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Should we even discuss Hispanic Heritage Month? 

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In light of the news — wall, immigration crisis, separated families and deportations — should we be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?

Yes.

There are 60 million Latinos in the United States. Some of our ancestors were here before the United States was the United States. We are 20% of the population. We are 1 out of 6 people.  We are 1 out of every 5 millennials.  We are 1 out of every 2 babies born.

We gave the world tacos, tango, Big Papi, Despacito, salsa, Pitbull, Tuskegee Airmen, astronauts, Nobel honorees and more. We absolutely need to commemorate the rich and complex contributions of Latinos to America. Understanding our history and the composition of our people creates identity and affinity, as well as empathy.

Understanding our journey, seeing life from our point of view, facilitates a relationship — then we can get started. With anything, whether it’s selling a widget, getting our vote, requesting donations, increasing student engagement … anything.

It’s Sales 101. Strike that, it’s Humanity 101. Understanding people allows you to do your (fill in the blank) better. Truly. Whether you are a lawyer needing to sway a jury, a teacher seeking to engage students, a doctor convincing her patient to follow a treatment plan — understanding people is a must.

Along with all of the niceties, there’s money, too. Some $1.7 trillion is the purchasing spend for Latinos each year. And it’s growing.

Showing up

So now what? Is there a shortcut to connecting Latinos? YES … and no.

Here’s a shortcut: Show up, consistently, where we are. At local events and on social platforms and via mobile. Check out our condensed Hispanic Heritage Month — The Essential Toolkit for easy, turnkey action items, if you need some help.

But to get sustainable, recurring revenue or consistent referrals for employee candidates or donors or student enrollment, you must be in this game for the long term.  Here are the key steps to get you started:

  • Not everything has to be in S The census finds that 63% of Latinos are bilingual and the rest speak some English. No need for everything to be translated into Spanish.Conduct some market research, assess your current distribution and overlay some demographic data, including language preferences, to determine the need for translations.
  • Latinos overwhelming are online and are early adapters of new technology and platforms — in both English and Spanish. It is imperative to connect with us digitally, as these platforms serve as an extension of our identity and lives. Facebook Friends are actually friends that we interact with often, seeking input, guidance, support and information. So get online and create content specifically targeted to Latinos!
  • Be present in the communities at local events, fairs, expos and networking functions. Be where we are – consistently — as sponsors, members and advertisers (remember you gotta pay to play!). Most importantly, have the staff to attend faithfully. These employees should be culturally competent and genuine to facilitate true relationship building. Just like every other community, we can spot a fake anywhere.

Allow me to be direct: If your organization is serious about acquiring Latinos as customers, employees, voters, donors, students, and patients, you MUST allocate resources for translations, media and outreach efforts to some degree. You can always start small and ramp up — but do not start and then disappear.  Inconsistent participation affects trust and engagement significantly.

Yes, do have a big Hispanic Heritage Month fiesta and start celebrating and engaging Latinos, but do focus on the long-term goal of attracting and retaining us for the other 11 months of the year. As you prepare the tacos and build your Caliente playlist, remember engaging Latinos is all about being where we are, consistently.

Amigos, I look forward to attending your Hispanic Heritage Month fiesta and seeing you out and about, engaging, chatting, dancing, dining … in short, connecting.

 

Veronica Cool is founder of Cool & Associates LLC, a business management firm specializing in financial wellness and diverse segment marketing. Her column appears each month in The Daily Record and online. Contact her at Veronica@CoolAssociatesLLC.com. Follow her on Twitter at @verocool.