So I have a question: “Are we there yet?”
There we were piling into our 1972 Ford station wagon as we embarked on our family vacation to Disney. I was 7. It was 1978. I sat in the back next to a red cooler filled with snacks for the road which included guava and cheese squares, Sandwiches de Miga, Doritos and a bottle of Colombiana.
My grandmother was rushing around the house gathering emergency items: her rosary, her knitting supplies, a crinkly bag of Giant-brand jellies that she had been storing in her room for the last 4 months, and handkerchiefs.
Once en route, we did what every family does on a road trip pre-internet; we sang songs, played games, recited the capitals of all the countries in Central and South America (what?) and begged Papi for McDonald’s hamburgers. All of course as we shouted the four words without which no trip is truly complete : “Are we there yet?”
...I blinked my eyes as this flashback abruptly ended and I found myself standing in front of a room full of corporate executives. In usual form, I recited the litany of data we are all familiar with to make the case as to why Latinos are, without question, a critical part of the economic and social direction of the United States. Trying not to sound robotic from the innumerable amount of times I have said these incredibly relevant phrases, I cheerfully recited the facts yet again....”fastest-growing segment.....17 percent of the population...median age of 27.....1.2 trillion in purchasing power...23.7 million eligible to vote...132.8 million Hispanics in 2050...” and on and on.
I had equipped myself with every possible fact and figure to convince this group of professionals why they should know about, invest in, and market to the Hispanic community. I clearly explained how the simple action of communicating with this consumer group could grow their bottom line exponentially. I finished my presentation and stood waiting for their feedback. Crickets.
I looked around the room and was met with blank stares. One gentleman checked his watch to convey annoyance. A few others were looking at their phones. “Are there any questions or comments?” I asked enthusiastically. But I was irritated. It blows my mind how after 15 years of educating potential clients on the importance of engaging the Hispanic market I am still encountering this level of indifference. I wanted to scream. And pound my fist on the table. And, yell the four words without which no journey is possibly complete: “Are we there yet??!”
Then I got an idea. As a professional sales person, I offer my clients value that I firmly believe they can’t live without. This is why they buy what I sell. And this is true: when an advertiser is unfamiliar, indifferent or uninformed about a product, they won’t buy it. So it occurred to me that even though I thought I had been giving my clients information on the Hispanic market almost ad nauseam, I obviously had not done it enough. I had to sell more. I had to sell louder.
At that moment, I realized that no matter how many people I had spoken to, sold to, pitched to and pleaded with over the years, I had to move faster, I had to be better, I had to sell louder...(I can’t believe we’re not there yet!)
And really, that is what we have to do. As professionals, leaders, entrepreneurs...as Latinos...it is our undeniable responsibility to sell louder. The conversation about how essential we are as consumers, how vital we are to America’s future, how influential we are on trends, how powerful we are overall is getting, well, quite frankly, boring. It is time to get aggressive. It is time to turn it up.
How? Speak. Make a statement. The next time you are paying for groceries at the automated check-out line, choose Spanish instead of English. When you buy your products, buy from companies that invest in our community. When you are pitching a client, tell them about us. Our culture, our traditions, our families. Educate them on our convictions. Our buying habits. Our goals. Our dreams. Don’t just tell a joke, teach people what makes us laugh. Don’t just say, “salsa is more popular than ketchup.” Give people your recipe. Take every opportunity to illuminate our contributions. Run for office. Vote.
It really doesn’t matter that we are taking over the free world unless we show people that we are living in it. I plan on taking no prisoners...
...After three and a half very long and loud hours of driving to Disney, we finally arrived. It was a beautiful day.
By Nicole Quiroga