Multicultural Special Report: Shore Up Your Back-end
More than 20 years ago, only a small group of very progressive companies and nonprofit organizations used direct mail to penetrate the Hispanic market. Most of these “pioneer” companies naively allocated the majority of their resources to the front-end processes of market identification, list selection, copy and creative, and print production, and paid little attention to back-end operations.
Today, although more companies are targeting the Hispanic market, many still do not have the necessary back-end infrastructure. Back-end operations designed to address the needs of Hispanic customers are key to developing lasting relationships in this market.
Understand the Differences Within the Market
To build strong relationships with Hispanic customers, you first need to understand what makes them different from one another. This information then can be used to develop unique segments and communication strategies with messages and offers that are relevant to each segment—and ideally to each individual.
One of the biggest challenges in understanding the Hispanic market is the terms we use to define it. In the United States, we use the words “Hispanic” or “Latino” to define a large and complex group of people with multiple nationalities. They also are used to define individuals who have arrived in this country at different times, and for different reasons, creating a wide spectrum of individuals with many different needs. These terms create the fictitious idea that all members of this market are the same, and as such, many marketers are inclined to develop “one-size-fits-all-Hispanics” communication strategies. This approach is not effective. Communication strategies must take into consideration customers’ language preferences as well as acculturation levels.
A well-designed bilingual acquisition direct mail package gives consumers the opportunity to indicate their language of choice. This easily can be achieved with a language-preference check box in the reply device. More elaborate bilingual formats that clearly separate the two languages will have a reply device for each language. The company then can safely assume that the consumer’s language of choice is represented by the form he or she used to respond. This is powerful information, because you now have reliable data telling you how recipients want to receive future communications from you.