Marketing to the Hispanic Community
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Aug 19 13:35:13 UTC 2005
Marketing to the Hispanic Community
By Nancy Drexler and Sam Neuman
America's population is changing. More and more people are bilingual, and
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the nation. In many areas,
Spanish has replaced English as the preferred language for everything from
personal conversations to conducting business transactions. The U.S.
Census figures make this clear: The Hispanic population is America's
fastest-growing minority group, with an increase of more than 40 million
in the four-year period from 2000 to 2004. The Census Bureau predicts that
by 2012, one in five Americans will be of Hispanic descent.
According to a recent article in an industry trade publication1, Bank of
America Corp., one of the nation's largest financial institutions (and
Cynergy Data's bank), recently began actively courting the Hispanic
market. Cynergy plans to help the bank succeed. The bank has waived fees
for all funds transfers from Chicago to Mexico and hopes to expand this
policy to apply to all major U.S. cities.
In addition, the bank is making an effort to reach out to recent
immigrants with less established credit (still a major segment of the
Hispanic population, although the Hispanic middle class is growing every
day) by offering debit card and money transfer capabilities to customers
who previously relied on check-cashing services instead of bank accounts.
As an ISO/merchant level salesperson, in order to stay competitive and
keep profits growing, begin marketing your business to Hispanic and
Spanish-speaking merchants in earnest. Ignoring this vital, rapidly
expanding segment of the marketplace could be a recipe for financial
disaster. To put it simply, not marketing to Hispanic merchants is no
Don't Get Lost in Translation
The census results indicate that in approximately 50% of American Hispanic
homes, Spanish is the preferred language of communication. If you want to
form a bond with Hispanic merchants, it helps to approach them in the
language with which they're most comfortable speaking. When you're ready
to produce marketing materials in Spanish, don't take the easy way out
with a quick translation of your existing English-language materials. For
example, say you are creating a brochure to distribute to Spanish-speaking
merchants. The brochure describes what sets your company apart from other
processors and ISOs.
The first line of copy is:
"Our company offers credit and debit card processing at low rates, plus
access to state-of-the-art equipment and terminals." Rather than pay for a
translator, you decide to use one of the free English-to-Spanish
translation tools readily available on the Web, such as
www.freetranslation.com . After entering your copy into the site and
selecting translate, the result is:
"Nuestra compania ofrece el crdito y el dbito tarjeta que procesa en tasas
bajas, mas el acceso al equipo y terminales de lo mas moderno."
It looks good, so you print this on the cover of the brochures and start
distributing them. Unfortunately, you skipped a step. Using the same free
translation site, now enter your Spanish sentence to get its English
"Our company offers the credit and the debit card that processes in low
rates, more the access team and terminals of it more modern."
Copy that sells? I don't think so. You definitely need a translator. Also,
resist the temptation to ask an employee who simply speaks or reads
Spanish to do the job because, as the example provided demonstrates,
literally substituting Spanish words for their English equivalents can
result in an incoherent jumble.
A professional translator will understand proper English and Spanish
grammar and be able to communicate the meaning of your words, not only
their literal translations.
Translation Is Only Step Numero Uno
Customized marketing materials and a Spanish-speaking sales rep can close
deals with Hispanic merchants, but to keep the merchants processing with
your company, employ staff to help them with any problems or concerns in a
language that they understand. If you advertise that you have a fully
bilingual staff, make sure that you have a staff at your disposal to back
up the claim.
"Fully bilingual customer service and technical support" means someone who
can converse intelligently in English and Spanish, and answer questions
about processing as well as every other customer service employee, is
available during every hour that your phone lines are open.
It does not mean that a part-time staff member took three years of high
school Spanish and will try to help with a call in the unlikely event that
a Spanish-speaking merchant needs assistance.
The conversational Spanish that many of us have picked up through class
work, travel, social events or trips to the local Mexican restaurant is
not sufficient to make someone a successfully bilingual salesperson.
Not only will you need to know the Spanish for "hello" and "good morning,"
you'll need to explain complex concepts like mids and nons clearly and
simply, which is not even an easy task in English!
The extra effort required to find Spanish-speaking staff members (or to
brush up your own Espaol) will pay major dividends if you make it known to
members of the local Hispanic community that they can count on you to
provide reliable, cost-effective service that truly speaks the merchants'
Make your office a place where Hispanic merchants feel comfortable well
past their initial sign-up date, and you will guarantee long-term business
and lifetime residuals from an underutilized segment of the merchant
Choose the Right Channel
Once you overcome the language barrier, make sure your message goes
directly to your target audience by choosing the proper marketing
channels. In any marketing campaign, the medium is as important as the
message, and marketing to Hispanic merchants is certainly no exception.
If you or one of your reps is a charismatic, natural Spanish speaker, you
will likely have the most success going door to door in largely Hispanic
neighborhoods. Do you have a direct mail campaign with a Hispanic focus?
Sort your distribution list by ZIP code to keep merchants in
Spanish-speaking areas grouped together.
Did you create an ad with convincing Spanish copy? Check newsstands or the
online Yellow Pages to find local newspapers and magazines published
specifically for Spanish-speaking readers.
Don't throw away valuable leads; instead, use targeted marketing to reach
merchants with whom you're unable to effectively do business in English.
The next time you make telemarketing or in-person sales calls, and it's
clear that a merchant with a traditionally Hispanic last name doesn't
speak English well, don't cross his name off the list; rather, add it to a
new database of merchants to contact using Spanish-language marketing
What are you waiting for? Here's your first Spanish vocabulary word:
dinero. Money talks in every language. Buena suerte!
What cities in the United States have the highest population of
Hispanic/Latinos? The following are the "Top 10" U.S. cities with the
of Hispanic/latinos according to the U.S. Census Bureau
(USA Counties CD-Rom 1996; U.S. Census basic Quick facts 2001:
1. New York, NY - 1,783,511
2. Los Angeles, CA - 1,391,411
3. Chicago, IL - 545,852
4. San Antonio, TX - 520,282
5. Houston, TX - 450,483 6. El Paso, TX - 355,669
7. San Diego, CA - 229,519
8. Miami, FL - 223,964
9. Dallas, TX - 210,240
10. San Jose, CA - 208,388
Nancy Drexler is the Marketing Director and Sam Neuman is the
Communications Specialist of Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that
distinguishes itself by relying on creativity and technology to maximize
service. Cynergy offers its ISOs: VIMAS, a cutting edge back-office
management software; TrackIt, a ticketing system that makes responses to
customers fast, accurate and efficient; Brand Central Station, a Web site
of free marketing tools; plus state-of-the-art training, products,
services and value-added programs, all designed to take its ISO partners
from where they are to where they want to be. For more information on
Cynergy e-mail Nancy Drexler at nancyd at cynergydata.com .
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