Marketing Insights Podcast

October 31, 2022


Hi, this is Shanita Akintonde, Professor, Author and Career Coach. I invite you to join me for this very special edition of my Marketing Insights podcast.

                                    Happy fall, you all. It is exciting to be here with you on behalf of the American Marketing Association Chicago Chapter, also known as AMAC. I'm Shanita Baraka Akintonde, a board member at-large of AMA Chicago, and your facilitator for today's conversation, which I think is going to bring you not only a lot of good nuggets to insert into your marketing plans, or in the way you conduct your business, but also some things for you to say, "Hmm, I never thought about that," at the conclusion.

                                    Without further ado, I am popcorn-pleased and elephant ear-elated to introduce to you a woman who's not only a dear friend of mine, but is an expert in marketing, specifically Hispanic marketing. And I think the time is apropos, given that we have just concluded Hispanic Heritage Month, which ended on October 15th. And so this speaker today is going to talk to us not only about her experiences, both as a lived member of the community and as a marketing practitioner, but some applicable ways that she's done things in her business, and some things that you, again, can take away, possibly, to apply to yours.

                                    Allow me to introduce her to you so you have an understanding of what I am referring to. Miss Jacqueline Ruiz is CEO of JRR Marketing. And let me get that correct. That would be JJR Marketing. She's also a CEO of a publishing company, which she will be talking to us about as well. This woman has so many commendations, accolades, and things that she's done, that if they were pendants that she was wearing on her lapel, she'd be leaning over to the side. But because today you only are seeing her and hearing what I'm going to say, let me give you a brief laundry list of what her commendations and accolades are.

                                    First of all, she has over two decades of experience, 20 years in marketing. She's done work for lots of clients and has given them the wings to fly, which is an apropos statement as well, given that she's also a pilot. In addition, she's worked for a lot of companies, particularly those that are telling Latina stories. She focuses on women and girls who comprise the Latina community. She's worked for agencies in Chicago and around the world, and she is also a very well educated woman, having graduated from DePaul University's women entrepreneurship program, their cohort number three. She's a graduate of Stanford University's School of Business, their Latino Business Action Network, and she also is one of 2.6% of women entrepreneurs who have ever earned over seven figures. Let me hold up the fingers for that. Seven figures you all, in the United States.

                                    I mentioned a moment ago that she's an airline pilot. She's one of the only few female, and possibly, and she'll correct me on this, perhaps the only Latina in this American demographic to be a marketer and a pilot. And she believes in taking off is optional, but landing on your dreams is mandatory. Although we can't see you all, why don't we give some hand sprinkles, some hoorahs, some shout outs for our speaker today, Ms. Jacqueline Ruiz. Hi Jacqueline, welcome to the-

Jacqueline Ruiz:            Thank you. Wow, that was the best introduction.

Shanita Akintan...:         Best intro, right?

Jacqueline Ruiz:            I will have to just make a small correction. I am not an airplane pilot. I'm a sports pilot, which is in a way even more rare than an airplane pilot, because this is a new license that the FAA created in 2004. So with certainty, I can say that it's much rarer, but I fly sports cars for the air.

Shanita Akintan...:         Got it. I just know it goes up in the sky and zips through the clouds. So that's an airplane in my book, but I got it. Thank you for the correction and I love your statement around that. Let's jump right in because we have a limited amount of time and I want to ensure that we get to the depth of what you're bringing to us this morning and this afternoon, depending on where folks are.

                                    Research shows that the Hispanic community in particular is one of the largest and fastest growing demographics. That being said, there are over 60 million members of this group in the United States. Also, that being said, about 10% roughly of industry investment is going to that segment. What is it that you have or that you can share to us in terms of what are some best practices or best ways for those companies or brands who are interested in reaching that demographic? What are some things that they should take into consideration when doing so?

Jacqueline Ruiz:            Number one, having been in the marketing space for 20 years, my life has been dedicated to finding out how we can create environments to activate hearts and minds to take action on something. That's the ever growing question in a marketer's mind is, and in this segment it's no different. What I've seen in the trajectory of this 20 years is that before, if companies were thinking about entering the segment and thinking about perhaps expanding their diversity and inclusion practices, now, that is no longer an option. I think that if you want to be future-proof, if you want to continue to elevate the game, if you want to be a game player and gain market share and grow, you absolutely need to embrace the Latino market because it'll be a point where we're no longer a minority.

                                    And I think the ability to understand some of those things that happen, and one of the first things that we need to know besides obviously that everyone that wants to be future-proof needs to get into the segment, but one of the first things that we need to know is that the segment is diverse, as diverse as the cultures in the United States. We are a diverse community and we come from different places, different educational backgrounds, different experiences. And also, one thing that plays a major role in this diversity is the type of acculturation that this segments have. We have first generation, we have newcomers, we have second and third generations. And based on where they're at, the newcomers, they prefer Spanish. Many of them don't even speak the language. So how do you communicate and how do you get market share when the language is not there?

                                    Second is the first generation. They can communicate in both. They can perfectly speak Spanish and English, but for cultural references, they prefer Spanish. And then you have the second and third generation that many of them don't even speak Spanish, but they also like cultural references, all in the English language. So you need to understand the dichotomy and what happens as you're navigating through, because that also gives you the answer of what you need to implement. Do you need to acculturate or do you need to completely change the language as you're trying to embark on this journey?

Shanita Akintan...:         Thank you for that. There were so many rich nuggets in what you just said there, Jacqueline, that I want to take a step back and unpack a few of them. What I heard you say, first of all, is that there is a need for marketers to not see the Hispanic community as a monolith. It's not a monolithic group. There are different segments within segments. So subsegments. You have generational, you have language, you have culture. So that's a part of it and I want to come back to that.

                                    The second thing you mentioned is the fact that there is a forward-thinking mentality or future-proofing, love that term, that goes into the mind of smart marketers who understand that to future-proof is another way of saying to be visionary, to look ahead. I should share with the group that the reason why Jacqueline and I connected in the first place is because not only of our lived experiences as women of color, but as marketers, we came into the game understanding the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion before it became buzz words that a lot of markers had to catch up with. So now, if you're listening, you still have an opportunity, if you're hearing what we're saying today, to be proactive or as I like to call it, put wheels on the rhetoric, around what your plans are to future-proof your brands, particularly as we're saying today, related to the Hispanic community.

                                    And then the third thing you mentioned, and I think this is crucial, is the fact that marketers are not needing, and this is my phrasing, not yours, to simply translate something and make it bilingual and think that in and of itself is enough to connect with this audience. That there needs to be some cultural nuances that are addressed and unpacked in order for you really to connect in an intentional way.

                                    So let's talk about that, Jacqueline, because I think a lot of the listeners and visitors to us are probably thinking, "We get all of that, we understand the importance, we want to do it, but we don't know how." So can you just share in your wealth of knowledge three for now, ways, tactically, that marketers can approach if they are interested in reaching this demographic.

Jacqueline Ruiz:            Number one, do your research. Study the nuances, study the dichotomy, study the segments and the subsegments. Number two, decide which segment you're going to pursue. And number three, customize your marketing channels and your touchpoints to connect emotionally with that particular channel. If you can do those three things this week, this month, you will be on your way to making this happen. One of the things that I definitely want to mention is that my journey as a marketer has been servicing primarily manufacturing companies, IT companies, professional services firms in the mainstream community up until about 10 years ago when I came up with an idea from my author journey, came up with an idea of encapsulating stories of women, of Latina women.

                                    Now, I had just started doing keynotes and presentations and marketing feedback and marketing workshops. As I was going around, I started finding out a lot of Latina executives, which I didn't have a lot of access to before that and I was an anomaly in a way that I had a business book. I was 26 years old when I published my first book. And people were gravitating towards me like, "Oh, you look like me. You have a business book, you have a business background, and you deal with the mainstream community." Long story short, I had this amazing, divine download. I know we as marketers, we have ideas and we also have divine downloads that we know we have to make that happen. And that could be the one single idea that changes the game for any campaign, whether it be Latino or not.

                                    So I had this amazing divine download. I said, "I'm going to create a book that allows Latinos to tell their story." Now, for a moment, I was thinking, "Am I putting myself in a bucket when I'm already mainstream. And am I putting myself there?" Many organizations, many businesses might ask the same question, "Why would I cater specific messages for this particular audience when I'm catering the general public?" And my answer to that was that, and it is because it's been the most profound way to elevate this segment that I've thought about, which is encapsulating stories. I've done 10 volumes, 232 women, 25 countries, which has now put me on the deep end of understanding the segment and living it and really being okay with my authenticity as a Latina woman, being okay with that and realizing as a marketer that there's so much value in segmentation. And there's so much value in creating the cadence and the magic around the specific segment or a sub segment, because what I will tell you is that this particular idea has gotten me to become a global brand.

                                    So I say that because I want us to all think, "How does that add value? How do I do this? How do I implement it? And if I subsegment my audience, am I shooting myself in the foot? Am I focusing or not alienating the rest of the population?" Every single one of those segments could have its own unique voice and you can achieve unimaginable success. And the Latino community is one of those amazing segments.

Shanita Akintan...:         I just got goosebumps listening to you saying that about the stories of all of those Latina women and girls and the idea that brands, and we know this, are really needing to approach our practice from a storytelling vantage point, not only from us telling the story of others, but inserting people and making people feel like they are a part of our story. And what that story really feels, sounds, smells, and tastes like, which leads to a word called authenticity. I think authenticity is part and parcel with stories because stories are truth telling ways to connect with consumers.

                                    One of the questions that has come up is, how do brands in particular celebrate Hispanic culture authentically and give them the authentic voice, which I think you spoke to a moment ago. But if you can elaborate on that a little bit and tell about what your experiences with that has been.

Jacqueline Ruiz:            I think the most important aspect of authenticity, especially, I mean not only to the Hispanic market specifically, is that there's something really important to the Latino community, the Hispanic market, which is the emotional connection. Now, the emotional connection is tied and is connected, is created, augmented by a series of actions by the brands. Number one, transparency. Number two, not over exaggerating just to be on your good side, to just show, "Hey, we care. Oh, we care around Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15th through October 15th. We really care about this segment. Just like we care about Women's International Day, we care about women." No, this has to be embedded into the values, into the actions, into the deployment of initiatives from any major corporation. And it has to be a completely augmented and included part of the conversation, the culture, in order to feel authentic, because especially now, consumers are educated, they have access of information, they have different ways. And I think that they begin to read between the lines and they see there's lack of authenticity.

                                    So to this community emotional connection, the referrals, the third party endorsements by fellow families and fellow consumers is extremely heavy on the brand equity building situation. So you see the issue with The Great Baking Show. How do you do this in a beautiful tasteful way that again, it doesn't seem like you're doing this for ratings because, "Hey, Hispanic Heritage Month, we have to address this community," whereas the rest of the year, nothing happens. Or there's really no sustainable approach to keep the authenticity of embracing all these different segments. And I think that weighs huge on the Latino community, the Hispanic community, where we play a huge weight on endorsements in that referrals and the connection by other people. It only takes one bad review from saying, "Did you know what they're doing?" To basically completely cancel a brand. And it's sad, but I think that goes to how what you're doing inside represents to all the initiatives that you're doing on the outside and all the touchpoints that can continue to create encounters with the audience rather than just transactions.

Shanita Akintan...:         Yes. The Great British Baking Show is just one example, but let me talk about something that you said as well. One mistake can totally, depending on the depth of the mistake, disseminate a brand, but you also said earlier, one thing can be a game changer. So if you do something well and you shift something in a way that's intentional and directed toward not just the Hispanic community, which we're talking about today, but in general, marketing practice, you can come out ahead.

                                    Which leads to the next point that I really want us to spend a little bit of time on, which is the conversations often around DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion can be deficit-based, I say, versus asset-driven. Whereas we talk about it from, we have to make up for things or we have to fill in these blanks or do something better because this over here is so sad. But what I want to talk about and ask you, what are some examples of some brands or products in your opinion that are getting it right, that are targeting this consumer demographic, being the Hispanic market or DEI in general and doing a good job at it? And if you can, tell one or two reasons why you think that's the case.

Jacqueline Ruiz:            I think we just saw the recent example of the Great British Baking Show and the over exaggeration of things. It's definitely not making that happen. There's an insurance company that is doing an amazing job at encapsulating the Latino community, and I have to... I wasn't prepared for this, but there are a bunch of amazing examples of companies that continue to create campaigns and the cadence to the Latino community. But just at this moment, I can't think of-

Shanita Akintan...:         Got you. And let me say this, I think you articulated this a moment ago, Jacqueline, I'll just jump in here and say this. We are not using the word everybody when we are marketers, we know that as marketers, that's like a bad word, I say. We don't ever say, "We're marketing or targeting everybody." We have our niche. And in targeting our niche in the terms of Hispanic communities in particular, what I will say is those brands that get it are the ones that are actually including in part of the behind the scenes conversations, people who represent the very communities that they are trying to reach.

                                    As simple as that may sound, I sat in many meetings at the start of my career where people were making decisions, talking to women or talking to people of color or whatever the case was, with no representation of those individuals in their companies. And then some would say, "We don't have anyone who works here to tap in order to include." And I'd say, "Then hire." That's another conversation about hiring practices. Get those folks in your companies in the first place so that you can get that kind of thing going. Okay, so how about we do this? Go ahead.

Jacqueline Ruiz:            ... add one thing on that, because we see sparkles of things and initiatives, we see narratives, being more inclusive. So I don't think in terms of a specific company, because I don't think any single company is perfect at doing this. What I think of is Hollywood making attempts to include us and trying to change a narrative. I see movies that began to highlight the Colombian culture, the Mexican culture, like the Book of Life or Encanto, that was a big hit as far as creating that cadence and that connection to that community. So I see initiatives from various brands, I see commercials, I see deployments of shows and touchpoints and all of that, some more tasteful than others, but I don't see like, "Oh my God, you got it a 100%." Because this is an ongoing process. This is like answering a call to leadership. I mean one day you show up as a leader the next day, you forgot about what that meant.

                                    So it's that renewal of the commitment to embrace this segment. Just like you might embrace the African American segment, the South Asian segment, the Asian segment, all of that. And really, like you said, go behind the scenes and be authentic, there's congruency behind the scenes to the encounters and the campaigns that you're launching in front of the scenes.

Shanita Akintan...:         Excellent and well put because we at AMA Chicago, we have a diversity equity and inclusion director. We have infused in our marketing awards at our BrandSmart Conference, the winners of the Marketers of the Year awards have to have a DEI component infused, not just in their mission statement, but be demonstrative of how they have actually executed that from a tactical perspective as marketers. And we are very much a part and parcel to this conversation today, for example, with you being here with us to look at how we can take a more of a specific look at targeting these different segments.

                                    Okay. So to round this out, Miss Jacqueline, because we could talk to you all day, and this has been so exciting and I'm so loving what you're putting down for us, what would be your 32nd call to action to us? If you had to say anything to marketers listening that want to go back to their various places and spaces and do this or talk to their leaders and say, "We were on LinkedIn Live with AMA Chicago today. This is the one thing I took away that I want to bring to our company in terms of how we can take the first step or the middle step or the last step to do this."

Jacqueline Ruiz:            I think number one, you have to stop and think, because we are going a 100 miles an hour and we don't take that time to stop. Brian Tracy said, one of famous authors said, "You save 10 minutes of execution for every 1 minute that you plan." So if you intend to incorporate this amazing, growing, incredible segment that has a lot of buying power, you need to stop and think. And in that thinking, you reflect on how you're going to incorporate it. Then you go back to your team and then you figure out how you're going to incorporate that in your ecosystem, in your culture, in your life, so that whatever then you execute becomes completely authentic and congruent.

                                    And take that time to study, in that time of thinking, take your time to study, "Where are we going as a company? How does the Latino or the Hispanic segment apply? How can we embrace this authentically in a way that is going to help our brand grow and elevate and get to the next level? And how can we do this in the most congruent and authentic way?" And then you deploy that and with every deployment, you'll keep creating those touchpoints and encounters. And by the time you notice, you will be completely adapted to this incredible segment that is, like I said, future-proof, is unbelievable and it'll only continue to grow and expand. And for all of you, this segment represents an incredible opportunity. But don't just take it for that, take it because you really genuinely want to make an impact and that's how you're going to connect with many more people and gain market share.

Shanita Akintan...:         Thank you, Jacqueline Ruiz for making an impact with us today, with your shedding of your expertise and insights with us. And that was really rich and perfect way to round us out. You don't know this, but we have a book club actually in AMA Chicago, and the last book we read, so if I can hold it up here, is Atomic Habits. I don't know if you all can see that. And it says as one of its taglines, "Tiny changes, remarkable results." And I think that's what you just alluded to with your wonderful conclusion.

                                    We can't see you again, but give some finger sprinkles, some hands up, some whoop, whoops for Jacqueline Ruiz and yours truly, Shanita Akintonde. And so to close out, I want to give you all a few things. Jacqueline will leave her information, if you want to get in touch with her, in the chat. She's a tour de force and if you follow her on LinkedIn or want to reach out to her, Jacqueline, you can provide your contact information for folks for JJR Marketing, and or your publishing piece and anything else you want folks to know, please ma'am.

                                    And I want to tell you all who are here with us today about a few upcoming things we have. There's another LinkedIn Live happening this month in October, so look out for that. On November 1st, we're going to have a Career Connections information can be found on our website. Speaking of which, let me rewind for a second. If you want to join AMA Chicago, which I know all of you do, you can do so for $149 and get all of this valuable information and other things. So we will give you that information as well coming up.

                                    November 9th is another event, and that's something that I really want to elaborate on is our final event that's happening on November 15th. You all see this? Personas for Nonprofits. It builds on what Jacqueline and I were talking about today in terms of knowing who your audience is and being able to connect through a comprehensive persona, led by Kristian Alomá and Averie Wright is going to be off the chain, if I can say that in layman's terms. Really, really good. And you should sign up for these things because AMA Chicago is where it's at. If you don't know, we are laying it down and you all have the option of picking it up if you're smart.

                                    I'm also going to leave in the chat some information about a podcast that I host called Marketing Insights, if you'd like some information on how to apply quick little snippets to your world. And I think that that rounds us out. Unless there's anything anybody has for us in the chat, let us know and we will be out of here momentarily if not. Again, thank you, Jacqueline. This was great. Love you, lady. This was very good stuff.

Jacqueline Ruiz:            Thank you so much.

Shanita Akintan...:         You're very, very welcome.

                                    Until next time, which will be our best time, this is Shanita Akintonde, Professor, Author, Career Coach and Marketing Shero signing off. If you enjoy listening to these podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Stitcher, iTunes, or Google Play and like them wherever you hear them. Connect with me on LinkedIn, @Professor Shanita Akintonde, or follow me on Twitter @_ShanitaSpeaks.