How international businesses can market to the Spanish
Too many expat businesses on the Costa del Sol limit themselves by just focussing on the international market. Now we understand that communication is easier in your own language, but if you want to grow bigger, then you need to be marketing to the Spanish market as well. However, it’s not just language which can get in the way of effective communication with another nationality, you need to understand the culture as well and make sure you can provide what Spanish customers want.
As a bilingual agency marketing to both Spanish and international clientele on the Costa del Sol for more than a decade, we’ve worked hard to be culturally sensitive as well as fluent in the language. So in this post, we wanted to offer you the benefit of our wisdom and share ten things that you need to consider and probably change to be successful as a foreign business here in Spain.
- Don’t rely on email, concentrate on personalised treatment and face to face contact – Whereas you can send emails to foreign businesses this approach doesn’t work well with the Spanish. A phone call is essential, following up with email to formalise the communication. It is worth putting in the effort to meet important customers, as this face-to-face contact and taking time to build confidence makes all the difference. Time spent having a coffee and a chat will pay dividends by giving you loyal long term customers and friends.
- Look at your opening hours – If you are serving Spanish and international clientele your opening hours will need to be long. Most Spanish businesses reopen at 5pm until late after the siesta, so you’ll need to be open too if you are marketing to the Spanish and want those customers at the end of the day.
- Make sure you have a native Spanish speaker working with you – It is important to speak good Spanish yourself, but it will never be as good as a native speaker. Having someone Spanish represent your company really makes a difference and makes up for any shortcomings in your language level!
- Understand the culture not just the language – Take the time to really get to know the culture so what you’re offering is suitable and attractive.
- Don’t translate things literally or use Google translate – Literal translations do not work, they read badly and sound foreign. Use a good translator or someone who writes the concepts in Spanish from scratch to make sure the tone and flow is there. Never use Google Translate!
- Research into the bank holidays and special events to maximise the success over these periods – This helps you prepare, make sure you’re not caught out when things are closed and be ready for particularly busy times.
- Be open to doing things differently and be more relaxed about time keeping – We are in Spain so we need to adjust and not be so rigid. It’s a brilliant combination when international companies adjust to the Spanish way. Don’t get annoyed about people being late or having a different approach, us expats need to go with the flow!
- Look at your competitors in the Spanish market to see what promotions they are using, what their price point is and how you can be different – Non-Spanish companies are often priced very differently to their Spanish competitors and use promotions or communication which works back home, but does not resonate with the Spanish buyers. Competitor research will help you to get it right.
- Don’t hide that you are not Spanish but show that you are respectful and understand about the Spanish needs and way of life – We will always be “guiris” and that’s OK, but we need to show respect for people in our host country and the way they do things in order to be able to do business with them.
- Enjoy the wonderful Spanish way of life and integrate as much as possible – Being integrated will help you understand the culture better, make important contacts and become trusted. All these things help you to be successful.
We hope these ideas help you to be more successful and break into the Spanish market.
It is very important to us to be a bilingual marketing agency, which respects the culture and customs of this beautiful country. We have a native speaking Spanish member of staff who rewrites communication to be culturally correct and read brilliantly, rather than simply be translated. Georgina speaks very good Spanish and works hard to integrate into the Spanish business community and Teresa is always offering us insight and ideas on how to appeal to the Spanish. Please contact us if we can help you to market your company on the Costa del Sol in English and Spanish.