By Daniel A. González
Are you thinking of promoting in Spanish but feel daunted by the complexities?
Direct-to-consumer promotions in Spanish present challenges to the U.S. marketer -- scarcity of quality Spanish copywriters (as opposed to translators), misconceptions about Spanish "dialects," misinformation about the market, conflicting evidence about assimilation and preferred language, and so on.
But with attention to these seven key guidelines, it's possible -- and profitable -- to develop a long-term strategy.
Think of Spanish as a hook to convince prospects to buy your product or service. When you communicate in Spanish, you not only reach non-English speakers, you also make it easier for different generations to share valuable information. As an added bonus, you attract English-dominant speakers who appreciate your effort to provide information in culturally-appropriate Spanish -- and who respond to that effort.
Language can be a powerful selling tool. But be sure to use it wisely. Consider the following guidelines:
- Bilingual -- Even if prospects speak English fluently, a bilingual piece makes it easier for them to share information about the product or service with members of their extended family who may not speak English.
In this case, it is usually preferable that the copy be placed side-by-side so that the two languages can be easily compared, as opposed to English on one side of each component and Spanish on the reverse.
- Spanish "dialects" -- Remember that you're communicating with people who live in the United States, not in Mexico, Colombia or Spain. Although it may be hard for native English-language speakers to believe, it is possible to talk to all Hispanic groups in one generic voice.
- Formal vs. informal -- It's usually preferable to show respect by using the formal "usted." The informal "tú" can be interpreted as condescending, as slang or "from a different country." In addition, it's easier to minimize Hispanic regional differences with ''usted."
- Pay attention to the details -- Proofread often at every stage of the creative process. Typographical errors are more prevalent in Spanish-language efforts. For one thing, there are not as many Spanish-speaking graphic designers and proofreaders available. And don't be afraid of contradictory language opinions. Hire an expert to consider all comments and recommend edits for the final version.
If your product is an investment/banking product or alternative health or recipes, consider providing the English-language term in parentheses to make it easier to communicate with English-language speakers.
- Adaptations not translations -- A quality translation of promotional copy and informational/editorial copy "that sells" is really an adaptation of the concepts and ideas that the English text is trying to convey into a Spanish that says everything clearly and effectively.
- Do it with care -- Make the offer straight-forward and understandable, even if the copy is much longer in Spanish than in English. Don't try to fool the prospect with promotional "hooks" that are needed in English to differentiate your product/service from your competition.
- Be extra careful with the fine print -- Make sure the Spanish is understandable. Don't just refer the customer to the English fine print and don't use a disclaimer that, in case of conflict, the English rules apply. If legal approval is necessary, provide the lawyers with a literal back-translation in English, but don't let lawyers write the fine print.
About the Author:
Daniel A. González has provided strategic, creative and editorial services for nearly 30 years, specializing in direct marketing to the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets. His clients have included Rodale Books, Boardroom Inc., Guideposts, Publishers Clearing House, Prentice Hall, as well as Time, Latina, Siempre Mujer and Highlights' High Five Bilingüe magazines.