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Lazos Latinos
Avanza con Usted (Harris Bank Advances with You)
Harris BankBy Russ Klettke
(January 2000)

For Chicagoland’s Hispanic community, there’s more to like about Harris Bank than ever before. Our services fit the Hispanic community’s needs, with 15 designated bilingual branches that feature bilingual staff, Spanish language product brochures and marketing materials. In addition, we have a bilingual Call Center and a new Spanish -language Web site that informs Hispanic surfers of our products and services.

In general, the bank has been pretty smart at targeting the 1.4 million-person Hispanic market here. The overriding strategy: transformation, not mere translation.

"Harris did what many companies fail to do," says Cristina Benitez, a consultant to the bank in Hispanic marketing. "It developed the infrastructure before launching the marketing effort. Harris put the products and services in place so when customers came, the bank was able to serve them."

Cristina cites the Spanish-language capability at the Client Contact Center as an example of this infrastructure preparation. She also points to the three new locations Harris opened in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods (Aurora, Waukegan and Wicker Park), and the newly offered services such as wire transfers to Mexico, which take minutes instead of hours to deliver.

Integrated Marketing Campaign

Harris’ Hispanic banking initiative is being seen as exemplary by both the financial services and marketing industries. Cristina and Matthew Roth, who is segment manager of Hispanic Banking, spoke at two conferences this winter: Marketing Financial Services to Multicultural Markets, and Multicultural Marketing Online.

The message is that a successful effort requires a lot of consumer research, which provides an understanding of buying behaviors, language preferences and cultural influences. This understanding guides marketing efforts.

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