How Martha de la Torre and Joe Badame grew El Clasificado into the country’s largest free Spanish publication

Martha de la Torre, co-founder, El Clasificado
Martha de la Torre, co-founder, El Clasificado

Joe Badame, co-founder, El Clasificado
Joe Badame, co-founder, El Clasificado

In 1988, Martha de la Torre and Joe Badame could not have expected the small publication they created would grow to become the largest free Spanish publication in the country. The two young CPAs also could not have imagined the numerous obstacles they would need to overcome to ensure the company’s success.
As the husband-and-wife co-founder’s entrepreneurial adventure began with El Clasificado, so did the hard work and many sacrifices. At first, they did everything themselves. De la Torre became the salesperson and marketer, while Badame took care of operations.
Severely undercapitalized, de la Torre and Badame did everything they could to keep the business alive. They didn’t take salaries for 10 years, sold their cars and home, and even moved in temporarily with de la Torre’s father.
In 1992, however, Badame developed a strategy that would eventually take El Clasificado to new heights — he changed the company’s distribution model, moving from home delivery to bulk-drop. After computerizing the company’s distribution system, he also began an aggressive news rack market saturation initiative throughout Los Angeles. It was a major risk for the company, but also a move that positioned El Clasificado as the leading free Spanish publication in Southern California.
This business model continues today and has allowed El Clasificado to expand its reach from California’s Central Valley to San Diego, and, most recently, to Yuma, Ariz. The company’s award-winning distribution system has set the publication apart from its competitors, having been the first free publication in Spanish to contract with major supermarkets and convenience stores for distribution.
In addition, El Clasificado stands above the competition, as the publication is hyper-localized into zones grouped by zip codes. This strategy allows advertisers greater pricing options and flexibility to advertise in their preferred areas.
Upon launch of El Clasificado in 1988 only 10,000 copies were distributed, and today, total circulation has grown to 510,000 copies distributed throughout 48 zones, 300 cities and 23,000 distribution points.
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