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Latino-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. economy, but—as is the case for many other businesses—attracting new customers represents a big challenge. In some cases, finding new customers means expanding outside the community and cultural group.
If you're a Latino small-business owner, the following actions can help your business cross the cultural divide.
Make sure you have a plan
Having a plan to make your business appeal to a broader audience is essential. What do you want to do? Perhaps increase your revenue, build a brand, boost exposure? "It's important to know what you want," says Los Angeles-based marketing and media consultant Luis Vásquez-Ajmac.
According to Vásquez-Ajmac, developing a strategy and doing research are vital first steps. "Find out what motivates your consumers, what they like, so you're able to get back to them and tell them a simple story."
Additionally, it's essential to make sure that your marketing takes into account the differences in communities. Just like all Latino groups are not homogeneous and shouldn't be marketed to as one group, the same applies to other consumer groups.
Remember to be concise
In a market full of people competing for the spotlight, you need to keep things simple to be heard. "If you have a product or service and you want to tell people about it, you have a really short time to do so because everyone is very busy these days," adds Vásquez-Ajmac.
The media consultant estimates that you have, on average, six seconds to tell potential customers about your business or product, "for someone to go to your website and decide whether they want it or not. Tell that great story in six seconds with video, animation, sound ... You may think that's not enough time, but it is."
At a minimum, having a significant online presence entails setting up a website and using social media to get the word out. "It's a very cost-effective way of getting people to find out about you, such as paid advertising on Facebook," says Vásquez-Ajmac.
He adds that "You can really target your audience there. Have you ever been on Facebook and seen an ad and wonder, 'How do they know I like that?' That's part of social advertising and marketing. And ideally, if you can get your story on TV news, such as on a morning show, that is the best unpaid advertising for you."
Always remember what you bring to the table
Catherine Pino Durán, the co-founder of the Washington-based D&P Creative Strategies, a consulting group founded 15 years ago, advises Latino business owners always to remember what they bring to the table and never to change their fundamental values to please prospective clients.
"People really warned us [referring to herself and Ingrid Pino Durán, her co-founder] about being out [as a same-sex couple] and starting this new business, but we felt it was critical to be out and we knew where we want to be in terms of changing hearts and minds," she explains. After all, their consulting group's motto is"Consulting with a Social Conscience."
The firm is a certified Latina-owned LGBTQ small business that has grown through the years with a diverse and inclusive business model serving a wide variety of clients. "You have to be diverse because the audiences you are marketing to are different, and unless you understand those audiences and can speak to them, it really does hinder you as a company," says Ingrid Durán Pino, and adds, "The companies that do well with diversity, do well with their bottom line."
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