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.






Machine Translation Will Not Replace A Specialized Translator

Hello, it has been a few days but with the Thanksgiving holiday and other commitments I was unable to write. I see that my last post is still generating traffic so I don’t want to lose momentum. These last few days I have been reading about Facebook’s translation tool through the search engine Bing and by all accounts has fallen flat in its results. This led me to write about machine translation and if it ever will replace human translation. I know that there have been many discussions on this subject but it continues to generate a buzz. Every time we mention this topic most of us grow concerned about the future of our profession and how it has hindered our position in the market. Although there have been shifts in it, there is still in my viewpoint, ways to go before machine translation can be perfected. It is true that more and more companies, agencies and other businesses are resorting to MT to reduce costs; the results of these translations are less than desirable and still need human editing. This is exactly the point of this essay. If they are to be “edited” or most of the time redone from scratch, are we then truly replaceable?

So far that has not been the case. Although we as translators have learned to use this technology as a tool it is not a replacement for our ability. I do believe that if a translation is done right, the gist, the analysis, and thought process that goes into it cannot possibly be done by a machine. Also, translation for me is somewhat of an art (we are writers after all) how you phrase, analyze and use your words are uniquely to you. For example, you may have two translations of the same text side by side, both correct and true to the original but both with their own unique style. This is what is absent in machine translated text and although it gets edited by a translator, the gist of it gets lost in the process. It is true that a machine can spit out a translation in billionths of a second and for us this would take a bit longer to produce, yet it is the end result that counts.

Given that machine translation is here and improvements to its software get more perfected, there are still fields which could never replace a specialized translator; those are law, literature, medical and marketing. These are highly specialized fields with very precise language and in literary work and marketing there is still a creative, analytical and interpretation component to the writing that is no match for a Google Translate or Yahoo Babel Fish. Actually, the more you specialize within these fields the more in demand you become. Conversely, the more generalized your specialty the more of an “editor” you are likely to become too. That is how you position yourself to become more marketable.

Finally, I would like to add from my personal experience so far, directing my service to clients rather than agencies has been of course of greater value. I use machine translation as a tool. It just won’t replace me.