Over the course of my career, I have very frequently run into “first timers.” What do I mean by this? Companies, clients or brands that have never marketed their product or service to Hispanic consumers, and have decided to embark upon this opportunity. I cannot remember how many new clients I have serviced who were at this juncture.
What is even funnier is that sometimes there are marketers who claim to be “first timers,” but because institutional memories are short and people change jobs frequently, they think they are first timers when in fact a Hispanic initiative was conducted three or five years ago. I call these individuals “Faux Timers.” Regardless of whether you are first timer or a faux timer, I have learned a couple of lessons for both brand marketers and their agency partners that I want to pass along when it comes to Hispanic marketing
Strike #1: Urgency vs. Strategy
You won the pitch! You got the cross sell! All of a sudden, you have a first timer on your hands. The meeting will start off with “We are all very excited about this opportunity, the CMO is committed and we are ready to go with a Hispanic communications strategy,” but “our budget and seasonality dictate that we be in market in eight weeks.” My advice is to postpone and do some due diligence on strategy and planning. Field the research, look at the data, get the insights and be on stronger footing when you come out of the gate for your client. Push it back a year if you need to. I would much rather take a fee cut in the short term, than rush to market with a Hail Mary.
Strike #2 Metrics vs. Passion
Very frequently, I find that a very passionate client will overlook the importance of key performance indicators (KPIs) that will prove the value of marketing activities to the rest of the company or to shareholders. Word of advice: invest in panel, infrastructure, database management or whatever it is that will ensure the KPIs of the Hispanic marketing initiative are as good as the general market. The proof is in the pudding, and if your pudding isn't as good as the general market pudding, then it will not taste as good to other folks.
Strike #3: Marcom vs. Go to Market
I will never forget an experience many years ago when I was working on an account with one of my first first timers. We thought we had done everything right: we started off with an ethnographic exercise to understand category barriers, drivers and usage. We then developed creative which we tested qualitatively and quantitatively, adjusting as needed based on the feedback. We had a strong media plan with launch weights and a robust media mix in all the right places. Beautiful production value. Essentially, all systems were a go.
Well, once we checked stores thoroughly, we realized there was a severe distribution gap – nothing was in place. The problem eventually got fixed, but not quickly. It cost us quite a bit from an opportunity standpoint and the ROI from the marketing exercise was less impressive than we had hoped. The back story didn't matter, but what did mater was that the client had not engaged with operations to ensure their marketing dollars would be well spent.
First timers or faux timers are often very passionate and excited. But that doesn’t mean all of the normal planning, processes and operations get thrown out of the window. For first time Hispanic marketers that come out of the gate swinging too hard, three strikes and you’re out. And the next time at bat will be even more difficult. Let’s do it right the first time.