When most marketers think about bilingual marketing strategies, they only think about a division between English and Spanish-language marketing. They fail to consider the cultural and regional differences within their Spanish-speaking audience. Spanish is the official language of more than 20 countries. Spanish-speaking communities within the US adopt and expand on their home or heritage countries’ culture, which means that dozens of distinct cultures exist, all within Spanish-speakers.
To demonstrate our point, let’s look at cultural differences among English-speakers within the US. Regional differences in the United States are incredibly apparent. Northeasterners are known for being terse, busy, and gruff. Southern hospitality is world-famous. Southwesterners are known for creativity, and Texans and Appalachians value rugged independence. Understanding this, advertisers tailor their messaging based on the region they are serving. A southern-focused ad would not convert well in New York, and vice versa. The same is true for cultural and regional differences within your Spanish-language audience. The first step to tailoring your messaging is understanding the cultural differences within your target market.
Southern California is home to a large Mexican and Mexican/American population, but our state is also home to a significant amount of Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalan Americans, and Honduran Americans. Mexican Americans in Southern California are going to have a very different personal history than Cuban Americans. Much of the land we now call California once belonged to Mexico, which means that Mexican Americans will have a strong and personal tie to this land. In contrast, Cuban Americans are immigrants in a more traditional sense. The best way to fully understand the difference between these two cultures is to consult with cultural experts. That is the best way to avoid sounding tone-deaf in your advertising.
Below are some simple steps we recommend taking to truly diversity your Spanish-language marketing:
- Understand your target demographic. Are the Spanish-speakers in your area from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico? Understanding the heritage of your target audience will help you to speak with them more authentically.
- Hire or contract with someone either from that culture or fully immersed in that culture. First-hand knowledge is always best. Rather than trying to guess what your Spanish-speaking audience values, consult someone who knows.
- Test marketing copy and initiatives. Marketing is all about conceptualizing, testing, analyzing, and adjusting. Suppose you do not get it exactly right the first time; you are not a failure. Take what you have learned and try again.
- Do not fall into the stereotype trap. Modern history is full of examples of culturally insensitive marketing. True diversity in marketing is about truly understanding your audience, not merely identifying your audience and sharing your guess and impression of what their culture looks like to you.
- Remember, authenticity is king. This is true of marketing in any language.
If bilingual marketing were easy, everyone would do it. It can yield fantastic results if done correctly, so put in the work to appreciate and diversify your bilingual marketing efforts, and the marketplace will reward you.