Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘multicultural marketing’

It’s not about a “total market” strategy. It’s about a “total market-competent” organization By Terry J. Soto

By Terry J. Soto, Author and President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.


Much talk has surfaced lately about the whether it makes sense to have a total market strategy. Some contend that the intent of a “total market” strategy—to recognize all potential consumers’ needs, culture and behavioral characteristics within a company’s marketing strategy—is too often misunderstood or not understood at all. This assertion has resulted in approaches that homogenize how organizations communicate with consumers, and it underemphasizes and even ignores cultural nuances that work to powerfully connect consumers and brands.

This is occurring, in part, as a result of agency work consolidation. Marketers are naively taking work from specialty agencies with the required market expertise, and under the guise of a “total market” strategy, are re-assigning the work to general market agencies who are as naïve and even indifferent to the country’s diverse cultural differences as their clients.

I contend that the problem is based on two dynamics: 1) Said marketers lack understanding of consumer differences. Intuitively, I find this problem very hard to believe, as knowing one’s consumer and leveraging the right tools and resources to do so is at the heart of being an effective marketer. 2) Said marketers are looking for ways to make their jobs easier by streamlining processes, vendors and budgets. But one has to ask, at what cost?

Under any circumstances, marketers’ actions are catastrophic. I believe the crux of this problem is marketers, who remain ill-prepared to effectively see and consider today’s consumer market for what it is, and who aren’t sufficiently capable or competent to effectively create a “total market” strategy. By this I mean a strategy which effectively considers all consumers’ cultural insights: Hispanic, Asian, African American and non-Hispanic white consumers.

More than ever in our country’s history, marketers are challenged to “step up” their competence in an environment that 1) is ever more multicultural or multiculturally influenced, 2) is ever more digitally driven, and 3) requires a greater command of big data usage and analysis to optimize spending and maximize ROI.  It’s true. This is a tall order. So why, at a time when marketers actually need to leverage expertise are they choosing to ignore and minimize the very vendor relationships that can support and even accelerate their success?

Our job as marketers is to optimize our companies’ growth platforms and business strategies by planning and implementing complementary marketing strategies. Doing so effectively has always meant leading with competence AND hiring the right expertise for the job.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in transformative business readiness and strategy consulting for profitable and enduring total market success. She helps her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.

Are You Still Arguing Over Multicultural ROI? Get Over It. By Terry Soto

By  Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative and President and CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

When it comes to multicultural marketing, many organizations still struggle to answer the question about whether multicultural marketing ROI is justifiable. But, think about it. Isn’t that like asking whether it makes sense to market to only some consumers who buy our products and services because we can’t figure out the value of marketing to all current or potential buyers? Does it really make sense to decide that marketing to a segment of our consumers is a discretionary investment?

If that made any sense at all, one could easily question marketing investment in general. Nearly everybody who works in marketing knows the John Wanamaker quote, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” The truth is that tracking marketing spend against ROI has always been like trying to nail air to a wall, and yet we continue to invest millions. So why does multicultural marketing ROI remain such a contentious issue?

I believe the problem stems out of the fact that U.S. marketers haven’t yet evolved from being Middle America marketers to Multicultural America marketers. We are still thinking and behaving as though our country remains demographically unchanged.

We read and hear about the demographic change and its impact, yet we continue to rationalize planning and spending primarily against an outdated marketplace definition. In his white paper after the 2010 census results were released, Peter Franchese, founder of American Demographics magazine said, “marketers need to realize the U.S. has changed forever adding that the concept of the Average American no longer exists and trying to market to them is an irrelevant undertaking.” Did anybody else but me read this?

And if we know this, why aren’t we stepping up our organizational game to learn about and respond to this new marketplace reality? Why do we continue to question the sense in understanding and investing in the marketplace as it currently exists? Why aren’t we taking a comprehensive approach to raising our organizations’ competency and capabilities so we can actually see what truly makes sense for our businesses? Why don’t we see the fool heartedness of remaining mired in debates about ROI justification for multicultural segments simply because we don’t understand these segments in relation to our business goals?

How can our organizations claim to be great global marketers when many of our organizations haven’t a clue about the impact this demographic change is having and will continue to have on their business? How can we say we’re successful multicultural marketers when most within our organizations refuse to acknowledge the impact of these segments on the organization’s business? Why do we continue to relegate responsibility to managers who are hired to “deal” with multicultural segments which the rest of the company doesn’t understand or with which few want to deal.

Some of us would shutter at the honest answers to these questions as many are founded on personal, philosophical, and political ideology, but let’s remember that we’re in this to grow our businesses based on business savvy not personal views or biases.

We are at a pivotal point in our country’s demographic history where multicultural market expertise including a much multiculturally impacted non-Hispanic white consumer is a requirement for every organization’s growth strategy.

Smart organizations simply can’t afford to remain indifferent to America’s demographics or to continue make only tactical efforts to effect sizable growth for their organizations. Status quo multicultural ROI rhetoric is not only irrelevant in today’s America, but it is an increasingly dangerous liability corporate America can no longer afford to carry.


Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in transformative business readiness and strategy consulting for profitable and enduring total market success. She helps her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.

Leveraging Hispanics to Assure Growth in the Next Five Years Requires a New Outlook By Terry Soto

Terry Soto

By Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative


In a recent meeting with a VP of Multicultural Marketing, one of the top concerns that came across was the desire to sustainably position Multicultural Marketing in the company for the next five years and beyond.  In other words, this VP wanted to succeed in creating a formal strategic plan to integrate Multicultural consumers into all aspects of insights gathering, planning, strategy development and implementation to effect growth for the company’s brand portfolio.

As importantly, this VP was also concerned about the sustainability of the multicultural work already in place as new brand managers and directors join the company.

This type of forethought is just what is required of every company which has identified Hispanics as a growth opportunity. It is especially important because multicultural marketing in most companies is not integrated into the business as a business imperative and often lives as a separate effort which requires constant justification and resource sourcing to keep it going.

Much of my writing supports the value of full integration of Hispanics into business planning and implementation so companies avoid the vicious cycle of false starts and stops which in many cases result in companies walking away from Hispanic marketing altogether when budgets and resources are tight and in a revolving door of frustrated and demotivated Multicultural champions.

If you are interested in leveraging the Hispanic market to effect growth for your companies over the next five years and beyond, I recommend you reflect on and consider the following six steps:

  1. Take a conscientious view of your attitudes, beliefs and comfort level when thinking about, understanding and reaching out to consumers who are different from you
  2. Think about your ability to adopt a more realistic and global view of today’s consumer landscape
  3. Take an objective approach in identifying and profiling consumers who represent viable buyers for your products or services regardless of their culture or ethnicity
  4. Think about how applicable your company’s brand promise, strategy and tactics is to all your buyers / targets
  5. Seek out and acknowledge the changes required to ensure relevance to and effectiveness among all target customers
  6. Take an objective business position so you act with no personal agenda, but rather with an eye on the business opportunity

The consumer landscape has changed dramatically and as marketers we must step up our game adapt to this change. Growth will not come to those who wait and dig their heel in what is comfortable and familiar; it will come to those who take off the blinders, are willing to feel out of their element for a bit and those who take the required steps to create it.


Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.

Excerpt from “The Biggest Problem Faced by Hispanic Marketers Today” By Terry J. Soto

Terry SotoWe talk endlessly about the Hispanic market’s size, its language preferences, the deep and multi-segmented insights, the culture, and the “right media spend,” whatever that means. And, we continue to live in a Hispanic marketing world of soccer sponsorships, celebrities, concerts and festivals, media properties, in-language and in-culture creative and a host of other above- and below-the-line investments which seldom tie back to corporate growth platforms.

Let’s face it; internally and externally, we aren’t doing a good job of thinking and talking business first and marketing second. We complain about not being invited to sit at the “adult strategy table” to participate in the big conversations, but have yet to elevate “our talk” to the required levels – the levels that track with industry threats and big picture direction setting. And we aren’t having the conversations about using our deep market insights to help organizations become business ready to leverage company assets to their fullest potential.

As a result, we perpetuate a view of the Hispanic market as a separate endeavor and as the end in and of itself. Two problems arise from this approach – the first is the inability to attribute any portion of top and bottom line strategic growth to the Hispanic market. And second, we can’t justify the value of our existing efforts because they are irrelevant to the focal points companies have set for growth.

We must elevate our thinking. If we expect corporate America to “walk the talk,” we must be prepared to talk their talk – and to help them take more productive steps. So what are you doing to make a difference for your organization today?

Learn more.  Join the Society for Diversity and Terri J. Soto, Author and President of About Marketing Solutions Inc., for a webinar on How to Identify and Attract High Profit Hispanic Consumers to Your Brand on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:00PM (EST).  Register at

Also, read more about marketing to the Latino community at

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