September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s also a reminder and opportunity to connect your business with the Hispanic and Latinx community—the largest minority market in America with 62.3 million Hispanic people living in the U.S.
If your business is looking to expand its reach and authentically serve this target market, follow these marketing guidelines.
1. Avoid generalizing and stereotypes. For non-Hispanic people, it’s an easy trap to fall into. Make sure your marketing campaign is culturally sensitive. A thick Spanglish accent, Mexican fiestas, and tacos might seem “Hispanic” to you, but they’re actually offensive stereotypes that don’t represent the community.
Last year, the livestreaming service Twitch created special emoticons during Hispanic Heritage month that included a sombrero, maracas, and a guitarrón mexicano. Twitch faced a ton of backlash for stereotypical imagery and for contributing to the misconception that all Hispanic people are Mexican. Hispanic and Latinx people have come to the U.S. from over 30 countries. Don’t oversimplify or generalize a diverse population and their cultures.
2. Research your local Hispanic community. On the East Coast, many Hispanics come from Puerto Rico and Cuba, and on the West Coast, more are of Mexican heritage. Research communities near you and your business. Consider the country, history, and culture, but also don’t forget about age, income, and digital preferences. Many Spanish speaking people are immigrants born abroad, while others are third generation (and higher) Hispanic-Americans whose first language is English.
Remember too that older Hispanic and Latinx people may prefer Spanish over English, and a younger audience may be bilingual or even speak English more than Spanish. Research the Hispanic community near you to determine how to best reach this market.
3. Google Translate doesn’t cut it. Running content through Google Translate and posting copy “as is” is a mistake. Spanish is important to the Hispanic and Latinx community, but it’s only a tiny fraction of their culture. With a mix of English and Spanish speaking preferences, it’s best to use bilingual material to reach an entire audience. Make sure you have an expert, someone who is really fluent in Spanish (not just someone who took a few classes in college), in charge of translating and incorporating Spanish into your marketing. If you don’t, you risk losing trust with a huge potential target audience.
4. Recruit Hispanic and Latinx celebrities. As a small business owner, getting Jennifer Lopez or Selena Gomez to support your marketing campaign isn’t probably an option. But you can approach influential Hispanic and Latinx people in your community. Pay attention to micro influencers, like business owners, nonprofit organizations, advocates, and authors. See if they will partner with you not just during Hispanic Heritage month, but all year, depending on your marketing goals. This kind of partnership will benefit both of your brands and build important bonds.
5. Digital is key in marketing. Most Hispanic and Latinx people in the U.S. prefer digital platforms over traditional media. As a very digital and tech-savvy community, your best bet is to focus on online marketing, especially social media. Compared to the rest of the population, the Hispanic community is 41% more likely to connect with brands on social channels. To be successful, invest the time to research their social media habits, groups, and who they follow.
6. Use Facebook and Facebook audiences. Facebook is the most popular social media platform for the Latinx community, with about 78% percent of the market using it. Take a look at Facebook Audiences which lets you customize and save audiences based on location, age, gender, languages, demographics, and more. For best results, use these options to target Hispanic communities near you.
7. Choose a campaign that benefits the Hispanic community. While Twitch’s emoticons weren’t well received, there was positive feedback when Twitch promised to highlight Hispanic and Latinx users on their front page and to support the nonprofit, Latinx in Gaming. Unlike the stereotypical and offensive emote campaign, these two initiatives increased visibility and representation for the Hispanic and Latinx community.
When you’re designing a marketing campaign, don’t write a random line in Spanish or say, “Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!” Find an action that will really benefit your audience, and as in any marketing, connect in a purposeful way.
8. Have a clear goal and purpose. It’s hard to support a cause if you don’t know how your contribution will help. That’s the number one thing people ask before they donate to nonprofits. What exactly does this organization do? Where will my money go? How will this help? If your cause-related or marketing campaign is too vague, it won’t be successful. Have a specific purpose and a clear, measurable goal. Along the way, collect data and statistics to measure the impact of your campaign. For a campaign like Twitch’s this could mean, “We featured so many Hispanic and Latinx users on our front page and raised this amount of money for the following nonprofits…” Post results and facts people can see and appreciate.
9. Be authentic and honest. In 2021, people are just as concerned about brands’ values and ethics as their products and services. This is especially true for the Hispanic and Latinx communities. They want to support companies that are working to make positive change in the world, and value authenticity and honesty. It’s obvious when a brand really cares about a cause and when they’re just in it to make a buck. Never view any group (especially an underprivileged community) as an easy cash-grab. Remember first that customers are people, and find ways to serve and support them. This will build trust and build a base of loyal fans, who can help you, while you help them.
75% of Hispanic people say they are more likely to support a brand if it makes an effort to be inclusive to their culture, and 80% stay loyal to their chosen brands. If your product or service benefits the Hispanic or Latinx community, or if you’re seeing a bigger increase in your Latino prospect or customer base, don’t miss out on connecting.
10. Hire a Hispanic marketing team. This may seem counter-intuitive if you consider yourself to be a marketing expert. Non-Hispanic people can do their research and do their best avoid stereotypes, but they’ll always have a biased perspective. Make sure your marketing initiative supports the Hispanic and Latinx target market. When you hire and vet marketing professionals who understand the culture and community, you’ll be sure your campaign is in good taste and appreciated by a loyal audience.
Hispanic Heritage month is a celebration of 30+ countries and people around the world. From a marketing perspective, it’s an opportunity to reach a new community and make positive change. I love Malcom Forbes quote: “Diversity is the Art of thinking independently together.” I also love my Spanish lessons with my energetic tutor in Colombia. If you want her information, let me know.