Today, law firms have a unique opportunity to tap into one of the fastest growing consumer segments in the U.S. marketplace - the Hispanic population. Effectively targeting this group can help lawyers expand their client base and increase revenue.
The Spanish speaking market carries significant buying power that law firms cannot afford to ignore. Over 100 million Americans will speak Spanish by 2060. The Spanish speaking consumer market has nearly 2 trillion in buying power. These statistics illustrate how critically important it is for law firms to implement marketing strategies tailored explicitly toward Hispanic consumers.
However, successfully reaching Hispanic audiences requires that law firms shift gears from their traditional marketing efforts and engage in a new way of communication. It is also vital that law firms understand the cultural differences that make the Spanish speaking population so unique from other consumer segments.
Defining the Hispanic Market
The first step in expanding your law firm practice to reach Hispanic consumers is to understand who the "Hispanic" and "Latino" markets encompass. The term, Hispanic, comes from the Latin word for "Spain" and is a broader reference that includes all Spanish-speaking people. "Latino" is a more specific term that applies only to persons of Latin American origin. Some members of the Latin American community prefer the gender-neutral term Latinx. However, the term Latinx remains controversial, as Spanish has a gendered structure and some members of the Spanish-speaking community prefer to keep traditional forms of the language in use.
Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx do not refer to race, but instead loosely define ethnicity or national origin. Your law firm's geography matters, as some ethnic groups more closely identify with one classification over the other. For example, younger California residents may prefer the LGBT-friendly "Latinx" as opposed to Texas and Florida residents, who may identify more with the "Hispanic" reference.
Understanding Your Spanish Speaking Clientele
Regardless of the diversity within the Hispanic and Latino populations, the culture as a whole does share a few common traits that lawyers should consider when trying to effectively communicate with this particular consumer segment.
Language and cultural barriers often prevent many law firms from targeting the Hispanic consumer. If your law firm hopes to compete in this market, you must be willing to "habla espanol" - at least in your print and online marketing initiatives. In fact, communicating in Spanish is extremely important because even bilingual Hispanics express a preference for making purchasing decisions in Spanish.
Avoid using automated translation services to convert your marketing messages from English to Spanish. Translation mistakes can embarrass lawyers and result in lost business, not only from the client who initially read the translated information but also from all the family and friends that person tells. A failed automatic translation service could turn "we specialize in white-collar crime" into "we specialize in the white crime of the necklace." Even if technically accurate, a translation may lose nuance or professionalism when translated by a person or software with little understanding of legal Spanish. Invest in a good translator who specializes in the legal industry -- it will be marketing dollars well spent.
A Family Affair
As lawyers, it is your job to carefully guard the privacy of your clients. But, remember that Spanish-speaking American consumers are often family-oriented. Privacy is not necessarily assumed as it is for some other clients. In addition, these strong bonds often extend beyond the nuclear family to include grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and other family friends. Therefore, it should not be surprising to have a client attend a meeting with several family members in tow, and it's critical not to ignore any of them, as many or all may be involved in the decision-making surrounding a legal issue.
How to Effectively Reach Hispanic Consumers
Once you understand the unique characteristics of the group you are targeting, the next step is learning how to effectively communicate your legal services to them. As the Spanish-speaking population continues to explode, your potential opportunities will only increase. Those who succeed in tapping into this market will do so because they have developed a marketing strategy that clearly speaks to the Hispanic audience.
Effectively reaching Hispanic consumers does not have to be complicated. In fact, there are a few basic strategies you can implement to help ensure that your marketing messages are heard:
- Learn the demographics of the Hispanic community in your area. Whether the Hispanic population in your community consists of new immigrants or an already assimilated group makes a big difference in the services you provide and your methods of communication.
- Use Spanish whenever possible.
- Create a marketing campaign that taps into the general core values and traits of Hispanics, such as family, tradition, cultural pride, etc.
- Make your marketing communications entertaining, interactive and colorful. Try to incorporate a fair number of pictures. Humor and laughter also can help you connect with the Hispanic audience.
- Partner with the local media, such as Spanish-language community newspapers and local radio programs to help establish your law firm.
Taking Your Marketing Messages Online
In addition to using print, radio and television to communicate with Hispanic consumers, if you are not making Spanish content available on your website you are missing a tremendous opportunity to connect with your target audience.
Spanish speakers tend to use the same queries as their English-speaking counterparts. However, when Hispanics are given a choice between an English or Spanish website, more than 80 percent said they would prefer to visit the Spanish language site. Given this statistic, can you really afford not to update your website with Spanish content?
Once you're ready to add Spanish content to your site, there's two methods to consider. One option is to find a translator and translate English content from your site into Spanish. The second option is to write new copy in Spanish. Either option is a fine choice, but the most important thing to understand is that unless the new copy is optimized for search engines in the Spanish language, it may not be found or ranked within search engine results. It's also important to choose someone who has Spanish legal expertise, search engine marketing experience and someone who understands the online searching habits of the Hispanic population.
With such an impressive number of the Hispanic population online and engaging in e-commerce activities, the next step is determining how to drive them to your law firm's website. To achieve this, you must learn the demographics of the Hispanic community in your area; make sure you understand the issues they are facing; create a culturally relevant marketing strategy; and then position your law firm as an expert in these areas through compelling Spanish language content.
As the Hispanic population continues to grow, law firm marketers will be challenged with finding new ways to effectively communicate with consumers. However, the firms who are willing to devote the time and effort it takes to capture the attention of the Hispanic market will have a significant advantage over the competition.
Read FindLaw's white paper on what Hispanic consumers are looking for in an attorney
To find out what FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing services can do for you, visit FindLaw's Law Firm Marketing Solutions.