FOUND: Muchos new clients!

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The economy is still rebounding from the 2008 lows; those who survived, survived on cash reserves, thinner margins and complete reinvention.  Sales and market-share are still nowhere near those highs and probably won’t rebound for years…. Unless we tap emerging markets. 

Too risky?   Too costly? Other priorities? 

But wait! If you act now, we will increase your client base in the next 12 months! 

A bit silly, yes, but realistic.  Introducing your new opportunity: the Hispanic Market! 

As the 2010 Census indicates, the Hispanic population in the United States is growing rapidly; as of today 1 in 6 people in the US is Hispanic.  And 1 in 4 kindergarteners is Latino too.  Not all are immigrants or undocumented, as a matter of fact 63% of Latinos are born in the US vs being foreign born, yet 78% speak Spanish at home, per the Global Insights’ Hispanic Monitor. 

Not in Maryland, you say.  Yet, Maryland is a mecca for Salvadorians, Peruvians among others with Washington, Frederick and Montgomery counties abounding with growth.  Over 8% of the population in the state classifies itself as Hispanic, approximately 500,000 people {Pew Hispanic Center 2011.} Montgomery County is ranked 45th in terms of Hispanic population growth in the country.  Frederick and Washington counties grew by 192% and 150%, respectively from 2000 to 2007 per the 2010 Census. 

So, here we are. Ready-made consumers, youthful (median age is 28) straddling two cultures with insatiable appetite for technology and social media. And a soaring buying power, per the Selig Center for Economic Growth, estimated at $1.5 trillion nationally.   Despite average incomes being lower than national averages, Hispanic families tend to have larger families (3.2 people per household vs 2.4 per non-Hispanics households), yet we tend to spend more on utilities, transportation, dining out and housing.  Personally, my family and I do spend more…way more, especially on “sports & entertainment.” 

Now that we have a distinct opportunity, and in Maryland, particularly; let’s go win some clients! Go ahead and requisition the translations of all collateral and presto! They will come. 

No we won’t. 

The client acquisition process is not that easy.  The Hispanic consumer is not monolithic; although we share the same language, we hail from over 20+ countries and fiercely affiliate with our native land.  While also being American, proudly American!  

To engage us, your message needs to be genuine, culturally appropriate, resonant and in the right medium. 

For instance, Latinos over-index on social media, with 64% of us on Facebook. Yes, we adopt What’sApp and Instagram, but Facebook is queen for communicating, while YouTube is king for video consumption.  To sell your product and build your brand with our market, consider your social media strategy and messaging.  And not just in Spanish, we are bilingual (some multilingual!), and a bunch are thoroughly fluent in Spanglish, too! 

Local engagement is supremely influential, via newspapers, radio and endorsements. Our journalists and radio personalities are advocates wielding tremendous influence over their audiences.  Pedro Palomino, a Peruvian journalist, founded SomosBaltimore.Com an online magazine and Mundo Latino, a Spanish-language local newspaper distributed from Maryland to Northern Virginia, several years ago and already has over 40,000 online impressions monthly with a very active Facebook presence, retaining over 8,500 fans.  He promotes not only businesses and traditional classifieds but also inspirational success stories, events and legislative changes that impact the community. 

To penetrate this market, organizations are building their brand with educational material, such as “How to buy a home” “to insure your vehicle…” etc.  In essence, conscientiously building trust while increasing their visibility.   

Do keep in mind that Hispanics run the range from non-acculturated to fully assimilated.  An immigrant learning the ropes of life in the US and the language, is on one end of the spectrum; whereas, I, myself lie on the opposite end.  Fully bilingual and assimilated into American culture today.  This distinction leads to our Sales 101 question “Who’s your target client?”   

Identifying exactly what type of client, whether assimilated or non-acculturated, Spanish-dominant or English-only, is tremendously important to wooing this potential client.   

If you find your revenues stagnant or your pipeline drying up: Look to the Hispanic Market. 

Woo us.  Baila con nosotros, (dance with us) strategically, engagingly and appropriately. 

Firstly, invest in market research, so you know WHO you are addressing.  Secondly, know HOW to best address & engage us.  For instance, don’t court me with tamales and salsa music; I prefer platanos and merengue.   

Thirdly, be where we are, and be there often.  Ensure your staff, if not bilingual and bicultural, is at least, culturally fluent to deal with this very diverse population.   And when you are engaging us, engage us for the long haul, not just one date. Commit to being present in the community, supporting causes important to our families, investing in education and economic development. 

In short, like my friend Chiqui Cartagena, VP from Univision, is fond of saying “Catch the biggest demographic wave since the Baby Boom.” 

Till next time amigos! 

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