By Jose Villa
President, Sensis

B2B advertising has seen increased attention during the last few years, primarily resulting from the growth in digital marketing. Digital media, and specifically search engine marketing, have provided companies that sell products and services to businesses and professionals the opportunity to target their messages and offers to the right audience (usually the decision-maker or buyer) in the right industry (or companies) with a high level of precision.

With the growth in B2B advertising, one segment of the B2B market has been noticeably absent from the discussion: advertising to Hispanic-owned businesses (which I will refer to as simply Hispanic businesses). The topic of Hispanic businesses usually results in more questions than answers:

  • Are there really that many Hispanic-owned businesses?
  • Aren’t most Hispanic businesses small “mom and pop” sole proprietorships like single-location restaurants or dry cleaning businesses?
  • Do Hispanic businesses even represent a viable market for my product or service (e.g. we sell CRM software to mid-sized companies)?
  • Don’t my existing B2B programs reach Hispanic businesses?
  • Even if I wanted to reach Hispanic businesses, aren’t they simply too niche to efficiently target with advertising?
  • Do I need to advertise differently to Hispanic businesses?

So should B2B marketers pay more attention to Hispanic businesses? I would argue yes. Let’s start with answers to those common questions, or barriers, about Hispanic businesses.

Are there really that many Hispanic-owned businesses? There are approximately 2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. that generate almost $300 billion in annual gross receipts. By the end of this year, there will be 3.2 million Hispanic firms generating $465 billion (Sources: SBA, HispanicTelligence). That number is expected to balloon to 4.3 million by 2012. In fact, as of 2007, 1 out of every 10 small businesses in the U.S. is Hispanic-owned (Hispanic Trends).

Aren’t most Hispanic business small “mom and pop” sole proprietorships More than 50% of Hispanic businesses have 25 or more employees (U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners, 2002).

Do Hispanic businesses even represent a viable market for my product / service? Hispanic businesses are in a variety of industries and range from the start-ups to large public companies, and therefore consume every imaginable business product or service. However, Hispanic businesses are concentrated in the following industries:

graphic 1

Don’t my existing B2B programs reach Hispanic businesses? The short answer is yes. The successful Hispanic is bilingual (> 75% of Hispanic business owners / decision makers speak excellent English), and existing general market B2B advertising programs no doubt reach them. The question is do they effectively impact and engage them in meaningful way. I would argue no, and as there is an opportunity to tap into the unique experiences, challenges, perspectives and attitudes of Hispanic businesses with advertising built around unique Hispanic business insights. To put it another way, 44% of Hispanic businesses are owned by individuals of Mexican origin — do you think their experience as a business owner is different from their Anglo counterparts?

Aren’t Hispanic businesses simply too niche to efficiently target with advertising? There has historically been a very real issue around the lack of viable traditional paid media properties that reach a mass audience of Hispanic businesses. I would argue that there are only 1 or 2 viable traditional publications that effectively reach large numbers of Hispanic businesses (Hispanic Business and Poder/Hispanic). However, digital media, including search engines, display media, performance and behavior platforms and social media have created new ways to effectively reach Hispanic Businesses.

Do I need to advertise differently to Hispanic businesses? As I mentioned earlier, Hispanic businesses can be reached with general market B2B advertising, but not addressing the unique experiences, perspectives, attitudes, and challenges of decision-makers at these companies is really missing out on an opportunity to engage them in a meaningful way. The last question really gets at the heart of the untapped opportunity to market to Hispanic businesses.

To illustrate this, I’ve put together the following Hispanic business pyramid:

graphic 2

There is generally a direct correlation between the size of a Hispanic-business, who runs them, what their immigrant status, and what their acculturation level is.

So what is a B2B marketer to do? I would suggest the following approach:

1. Do some market research and try to figure out whether Hispanic businesses represent 10% or more of your market? (Some simple Census data will do the trick, especially with the “2010 Census Survey of Business Owners – Hispanic Business Owners” coming out in September). If yes, move on to step 2.

2. Figure out what segment of the Hispanic business pyramid you are targeting

3. Delve deeper into your segment and identify key insights among those Hispanic business decision-makers vis-à-vis your products/services

4. Consider customizing your products / services to address the Hispanic insights you have identified

5. Launch digitally driven, integrated advertising programs that allow you to cost-effectively reach and engage Hispanic businesses.

Unfortunately, most companies that have attempted to enter the Hispanic business market (banks, insurance/benefit providers, software companies, etc.) have done little else than simple extensions of their general B2B marketing in the form of sponsorships of local Hispanic chambers/professional/trade organizations and B2B networking events. I’ve seen firsthand the benefits and first-mover advantage reaped by health insurance providers and banks that have followed this approach and truly invested in the Hispanic business market.

Story courtesy MediaPost Engage:Hispanics

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