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Smart Man Online: Juan Guillermo Tornoe

We have a special treat for you today, dear readers. Our blogging led us to a marvelous young man who speaks to the growing Hispanic/Latino market: Juan Guillermo Tornoe of Hispanic Trending. He agreed to be our Smart Man Online this week, and even allowed us to ask him some hard questions. If you've been a faithful reader of Lip-sticking, and some of the other women's marketing blogs, you know that the Hispanic/Latino market is poised to be a huge player in the U.S. business world in 2005 and beyond. We think Juan puts this information in perspective better than anyone else to date. Here are his words:

Lip-sticking: In a post on October 29th “The Top Three Mistakes in Hispanic Marketing” where you quote from Marketing Profs, (a favorite read of ours, also), the closing says, "Marketing campaigns designed to target the Hispanic community have a holistic approach, including relationships, education and cultural sensitivity. As in many communities, word-of-mouth is an incredible force. Your company's reputation will quickly make the rounds—for better or for worse."

Can you tell us if “word of mouse” is at all powerful in the Hispanic community? In other words, we think more people are voting (politically and economically) with their computer, through the Internet, for what they like or don’t like. Where does the Hispanic/Latino community fit into that assumption? How much shopping online do they do?

Juan: There is so much diversity among Latinos that a simple, direct answer, is quite hard to give. We need to take into consideration whether we are talking about persons who are English or Spanish-dominant and their accessibility to the web (identifying their income level, knowing if they live in an urban or rural community…)

That said, a barrier for the Latino community as a whole to make a larger footprint as far as online shopping is concerned was the lack of high-quality portals in Spanish (According to a story published earlier this year by Media Post, "More than half of all offline Hispanics (56 percent) cite lack of Spanish content as a reason for not going online at home.").

That is changing at an accelerated pace with aggressive initiatives like the one from AOL Latino, offering bilingual computer systems along with 1-year’s worth of dial-up internet service, for a total cost of less than the price of a comparably equipped PC elsewhere. On top of connecting Latinos AOL is rapidly establishing strategic alliances in order to provide relevant products, information and services to their new clients in their mother tongue.

There are also several other portals fighting for the Hispanic market: Univision.com, Yahoo! en Español, Terra.com, and MundoTeq.com in Spanish. On top of that several Bilingual and/or English language sites catering to Latinos are now available: Searchlatino.com and QuePasa.com to name two.

Non-Hispanics need to understand that Latinos are present in every segment of society… from the stereotypical “gardeners and maids” speaking mainly Spanish to highly paid professionals/executives who may be fully bilingual or may even not speak Spanish at all!

There is as much, if not more, diversity among Hispanics as there is among Non-Hispanic Whites, so ignoring the online buying potential of the largest minority in the country is an enormous blunder for any company aiming for long-term growth.

Lip-sticking: Your blog is a melting pot of information on the Hispanic/Latino market… We’re reading more and more about the growth of this market – do you think this attention is ‘about time,’ or, ‘missing the point?’ From our perspective (on the women’s market) women of all nationalities have several things in common, the most important one being their love of family. Should the press concentrate on the power of cultural ties and how the Hispanic/Latino market is as American as any other…or, are the percentages cited (growth of the community, economic strength, educational importance, etc.) the face of the Hispanic market that’s most important?

Juan: The Hispanic market growth has been steadily going on for quite some time; but it was not until the Census 2000 that suddenly thousands of the proverbial “lightbulbs” went on in boardrooms across the U.S. and executives began “realizing” that Latinos are an important part of the America’s consumer base. Hispanic Trending’s purpose is to accelerate Non-Hispanics’ understanding of what Latinos are all about, what makes them tick, in order for marketers, advertisers and media professionals to cater to them in a way that delivers the best possible results.

As you very well put it, Hispanic Trending is a kaleidoscope of stories and points of view with the goal of providing a complete three-dimensional view of the Hispanic Market. Even though the statistics are impressive and very useful, it is the understanding of the differences and similarities that exist among Latinos in every possible aspect, as well as the portrayal of individual experiences, that I hope break stereotypes and create empathy, in order for Non-Hispanics to be able to create a strong and relevant marketing strategy aimed at effectively and efficiently reaching Latinos.

One fundamental thing needs to be kept in mind-- if you can’t deliver what you are promising through your advertising message, all this “happy talk” will in the best case scenario, deliver positive results just for a short period of time… nowadays you really need to walk the walk, even before you begin talking the talk. (we call that Lip-sticking, by the way.)

Lip-sticking: Give us a short history of Juan Guillermo Tornoe. Where did you grow up? Go to high school? (yes, we know this is in your ‘about’ section, but give our readers a head’s up…your background is very impressive.) What kinds of things do you like to do in your free time?

Juan: Born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala, graduated from High at the American School of Guatemala, got a B.S. in Medicine and an MBA with emphasis in Marketing and Total Productivity Management from the Universidad Francisco Marroquin. After 11 years of management experience back home, the latter 5 of those working for Prensa Libre, the largest newspaper corporation in the country, I was transplanted to Austin, TX where I have been working for a marketing and advertising consulting firm (Wizard of Ads, Inc) as Market Research Director, while at the same time spearheading our Hispanic Marketing division.

All my free time is dedicated to my family. Remember we are part of those first generation Hispanics, immigrating from Latin America; going through the culture shock of moving into a new country (even though lucky enough to be exposed to America for practically all our lives, there was nothing that could prepare us to experiencing it first hand); we need each other, depend on each other, and help each other out during this roller coaster ride.

Lip-sticking: We noticed in your ‘about’ section that you offer a seminar on “the power of words.” We won’t accuse you of stealing that from us…recognizing that many folks out there are also word aficionados… but we are interested in your take on the power of words. Would you mind describing that seminar for us?

Juan: Words and their intrinsic meaning/power can make or break a product/service/idea. By becoming a master wordsmith you are able to communicate powerful concepts in the most relevant way, without all the hype historically associated with a good percentage of the advertising out there.

Through this seminar, which I can present in English or Spanish, I thrive to empower the business owner, company executive, student, or advertising professional with a deep and clear understanding of the following themes:

• Why people do the things they do (an overview of brain function)
• Intellect vs. Emotion (Transactional vs. Relational customers)
• The power of words
• What is “Branding”, really?
• The 12 Most Common Mistakes in Advertising
• The Advertising Performance Equation
• The Three Worlds of Business
• The Advertising Budget
• Media Buying

In one way or another, each one of these themes is influenced by the use of words.

Lip-sticking: Hispanics under the age of 18 make up almost half of the U.S. Hispanic market, according to 'prnewswire.com/hispanic/market.' We believe our young people – Hispanic or otherwise – require better education and healthcare. Do you agree? Can you make a prediction on how young people – Hispanic or otherwise --will change the future of this country…for the better?

Juan: Oh, don’t get me started with these two issues… As an outsider, which I still am, I STRONGLY believe that both the public education and health care system problems have reached endemic proportions in this nation and if nothing is done about them, the United States will, in the long term, be putting in jeopardy the global leadership position it has now held for many decades.

I have noticed that the younger generation, millenials, generation-Y, however you call them, have a more civic approach to life, centering more in the good of the many vs. their own self-interest. This is certainly a fresh and comforting reality, which I only hope widespreads in the years to come for the benefit of this Nation.

Lip-sticking: For our last question, can you tell us how blogging has increased your marketing reach and/or improved your ability to get your message out to the right people?

Juan: Blogging has definitely helped me reach a larger number of people for the investment (in time, energy, and resources), has put me in touch with very interesting people that otherwise I would have never had the chance to meet. It definitely is no get-rich-quick scheme, you do need to work hard at it and have TONS of patience, but there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. Blogs, because of their author’s straightforwardness, diverse areas of expertise and backgrounds, as well as the recent boost they have received through extensive coverage on traditional media, are gaining credibility at a very accelerated pace… Great news for all of us in the “blogosphere.”
We hope everyone reading today takes one important thing away with them today: that Juan still feels as if he is an outsider...when, in truth, he should not. Why does he feel that way? It seems that we Americans have not welcomed him, and his family, with open arms, as we should have. Lip-sticking would like everyone to take Juan's words to heart and understand that Hispanics and Latinos bring a rich, culture of traditions with them, but they are...as we all are...human beings above all else. And, like the women's market, Hispanics and Latinos want respect and friendship from you.

What's not to like about that?


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