Yes, You Do Have a Hispanic Marketing Budget

Have you said any of these lines or one similar following a pitch by an agency or Spanish-language media executive?
“I don’t have a Hispanic marketing budget.”
“Call me in a few months to see if we have any budget left to do Hispanic marketing.”
“We’ll try to include Hispanic marketing budgets in next year’s budget”
If so, then please allow me to point out the obvious: You DO have a Hispanic marketing budget; you may just be spending it in inefficient places. The question comes down to proper allocation of marketing budgets based on your current and future customer base.
To allocate budgets properly, however, requires an honest look at and understanding of who your actual customer is today and who it will be in the future. Again, sounds obvious, right? Yet, many marketers don’t know — or perhaps don’t want to know — and often resort to going by who their customer was yesterday to make budget allocation decisions for today and for tomorrow.
I’m reminded of an indoor water park I pitched in the past whose marketing director said they weren’t budgeting for Hispanics because, “Hispanics aren’t our target market.” Pressed a bit further on who is the target, the marketing person indicated it was families within a 40-mile radius of their location. What does that area actually look like? The area includes five of the state’s largest cities, each with at least 30%+ Hispanic populations, and some as high as 45%. Not to mention the fact Hispanics have larger families than any other demographic in that area and are 10 years younger on average. So, in essence, they’re content to spend 100% of their marketing budget trying to target an older population that has smaller families. That may work in the short term, but I’d question their long-term viability if they don’t change their mindset as projections continue to show dramatic increases in the Hispanic market compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
Here are some practical tips to ensure you’re maximizing your marketing budgets:
1. Allocate proportional to your actual customer base, not a census number. If you spend 16% on the Hispanic market because Uncle Sam says that’s the percentage of Hispanics there are in the U.S., the good news is you are probably ahead of your competitors. The bad news is you are likely not maximizing your reach.
2. Test market. If you’re not ready to take a full plunge, try testing a Hispanic marketing program in one geographical area or across one product line.
3. But, dip more than your toe in the water. If you do decide to test market, invest properly and do a legitimate test. Don’t do one or two small or short-term activities and then blame the market for a lack of response. It’s not enough to just be at the festival and sponsor the Hispanic chamber.
4. Research the cost of Spanish-language marketing. You might be pleasantly surprised at the reach and frequency you can obtain, not to mention ROI, through the Spanish-language media at a fraction of the cost of the general market media.
5. Yes, you are likely reaching some of us via general market, but don’t waste the opportunity. Yes, many Hispanics do consume general market media. However, research is clear that even bi-lingual Hispanics respond at a higher rate to Spanish-language commercials and place affinity on those brands that cater to us. But if you really want to connect with us in general market, and not just reach us, commercials need to be culturally relevant even in English and appeal to Hispanics in ways that may differ greatly than the general market. Why? Because marketing to Hispanic is not about appealing to a language preference, but rather it’s about speaking our culture. There is a big difference between being bilingual and bi-cultural.
6. Go beyond topical spending. Some companies have budgets for Hispanic Heritage Month, spend it on event sponsorships and some perhaps eyed the 2018 World Cup, but tactical approaches will only yield you modest returns. This is a relationship-building demographic that is brand loyal where sustained approaches are most effective.