Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Before You Pay a Dime for Translations or Begin a Hispanic Campaign, Look Internally

I get calls and e-mails every day from businesses and organizations who want to know if I can translate something. Well, of course I can!  However, inevitably, as I get into the translations, I always look at the totality of the campaign that is being produced and find a few questions.

I recently worked on a translation for a government agency that needed a survey for the community into Spanish. On the survey was a number to call for questions. I simply asked my contact, when I was done, "Who will the people speak to when they call? Do you have a Spanish speaker in the office?" A long, silent pause. "No, um, we hadn't thought about that," was the final reply. This situation speaks volumes about what must happen before a business or organization ventures into the Hispanic community.

You have to look internally at your organization and truly assess if you have the manpower and understanding to truly begin serving all groups within the Hispanic community. I have spoken about the six points that all businesses should asses in a previous post. Assess your current bilingual staff or ability to hire new staff. Is it financially feasible and is there enough time?

Assess your business' operating hours and procedures. Are you available during hours that both blue collar and white collar Hispanics are available?

Do you have the time and manpower to research what your target Hispanic market truly wants and/or needs? While national data, facts, and figures are extremely helpful, if you are a local or regional business or organization, you'll need to understand the Hispanic community in your own back yard.

Peruse my previous article for the rest, but long story short, make sure you get your house in order before you start inviting others in.

These are my two cents. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Hispanic Community is More Than Just Dollar Signs

In addition to doing public relations, I have co-owned a tax company for the last 5 years; with a clientele that is about 96-98% Hispanic. Not only do I co-own it, I also prepare taxes, am a Certifying Acceptance Agent with the IRS, for the Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) program, and know the name of almost every client that has ever walked in the door. (Interesting because I can barely remember what I ate yesterday!)

This business has been given me the opportunity to do the most real time research and informal focus groups within the Hispanic community, in Memphis, the Mid-South, and because of the migratory nature of the majority of my clients, the Southeast. My clients love a great deal on goods and services and love knowing about what’s new and next. They also enjoy the latest tech gadgets. As such, consumer goods and services are absolutely on point to launch Hispanic PR, marketing and advertising programs.

In all of the conversations, I have found a few common things that the Hispanic clients I speak with are concerned with, including:
•Quality medical care
•Quality education for their children and many young adults want to know about financial options to attend college
•Government assistance programs

Unfortunately, it seems that most of these service industries are slower to create well rounded programs to communicate with the Hispanic community. I have had numerous clients whose children’s birth certificates were wrong because there were not enough (or no) interpreters in the hospital. Many quality educational institutions offer exceptional financial aid for minority students, but haven’t created programs to communicate with parents, the real decision makers, instead of students. And I can’t count the number of times that families in need of food, shelter, and other assistance have gone underserved due to a lack of quality staff to assist with questions and provide quality information.

Perhaps it’s time to stop looking at all of the money the Hispanic community has to spend but at how we can create campaigns that speak to the core needs of the entire community.

That’s my two cents, what do you think?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The 3 Types of Business Owners in Hispanic Marketing

When it comes to doing business with the Hispanic community, there are three types of business owners:

1.The ones who “get it,” meaning they understand the depth a variety within this homogenous “Hispanic” term used so often, and how to create and deliver the proper messages.

2.The ones who want to reach out the Hispanic market, are unsure of exactly where to start, but are willing to jump into this vast demographic with both feet and the best of intentions.

3.Finally, our friends out there who find the idea of entering the Hispanic demographic a bit overwhelming or still cannot grasp why they should even attempt to reach out to the Hispanic market.

While I would most hope those of reading this are at least in category number two, I guess if everyone were in the first category, I would be out of a job, right? If you are entertaining the idea of entering the Hispanic market, or are ready to start a solid program, I want you to consider doing a “Hispanic Ready Assessment” of your business. There are six key areas you must consider before stepping into exciting world of Hispanic communications:

Customer Service
What is your current customer service system Is your staff trained and prepared to offer outstanding, courteous, timely customer service?

What hours are you available? Do you keep “bankers’ hours” from 9am-5pm? Are you open on weekends? Do your hours accommodate customers with long/late work hours?.

Ease of Access to Language
Do you offer Spanish language, or Spanish-English bilingual, signage and materials? While a large percentage of the Hispanic population has become more acculturated, an equally large portion still prefers to read and listen in Spanish and see positive images of Hispanics.

In House, Knowledgeable Bilingual Staff
Do you have a bilingual staff prepared to meet the incoming increase of Hispanic customers/clients? Are they well trained, and knowledgeable, about your product or service and share the same enthusiasm as everyone else in the company?

What happens after the sale? How will you stay in contact with this community to increase word-of-mouth and referrals? The Hispanic community offers strong word-of-mouth business and referrals, but your business has to be prepared to stay in touch and stay on the top of their minds.

Internal Ideas, Notions, and Expectations of the Hispanic Community
Have you done your research on where your customers/clients come from? How old are they? What language do they prefer to speak? Who makes most of the decisions in the house? Does your staff need cultural sensitivity training to better understand and relate to the Hispanic community?

Keeping these six keys in mind as you prepare your Hispanic outreach campaign, will help prepare your business to offer outstanding service and help you look at every angle of the Hispanic community.

Great success in your efforts!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crisis Communcations Management: The 7 Dimensions

I was re-reading "SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF CRISIS COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT: A STRATEGIC ANALYSIS AND PLANNING MODEL," originally published in the Ragan's Communication Journal, in 1999.

The article outlined the seven critical dimensions of crisis communication management:

Professional expectations;
Ethics; and
Lessons learned.

When your company, or brand, is hit with a crisis situation, these seven dimensions will exist and how you navigate them can be the difference between arriving at the other side of your crisis intact and better, or shutting your doors for good.

In the Operations Dimension, you must:
*Be Candid and tell the truth...even if it's painful.
*Explain what happened, in full detail to the public, the media, your staff, and any other interested parties.
*Declare a public commitment of positive action to be taken by your company.
*Say you're sorry…very simple, but often so hard to do.
*Promptly as for help. Assemble a panel or team to review the issue and discuss how you can improve in the weak areas. Include consumers, parents, etc as often as possible. Partner with interest groups, non-profit organizations, government organizations, etc. Really vow to learn and then become a resource.
*Publicly vow to never have the situation arise again, to the best of your abilities, and outline the steps you're taken to ensure it will never happen again.

-In the Victim Management Dimension
, you must empathize with the victim. REALLY listen to their complaint or concerns. Assure them your company cares and tell them you are working speedily to fix whatever caused their issue; follow-up with them to offer not only retribution to the immediate issue, but an opportunity to return to your company with some sort of perk or freebie.

-In the Trust and Credibility Dimension, you must: *Provide information
*Ask for public input
*Listen carefully
*Show change for the better
*Stay in touch with the victims- update them on new changes within your company
*Speak in plain English- this is no time for technical jargon
*Bring victims, etc into the decision making process

-In the Behavior Dimension, you must basically walk, talk, and act sincerely sorry. This is no time for arrogance or finger pointing. Be nice and be sorry.

-In the Professional Expectations Dimension, you must review your industries specific code of ethics and be assured that you are acting within them.

-In the Ethical Dimension, you must look at the moral and ethical questions involved in the situation and address them publicly, honestly and quickly.

-Finally, in the Lessons Learned Dimension, you must really institute company wide changes for your brand to seriously become better and uphold your promises to all interested parties.

I pray that your company never endures a crisis, but if you do, I hope this brief primer gives you a good place to start working towards a remedy.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sometimes Old School is Still the Best

I am at the Memphis Minority Business Council's Economic Development Fair today and was there yesterday as well. I have been trying to be more "green" and have been doing a digital business card instead of an actual paper card--to save the trees. Wow, no bueno! While most people are generally amicable with the, "I'm green...saving a tree" bit, it is still an uncomfortable moment not to have a physical card to give them.

*Sigh* I guess everything can't be green. As such, I am blogging today from McDonald's as I wait for Office Depot to print my emergency cards.

This made me think about the numerous questions I get weekly, even daily, about where the future of media and communications is going and how releveant paper anything (cards, newspapers, magazines, etc) will be in this truly electronic age. I am a big fan off all things technology and make a business out of social media, the internet, etc. I believe in it and am vocal about it. However, I do believe that paper still has a place in the world.

Let's look at a few examples:

Press/Media Kits
Anyone serious about business, whether mainstream or entertainment, should have a press/media kit that details their business, music, etc. Digital press kits are fantastic because they can be as beautiful and interactive as you, or your designer, makes them. They can be sent to media outlets and potential clients for free by e-mail. They can also be shared easily the same way. On the con side of DPKs, there are many items, like promotional items, that can only go into a physical, printed press kit.

Business Cards
Of course I am going to touch on business cards. Let me tell you from my very short experiement, digital cards are great for follow-up, but a paper card seems to win. Other areas may be different, but in Memphis, TN. paper cards are the law.

Newsapers and Magazines
Yes, mainstream newspapers and magazines are struggling and closely daily. Web magaines (also called webzines)are becoming the go-to sources for news. One community is reading, and invested in, creating new magazines and new papers weekly--the Hispanic community. In the Hispanic community (at least in the Southeast)the majority of their news comes from newspapers and magazines. They also keep these periodicals for at least 2 months. They are almost always free. Publishers are finding cheaper ways to produce top quality products with little to no overhead.

~These are my two cents, what do you think?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Doing Business in the Hispanic Community is Business Not Personal

I have spent a lot of time lately talking to business owners and heads of professional organizations about reaching out to and doing business with the Hispanic community. Out of 5 of these conversations at least 3 of them become a debate of immigration and how "they" should learn to speak English and do business like everybody else. Wow, really?! I must then begin down the "multicultural marketing is important and if you don't differentiate your message you're doomed to miss out" road.


Whether you believe in immigration reform, don't like anyone brown, or want an English-only America, business owners, corporations, non-profits, etc should only look at the bottom line and the facts. Hispanics' spending power is into the TRILLIONS (that's right, with a T!). Money isn't white, black, yellow, brown, or's green. If you can provide outstanding customer service, a top product or service, and relate to your Hispanic buyer in a real way, you will reap the rewards. If you choose to stay in an "ugly" place, your competitors will surely welcome in those dollars.
~These are my two cents. What do you think?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One Size Does NOT Fit All!

I was talking to some Hispanic clients in my tax office (98% Hispanic clientele)about a variety of topics from the smothering Memphis heat to who they would pay to see in concert in Memphis. The clients were a young, Mexican, husband and wife, he's 24 and she's 18. They have both been here for 10 years. They both speak Tarasco, the native indigenous language of Michoacan, (the city they're from) and Spanish. However, the wife speaks very clear and fluent English. She actually prefers it and speaks it preferentially to their daughter. She does speak Spanish and Tarasco. The husband speaks very little English, by choice. He chooses to speak Tarasco (1st) and Spanish (2nd). They spoke to each other primarily in Tarasco but spoke a lot in Spanish for me.

What does this mean to you as a business owner, marketer, or non-proift?

It means that you need to a) research the Hispanic community in your area, b) understand the gender lifestyle preferences and differences and c)never genralize or assume. A little research will reap you BIG rewards.

~These are my two cents. What do you think?