February 19, 2001

Representatives of Cartel Creativo and Cartel Contacto, its direct marketing arm headquartered in New York, spoke at the 8th Annual Directo Days Conference on March 8-9 in Miami

Directo is the Hispanic sub council of the Direct Marketing Association, and holds this annual conference for professionals who specialize in all forms of Hispanic direct marketing, both on and off line.

According to research, Hispanics learn about products and services through direct mail pieces and also welcome what some call "junk mail," yet they receive only 30 mailings a year compared to 350 for non-Hispanics.

"The reason Hispanics don't receive more direct mail is that Hispanic direct marketing has faced major roadblocks," said Joe Segovia, a strategist at Cartel Creativo and a speaker at the conference. "Sadly, it's because Hispanic ad agencies focus on broadcast advertising, which they perceive to be more profitable than direct marketing."

Cartel Contacto President, Michael Saray, said, "Hispanic ad agencies have delayed the development of Hispanic direct marketing not just because of the perceived low profitability factor, but also because they lack the knowledge and experience in how to do it right. It is simpler to tell clients that it doesn't work".

Saray, who has more than six years of experience in direct marketing to U.S. and Latin America Hispanics added, "But that's beginning to change as more Hispanic ad agencies create divisions, like Cartel Contacto, and focus resources on Hispanic direct marketing."

Saray said that in 1990, there were only about a dozen Spanish lists in the U.S., but today there are 70 to 80 lists and 25 databases on Hispanic Households. This compares to some 20,000 lists for the general market.

In Latin American countries, Saray said that one of the greatest pitfalls in direct marketing is that the infrastructure is not as developed as in the U.S. market. This underdevelopment is evident in the postal services, particularly in regard to delivery issues such as addressing and street numbering; the list and database industry; and the fulfillment, or back office, services. However, Saray claims, "If you can be successful in the U.S., you can be successful in another country-if you have a good product and a good offer."

Another issue when dealing with direct marketing in Latin America is that greater risk is involved. In order to reduce risks, Saray suggests using practical signs to judge the market and figure out ways to adapt one's strategy to the unknown infrastructure. "It is critical to understand the key success factors for your own business, and be flexible in their execution in new markets," said Saray.

He suggests using local help to develop contacts and to cross-reference contacts. For example, the local post office could suggest letter shops.

"It is also critical to make sure that creative is adapted to ensure that it is in-culture for each Latin American or the U.S. Hispanic market," Saray stated. This may mean adapting scripts to include specific words that are relevant to the country market. "In Chile cancelar means to pay, not cancel". Saray believes one should adopt the classic Coca-Cola stance of "thinking globally and acting locally."

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