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SEMrush Pro Talk with Joe Kutchera

Kathleen Garvin
SEMrush Pro Talk with Joe Kutchera

We are excited to have Joe Kutchera, a digital marketing advisor to companies expanding into Latin America, on the blog.

Joe expands on his work as a social media and content marketing consultant, and talks about the 5-step marketing process from his new book, "E-X-I-T-O: Su estrategia de marketing digital en 5 pasos."

Q: You consult on content marketing and digital media strategies with a specialty in Hispanic/Latin American markets. Why did you decide to focus on this population?

First of all, thank you to the team at SEMrush for inviting me to do this interview! To answer the question, it’s a funny story.

I guess you could say I was destined to become a “Gringo Latino.” My parents met in a university Spanish class. They honeymooned in Mexico. And nine months later, yours truly was born.

Even though we lived in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin – a place best known for beer and bratwurst, Harleys and "Happy Days"— my parents somehow imparted my siblings and I with an interest in Latin American culture and food. By the time I graduated from business school, I had traveled and worked in Mexico, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Spain, and now dedicated myself to improving my Spanish language skills.

My last two years at the media giant Time Warner allowed me to combine my professional experience in the media business with my personal interest in the Spanish language and Latin America. I moved to Mexico City to work at Grupo Expansion (acquired by Time Warner in 2005) where we founded one of the most successful digital media divisions in Mexico. Together, we launched CNNExpansion, which became the largest business news site in Mexico.

Today, I advise companies like Flipboard, Dennis Publishing, Aetna and Health Net on how to effectively enter the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets online via digital media, and how to engage audiences with targeted content and information.

In 2011, after getting laid off from working at an ad agency in LA, I scheduled an interview in Mexico City. While waiting for my flight, I met my (now) wife at the LAX airport. As a food scientist for Sabra Dipping Company, which you may know for its hummus, Lulu brings Latinized flavors to the masses (and helps me with my Spanish).

Q: Your new book, “E-SUCCESS: Your Digital Marketing Strategy in 5 Easy Steps,” explores the need for an updated method to reach the public online today. Can you talk a little bit about these five steps?

We all know the 4Ps of marketing: place, price, product and promotion. But what strategic marketing models exist for the era of social/mobile media? And for Latin America or the U.S. Hispanic market?


The “E-X-I-T-O” strategic marketing and innovation acronym from my new book - "E-X-I-T-O: Su estrategia de marketing digital en 5 pasos" - outlines a 5-step “Latinized” strategic marketing process, that my co-authors and I hope replaces the 4 Ps. It spells the word “success” in Spanish and provides marketers with a framework for developing marketing plans, as well as content and social media strategies that engage audiences on digital platforms.

All successful marketing plans start with listening to and understanding your audience. This is the first step in our 5-part marketing process:

1. E – Escuche a su audiencia (Listen to your audience)

2. X – eXperimente como usuario, a través de “perfiles” (Put yourself in the shoes of the user and write your marketing plan using “personas”

3. I – Integrate your communication channels

4. T – Transform your audience into a community

5. O – Optimize

Q: Your first book, “Latino Link: Building brands online with Hispanic communities and content,” looks at digital marketing for a Latino market. What are some major differences you uncovered?

When marketers think of “Hispanic marketing,” the first thing that comes to mind is “Spanish.” But translating into Spanish just scratches the surface.

Geert Hofstede, the Dutch social psychologist, identified 5 dimensions of culture:

  1. Individualism versus collectivism;

  2. Masculine versus feminine;

  3. Uncertainty avoidance;

  4. Power distance; and

  5. High versus low context.

All five of these differences in culture exist on a spectrum. Our culture in the U.S. is highly individualistic, leans toward masculine and has a low degree of power distance (in other words, we communicate very similarly with a CEO as we would a secretary).

In addition, we have a low degree of “uncertainty avoidance,” meaning we embrace high degrees of risk in business and life. Silicon Valley is a perfect example for a culture with a very low level of “uncertainty avoidance.” People in the Valley move there from all over the world and risk great deals of money and time, all in order to build the next Google or Apple.

Lastly, the U.S. is a low context culture. We speak very directly, even curtly, which is alarming to high context cultures like China, Japan or Latin America where messages are often inferred.

In contrast, Latin America is a far more collectivistic culture, which is why social media has been embraced so quickly. Collectivistic cultures value the family or the group above that of the individual. Latin America tends to be more masculine, as exemplified in the “machismo” culture. It lies on the other end of the spectrum of uncertainty avoidance: a stable job that delivers a steady paycheck to the family may be valued above a far riskier entrepreneurial job.

Regarding “power distance,” the Spanish language has two forms of “you”: “Tú,” or the informal, more friendly “you,” used between friends and family, and “Usted,” the formal form of “you” that creates distance between an employee and the director of a department, for example. These two forms of “you” reflect the high degree of power distance in Latin America. Lastly, Latin American cultures, like much of Asia, are high-context cultures. Messages are inferred but not stated directly.

When we marketers communicate via text or with images and video, we need to adapt our messages to a specific culture. If not, we may offend potential customers. These five dimensions of culture best enable us to understand cultural differences and how we can adapt our marketing messages, web design and usability to each country and culture.

Q: How can brands better cater to this population?

Digital tools like SEMrush enable marketers to understand user behavior – country-by-country with breakouts of each language and keyword – better than ever. Let’s look at this example for the keyword “vuelos” or “flights.”


We can see the average cost per click (CPC), the CPC distribution by country (Spain, Argentina, Mexico), the related keywords in Spanish and the keyword combinations, as well as the volume of searches for each airline. Go back in time 10-20 years and marketers wouldn’t have believed the granularity of this type of information.

Q: All the proceeds from this book benefit One Laptop Per Child. Can you share some information on the non-profit?

OLPC started at MIT’s Media lap with the goal of developing a $100 plastic, solar-powered computer with educational software for children ages 3-12 from low-income communities.

Today, the non-profit is based in Miami to better serve its customers in Latin America and Africa. It sells laptops and tablets to governments like Peru, Guatemala and Uruguay so as to foster student-centered learning where each child can learn at their own speed with the software on their computer. Walmart now sells OLPC’s new bilingual (English/Spanish) tablet, the XO, in the U.S., Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Learn more at: http://one.laptop.org/about/xo-tablet

Thank you, Joe!

Joe Kutchera is a social and content marketing advisor, with a special emphasis on the Hispanic/Latin American markets. He is the author of "Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content" and "E-X-I-T-O: Su estrategia de marketing digital en 5 pasos."

Kathleen Garvin

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Kathleen Garvin is an online editor and analytics wrangler for The Penny Hoarder, the largest personal finance blog. She's also a contributing writer for I Want Her Job and started a beginner-friendly digital marketing blog, The Maroon House. Kathleen is the former blog editor at SEMrush.
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Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Great interview with a talented expert. I highly recommend both of Joe's books to anyone even considering how to reach the latino market.
Kathleen Garvin

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Thanks for the comment, Timothy. Glad you liked the interview!

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