Note: this is the first in our series on content marketing for Latino entrepreneurs. For the rest of the series check out these articles:
- How Latino Entrepreneurs Can With With Content Marketing Part 1: Thank Value, Not Promotion
- How Latino Entrepreneurs Can With With Content Marketing Part 2: Think Media, Not Campaign
- How Latino Entrepreneurs Can With With Content Marketing Part 3: Promote Your Content, Not Your Products
- How Latino Entrepreneurs Can With With Content Marketing Part 4: Sell To Your Community, Not Strangers
Finally, the growth in Latino entrepreneurship is getting noticed by the press.
For years the talk has been all about the growth in the Hispanic consumer market, touted as the new frontier for major brands. Hispanic business publications have rushed to talk up this market’s increasing buying power. New businesses have popped up to help corporations target the Latino market in all its variations.
But little had been said about the growth of Latino entrepreneurship – until now.
In a recent series of studies, such as the BofA survey of Hispanic Business Owners, a study by the University of Texas on Hispanic-owned businesses in Texas, and the 2013 report “Hispanic Businesses & Entrepreneurs Drive Growth in the New Economy,” developed jointly by Geoscape and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the rapid growth in Latino entrepreneurship and it’s impact on the U.S. economy has been documented for the world to see.
The Geoscape/USHCC study says the growth rate in Hispanic-Owned firms is surpassing the growth rate of all U.S. firms: 6.66% vs. 3.14 %. The Latino share of new entrepreneurs has grown from 10.5% in 1996 to 19.5% in 2012.
That’s the good news. But there are still some troubling statistics: despite the rise in their numbers, Latino-owned businesses are not growing as fast as they could.
Barriers to Growth for Latino Entrepreneurs
According to this write-up of the University of Texas study: “The two most critical challenges for Hispanic-owned businesses to grow are overcoming a lack of training in management and communication skills and gaining better access to markets.”
While the UT study cited lack of management and communications skills training, as well as lack of access to markets as important barriers, Business Week brings these concepts into concrete form.
Entrepreneur Eloy Torrez, 65, who launched engineering firm SEI Group in Huntsville, Ala. in 1996, said in an interview for the article:
‘It’s a hard barrier to get from five to 25 employees, because you’ve got to find some customer willing to take a chance on you, and hardly anybody wants to take chances,’ he says. ‘[It’s] tough to get out there and service all the opportunities and finance the marketing effort that takes you to the next level.’ “
Other articles have also pointed to various barriers to growth for Latino entrepreneurs, but viewing the issues from a marketer’s lens, and without diminishing the importance of other factors, what immediately pops out are access to markets and communications skills.
Enter Content Marketing
I’ve seen the rise of content marketing in the last 5 years as a powerful marketing model enabled by the democratization of internet technologies. I’ve witnessed small one person firms become multi-million dollar businesses with nothing but a blog and some writing chops.
Other businesses, including a few Hispanic-Owned firms, have also grown by relying on blogging, podcasting, YouTube videos, eBooks, infographics, webinars and white papers to create an audience of loyal customers.
But despite a few successful cases, I have seen very little content marketing activity from Latino entrepreneurs. This is not a bad thing – yet.
(For an example of a Latino business owner doing it right, check out my interview with Eric Highland of The Austinot).
I believe there is still a huge opportunity for Latino business owners to level the playing field and expand their markets using content marketing.
First, my definition of content marketing:
Content marketing is the consistent production and publication of valuable content (text, audio, video, visual) that attracts an audience to your brand, allowing you to build trusting relationships that establishes your authority, and enables you to turn your audience into buyers.
In other words, you become a media owner instead of relying on outside media outlets like TV, radio, and magazines.
Latino entrepreneurs should go all-in with content marketing. I believe if they do it right they can eliminate many of the barriers that keep us small and limited.
Here are 7 reasons why.
1. Levels the Playing Field
Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, said in his New Rainmaker podcast:
As the adopted son of a truck driver, I had parents who taught me the value of hard work, and to treat others fairly and with respect, even if it wasn’t returned. But what they weren’t able to offer me was any sort of privileged access.”
Doesn’t that describe most Latino entrepreneurs? How many of us have privileged access? How many of us were born into families who were members of the right country clubs? How many of us were not even born in this country?
Clark built several successful businesses – a law practice, two real estate brokerages, and a successful software company – using content marketing to bridge the access gap.
Content marketing can be the Latino entrepreneur’s “sling” to the “Goliath” of the market.
The traditional barriers to market entry – lack of access to expensive TV and print advertising, lack of connections or networking savvy, and the existence of entrenched competitors – are no longer barriers.
Content marketing levels the playing field because the cost of the technology that enables you to establish your own media platform is close to zero. You invest nothing but your time.
And if time is an issue, you can hire media-savvy young professionals for far less than it costs to launch an expensive television or radio advertising campaign.
In fact, my son is about to graduate from college with a degree in emerging media and communications and some serious video production skills. Of course I’m going to try to hire him (if I can afford him!).
If you can create a compelling media concept that attracts your target audience because you’re giving them information they want to consume, you can eat your competitor’s lunch even if they’re 100 times your size.
2. We’re Generous
Do you remember what it was like visiting family back in the “old country?” Remember when your abuelita or the country relatives showered us with food, drinks, gifts, hugs and attention?
How many of us come from humble backgrounds and can recall the extreme generosity shown to strangers?
I remember visiting a very humble household in the Guanajuato countryside. Though they barely had enough to survive day-to-day, they killed one of their best pigs and made carnitas for my folks and me when we came to visit one day.
I was blown away.
To win at content marketing, we must tap into that generosity inherent in our culture. And this is actually the correct mindset for the new economy: the mindset of generosity. Give to get. Or even better, give without the expectation of getting.
Some of the most successful content marketers give away their best knowledge, their deepest secrets, their heart and soul, in order to attract an audience and gain their trust.
We need to tap into that generosity we learned from our abuelitas.
3. We’re Good Storytellers
Content marketing is perfect for Latino entrepreneurs because it taps into our natural propensity to want to tell a good story. And that’s what content marketing is essentially – storytelling.
Just look at our novelas. I tell my wife I’ll never watch a novela with her, but if I catch 5 minutes of an episode I’m hooked.
The cliff-hangers, the drama and the multiple sub-plots get me every time.
We’re also good at telling stories during our family get-togethers or parties. I’ve been to get-togethers that turn into literal story-telling contests. Everybody tries to top the other, telling the funniest, most intriguing, and most fantastical story.
Frankly, many people stretch the truth during these sessions, but they’re fun nonetheless.
Content marketing is not about stretching the truth – but about telling an authentic story with your customers at the center of that story.
Over multiple blog posts, podcasts or Google Hangout sessions you can talk about the challenges your customers face.
You can weave cliff-hangers and sub-plots into your stories, and show your customer as a hero in an epic journey to go from where they are now to a happy outcome with your help.
4. It’s Strategic, Not Tactical – Just What We Need
Content marketing is not a campaign, and it’s not something you “just try” for a few months to see how it works. Content marketing is a long-term value proposition. It requires commitment to the consistent production of valuable content on a set schedule.
Too often as entrepreneurs we get off track because we follow the latest “shiny object”: the newest social media fad, a new type of online advertising, or maybe the seasonal boost of a holiday or the Super Bowl
But what happens after each “campaign?” We have to start from scratch.
We need something that’s long-term, something that will enable us to build a strategic asset.
Content marketing builds on itself with compound interest. The more you invest in it, the more valuable it gets, and the bigger your audience gets. It’s not a campaign and it’s not dependent on a season. It’s an ongoing initiative that keeps giving.
5. It’s The Ideal Approach for the Digital Age
What has the internet done to marketing? It has turned it on its head.
We have endless information choices. We can click away any time an annoying advertisement intrudes on us. We TiVo our commercials or watch Netflix and avoid commercials all together. We search Google for what we want to read. We log on to Facebook to interact with the people we want to interact with.
Internet marketer Jay Baer, in his book “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help, Not Hype,” says we must create marketing people want:
I vastly prefer to adopt a more defensible plan that will win hearts, minds, fans, and customers in a more viable and repeatable way.”
Your company is being forced to compete for your customers’ attention against those customers’ family members and best friends. If you’re useful enough, and if you commit to inform rather than promote, customers will reward you with trust and loyalty.”
The new reality of the digital age is that you’re competing against baby pictures and cat videos.
But when you create compelling, valuable, useful and entertaining content, you can cut through the noise and attract an audience.
People want what they want – and if you produce something they truly want then you’ve cracked the code of the digital age.
6. There’s Still Lots of Opportunity
In 2013 content marketing became the hot new marketing approach of the year. Mentions of content marketing on Google took a hockey stick-like upturn. Article after article appeared predicting the demise of content marketing (when people predict the end of something, it usually means it has gone mainstream).
In a recent study of B2B companies by the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of businesses reported they use content marketing as part of their marketing mix.
But in that same report, only 44% of businesses reported they had a documented content marketing strategy, while 49% said they did not have a documented strategy.
That means almost half the companies who say they practice content marketing are not doing it very well.
That leaves lots of opportunity for you.
Additionally, there are still an infinite number of potential niches you can dominate and creative approaches you can take to establish a content marketing differentiator.
The niche: hobbyist farmers. The approach: a comical, entertaining yet informative blog and podcast that has attracted thousands of loyal followers.
Today we accept these as brilliantly unique approaches to content marketing, but when they got started nobody would have thought a chicken whisperer or a rabid New York Jets fan could promote farm implements or wine in such a spectacularly successful fashion.
There are thousands of opportunities like this for you too. You can identify a unique niche, and create a cleverly different approach to branding your content.
7. There is an Army of Talented Young Latino Bloggers, Videographers, Producers and Digital Natives Willing to Help
Ok, this content marketing stuff sounds great, but I know you probably don’t have the time to dedicate to it – plus setting up a blog, editing a video, or recording a podcast just seems too impossibly technical.
When was the last time you wrote anything as long as an article (which is essentially what a blog post is)? It was probably for your end of term research paper during your last semester of college.
And what if English isn’t even your first language? The thought of blogging every week might just give you the cold sweats!
But don’t worry. There is an army of young Latino digital natives graduating from college (like my son) who are willing and able to help.
Most Latino-owned businesses are family run operations, so why not recruit the younger generation and turn your business into a the hot media property you know you can be?
Looking again at the Wine Library TV example, Vaynerhuk brought his digital savvy to his family’s traditional liquor business in New Jersey and transformed it from a $3 million business to a $45 million business.
While Vaynerchuk’s success is exceptional, it’s an example of what you can do to fill the skills and time gap. If you have adult children who are skilled media producers, you can do the same (like I plan to do).
And even if you don’t have adult children who can help, you can hire one of these recent grads, or enter into an partnership with one if they want to be entrepreneurs themselves.
But the bottom line is: you don’t have to do this yourself.
Brian Clark says: “This is not a role a business owner has to play. What you need to do is make something happen that meets your business objectives while building intellectual property in the form of an online media platform….you need to be a producer.”
Clark uses the term “producer” like the movie industry does: business people who put it all together.
The producer doesn’t actually create the content – she puts it all together.
That’s why we should turn to our talented youth, so we can focus on business and let them produce the content that will take us to the next level.
The Future of Content Marketing and the Latino Entrepreneur
What does the future hold for the Latino entrepreneur? Will we start to see more adopt content marketing as their primary approach to the marketplace?
That depends on four things:
- Can Latino entrepreneurs adopt the content marketing mindset?
- Will they gain the confidence to put themselves out there and risk the exposure that comes with the territory?
- Are they willing to commit to it for the long term, in other words, are they willing to go all in?
- Are there examples of other Latino entrepreneurs who have been successful with content marketing?
In future posts I will cover what is needed for Latino entrepreneurs to be successful with content marketing. I will also share case studies of other Hispanic business owners who have successfully used content marketing to market their business.
In the meantime, I want to hear your thoughts. Are you planning to use content marketing in your business? Do you already use it? What have been your results?