10 Best Practices for Bilingual Hispanic Mail
To grow their customer bases, most industries have tapped into the Hispanic market. “I think most companies realize, or will soon realize, that without marketing to Hispanics, your market is shrinking,” says Michael Saray, president of New York-based Michael Saray Hispanic Marketing. Saray is referring to census data recording the general market’s death rate as being higher than its birthrate, and projecting the Hispanic population will grow to one quarter of the total U.S. population by 2050.
A bilingual direct mail campaign may provide the best odds of connecting with Hispanic prospects. According to the 2006 American Community Survey, 78 percent of Hispanics speak a language other than English in the home, and 39 percent of Hispanics report speaking English “less than very well.” Below, Saray details the reasons behind using a bilingual mail piece and best practices for creating a winner.
1. Establish whether a bilingual approach is appropriate.
“You have to consider the nature of the product or service, and in some cases bilingual is not suitable,” Saray says. If you are selling a book that’s written in Spanish, then a bilingual direct mail piece would be unwise, as the product is only viable for strong Spanish speakers, he points out. In addition, marketers should always use bilingual copy for products that affect families, due to multigenerational Hispanic households with different levels of language capabilities. Financial services communications also are best delivered in a bilingual package because Hispanics under-index in financial services and need a little more in-language explanation of products and services in that sector.
2. Get the translation right.
“You have to work with good copywriters. A direct translation will really hurt you because … it will be spotted immediately,” Saray says. To avoid insulting the prospect, know which Hispanic group you are targeting and be sure to check for taboo words and meanings. “There have been some examples of words that have been chosen that were not appropriate for all Hispanic groups,” Saray says.