Commentary

Why Classifieds Still Thrive: Q&A With 'El Clasificado'''s Martha de la Torre

For the second part of my series for Hispanic Heritage Month, I spoke with Martha de la Torre, the founder and CEO of El Clasificado about why brands should be bilingual when reaching out to Hispanic audiences, why people still read the classifieds, and her advice to budding entrepreneurs.

Is it important for brands to reach out to Hispanic audiences in both English and Spanish?

Language preference varies depending on the audience. Older Hispanic immigrants prefer communicating in their native language, while younger bicultural and bilingual Hispanics are receptive to messages in both languages. Very young Hispanics prefer to communicate in English, and those who live in predominantly Latino communities tend to speak English all day long, but with a lot of Spanglish thrown into the conversation.

Also important is the channel of communication. Both El Clasificado in print, with our 35 and older audience, and our online marketplace, ElClasificado.com, with over 1.5 million monthly visits (61% between the ages of 25 and 54), thrive in Spanish.

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However, with our Quinceanera.com brand, which targets Latina moms and daughters, we adjust the language by medium. The daughters are the focus of our expos, YouTube channel and Instagram page, and we communicate with them in English. For our website and print, we use a combination because those target both the mother and the daughter. However, our Facebook audience communicates in both languages.

Reaching Hispanics is no longer just about placing ads in Spanish, but more about connecting and identifying with their culture, age, and the media they most enjoy.

It’s a good idea to offer your brand message in the assumed language of preference, but to also have a simple button so people can switch back and forth -- something that our Hispanic audiences greatly appreciate.

Classifieds have had surprising longevity. Why do you think that is, and why are classifieds still relevant to the Hispanic consumer?

I believe classifieds have longevity because at the end of the day, most people like to shop for deals and get quality services at an affordable price. Businesses who use classified ads to advertise their products and services are usually part of the community, and are sending a message that they are willing to negotiate. The most important message coming from a classified ad in El Clasificado is that an advertiser is saying, “I am happy to do business with you in Spanish.”

Classifieds are especially relevant to the Hispanic community because a classified marketplace breaks down barriers for entry. Traditional and established businesses advertise as usual, but aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals who want to generate passive income can easily afford to market themselves using classified ads in print and especially free classified ads online.

Specifically, classified ads are still powerful, especially when you consider that three of the top vertical industries are jobs, homes and autos -- things everyone needs. In the Hispanic community, El Clasificado is an attractive marketplace because we focus on blue collar jobs, rooms to rent, and carros “baratos” (cheap cars). We also focus on home and auto services.

Hispanic consumers gravitate towards businesses that speak their language, understand their financing needs, and respect their consumer culture. Classified ads in print are still popular in Spanish-speaking communities because they are tangible, and a trusted form of advertising in local Latino communities.

While you’ve had a great deal of success as an entrepreneur, you talk about how you are also a reluctant one. What would you say to a reluctant Hispanic entrepreneur who’s just starting out?

I would say that being an entrepreneur can be the most rewarding experience of your life. You have the chance to be your own boss, to have more control over your financial security, and to be able to do the things that you really enjoy while giving back to the community. There’s also a tremendous amount of pride in the feeling and realization that you are creating jobs for others in the community.

So keep on going, be patient and organized, have clear goals, and be persistent. The first years are usually the toughest. Don’t expect instant success. As your company grows, new challenges will arise, so you need to have both short-term and long-term business plans. You need to build a company that you could sell tomorrow if you had to -- but could also be your legacy.

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