José Villaseñor has opened a Hispanic marketing and public relations shop called The Norte Group.
Villaseñor was previously a vice president and group manager at Ketchum in Dallas, where he founded and led the agency's U.S. Hispanic Markets Group.
His current clients are UICI, Valor Telecom and Donruss, which recently unveiled the first Spanish-language baseball cards.
Villaseñor sees great promise in his Hispanic marketing niche. "I think the market is fractured enough that there's going to be the opportunity for someone my size to make the mark," he said. Competitors include both boutiques and larger Hispanic agencies.
The challenge facing Villaseñor as well as his competitors involves educating potential clients about why they should target the Latino market. "Many companies are very afraid," he said.
Villaseñor, however, does not want to sign clients who think they can just show up at Cinco de Mayo festivals to reach Hispanics consumers.
"Companies have to be serious about wanting to get into the Hispanic market or want a fresher approach if they've been in the market a while," Villaseñor said.
Villaseñor is currently employing freelancers at his Dallas shop.
While at Ketchum, Villaseñor developed marketing programs for clients like Miller Brewing, Wendy's, Visa USA and Time Warner Cable.
He hopes to capitalize on his expertise marketing to middle- and upper-class Hispanics. "That still continues to be an undiscovered gem," Villaseñor said.