The Conversation: Nicholas Segura’s agency taps lucrative Hispanic market

08/23/2014 7:00 AM

08/23/2014 6:42 PM

Nicholas Segura, 42, of Kansas City, is owner of Somos marketing agency, SomosAgency.com, and is on most social networks as “NicholasSegura.” Segura is a second-generation American, born and raised in Kansas City, Kan. His agency specializes in helping companies reach Hispanic and Latino consumers. This conversation took place in his studio in the River Market.

How important is the Hispanic market?

Hispanics have been the largest minority group in the U.S. since 2003. It is predicted they will make up one-third of the population of the U.S. by 2043. Yet most companies clearly do not understand how to connect to Hispanic consumers.

What does “Somos” mean in Spanish?

“We are.” It’s the beginning of a sentence, as in: We are the new future of America. We are leaders in adopting new technology and using social media.

Your business card reads “cultural translator.” What is that and who needs one?

Let me first say in the media and marketing and communications fields there is an incredible lack of diversity. The overwhelming majority of employees in those industries are whites. They know they need diversity, but they haven’t lived that experience, so they don’t understand it, and they aren’t able to interpret their message to reach the largest, fastest-growing ethnic market in the U.S.

Can you give us a concrete example of what white-dominated ad agencies do wrong?

Yes. One local restaurant chain came to us with an ad — and this is very typical — and they said, “We’ve got this ad in English, and we need you to translate it into Spanish.”

It was about a group of guys that plays basketball together every day, and on Fridays they go together to this neighborhood restaurant. So first thing, a group of Latinos probably isn’t going to be playing basketball, they’re going to be playing soccer. So we talked them into letting us redo the whole thing. That is the difference between translating words and translating a message with a view to hitting the hot buttons Latinos will relate to.

Companies want to say: “These are our five brand messages. Put them out there.” But Hispanics might not care about those things. To get their business, you have to show that you understand their values. Merely translating an English message into Spanish is like trying to market to women by saying, “If you just make it pink, they will buy it.”

What is the short history of you?

It starts with my father, Robert Segura, who was executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce many years ago. So when my friends were going out to bars at 20, my dad was taking me to Business After Hours (networking events).

Before I started my company I was a corporate trainer. I worked at DST and USPS. Then I went to Dos Mundos, Kansas City’s Spanish-language newspaper, doing corporate advertising sales. I was meeting with organizations like Anheuser-Busch and the Royals, and they would tell me they had $10,000 or $20,000, and didn’t know what to do with it. So I would come up with creative ways to produce print ads.

But I didn’t like being stuck in print. I wanted to be in radio, in television, in Web. Social wasn’t there yet, but today Hispanics lead in social media usage, and they buy on mobile devices 30 percent more than the general population. Those are huge numbers most organizations aren’t even aware of.

Purchasing power among Hispanics has grown by 50 percent in the last five years. Think about what the next five years will bring, with the Hispanic population growing much more rapidly than the white population.

What are the biggest misconceptions about Hispanic consumers?

There’s a ton: That they don’t have money. That they all speak Spanish. (English is the first language for many of them.) That Hispanics are all the same: Mexicans and Ecuadorans and Argentinians are all different. We don’t lump Europeans together like that.

What is the best way to reach Hispanic consumers?

Online and social media video. For my clients, when I produce, shoot, edit and publish videos for them, their nonpaid, organic engagement goes up 450 percent per video.

What does nonpaid organic engagement mean?

That means people are naturally sharing the video, you aren’t pushing it or paying for views. And if you wanted to spend $5 or $10 on it, you could boost that video tremendously. So that’s the direction I’m pushing a lot of my clients. It is so easy now to upload a video within an hour or even during an event.

When my clients tell me, “I’m digitally challenged,” I tell them, “You can’t be anymore.”

To reach Cindy Hoedel, call 816-234-4304 or send email to choedel@kcstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @CindyHoedel, and on Facebook.

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