Making The Most Of '09 Marketing Spend

Marketers agree that 2009 is going to be a challenging year. In the past weeks, while attending the ANA conference in Orlando, Fla., and the DMA in Las Vegas, I've heard many say that it is time to go to basics, that we need to focus on the ROI of each campaign, that we need to listen to the consumer.


Well, I am not sure what marketers were doing before, since to me those are parameters that should always be considered when launching and sustaining a marketing campaign. Maybe it is just a way to say: "We do not know what we are going to do. Right now, I am just worried about keeping my job."

The economic crisis cannot paralyze us, and both clients and agencies need to move quickly to seize the opportunity. Because, yes, there are many opportunities in front of us.

Demographic trends and industry data clearly demonstrate that marketing to U.S. Hispanics and multicultural audiences is one area of opportunity that remains open to growth. This is the right time to introduce your brand to them if you have not already done so, and evolve your programs if you are already marketing to them and their interests.



But, how to do it in the current situation and with marketing dollars going down? What will make the difference next year, and what can a Hispanic marketing team do to navigate the bumpy road?

Have a short-term strategy and a mid-term strategy (too much to ask a CEO for a long-term one).

Short Term Strategies

  • Be online now. With more than 19 million Hispanics online (almost the size of the online audience in Spain), it is difficult to name a brand that should not be online. Don't have a Spanish website yet? You don't need it. You can develop a tactical micro-site and even partner with the major online networks to develop one. Hispanics not only buy online, they look for information about products and services. So you can generate traffic to a store, generate a database for a sale follow-up, or create a sweepstakes to encourage product trial. Do you have a Spanish Web site and are not generating traffic to it? Well, then we have a problem.
  • Thought about direct response? Yes, TV is still the main medium for Hispanics, but do you know your ROI? Are you only interested in building brand awareness through mass media? So why not do both? I see many brands on TV that should have a direct response strategy but instead are just spending their dollars to build awareness. A direct response TV campaign can generate strong results and help increase brand awareness when it incorporates the right consumer insights in the messaging and not just product features and offers. Brands tend to just focus on the consumer when they think of the big picture (branding) and think that the offer or prize will get people to call.
  • And why should it be just you who will send the message to consumers? In 2009, budgets will get cut and clients will ask to do the same with less money. So there is no other option but to let others -- consumers, employees, media, opinion leaders -- speak for the brand. It is not only about using word-of-mouth strategies (and remember that our consumers always trust a friend/relative before anyone else) but also about creating something unique and relevant.

Mid-Term Strategies

  • Research to redefine your target. With the 2010 census around the corner, now is the time to redefine how you target your consumer. Are you still using linear acculturation criteria to segment the U.S. Hispanics? Do you still use language as your main criterion for your communication strategy? If so, your strategy is way off. Language, media consumption and time spent in the U.S. will not let you understand how they live, think, dream, etc. U.S. Hispanics are living a multi-dimensional existence, and they want to be treated as individuals first, and want to engage with brands that understand their reality. And by the way, they know that they are Hispanics, you do not need to remind them of that in your communication.
  • Research to review your value proposition. Because what a few months ago was a necessity now probably is a luxury, and things that you forgot about now might become a necessity. Economic crises force us to redefine our lifestyles and priorities and, therefore, the role of brands and products. This is a clear opportunity to redefine what your brand means for your Hispanic consumers.

Now is the time to get to work. The new year will clearly redefine winners and losers in all aspects. Your Hispanic marketing strategy can help brands to make a difference. But more than ever, it must be done right.

2 comments about "Making The Most Of '09 Marketing Spend ".
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  1. Patricia Aguilar from Uniradio Corp., December 18, 2008 at 3:58 p.m.

    I loved the article! It is indeed very accurate when it comes to the importance of targeting Hispanics for potential growth. However, media preference for Hispanics vary from market to market. While there are markets where TV is the main medium especially in freezing cold weather cities (ie., IL, NY, NC, CO, etc.), there are other markets where radio is the preferred media source for Hispanics - known as "Radio Markets" (California). Such is the case of Los Angeles, CA where traffic forces a reduced time watching TV, for example. Nowadays, there are less and less stay-at-home moms, considerably reducing the number of Hispanics viewers.

    I represent a group of radio stations in San Diego, CA and I can tell you that radio here is the main medium for Hispanics...... San Diego is a "Radio Market", just as several other California cities. Radio is intrusive, radio is personal..... Radio becomes a forum for conversation that resonates with the Hispanic…there is a more personal connection with the audience....

    This article could've gone a long way and of most benefit to advertisers, if statistics about advertising in radio had been included....

  2. Massimo Martinotti from Mia, December 18, 2008 at 6:57 p.m.

    You are right: Use the "groundswell" to your advantage. I believe that Web video offers enormous opportunities to create communities and energize them through an arsenal of social technologies.

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