By the Price of Business, Sponsored and special content.
About the interviewee
Kristin Messerli is the founder of a multicultural marketing firm, Cultural Outreach Solutions. She helps companies grow their business by improving their service and marketing strategy to diverse market segments. Kristin partners with consulting firms in Oklahoma and Texas, including 2930 Creative and Greene Consulting, and she works with both local and national companies across industries. She is also a frequent speaker on cultural marketing at conferences including the national Mortgage Bankers Association.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
Cultural Outreach Solutions is a multicultural marketing firm, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We employ 7 contract employees, including translators, data analysts, and graphic designers. COS works independently and also partners with existing consulting firms that would like to add a multicultural component.
My clients are companies across industries, but I primarily work with mortgage and banking institutions, as they must comply with diversity regulations associated with Dodd-Frank legislation and multicultural homebuyers account for the majority of growth in homeownership in the U.S.
What type and size of companies do you have as clients?
We primarily work with small to medium sized companies in the financial industry.
What comes to mind when you see this topic?
Many businesses are continuing to market and serve their customers the same way they did 20 years ago. However, the majority of consumers under the age of 18 are considered “multicultural” and thus have different customer needs. They are rapidly expanding and largely underserved. Businesses have the opportunity to either revolutionize their business with these emerging markets or put their company at risk.
What are the best practices when it comes to this issue?
Multicultural consumers today want to connect to a brand and see its relevancy to them. Companies should realize that they are leaving significant revenue on the table if they choose not to engage their multicultural customers.
There are many best practices that are critical in working with these market segments, and I strongly recommend working with a professional. However, I have outlined five steps you can do even before reaching out to an expert:
1. Research your customer. Identify what demographics or cultures you should be targeting, why they buy your product, who they buy it from, and what type of media they consume. (There are companies, including COS, which can provide a basic diversity audit and provide all of this information for you).
2. Educate your staff on cultural competency. Before you ever start marketing, you need to know you can provide good customer service. Everyone has biases, but some of those result in lost sales and can potentially destroy your reputation.
3. Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Multicultural consumers are more likely to be looking at your website on their phone than a computer.
5. Get involved in your community. Multicultural consumers are looking for brands that understand them and they can trust. Become a sponsor at local events or host educational seminars/fairs in your local multicultural communities. This will help you establish trust and generate client referrals.