff to help them find what they were looking for. What they experienced was quite the opposite: English-only signage and not a single staff member clearly indicating that he or she spoke Spanish. No effort was made to actually convert Hispanic visitors into customers at their retail locations.

The result: Disappointed people. Perhaps some did find and purchase items, but I assure you, not as many as expected. More importantly, what did they take away from their shopping experience? Were they happy? Based on their visit, would they return to buy from this store again? Did they recommend the store to their family and friends? Probably not.

If you want to capitalize on the lucrative and growing U.S. Hispanic market, you must have Spanish-speaking bilingual employees to follow through on your Hispanic marketing and advertising efforts. The people behind your business are more important than advertising. Assuming that you have the right product or service and a sound business model, your advertising efforts will only accelerate what was going to happen anyway, be it good or bad. Your human assets will make the difference, so choose them wisely.

Juan Tornoe


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