When it comes to marketing to U.S. Hispanics, you may already be on board with reaching them in their preferred language. But there's another translation question you must consider if you want to win over B2B customers:
Do you use Spanish? Or do you use the combination of English and Spanish called Spanglish, which is popular in some places?
The answer is crucial, especially when it comes to the highly specialized B2B space. You can't afford to make missteps in this area of your marketing strategy. But you don't want to ignore it either.
Here’s the need-to-know.
What B2B Customers Expect
Today, it's not uncommon to hear marketers recommend using Spanglish to reach U.S. Hispanics. It's a strategy that makes sense when the target is B2C customers in their 20s and 30s-namely, Millennials. U.S. Hispanic Millennials often use both English and Spanish in their everyday communications.
But much of what you’re hearing about marketing in Spanglish is targeted specifically to consumers, not businesses. The “musts” of selling B2B to the U.S. Hispanic market are still in flux as companies experiment with reaching this under-tapped segment of the overall U.S. B2B market.
The strategy of selling B2B to the U.S. Hispanic market is still in flux - including the use of “Spanglish” for targeting businesses.
There's one message that is coming through loud and clear, though. U.S. Hispanic business owners are drawn to the same thing that most businesspeople respond to.
However you communicate with U.S Hispanic businesses, you have to be sure your translated content feels professional. And to many businesspeople, Spanglish simply feels too conversational and casual for the business realm.
Formal Spanish ‘Feels Like’ Business
Spanglish is increasingly being used by young U.S. Hispanics, and that means it's still often associated with youth culture. In many circles, it feels as slangy as using "LOL" in a text message. It's social, which is great for personal connections. But it's not ideal in a business environment.
Beyond that, business owners are looking for B2B partners they can rely on to understand their needs and meet them in a professional manner. That's what your translated content is for-to educate them on how your product service solves their problems, as well as your ability to deliver what they need, when they need it, and how they need it.
That's the connection that drives buying decisions in your favor. And you need to make that connection at a professional level, not at a social one.
The Pros and Cons of Spanglish
But just because B2B customers take a more formal approach to business doesn't mean you must ignore Spanglish completely. There are times when using a mix of Spanish and English can help you. The key is knowing when.
Consider translating your content into Spanglish for:
- Instructional guides, especially if they are targeted to Millennial U.S. Hispanics
- Materials intended specifically for young U.S. Hispanics who grew up entirely in the U.S.
- Online tools targeted to users that you know skew strongly toward Spanglish use
There are times when using a mix of Spanish and English can help you. The key is knowing when.
But remember, Spanglish has some serious drawbacks for the B2B market:
- It relies heavily on how and where a person was educated. U.S. Hispanics who were educated in Spanish-language countries are less likely to be adept at Spanglish than those who were raised in the U.S.
- It tends to go in one direction. People who speak Spanglish are usually comfortable with Spanish, but the reverse isn’t true. Messaging in Spanglish won’t effectively reach Spanish-first speakers.
Know Your Customers
The bottom line: Know your B2B customers. Understanding what they need, respond to and prefer increases the likelihood they'll connect with you and feel confident in your products or services.
So, when it comes to translating content for B2B decision-makers, remember who they are:
They Work In Groups
B2B buying decisions are often made by teams, whose members likely have different comfort levels with English, Spanish and Spanglish.
Big purchasing decisions are usually approved by upper level management. These professionals skew older and more conservative than Millennials, and likely consider Spanglish too informal for business.
They May Be Spanish-First
Nearly 35% of the U.S. Hispanic population is foreign-born, according to the latest U.S. Census. That means Spanish is likely their first language, and the language in which they're most comfortable conducting business.
The Bottom Line
Some of your audience may speak perfect English, others Spanglish, others Spanish. You need to convince all of them to decide on your brand. The safest, best way to do that is to provide your marketing content into Spanish as well as English, so you’ll reach them all.
When you partner with a translation vendor, choose a best-in-class B2B expert that can offer deft Spanish translations, independently of your CMS, with fully turn-key capabilities to lighten the load on your team.