How to Be a Better Global Marketer: Latin American Edition

This blog originally appeared on Nearshore Americas.

Being able to market to a global audience on a local level is an in-demand skill that will soon become a necessity. As brands expand their product reach worldwide, marketers are left wondering how to adjust campaigns. Especially in Latin America, where big brands like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Nike, and Apple are seeing higher retail sales, global marketers can easily miss the mark when it comes to reaching this audience.

Though 92% of people believe that it is important or extremely important that brands respect local culture when it comes to global branding, marketers continue to feed into stereotypes and not complete accurate research on local markets. We continue to see marketers fail to differentiate between Latin America (a cultural entity) and South America (a geographic location), as well as not realize that three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and French) are spoken in the region.

To be a better global marketer, it takes understanding local culture, as well as recognizing that Latin American marketing campaigns must differ from country-to-country. To be better, which we all should strive to be, here is what global marketers need to take into account.

One Size Does Not Fit All

It’s widely known that Latin America loves Facebook. In countries like Argentina, 96.3% of social media users are on Facebook, and these numbers are high in Mexico and Brazil as well. But Facebook’s popularity drops off after those three countries, which means marketers must question whether or not to lead a Facebook-driven marketing campaign in countries like Peru and Colombia.

This applies for the language as well. While companies can localize their campaigns by translating them into Spanish or Portuguese (or French, depending on the target), they must account for regional vocabulary as well. Without adapting your campaign for regional vocabulary preferences, your SEO does not stand a chance.

A simple example is the word strawberry. In Argentina this word is “frutilla”, and in other countries like Colombia, the word is “fresa”. These two countries also speak, and search in Google, in distinctly different manners. The Argentine Spanish is much more relaxed, using “vos” to speak to one another, while in Colombia the formal “usted” is used more often. Without fully understanding these differences, SEO campaigns are useless.

It’s not just translating your page to Spanish or Portuguese, it’s changing your language to reflect a regional use.

This goes for data as well. Metrics are key when running a multicultural campaign, but marketers cannot just look at Latin America as a whole - it’s important to break down data country-by-country. Sometimes a more granular look of city-by-city is important as well. Looking at “Latin American” metrics will not give much information about how a campaign is doing, given the diverse population across the region.

Local Teams Need a Strategic Say

Having a team on the ground in the country is always best case scenario. Where companies falter is not allowing these on-the-ground teams have a strategic say in what happens on a larger campaign scale. So while small decisions can be made in-country, larger decisions that have a big impact on the country are made at headquarters.

If local teams don’t have a say in these larger decisions, the campaign can easily get off track or cease to have an impact at all. If you’re going to employ a team in Lima, then they should be the ones to answer the questions: What are we doing right in Peru? What can be changed to make the Latin American campaign better?

Build Trust the “Old Way”

Brands always want to build trust with consumers, but doing this in Latin America is drastically different than in North America. The “old way” of doing business is very much alive across countries in the region. Latin Americans generally have stronger ties to family- and friend-networks, making “word of mouth” marketing key.

Multiple face-to-face meetings are crucial for success in Latin America, as is having an appropriate amount of small talk. Building trust requires putting in effort, so it’s important to understand local customs when it comes to meetings and relationship management.

 

Speaking of the “old way”, print media is still vital in Latin America as well. While in North America most brands jump to popular blogs to run a media campaign, in Latin America, it’s important to call print media publications to get the story out there as well.

Doing business in Latin America is not impossible, but it requires a smart strategy. Having a team on the ground that has a reasonable amount of say in the campaign is crucial to success in the region. Staying away from stereotyping the region and putting different countries into the same target group is also going to make for a strong campaign. But with effort, understanding, and hard-work, marketers can dominate this market that offers over 300 million customers.