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Marketing to Hispanics takes insight, skill

If you’re in business today, you ignore the Hispanic market at your own peril.

That’s the message I took away from my recent interview with Mike Valdes-Fauli, president and CEO of cross-cultural marketing firm Pinta.

The 2000 census, Valdes-Fauli said, had much to do with the current business focus on the Hispanic market when it reported that this demographic had reached 15% of the total U.S. population.

Now there are some 55 million Hispanics in the U.S. Valdes-Fauli said sports franchises, in particular, are seeing the opportunity, especially the Miami Marlins with outreach programs such as Marlins Ayudan, where front-office personnel volunteer in the community.

“If that (55 million) were a country, that would be the second-largest Spanish-speaking country on Earth after Mexico. So think about ignoring Columbia, or Spain, or Venezuela. If you’re a big company, you can’t do that. In the same vein, you can’t ignore the Hispanic space here,” he said.

If you really want to reach the Hispanic market, Valdes-Fauli said there are three rules to remember:

  • Rule 1: Don’t be condescending. Start from a level of respect.
  • Rule 2: Don’t just translate – adapt. Take cultural factors into consideration.
  • Rule 3: Remember that Hispanics tend to be very family-oriented. To sell to one member, you may have to target another.

And if you have a faux pas, creating a crisis communication situation, a third-party approach may be best, Valdes-Fauli said. Get someone in the community who has earned credibility and respect to speak on your behalf.

If you’re giving back to the Hispanic community already, he said, that goes a long way toward smoothing out any miscommunication in your marketing.

It’s important to remember, Valdes-Fauli said, that the Hispanic market is anything but homogeneous. Going west, it’s largely Mexican. Going to Chicago, it’s often Puerto Rican. In New York, it’s Dominican and Puerto Rican. In Miami, what used to be exclusively Cuban is now a melting pot.

Another big misconception about this demographic, he said, is that Hispanics are not tech savvy. In fact, they have a very high rate of tech adoption.

“The Hispanic market is ripe for tech companies to target them,” Valdes-Fauli said.

We also talked about the real estate and technology sectors, and how Pinta plans to focus on advertising to the Hispanic market.

Click here to listen to the full interview with Mike Valdes-Fauli of Pinta.

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