Servicing Service

If you take a look at the 2015 Hispanic Fact Pact, you will notice that service advertisers are about 21% of the 50 largest spenders in Hispanic media. Granted, there are some services that are more regulated, which sometimes presents an interesting challenge. For example, food service will never be regulated quite like telecom, insurance or financial services and this sometimes can become a problem for us Hispanic marketers. It’s a problem because regulation and legal requirements can stand in the way of good marketing and providing relevant experiences for our consumers.

Some of the more interesting problems stem from valid historical discriminatory practices, which even today have an impact on how some financial service companies market to minorities. There is a term I learned early in my career called “redlining” (I suggest you read up on it); it has had a profound influence on how insurance companies (as well as other financial service providers) go to market today.



The once-admonished and discriminatory marketing practice (in banking, insurance and even retail) now makes it harder to actually cater to multicultural demographics. The legacy of redlining stands in the way of the primary and fundamental three-step approach in marketing: STP (segmentation, targeting, positioning). Why? Because legal said so.

In layman’s terms, say you want to segment your customer base by minority … no can do, legal says so. Want to get an understanding for how much your Hispanic revenue is? Sorry, no can do because legal said so. Want to target Hispanics with a direct mail piece in a Hispanic neighborhood? No. Can you guess why? 

I do not say this flippantly; there are valid reasons why legal departments in some of these regulated categories have put controls in place so that what happened in the past does not repeat itself. I understand the root, but it is 2015 and, in many cases, we are talking about majority minority markets and our ability to improve the customer experience (CX) we deliver as marketers. We need a little leeway here, please. 

One of the second most common challenges I frequently find is the regulation required in financial service industries. For example, in some of these industries, if you want to advertise in Spanish, you are required to at least have terms and conditions (Ts & Cs) completely translated. The question is, do you want to call it day and just translate to your Ts & Cs and put the spots on the air? Or would you rather give some thought to your Hispanic customer experience? Call centers, billing, customer service, etc. These are serious infrastructure investments that require a robust revenue stream to support the investment. Calling it a day with Ts & Cs is simply not enough, but what can you do if you don’t have the money or the time for this infrastructure investment.

On the redlining issue, there are now a lot of proprietary data sources and syndicated data sources that allow you to carry out proxies for some of these data needs. It may not be as exact and precise as you would like, but it will be the closest thing to the truth.

As it relates to CX, if you don’t have the infrastructure in place, you need to figure out a way to be culturally relevant and target Hispanics who can conduct the transaction or be serviced in English. With the rise of bilingualism, you do not need to only advertise in Spanish. Instead, have culture drive your strategy (even if it’s in English) or throw in a few Spanish words; the target that understands and responds to the message will certainly appreciate your effort and will not be in need of a “Spanish-only CX”.

I could probably go on for quite some time discussing some of the legal challenges when it comes to multicultural marketing in regulated industries. I would love to hear from my readers on what types of problems they have run into and how they have solved them. Here is my advice when faced with these challenges: improvise.

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