Beware of Best Practices!

By Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics a Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative and Grow with America: Best Practices in Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising.

In my consulting helping companies assess and improve their chances of success in the Hispanic market, I’m inevitably asked somewhere along the way to share examples of best practices – to share about those companies that “are doing it right.”

I have three things to say about best practices and the role they should and should not play in developing a successful Hispanic market strategy:

1. I caution companies from subscribing to another company’s best practices because I don’t believe that any company’s best practices, however derived and implemented, can ever be adopted in part or in whole to help create success in another company. No company is the mirror image of another. Even within the same industry, there are different corporate cultures, companies are in very different market positions, and different business priorities and strategies simply make it impossible for another company’s best practices to be either effective or efficient elsewhere.

2. Best practices are always in the eye of the beholder. You’ve heard the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side?” While on surface it may seem as though a company’s best practices are generating success for them, in reality, they may be facing just as many challenges. Consider that when companies’ successes, case studies or conference presentations are made public, they typically highlight the positives and are generally absent of the missteps, the trial and error, the shortfalls and even the resistance or lack of support faced internally.

3) In my experience, internal stakeholders responsible for implementation are seldom as engaged or as committed to adopting, implementing and ensuring the longevity of a best practice or even a strategy they’ve had a minimal role in creating and frankly, which hasn’t been vetted against the reality of their functions, responsibilities and challenges. Stakeholders will always feel greater ownership of solutions which have been generated internally especially when they’ve had the opportunity to provide input in their development.

So while it’s always interesting and even motivating to think there is “a best way” and think we can rely on external best practices, I encourage my best clients to apply the same methods in research, planning and strategy development for the Hispanic market as part of the process employed for the company as whole.

I always tell my clients there are no shortcuts and there are no cookie cutter approaches. I recommend that four key steps to follow:

  1. Always start with the company’s direction and strategic growth priorities as the foundation.
  2. Acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know about the Hispanic market and be open to learning and to grow your competence
  3. Identify and take the time to understand who your most productive Hispanic targets vis-à-vis your current core target characteristics.
  4. Develop your strategy so it takes into account all consumer with these winning characteristics including Hispanics and align their implementation accordingly.

In short, create your own best practices – practices that have been customized to your specific business situation, goals and existing strategies. I encourage you to take on this approach because it’s the only way to target Hispanics in a manner that will be meaningful to both stakeholders and your consumer targets.

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. For more information please visit www.about or send me an email at:


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