By Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative
Would you ever defer your brand business strategy to your ad agency and follow their recommendations unquestionably because they are the “market experts?” For most seasoned MBA-educated CMOs and brand managers the answer would be a resounding NO. After all, YOU are responsible for growing the business. You are responsible for every decision made in the name of market share domination–right?
So why is it, when it comes to the Hispanic market, marketers find themselves deferring Hispanic market business strategic direction to Junior Brand Managers, Hispanic Marketing Managers and Hispanic agency partners? Why don’t CMOs and brand managers take responsibility for developing and owning Hispanic business direction setting? Why don’t they take responsibility for stepping up their game by acquiring the required competency and capabilities such that they and their organizations can evolve with the needs and requirements of the changing consumer market? Why do smart business managers find it an acceptable business practice to delegate the responsibility of managing their Hispanic business strategy to junior brand associates or to disenfranchised Hispanic marketing managers and “their” agencies?
I was recently invited to speak to a group of brand managers at a multinational company who wanted to hear how I could help them. The person who brought me in had been impressed with my consulting philosophy and process as described in my book and in my articles. One brand manager in attendance had been part of a full day workshop I’d given in Chicago a few months prior. Long story short, I had their attention; they seemed engaged and asked questions throughout. At one point, however, someone asked, but what does all this strategic, organizational and infrastructural alignment and optimization work have to do with building our brands among Hispanics? – An all too familiar question. Well, it became immediately clear some brand managers in the group where just interested in the part where I describe how they could start marketing to Hispanics. So I said, well it’s no different than if you wanted to launch a new product line or enter a new market. You’d likely engage a cross functional team, make sure things were aligned and optimized to be successful. Marketing would be a piece of the puzzle, but it wouldn’t be the whole solution, right? Well this is no different. I had their attention again.
Suffice it to say that, as I exited the room and made my way to the reception area elevator, the team lead followed me and proceeded to tell me how much he liked and appreciated my approach and how they’d already learned so much!
Well, fast forward to a month later; they chose another consultant. The team lead explained in a most apologetic voice, “we really, really like you and we really like your approach, but we just don’t have time for it right now. We just don’t have the resources to put that kind of time and energy to do what you proposed right now. The consultant we selected is someone who will do the heavy lifting and give us a recommendation. He told us what he would do and what we would receive. I know your approach is what we need, but we just couldn’t see us going there right now.”
I politely listened even as I wondered how a group of intelligent brand managers who’d obviously recognized at some point the Hispanic market was important enough to tackle didn’t see it as the type of priority deserving of the time and resource allocation that could lead the company to an optimized business strategy and to an organization and infrastructure that could produce a sustainable and profitable Hispanic market strategy they could understand, internalize, implement and own.
I couldn’t help but wonder how they believed they could take recommendations handed to them by a consultant with whom they would likely work only superficially (because that’s all they had time for) yet think they would ultimately find and allocate the time to implement, monitor and eventually evolve their strategies successfully and sustainably, which is even MORE demanding.
I could only imagine that in the absence to time, internal competency and resources, the answer would undoubtedly be to hand over the recommendations and implementation responsibility to a junior brand manager, a newly hired Hispanic marketing manager and a Hispanic ad agency while the company, its brand managers and its strategies would remain virtually unchanged to truly effect Hispanic market growth. I suddenly understood more than ever a mindset that is all too common.
Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market. firstname.lastname@example.org