Why Use Spanish (and Other Languages) Marketing Materials?
By Jeff Milchen
Published August 20, 2012
Approximately 60% of Latino adults in the U.S.* and more than half in Canada are foreign–born. Of course, most are bilingual (and many speak only English), so communicating in Spanish is not necessary. Then why do it?
First, it’s a sign of respect and caring. We naturally appreciate when others make a special effort to consider our preferences. And for most people, our native language will remain our language of choice and carry the greatest emotional appeal. Simply put, thanking native Spanish-speakers in Spanish for their choice to "go local" makes good business sense and can help differentiate you from many of your competitors.
This is equally true for business-to-business enterprises since immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in the U.S. in 2011 (despite comprising only 13% of our population).
If a significant portion of your potential customers are immigrants, it's well worth learning relevant cultural differences as well. Various reports by Synovate, including Using Acculturation to Measure Hispanic Media Behavior (pdf, 2008), are among the useful entry points to start learning about specific considerations in communicating with Latino audiences.** Be aware that cultural differences between Mexican and Cuban Americans, as just one example, may be great.
In addition to the window decal shown (available here), AMIBA also now offers Spanish translations of our popular bag-stuffers and statement–stuffers (template is here). If you wish to translate AMIBA materials into other languages, we gladly will provide you with templates.
Finally, don't assume that a person of Latino heritage speaks Spanish as a first or second language. Addressing someone in Spanish based solely on their apearance indicates stereotyping, not respect.
** For those in communities with large Latino populations (or speakers of other foreign languages), consider going beyond merely translating to transcreating your materials. This involves evaluating the overall impact and considering whether a different tone, images, or even concept is warranted for your marketing efforts in another language. (While we used the same appearance and sentiment for the Spanish version of the decal shown here, we shifted the language to thank people for choosing local independent businesses in the plural.)
How to Market to People Not Like You is one book that touches on these themes.
© 2012 American Independent Business Alliance