Clever Hybrids Podcast with GabyV

S4E7: Being Different is an Advantage | Manuel Garcia Venezuelan Marketing Director in Mexico City

Episode Summary

As a Venezuelan expat, Manuel has used what makes him different as an advantage. Hear his clear definitions of commonly misused marketing terms and learn what it takes to stand out in a global market.

Episode Notes

As a Venezuelan expat, Manuel has used what makes him different as an advantage. Hear his clear definitions of commonly misused marketing terms and learn what it takes to stand out in a global market.


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Episode Transcription

GabyV: Hey everyone. And welcome back to the Clever Hybrids podcast. You're probably wondering, 

'What is season four, episode seven doing at the end of the season?' 

Manuel Garcia: Yes, the best for the final you know.

GabyV: Well, Manuel let's see once we interview you how good it is going to be. But first of all, I have to apologize to you guys because Manuel had some excellent points in his episode. But I did not record it correctly. So the audio wasn't that great. So I was finally able to get in Manuel's schedule to be able to rerecord it so you can hear his great points and not just read about them. 

Manuel Garcia: No, don't worry. It's a pleasure speaking with you and let's do it.

GabyV: Alright, well, let's jump right in here. First of all, you are an expat from Venezuela, living in Mexico, and most people think, 'Oh, they both speak Spanish,'

but not only is the Spanish different, the culture is very different. So what are some things that you've noticed?

Manuel Garcia: Look the thing with Latin America in general is that each country has particularities in the language. Most of the continent speaks Spanish, no? Obviously. But the Mexican Spanish is quite different in comparison with the Columbian or Venezuelan Spanish. The pronunciation even because Venezuelans we, we speak very fast. The telenovelas around the continent are from Mexico. So we can understand Mexicans easily. 

That's one thing and the other thing obviously is the Mexican culture is so strong. It's so different in comparison with Venezuelan [culture]. Living in Mexico is a kind of adventure, one new thing every day. So it's very interesting. Obviously we in Venezuela, we have a great culture. In Mexico, we're trying to be great ambassadors of our culture, our food, for example. We are proud of our arepas. The family is very important in Mexico. It's the same with Venezuelans, no? So we have a lot of stuff in common and I think that Mexicans and Venezuelans... we can be friends easily... almost immediately.

GabyV: Well you said, venezolanos speak very fast and of course you have to think about slowing down, but even in Mexico, you mentioned it last time and I've been doing research since then. There are a lot of people whose primary language is not Spanish. Their primary language is Nahuatl or Maya or a different language.

Manuel Garcia: Yes, in the south of the country, Spanish is the second language for most of the people, no? Even in that situation, you have to speak Spanish more slowly, no? That kind of situation happens not only in Mexico. In Venezuela, for example, en estado Zulia, Zulia state, the Capitol is Maracaibo the second largest city of the country. And north of the city, there are the Guajiros. Guajiros are an [indigenous] people that speak their own language and their second language is Spanish. 

GabyV: Okay. Yeah. I didn't know about them. But now that you're in the situation where you're the person who's not a native speaker, how do you deal with that? I know as you already know, to slow down for people. But when you need extra help in English, of course you speak very well already. How do you ask for it?

Manuel Garcia: Well (laughs) that's a great question. When you are living in another country... if you have to learn about the Spanish in Mexico, for example, a recommendation is go to the street and speak with people different [from] you. Because when you are in a closed circle of people you are used to [speaking] like them. When you want to learn something new you have to go out of your comfort zone, go to another area, another zone. For example, Mexico City has more than 20 million people. So you have a lot of people to [meet], to speak to and that's a way.

I think it's the same in English. When you are speaking English with someone and you want to improve your skills, you have to go out of your comfort zone. That's the best way to enhance your skills in general.

GabyV: Yeah, it's very important. Especially when you're an ex-pat or an immigrant if you're just hanging out with all of the same people you'll end up getting stuck because not growing.

Manuel Garcia: No. Yes. And the good thing in Mexico for example, is the Mexicans are so open, no? And they are so nice and they are willing to explain all the time no? 

'I tried to say this.' 

'Ah, Okay. I understand.'

Or maybe if they don't understand something, ask, 

'What were you trying to say?' in a nice way.

GabyV: Yeah, that's a good idea. So now with English, is there still an accent that's hard for you to understand? I know a lot of people say some European accents are hard to understand, but which one do you have trouble with?

Manuel Garcia: Wow. That's a great question. When I was a kid, no, I always... obviously the impact in Latin America is the American English, the video games, the TV shows, the music, no? Most of that content, comes from the US. So you're used to American English. 

But for example, the British accent was the first I was [struggling] with. And when I was work with Circle K, the convenience stores, my boss was from California. So I understood 100% of his English but we had a meeting with the people Circle K Ireland, Circle K Norway, Circle K Hong Kong. Wow. Even my boss, he's American, he said, 

'What [is] the Scotland team trying to say? I can't understand.'

It does happen, even for native English speakers.

So the thing is don't worry about that. If you struggle with some accent, ask the person speaking with you, 

'Please slow down a little bit. Explain some expression.' 

That's normal. In my experience, the English from Scotland, from Ireland, it is so hard to understand for me.

GabyV: Yeah, I can understand that too. And just like the people we were talking about the people in Southern Mexico, many of the people in Ireland, Scotland, not now, but in the past two or three generations, English was not their first language either.

Manuel Garcia: Yeah, that's the reason, it's the same thing with Spanish. I can imagine someone, an English native speaker, and this guy is trying to learn Spanish. It's a mess. In Mexico, talking about someone, you say that 'güey' like that guy. Then when you are in Spain, you say that 'tio'. Tio is uncle. 

It's not only the pronunciation. It's the words, the expressions. The same in English, no? 

So in this process of globalization, I think that the people [are] more relaxed about that. People understand, maybe you struggle with my accent because I am from Venezuela maybe my english is not perfect in comparison with a native speaker. But the people open to understand that difference and focus on the communication, the most important part. 

GabyV: Yeah, that's true. I know I have to be patient when I'm talking in Spanish, because since I'm not a native Spanish speaker, my Spanish is all mixed up. Like a one minute I'll be like 'Vale'. Okay and then the next minute be like, 'Wepa!' 

'What! Where are you?!' (both laugh) So the same thing can happen with English. Like you said, it's hard to have a dialect if you're learning it as a second language. Just go with the flow. If you say something and you're like,

'Oh, that's British English with American English.' 

They understood you. Move on.

Manuel Garcia: It's... maybe the best advice in that situation is relax. Okay. Don't worry. Okay. The people in front of you [are] trying to understand what you're saying. If they don't understand something, they will ask. Be brave and speak. And let's see now.

GabyV: Alright. Well, this episode is a little bit opposite from most of our episodes. Usually we go into the guests' expertise and then jump into the language part. In your previous blog posts in our last discussion, how product development can be as short as three months or as long as two years. So what are the factors behind the length of time it takes?

Manuel Garcia: Depends on the stage of the product. For example, if you are trying to develop a product from scratch maybe [it'll take] one year because you have to understand first the customer journey. The lessons are focused on their target.

'You have to define the target of your product.'

And maybe you are launching a shampoo, you say, 

'Okay, my shampoo is for women from 20 to 30 years old, middle-class. That's it.'

That's a target. But in that [age group] and social class there are a lot of behaviors behind. No women use the shampoo in the same way. Maybe you wash your hair twice a week or every day? So you have to understand that and that's why someone came up with the buyer persona.

What's the buyer persona? The Buyer Persona is the description of one profile. I will say, 

'Okay, this is Gaby and Gaby [has] black [curly] hair. And she washed her hair every day in the morning with cold water. And she wants to try different brands each time that she goes to the supermarket. Okay, great.'

That's a buyer persona. That's more related to desires, to motivations, to behavior of each person. It's not only the target.

And when you have different profiles, different buyer personas, you define the customer journey. And the customer journey is the entire experience a customer has while communicating with a brand. It's the complete interaction roadmap from brand discovery to purchasing and beyond. 

But what's that mean? For example, you are thirsty and you have plenty of options.

You have water. You have energy drinks. You have Coke. You have a juice. So what happened when you want to take the decision? What do you want? So you have to understand that. What's the motivation of one person to go from the thirsty moment to a store and take the Coke. 

That's a journey. 

'I would like a Coke.'

Okay. You took the decision. Next step.

'I have to go to a store.'

Which store? Okay, convenience store, supermarket, bakery, restaurant, you have a lot of options. Okay. 

'I went to the convenience store.'

Where is the Coke? 

I want that a cold Coke or a warm Coke. In Mexico, some people want a warm Coke. It's cultural. You have to understand that. These are like mini steps to reach the Coke finally. It's a bottle. It's a can. It's a different experience. To understand that process doesn't take one week. That has a lot of time behind because you have to understand the customer journey for each buyer persona. 

The brands that understood that are successful. You have to take at least six months to understand that and after that you go to the development part. And the development part depends on the vendors or providers you have, the raw material, the packaging. How would you produce the product? Will you produce it for yourself? Or you have a contract with another company that produces the product [for you]? Or maybe you will import existing product to your country? 

So if you are launching a product from zero, you have to take into account all this stuff and that maybe takes one year, two years. But maybe you have a finished product, a cell phone like this. 

You say, 'Okay. I would like to develop a new cover for the phone.'

Okay. That's easy. I have the [measurements]. I have the material, everything. I only change the label, the design. Print it and let's go. That's it. That takes three months. 

GabyV: So then all of that development takes a while. In between, there can be some lag if it takes a while for the managers to make a decision. So how can you make the approval process faster?

Manuel Garcia: Avoiding the bureaucracy. (laughs) Look, one of the things, the challenge that a company has right now in the world is [avoiding] bureaucracy. Have a process. Maybe you have a system an automatic system, the cloud for example, you can share the files. Okay. Each person takes responsibility to approve each part of the checklist and the final checklist list we would do for the manager. Digitalize all the processes and that will be faster and easier because if you don't like something you can do the comment online. 

'Okay. I don't like this label. I don't like this color, blah, blah.' Boom. 

[Instead of] 'I have to call the person. Explain.' No. Come on. We don't have time for that. It's better to do it online. In my experience, that's the best way to do it.

The only thing that you have to do it physically is when you have the final product because you have to touch it and try it, no? And you can't avoid that. It's part of the responsibility. Before that, you have the opportunity to digitalize all the processes. 

GabyV: That's true. Even we think about Steve Jobs, he has that reputation of being like a control freak. After a while he said, 'You know what? My job was to hire people smarter than me, and then let them do their thing.'

Manuel Garcia: Yes, that's the best way, no? Sometimes the owner of the company thinks that he's right all the time. No, (laughs) not necessarily because there are experts in each field. You have to respect each field. And so for that reason, I love that mindset. You have to be around smarter people than you so you [as] the owner of the company you can be calm, quiet. You can go for vacation because you have great people doing a great job for you. That's the best way.

GabyV: Yeah, definitely. Oh, there's another word that I've been hearing thrown around a lot in marketing. And I think people are starting to forget what it actually means. Could you explain what in the world is omnichannel marketing?

Manuel Garcia: Wow. Omnichannel. The people get confused with multichannel. It's different. Okay. Why? Let's think about the shampoo. 

What's the main sales channel of shampoo? 

You go to the customer journey and you find out that this is the supermarket. 

'So, Okay. If I want to launch a shampoo, I have to do in a supermarket. Great. Okay.'

That's the first premise, but when you go deeper, you can find that the people [are] getting more digital and they are more willing to buy the shampoo on e-commerce. 

'Ah, okay. So I must have a great landing page, a great system [if] someone that wants to buy the shampoo online.'

Okay, great. 

'Oh well, but some people [have] a large family and they go to a price club.'

Costco, or Macro in Holland, or Sam's Club in the US and Mexico.'

And you say, 'Okay, that's a wholesaler. I can buy the big shampoo for my [whole] family.'

But okay. That's enough. No. Maybe someone goes for vacation and they forgot the shampoo and they need the special package to get on the plane. so that's another challenge. 

How many challenges [did] I mention? Five. that's the multichannel. Okay. You have a lot of channels to sell the product.

But what is omnichannel? The omnichannel is when you replicate the same communication message and you connect all the channels. How can you do that? 

You can have the shampoo with a QR code in the supermarket and you say, 

'Okay, ah, this is the shampoo.'

When you read the QR, you say, 

'Okay, you want shampoo online? I can give you a 20% off discount.'

'Oh, wow.' 

That's a connection 

Or maybe you say, 

'If you buy this shampoo in Walmart, I can give you a discount the next time you do it online or in a specific convenience store.'

So everything is connected and you speak in the same message, the same color, the same art, everything the same. 

One of the best demonstration of that is Coca-Cola. The image of Coca Cola is the same, no matter if it's the supermarket, if it's a convenience store, a tiny store, online. All the time. It's the same. You recognize the colors, the font, everything. 

When you have a multichannel strategy, each channel has a strategy, but there [is] no communication between them. 

So that is the difference between multichannel and omnichannel. You maintain the image, maintain the communication, but each channel has their own particularities. For example, if you are using signage for a community store, it's different in comparison with the supermarket, it's different in comparison with ecommerce. When you are in ecommerce, you have time to explain to people with a video or with a great website. But when you are a supermarket, you don't have time for that. If you want to do something in the supermarket with a video, you have to have a QR code you can read with the phone. 

'Okay. Go to the website and you can watch the video.'

That's omnichannel because you are connecting all the channels. So that's the way to go from the multichannel platform to an omnichannel platform.

GabyV: Okay. Well, I'll have to work on implementing that. Now there's a lot of near shoring going on with the US and Canada hiring Latinos that are bilingual, how would someone get into that particular field?

Manuel Garcia: Well, that's a challenge, but it's not impossible, no? In this globalization process, it's more important the skills and the experience you have, than the region that you are coming from. Companies are willing to hire someone from another country with another experience, with a different way of thinking maybe a different experience of life that brings something different to this market.

So in the US and Canada, obviously you have to speak English, no? That's mandatory. Highlight what you do different in comparison with the people that live there. 

Just imagine that you are a guy working in finance, banking, and you are looking for a new job in the US. And you come from Venezuela, for example. 

What's the differentiation that you have between an American or Canadian, banker or finance guy with you? 

And you say, 'Okay, I used to work with inflation of 1000000% per year. So you have to anticipate scenarios, financial scenarios, to do everything in the bank. You have inflation in the US of 2%. For me, it's [a piece of] cake.'

No. So that's the way to explain to the people that you come from a hard environment and a harder situation, and you can apply that knowledge, that experience, in a new market. You are from a different situation and that's an advantage. The company that [values] that explanation is convenient for you.

GabyV: Yeah, that's an excellent point. I have not thought about it that way either. But Manuel, we want to thank you so much again for doing this with us a second time. I know it was not easy for us to set this up, but I'm glad we did. So how can people get in touch with you after this interview?

Manuel Garcia: The best way to do it is on LinkedIn. Okay. You can write 'Manuel Garcia marketing' and I would appear in the list.

GabyV: You got marketing locked down as SEO. That's nice. (both laugh)

Manuel Garcia: Yes. Thank you for the invitation and for me, it's an honor to be speaking with you. Two times, three times, four times, no matter. 

GabyV: Alright. Well, we'll definitely, when we have an all-star episode, we'll have to bring you back in.

Manuel Garcia: Great. It'll be a pleasure.