As a leader of a nonprofit, what does it take to effectively connect with Hispanics? For decades, the go-to answer was: by communicating in Spanish! If you put out content in the native language of Hispanics, you had gone the distance. What else could Hispanics want? However, the strategy has become more complicated.
From language to culture
“The challenge is to recognize the power of culture.”
Today, second and third generation Hispanics live in the US, making up more and more of the market. And they’re bilingual. In order to reach Hispanics, nonprofits must now engage with culture, not just language. While Spanish is still important, marketers need to learn how to address Hispanics from a cultural standpoint, including through English. Marketers have endless options for tuning in to Hispanics’ rich and vibrant culture. That being said, approaching the market from this perspective for the first time can be disorienting. What does engaging culture look like, specifically?
You can start by focusing on how Hispanics use products and services. They often do so in ways that are distinct from other groups. For example, a consumer goods company might see Hispanics’ rapid growth and want to get in on the action. How might an understanding of Hispanic culture guide the company’s development of new flavors? Latinos are more inclined than non-Latinos to consume products with natural fruit. That insight could make the difference in whether the company catches the Hispanic audience’s attention or not. Beyond speaking a different language, Hispanics will often engage with your cause differently from others. Understanding that distinction is essential to effectively reaching them.
Creativity over budget
“The power of the idea, storytelling and content is becoming more important.”
Many nonprofits also need to rethink where they’re investing their energy. At the end of the day, a compelling story is more important to Hispanics than a big budget. Every day, technology makes creating excellent content at a lower cost more and more possible. Isaac’s marketing group Alma Agency proved this at Premio Lo Nuestro 2018, one of Latin America’s biggest music award shows. Working with the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter, Alma had famous actors carry shelter animals that were up for adoption down the red carpet. The actors described the pets during interviews and showed them off for the cameras. The result? Every animal that participated in the show was adopted. The budget? Zero dollars. A strong, creative idea plus a pre-existing event led to big success. All it took was identifying a culturally important location for Hispanics and telling an attention-getting story.
More than translation
“Cultural nuances can be extremely important to create higher relevance.”
Basic translation is a tempting means of addressing Hispanics, but stopping there falls short of the content this powerful audience is looking for. There’s no replacement for real investment in cultural nuance. Spanish is still part of many Hispanics’ identity, but genuine cultural connection goes beyond just language. Bridge the gap between your nonprofit and US Hispanics by taking culture seriously.
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