Translation Pitfalls in the Hispanic Marketing Niche

Translation Pitfalls in the Hispanic Marketing Niche
Translation Pitfalls in the Hispanic Marketing Niche

Communicating a message and persuading a group to take action is a difficult proposition in itself.Add to that a group with cultural and linguistic differences and you will miss the opportunity entirely.

This is one of the pitfalls that marketers face when translating marketing copy to the Hispanic market.

 Many marketers still use the “one size fits all approach” when translating copy to the Hispanic group. This path of least resistance is a general practice because it  keeps  their strategy more  organized and general across the board  and  their ideas easily accepted by  management.

Yet this approach clearly  does a disservice to  them as marketers as well as the target audience they are trying to reach. It lends itself to  generalizations and stereotypes that does not speak nor  realistically represent the target market.

Marketers that continue to practice this strategy  are missing great opportunities in tapping one of the markets with the most growth in the US: The Hispanic market.

Not only is this market growing but they are a young group with a growing disposable income, but also are tech savvy, highly involved in social media, and highly influenced by family and peers. All of the factors that contribute to a marketers dream;if only done properly.

The Hispanic market is a diverse group and although most are acculturated and bilingual, they take pride of their cultural differences and hence respond to ads that are cultural relevant to them.

On the other hand, overemphasizing on the cultural aspect of the group can lead to generalizations and stereotypes that would otherwise backfire in the ad or worse yet bring the opposite response to the ads call to action.



  • Hispanics are not a homogeneous group
  • Lack of bicultural and bilingual staff
  • Assuming that Hispanics are a lower-income bracket
  • Translating  copy into Spanish but sending the wrong message
  • Misunderstanding and misusing connectors and symbols affiliated with each culture
  • Translating a website into Spanish but lacking Spanish-speaking customer care representatives
  • Fail to establish  relationships with key community influencers and leaders

*As published in Top Ten Mistakes Companies Make Marketing to Hispanics



  •  Cultural relevancy – We cannot stress that enough yet this strategy is still not applied in a large number of cases and marketers fails over and over again.  If you are targeting a specific Latino group, have someone well versed and well-rounded in the group’s culture that can pinpoint the needs and wants of this group.


  •  Partner with influencers and community leaders Establish a relationship with businesses that already have ties with Hispanic communities. This  could help you ease the cultural barrier and bring your product or service to their attention. By partnering with these companies they can help your business increase exponentially both on and offline.


  •  Decreasing the language barrier Many companies believe that by translating a message from English to Spanish they are targeting them. Yet, they don’t fully embrace the customer or the customer relations aspect of the business. Although the majority of the Hispanics are fully bilingual, most buying decisions are influenced by family and  peers and  these members may still prefer to be catered in Spanish. Marketers have to be ready  to service them fully as well.






Career Options in Translation, Interpretation and Foreign Language Studies

I created the following infographic as a result of my research to uncover areas where my writing and language skills would be needed the most and used to its full potential.  Although most of us have an established career in translation and have been doing this for some time, you wonder (or at least I do) “what else can I do” and “where else could my skills be needed.” Well, as I discovered, there are many options and within many industries too.

As we become more globalized, the demand for translators and interpreters  grows and with it the demand for them within certain industries.  If we look at the numbers, (All figures are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and reflect the latest figures per occupation), some areas are growing exponentially while others seem to be shrinking (travel for example).  The biggest growth is in computer software,web development, and research while others have a moderate growth. Overall, the numbers show that  there is a growing need within every industry specified.

Yet, it is not only the translation skills you offer but the “soft skills” that you have developed in the field that are equally important, valuable and transferable to other areas of business, law, sales, or teaching for example.

The chart is quite self-explanatory.  However, I will include the web link  because I did have issues embedding it properly into the post. I do hope you find it useful and informative. Back over to you.  Do you think you  could make a difference using your skills?  How can you assist?

Back over to you. How do you assist and how do you feel that you have made a difference in your profession?   All of us have worked in many areas so your comments  would be an interesting read.


Thanks for reading.


AT&T Partnering with Language Line Services to Offer Interpretation Services

On June 18th AT &T announced its partnership with Language Line Services, a  an interpretation and translation company,   to provide On Demand interpreters to its customers. For now it is only available to federal agencies and businesses that by opening an account, will have access to 170 language interpreters when they so need.

When I started out in interpretation, I researched and applied with Language Line Services and  at first t seemed like a great opportunity for a beginner yet as I researched further particularly as I read recommendations (or not) of former employees, to then  be totally taken aback by them.  However, LLS  has become the language service company particularly in  phone interpretation, so this partnership goes hand in hand with AT&T. It is a very needed service and I wonder if this partnership will extend  to the customers at large. They already serve the larger community in certain sectors, such as medical, insurance and general business but wonder if it would be through the same partnership program.  I know several interpreters who work there and would love to see how this has affected them. (Hopefully in their pay scale!).

At the rate of $ 2.99 a minute for the use of the service, and  a monthly fee these federal government agencies who have always been the mayor buyers of language services, will use the service  for interpretation of unclassified information and have  access to the service at the push of a button.  With these fees I am sure they will see an increase to their revenue that according to reports, had seen a decrease in several years. I did thoroughly  research this company because I believed it was a good start to my interpretation career, but I did step back because it was not in sync with what I wanted or wanted to get out of the experience with them.

Although Language Line Services do target other sectors as in the commercial, medical and insurance fields, this is just another expansion of their services.

Benefits of Bilingualism

There have been  several  studies done lately on the benefits of bilingualism. What  was once was an opposed idea of raising bilingual children,  it is now  said to be found beneficial. I have found three articles ” The Benefits of Bilingualism” and   “The Benefits of Being Bilingual”    and finally  a study  done in 2004 Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power whereby they actually study the brains of bilingual patients and researched the density of the brain.  Per the result of the study, depending on the age that the person became bilingual,  the denser the gray matter. The earlier you became bilingual, the more  matter and hence more function. In all three articles and studies the results have been quite equal; that in effect bilinguals do have more cognitive power.   Being brought up bilingual and trilingual, I would have guessed otherwise. From a personal standpoint, I tended to (and still do on occasion) to “code switch” which prevented me from sticking to one idea , thought or expression.  Yet, it is precisely that according to the studies, that boosts your brain because since both languages are always active, they need to keep them separate and focus on just one. This in turn, keeps your brain stimulated and always active forcing to focus on a task. This is particularly important in my line of work now. Given that I did tend  to ‘ switch”  from one language to another , you are more conscious of it and therefore aware of how to verbalize it in one. You are always with the “thinking cap” on.

There are of course the obvious benefits of better communication and understanding of cultures and in an increased globalized world your opportunities just increase and expand. Personally  this has been the case. Long before I became a translator and long before the requirement of being bilingual(because if you are not bilingual in Miami, your chances of employment decrease dramatically), I always had the upper-hand because I had the three languages under my belt. Given that I always had lived in Latin-America and had command of the cultural aspect as well, most of my positions were secured because of that fact. So there was always an added plus to that because you were able to conduct business and be the mediator in a transaction. And in  this highly globalized world, where although most still conduct transactions in English it is not now the only language of business.

Finally, being brought up bilingual  and living abroad most of my life has given me a broader outlook and experiences that has led me to my current profession. I don’t believe I could do it as well as I do, had I above all , not experienced the cultural aspect. As we all agree with , translation is not only about just being bilingual.

I Will Try Again Tomorrow

When I thought about writing my last post of the year, I thought whether it should be about business or our industry. I would like to take a bit of a break  from that today I do believe the day itself is about  reflection and future plans. Today we make our  goals in the hope of a fresh start.   Many get achieved and many do fall short (we all made those New Year resolutions haven’t we?) but I do believe that everyone has it their heart  to truly change  and accomplish we just simply don’t have a path.  This is where you continue to push to pave your way. It is all about persistence and will . It truly does  come down to that.  I take inspiration on those that under  horrible circumstances have achieved the impossible.   They gave themselves no excuses but to continue to press on. I do speak  for myself here, I don’t know how many times I have sabotaged my plans and myself making excuses for not achieving them. Yet there seems to be a time that this type of behavior does get old  because we are  older  we feel the passage of time . I value it now and  there is no time for excuses anymore.  With that  our plans and goals get more defined and our urgency to achieve them gets more intense. Yet, there is always time for new beginnings and do hope that your is now.  I would like to end here with a quote by Mary Ann Radmacher :
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Happy New Year everyone!!

But before I leave I would like to take this opportunity  to thank the many of you who in a very short time have made this blog quite a bit of a  success. I never thought that in only five posts I would have had so many responses (through Likedin and comments) and views to my blog, much less being re tweeted  several times over. ( This is quite amazing given that it takes several months and many posts to get  your site noticed). When I thought of blogging for my business, I thought it would be quite a daunting task given that ideas for writing surely don’t come easy at all, but I have manged to keep up with the industry insights and have put my take on these issues.  I do hope to keep up this  trend  and not to believe that it was “beginners luck”.

I do hope you continue reading.

Purpose for my blog

Since this post is an introduction of how this blog will be laid out and the subject covered, I would say that it is about translation, its process, applications, tools and resources that embody the field. I will dedicate a great amount of time on each area and at times I will just  discuss any problem that arose in one particular project and how I came around to solving it.   I want this blog to be an information source, and I know that there are many out there to compete with, but as a translator myself  I have used many of them not only for research but to gather information about my field.  Most importantly, those  “how tos”  blog posts  on a particular task that are ever so helpful in your most pressing moments. I would encourage discussion among topics and most importantly,  if you have something to share be it a tool, resource, idea, or how you solved a problem, those would be things I would love to hear and share myself.

I started out as a part-time translator back in 2007 doing freelance work in the marketing and advertising field.  I had a full-time job then in a completely different field (finance/banking) and was not to excited about. Translating in a sense provided me with a sense of  expression or truly finding different ways of it.   This at first created a problem (with my supervisor as well) because I did tend to get off subject and tended to forget that I was translating and not rewriting. Yet, it allowed me to use my creativity in my writing, particularly in the medium I was translating for. This also gave me a sense to” speak” to the Latin American market, particularly as I translated the marketing scripts. Most of my work is from English to Spanish but with my excellent cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills with fluency in English, Spanish and Portuguese , it allowed me  to reach a larger audience. So by the end of 2009, I pursued translating full-time and have done so since. Although I have maintained my specialty translating within the marketing field, I have at times needed to veer of a little and just this past summer I have translated the  website for the National Hurricane Center Miami. This was a total contrast from what I have done but again it allowed me to explore other areas  and styles (in this case technical writing).

Finally, if you want to contact me I am in most social networks although  Twitter, Linked in and Facebook are the ones I use the most. I do have a Facebook fan page . You can search for Hispania Translations and like the page or follow me on Twitter.  Notwithstanding you may also visit  my personal website and find further information there. The direct link

I hope you will continue reading!