In Business Trends & Strategy, General Interest, MI Best Practices

There are a couple of key reasons that companies operating in Latin America specifically should develop thought leadership programs:

  • A lack of published data on many sectors in Latin America, including healthcare, payments, logistics and more
  • Scant content in Spanish or Portuguese covering key business topics
  • Relatively little coverage of specific business problems that are endemic to Latin America—and the available solutions
  • Light development of thought leadership in LatAm in general, meaning that content competition is less fierce than in larger markets like the U.S.

However, this doesn’t mean thought leadership in LatAm is an easy way for companies to improve their brand positioning and drive leads. They often get it wrong, usually due to market-specific factors, general execution problems—or both.

We’ll address both categories with an eye towards highlighting what works.

Local LatAm Factors to Factor In

When developing a thought leadership or content marketing program for Latin America, companies need to focus on the following factors to avoid pitfalls:

#1 Pain points. The most popular thought leadership pieces offer helpful solutions for vexing problems. For this to work in Latin America, you need to fully research your target audience’s pain points—not guess. These points can be very specific to the region or individual markets within the region, and without the right market intelligence to guide development, you could offer thought leadership covering the wrong topics or that’s not oriented to specific conditions on the ground in LatAm.

#2 Strategic sharing. Successful thought leadership in Latin America doesn’t always need to solve problems. Straightforward data pieces from your company or non-competitors can advance your positioning while being quite welcome to the audience given the lack of data. The key is picking data that fits your brand’s value proposition.

#3 Language. It seems obvious, but companies often fail to set up Portuguese and Spanish versions of content in the same content hub—or one hub for Spanish and another for Portuguese, which can work just as well. There’s more expense and work with this approach, but unless your firm has no operations in Brazil and is uninterested in this market, it makes no sense to forego Portuguese content.

#4 Targeting. In our experience developing thought leadership content, we’ve seen that Brazilians will read about Brazil — but respond less to stories about the rest of LatAm, whether they cover the whole region or specific countries. The opposite occurs with Spanish-speaking Latin America countries: they’re much less interested in content about Brazil than in content focused on the whole region or on specific Spanish-speaking countries.
As such, test out content that is more generalized for both Brazil and Spanish-speaking Latin America (not specific to either area) to appeal to both, while also developing Brazil-centered and general LatAm-centered content for the different audiences.

#5 Regionalisms. Work with experienced writers and translators that know the regionalisms of different countries, such as acera (banqueta) for sidewalk or frijoles (habichuelas, caraotas, porotos, alubias, fríjoles) for beans, for example. If you pick a general term for a word with several regional variants, your readers may get it—or not. You run the risk of jarring them out of their reading rhythm with your word choice. It’s better to include synonyms so the flow isn’t interrupted.

#6 Mobile. Latin Americans tend to use mobile devices to go online, so your content hub should look great and be easy to navigate from a smartphone or tablet. This may involve moving past a responsive design to creating a custom-designed mobile site. However, B2B thought leadership content could be viewed more often from a PC in the workplace, so a company would need to review its LatAm traffic in Google Analytics to see which devices the audience uses the most and adjust accordingly.


General Points to Consider

Beyond the market-specific factors we highlighted for LatAm, successful thought leadership also requires some solid fundamentals, such as:

#7 Know why. Your thought leadership should have direct goals with specific ways to measure results, whether it’s lead generation, web traffic, PR or brand positioning. If you don’t know why you’re using thought leadership, there’s no way to measure success or failure.

#8 Know what. Before launch, you should define if your thought leadership will be blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, articles to contribute to publications, e-books, infographics, explainer videos, mobile apps…or all of these.
Beyond content format, you should also map out the pain points and challenges of your target audience and build content ideas around them. Companies often want to treat thought leadership like advertising, but it’s not about you, it’s about them. Nobody binge-watches commercials on Netflix. The same applies to thought leadership. It has to serve the audience first. Now, it must also relate to what your company does, but it should be natural and not forced. Otherwise, you’ll lose the audience within seconds.


#9 Know who. Many companies find it useful to create different buyer personas to describe their target audience and build the content around those personas. If you have existing research in place, that’s a great place to start, though additional market intelligence could help you sharpen this further.

#10 Know how. Content that isn’t seen, doesn’t exist. So once content topic and formats are decided, the next big decision is distribution, which includes email marketing, social media and other channels, as well as strong SEO so the target audience finds your content via online searches, which in both the B2B and B2C sectors is the information-gathering stage 1 of the buying process.

Get a Strategic Start

Even with a talented marketing team, companies can find it challenging to lift off with thought leadership in LatAm. Researching the audience, developing the strategy and finding the right creative team to develop content consistently can stretch internal resources to the breaking point.

That’s where an experienced partner like Americas Market Intelligence can help. We’ve developed successful thought leadership initiatives for several brands operating in Latin America, and have both the research capabilities and execution to help you maximize the benefits of this effective tactic.

To get a basic sense of our capabilities in thought leadership, explore this recent whitepaper we produced for Visa.

Contact us to explore how we can help.


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