Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation, Zenith Media writes in his article “Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream” that if we foster creativity, fuel curiosity and help people relate via relationships and empathy, then we empower kids to be totally self-reliant. They will be agile, adaptable to change in a world that we can’t yet foresee. He talks about a future that is not about what we remove, but what to refocus on and on developing 5 key attributes to become robust, happy and balanced people. In a world of change, technological disruption and abundant information, we as translators can take inspiration from these suggested attributes and take comfort in the fact that many of them are already innate qualities of professional translators.
Are you thinking of expanding internationally or entering a new market? One of the first things you are likely to do is to have your marketing materials translated. So how do you get your message and call to action across effectively in a different language?
Choose a translator specialised in marketing
Take the time to find a translator who is experienced in marketing and who understands your business. Think about it. You wouldn’t want a financial translator translating your highly creative marketing copy, you can give them a call to translate your annual report but not your website or brochure. Translating marketing documents requires creativity, cultural competency and an ability to convey ideas whilst at the same time retaining meaning and eliciting a desired emotional response.
Make sure your company name and tagline are appropriate
Your company name, slogan, logo or tagline all feature prominently on your website and marketing materials. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the more well-known marketing translation fails such as ‘Come alive with Pepsi’ which was rendered in Chinese as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’. Beware: a brand name or slogan doesn’t always translate well into other languages and cultures. Getting it right the first time around avoids costly corrective action and damaging your reputation.
Provide style guides and glossaries for your marketing materials
Recurring words or phrases are important to your company’s identity and were originally created to make your marketing content memorable and compelling. It’s therefore important to communicate these to help your translator keep these same qualities and style for materials in another language. Your goal should be to maintain brand coherence as much as possible within any cultural limitations.
Educate translators about your brand
The more informed translators are about your brand, the more accurate and effective their work will be. The translator’s role as a linguist is to take on board your brand voice and personality. They do this in order to convey these to your target audience in such a way that the message really speaks to them personally. It’s important for you to be able to present your company’s unique value to your desired target audience through culturally relevant communication.
In summary, when you are looking to translate your marketing materials for a new market, it’s important to choose a specialised translator, check the cultural relevance of your brand name and tagline, provide or develop a style guide and educate translators about your brand. Putting these recommendations in place will go a long way to ensuring that your translated marketing content retains its original compelling message and stand-out qualities.
If your product or service is only promoted in one language on your website, non-native speakers of that language may have difficulty understanding it fully. The nuanced features and benefits of your product or service may go unnoticed, resulting in reduced engagement with your brand. For many companies, time and budget limitations can be obstacles to not getting a website translated. Too many companies rely on English being the so-called “language of business”. Don’t forget that SEO can only work in another market if your content is translated.
Can’t read, won’t buy
According to Common Sense Advisory, 72% of consumers spend most of their time online on websites in their own language. Even though many people around the world understand English to some extent, it is estimated that half of these do not have a good enough command of English to successfully navigate a website. 55% of respondents only buy from websites where information is presented in their own language. As a result there is a reduction in browsing rates for English sites, non-consideration of a product or service and a limited desire to buy. Put simply, people prefer to purchase from a site that is in their native language.
So you’re going global and need a translation into English but you have to choose between Australian or British and American English. This will of course be dependent on your audience and where you are selling your product or service. I’m going to focus here on Australian English as I live in Australia! Let’s have a look at the main linguistic differences between the two.
Translators and translation are key if you are exporting or importing to a new market. Maybe your business has a great product and you have identified a niche in a new foreign market. You may have invested in setting up a website in English and spent a great amount of time and money developing it with web design experts and copywriters. Now after all this effort, you will need to adapt your website and translate it for a new market. You may also need to translate instructions or other content for your target market.
Where do you start?
One option is to hire a translator directly as most translators work as freelance contractors. The other option is to hire a translation agency which acts as an intermediary, so you won’t be in direct contact with the translator. The second option is preferable for most projects as you will save time and money and a great translator who partners with your business can add real value and help you meet your goals. Most translators in Australia are accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). This guarantees a certain level of professionalism in a language pair. It is however difficult to know who will be your perfect translation partner.
Starting out as a new freelance translator can be exciting and daunting at the same time.
Finally you have the freedom and flexibility to do what you love but you also have to run a business and manage your time. Whilst you can get advice before you start out, it’s sometimes difficult to see how that advice will apply. With time to look back, you can identify the things you should have perhaps paid closer attention to. So, after a couple of years of hindsight here are 5 things I wish someone had told me as a new freelance translator:
Don’t underestimate the amount of effort, planning and organisation required
Think in terms of the problems your clients face not just about your skills
You can’t be everything to everyone. It’s ok to say no
Never stop learning and share what you learn with others
Measurement is king in everything you do – hours worked, words translated, marketing activities, accounting
As Seth Godin says in his book, Purple Cow, “Remember you can only improve that which you can measure, so in addition to thinking about the effectiveness of an action, you should always also consider how much it will cost you to measure it.”
I’m still not very good at this although I am improving, little by little. It takes time, discipline and the motivation of potential clients to help you stick with it.