Friday, April 15, 2005

Tennessee experts give keys to Hispanic marketing

Business Tennessee reports on the nuances of marketing to Hispanics. It takes more than just a translation of marketing materials into Spanish.

"You can’t merely go to a computer, translate your sales literature into Spanish, and think that this will suffice, says Mark Robinson, president and executive creative director of Memphis advertising agency Thompson and Co. 'You have to translate your message culturally, as well as linguistically, in order for it to be meaningful and effective.'"

"Even when businesses do attempt the first step toward marketing to the Hispanic community, they often fail to follow through, adds Marcela Gomez, owner of Nashville-based Hispanic Marketing Group. 'What good does it do to translate a brochure or Web site into Spanish, only to find that when Spanish-speaking people call there’s no one on the staff able to communicate with them?'"

"'There’s also a misconception that if it’s not in Spanish, then Hispanic people will not use or buy it,' says Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and publisher of a La Noticia, a Spanish-language newspaper in Nashville. ... Cunza suggests that businesses hire bilingual personnel and have employees undergo cultural diversity training in order to make Hispanic customers feel more welcome. 'Many Hispanics don’t go into mainstream places because they don’t feel comfortable, because they feel different. If employees were more prepared for and sensitive to cultural differences, it would create a more comfortable, welcoming environment.'"

Other Tennessee experts on Hispanic marketing cited in the article are Diana Holland, president of Nashville-based Hispanic Link Consulting; and Dominique Pryor-Anderson, president and senior creative director of Memphis’s Vida PR Marketing.

A recent Computerworld article reports that most large U.S. firms have not chosen to translate their web sites into Spanish.

"[O]nly 19% of Fortune 100 companies offer Spanish-language content on their U.S. Web sites, according to reports by Ron Rogowski, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. And even Web sites that do offer some Spanish text fall down when it comes to allowing actual financial transactions in Spanish or optimizing their search engines for Spanish queries, Rogowski says."

"But some companies are getting the message. Verizon Communications Inc. places its Spanish link prominently at the top of its Web page and encourages Spanish-speaking call center agents to promote the Spanish Web site. H&R Block Inc. users can get maps and driving directions to local offices with Spanish-speaking advisers. And Home Depot Inc. even remembered to put its privacy policy in Spanish."

"Among state governments, Texas is the only one to provide a full-fledged Spanish-language Web portal for constituents, says Rogowski."

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