Local businesses at the third annual national Latino marketing conference Wednesday learned new tactics to market to the state's largest minority population.

The daylong event at the Hilton Salt Lake Center was themed "Blast Your Target: Guerrilla Marketing in Addition to Advertising." HMC-La Agency organized the event that was attended by about 200 people, including representatives from companies such as Qwest, Bonneville Media and Zions Bank.

"Guerrilla marketing is thinking outside the box," said Sandra Plazas, vice president of public relations and media for HMC-La Agency. "How can you be creative and at the same time, especially in slow economic times like now, stay within budget?"

Understanding the unique cultural aspects of the Hispanic community is key for companies in their efforts to successfully market their products toward this fast-growing target group, she said. Latinos often take a familial approach to making their consumer choices.

"So when we're going to by a car, we don't just say, 'This is what I want,"' she said. "We take our mom, we take our brothers, our kids."

Asking the advice or approval of family and friends when considering a purchase is quite typical in Latino culture and requires different marketing tactics, Plazas said.

Guerrilla marketing coach Kip Gienau said guerrilla marketing some companies are afraid to try new approaches for fear of looking foolish or being unsuccessful, but innovative strategies often work well for Hispanic audiences.

"It sets you apart in the marketplace by doing different things that most people are afraid to do," he said. "It saves money, creates awareness and drives you a little further and can increase profits."

One restaurant owner spent much of his money on opening his establishment and had nothing left for marketing, so he called a bunch of his friends on a night he knew would be slow at other restaurants and had his friends line up outside, Gienau said. "People were going by during rush hour and seeing all these people lined up and thinking, 'That must be a great place. I've got to go there and eat."'

He said that kind of creativity is exactly what gets the attention of consumers in general and can be particularly effective in the Hispanic community.

Rosina Lake with Univision said the creativity of guerrilla marketing offers useful ideas on how to expand the reach of company's like hers into the burgeoning Latino community in Utah.

"In every niche market, like the Latino market, you have to have all the elements in place to make sure your campaign is going to be successful," she said.

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