Hispanics are not just Americans who happen to speak Spanish. They are best thought of as a separate society, embedded within our own, with a distinct set of priorities and ways of doing things, as well as a different language.
So, dealing with Hispanics means re-creating your business for them, not just translating it.
Telemarketing is central to direct marketing to Hispanics. Doing direct marketing right starts with doing telemarketing right. Here are some points to understand as you get started.
Hispanics respond differently to direct promotion. Hispanics want to buy something from a friend or, at least, someone with whom they have a relationship. They generally don’t like impersonal ordering procedures. So telemarketing is a key ingredient in the direct marketing mix.
Build your direct marketing campaign around telemarketing, rather than considering it as an administrative procedure at the end. Allow more time for telemarketing, whether it be inbound or outbound. Hispanics love to talk on the telephone and build a relationship. Allow this natural process to occur; don’t rush it.
If you need to get back the budget money, cut in other areas. For example, run shorter DRTV commercials or send out less expensive direct mail kits. Remember, the objective is different: Rather than producing enough knowledge leading to an order, you are actually trying to get them to call the toll-free number, which is where the sale will occur.
Your Hispanic customer may not understand your product or service. There was a time when most Americans didn’t know what a book club was or life insurance or bananas. Early efforts to market these products and services involved a heavy dose of educating the consumer. Your potential Hispanic customers may recently have come from a simpler, different way of life in which what you are selling didn’t exist. Hence, your Hispanic telemarketing should not be too tightly scripted. Sales agents should have the freedom to explain your product and explain why it is needed. The explanation is often more important and relevant in making the sale than telling why yours is superior.
Your Hispanic customer is inclined to be suspicious. Americans who have grown up in the United States have had a lifetime to absorb the ground rules of direct response buying and selling. For example, if you are not satisfied, you can return the product and get your money back. Hispanics, particularly those who recently arrived in this country, might not have such a tradition. Additionally, they may be accustomed to postal or other systems that are not as efficient or as regulated as ours, systems in which packages can be lost or stolen or services charged for but not delivered.
The bottom line is that Hispanics need reassurance. Make sure your phone agents are well-informed about who you are and what to say to establish your reputability.
Not all Hispanics speak Spanish. We have been talking mostly about recently-arrived, unacculturated Hispanics who make up the majority of the Hispanic market but by no means all of it. There is an increasing number of Hispanics who are English-dominant, meaning those who grew up in the United States and prefer to speak English.
So if you don’t know in advance whether your customer prefers to speak Spanish, find out at the beginning of the telemarketing conversation.
Look for Spanish-dominant supervision. For those telemarketing conversations that are going to be conducted in Spanish, be sure your service bureau employs Spanish-dominant supervisors. Basic information such as a person’s name and address is likely to be given differently by a Hispanic Spanish-dominant customer. It is important to understand what the person is saying, and vice versa.
For example, a Hispanic woman identifying herself as Clara Garcia de Cardenas may have as her real last name Cardenas, de Cardenas or Garcia. If you have supervisors who understand nuances like this one, your life will be a lot easier.
These are only a few points. But there are many more. The main thing to understand is that you are likely to be dealing with cultural issues and not just language concerns.
It may seem complicated, but if you correctly approach it, the Hispanic market is well worth the effort.