Leveraging Spanish bilingual employees to reach the Latino home buying market

Question:

I own a small real estate company in North Carolina, and I have several employees who speak fluent Spanish. I would like to start targeting the growing Hispanic market with local ads, but I’m not sure where to begin. How do I find out more about the Hispanic market in my area, and what can I do to make my message effective?

Answer:

It would be extremely easy for me to tell you to just start advertising like crazy, but that would be a big disservice to you and your company.

First things first. You are in a relationship-based business, and your bilingual realtors should already be using their Spanish language skills to connect with Hispanic home buyers. You and your staff members should be getting out and mingling among Latino customers to get to know them and what makes them tick!

Research the General Hispanic Market

Your next step will be to identify general demographic trends among your target market. In addition to collecting data from sources like the Census Bureau, you must also be observant and ask questions about Hispanics living in your area. The trends you uncover will give you a better feel for what this group wants. You’ll want to pay special attention to characteristics such as:

  •     Where they are buying?
  •     What they are buying?
  •     Language preference
  •     Household size
  •     Country of origin
  •     How many years have they lived in the United States?
  •     How acculturated/assimilated are they?
  •     What media do they prefer?
  •     If they have a SSN or an ITIN (if their Social starts with a number 9, it is an ITIN)

Develop a Profile of Local Hispanic Home Buyers

Once you have developed an overview of Latinos living in your area, you should turn your attention to Hispanic homebuyers in particular:

  •     Are the majority first-time home owners?
  •     If they already own a home and want to move, figure out:

               – Why are they moving?
               – Are looking for a larger or smaller home? Why?

Try the National Association of Realtors or your state’s association of realtors for assistance with this type of market information.

Determine your Budget and Media

Now that you know a little more about the average Hispanic homebuyer, you need to establish a budget for your Latino outreach.

Since you are operating a small business, you don’t want to begin by blasting customers with radio spots, newspaper inserts, billboards and television ads all at once. First, decide which form of advertising will best appeal to Hispanic customers and concentrate on making that form of advertising successful for you before branching out.

The advertising method you choose will be determined by the information you uncovered during your research phase. If you found that your target Hispanic market prefers Spanish-language radio to other forms of media, then this would be the obvious choice for your initial advertising efforts.

Once you’ve decided on the type of media, you can maximize your budget by looking for long-term buys and special promotions. However, make sure this is not just a short-term effort to “see if it works.” If you don’t fully commit to an advertising plan, you’ll only be wasting money.

Build Awareness through Grassroots Marketing

In addition to paid advertising, you should also look at grassroots efforts that can put you directly in front of potential customers. Look for local events that you can attend or sponsor that would help you reach Latinos.

Another idea is to identify community centers, churches and other organizations that serve Hispanics and offer to teach free seminars educating homebuyers about real estate. This is a great opportunity for your company to give to the community, and it will be appreciated and remembered by Latino consumers.

Expand your Business with Partnerships

Have you thought about which homebuilders, mortgage brokers and banks are also trying to reach the Hispanic market? Approach these businesses and propose ways you could work together. Present a solution that could benefit everyone, not just your own piece of the puzzle.

What’s in it for the Customer?

Always keep in mind your customers’ WIIFM factor: “What’s in it for me?” Remember it’s not about you; it’s about them. What they want, what they need, and how you can fulfill those needs.

Talk to your customers in their language about what is important to them. Say it repeatedly, in different ways, but always with the same core message: What is the benefit of people doing business with you instead of the guy across the street?

Finally, make sure you can deliver on everything you promise!

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Author Bio

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Juan Tornoe is the owner and Sr. Consultant at Hispanic Trending, the leading Latino marketing and advertising blog, and is a national and international consultant and public speaker. He has worked for more than 15 years on the media, agency and client sides of the marketing and advertising industry, with experience in copywriting, strategy development, media buying and consumer research.

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