Whenever I hear the term “Total Market Approach” to Hispanic marketing, I scrunch my face in doubt since it strikes me as a “one size fits all” path to cost reduction. Perhaps some marketers do use it to avoid the difficult work in segmenting multicultural audiences or as a means to consolidate the advertising agencies they hire.

But last week, at the ANA Multicultural Conference, a handful of companies provided examples that not only edified me as to what the term “Total Market Approach” exactly means but moreover changed my opinion in the process by providing examples of their work.

To less sophisticated marketers, Hispanic advertising equates to:

  1. Translating advertising copy into Spanish
  2. Throwing in some soccer balls
  3. Actors wearing mariachi hats
  4. Adding salsa music with a touch of “café con leche”

But these stereotypes only provide superficial, quick-fix approaches.

Which leads us to the question: Why do you do what you do? Your response will inform not only the mission of your entire company but make your Hispanic marketing more authentic.

Simon Sinek wrote his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action to show that the best companies, like Apple, clearly define WHY they do what they do. Organizations can explain “what” they do or “how” they do it. But very few clearly articulate “why” they do what they do, or in other words, their mission. Yes, other companies may sell smartphones or computers. But very few companies boil down their passion for simplifying the experience of listening to music and making technology beautiful as succinctly as Apple does. (If you haven’t seen it, Sinek ‘s TED talk summarizes his book in 18 minutes and is well worth it.)

Christine Paige, SVP of Marketing and Digital Services at Kaiser Permanente, cited Sinek’s model in her presentation at the ANA Multicultural Conference to explain her company’s purpose and the strategy behind its total market message, “Thrive.”

Seventy years ago, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician Sidney Garfield founded the integrated managed care non-profit as a means for providing health care to ship yard workers and their families during World War II. Paige says, “That set the tone for serving people who otherwise would not have access to healthcare.” Today, that remains the foundation for the organization’s mission to “provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.”

To accomplish this, Paige says, “Communication between the physician and the patient is key. You cannot deliver quality care if you cannot adequately communicate, which is both linguistic and also cultural. In order to deliver quality care you actually have to provide training on how to connect with your patients.”

Kaiser Permanente operates in eight states including California, a “majority minority” state, where historic minorities like Hispanics represent more than 50% of the total population. Paige says, “We recruit as aggressively as possible against the composition of our membership and do a lot of training. For example, our physicians in Southern California learn Spanish so that we can increase the number of caregivers who speak the language of our patients.” She pointed out that, “Our strongest market share by ethnic group is African-American and Latino.”

In addition, Kaiser Permanente provides quality medical content in Spanish. It provides full patient medical records in both Spanish and English to members in Southern California, via secure login on KP.org. Members can send a message to physicians, see lab results, and order prescriptions in both languages.

KP’s tagline is “Thrive,” which it translated into Spanish as “Viva Bien.” Paige says, “After we did the inside work that led to Thrive, we validated the approach for the Spanish-speaking audience. It is the same advertising but with a different voice over. The message of the campaign is so universal that it does not need additional contextualizing. And we cast our ads with a diverse set of actors.”

Seventy years since its founding, KP continues as a non-profit. Paige says, “As a not-for-profit, we take our community contribution very seriously. Last year, the company earned fifty six billion dollars in revenue and two billion of it went back into community programs.”

“We make long-term investments in things like prostate cancer screenings, for example. And while this may cost us something, we are going to have these members twenty and thirty years from now. So why don’t we do the screening for that now.”

In conclusion, successful Hispanic marketing never comes from creating a façade with superficial, quick-fix approaches. It needs to come from the heart and soul of an organization. A clearly defined “Why” or mission statement sets the foundation to authenticity.

What do you think? Has your company clearly answered the question: WHY does your organization exist?

Here is Simon Sinek’s TED Talk:


This article originally appeared on MediaPost.

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