By Terry Soto, Author and CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.
This week I presented a webinar entitled, Is Hispanic Strategy Still A Separate Initiative? Here’s How to Create Strategic Alignment That Makes Good Business Sense. I wanted to begin this year’s webinar series with a topic that I sensed continues to challenge most Hispanic marketers. Suffice it to say, registration numbers where the highest of any webinar I’ve hosted in the last 15 years.
Here’s the crux. In spite of the fact that as an industry of Hispanic marketers we’ve become very sophisticated in our methods and resources, we’re still stuck in a time warp. What do I mean by this? We continue to focus on US, what WE do well, what WE need and what the Hispanic market needs instead of focusing on our clients’ companies or the companies where we own responsibility for Hispanic Marketing and where we’re responsible for contributing to OVERALL growth.
I know this because, in my consulting work I’m engaged in ongoing conversations with the very high level folks who typically hire me, a team of 20-30 folks in different parts of the company, the Multicultural Managers (MC Managers) and their respective Hispanic agency counterparts.
The common theme in conversations with the MC Manager and their Agencies is the feeling being marginalized. Feeling like they’re not a part of the high level strategic conversations. Feeling like order takers. Not having the attention or the support they need from the rest of organization. And the ever recurring concern that Hispanic marketing is an afterthought.
From client leadership, I hear “Our agency is not strategic. They don’t bring us the strategic solutions.” Or worse, “Our agency or MC Managers understand Hispanics but they don’t understand the business.” Or “We don’t think what we’re doing in the Hispanic market is in sync with where the company is focused or headed.” I’ve even heard client leadership call their agencies and MC Managers self-absorbed and self-serving.”
There is clear misalignment between those who drive business results, agency partners and MC Managers. I’ve propose to agencies and MC Managers that they immediately refocus and broaden of their thinking so they think about and speak to the business not just the Hispanic plan. I’ve cautioned that if the current focus and conversation is maintained, agencies and MC Managers will continue to be marginalized and pigeon holed into the realm of advertising and promotions execution and will find it difficult to be considered valuable partners in growing the business in a way the company values.
Here’s where I believe the misalignment exists.
Consider that Hispanic Market Strategy is not synonymous with Hispanic Marketing (which is where many of us focus) and beyond this, Hispanic Marketing, which technically includes product, price, promotion and place is not synonymous with just advertising and promotion (which again, is where many of us focus).
Much of what we call Hispanic Market Strategy (and I use the term “strategy” loosely) are really communication strategies (P for Promotion). To make matters worse, while brilliantly planned and executed, many of these communication efforts are conceived first and foremost with the Hispanic market in mind RATHER than with the companies’ business goals and strategic direction as context.
As a result, our “Hispanic Market Strategies” are often out of alignment with our companies’ or clients’ strategic imperatives which by the way, is where companies’ resources and attention will be laser focused. And THIS is the main reason most Hispanic efforts remain separate, disconnected, underfunded and are the first to be cut when budgets are reduced.
A Hispanic Market Strategy cannot exist separately from the corporate strategy. It is born first and foremost from the goals and strategic imperatives a company has identified to achieve growth this quarter, next quarter and the following.
Developing an aligned Hispanic Market Strategy is about recognizing and heeding the company’s strategic direction and optimizing existing strategies to be effective among Hispanics across the organization structure, operations, infrastructure and marketing. There should be no such thing as a Hispanic Market Strategy that doesn’t follow from this premise.
This focus and conversation is what creates cohesiveness, collaboration and engages management’s full attention and financial support. It’s not enough to be culturally relevant, you must be business relevant first.
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. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-842-9688.