As global marketers we know so much about our company or client that we can unfailingly dream up – sometimes literally – a plan. I know I’m not alone in that belief, that sometimes a message can affect us on a level where ideas then appear to us out of nowhere, as if from a dream, or even in our actual dreams! We understand intention and corporate direction. We author tag lines and style guides to keep everyone on-brand. We devise campaigns for any occasion. All of which serve to drive and support sales and the larger business mission. In essence, we live the company roadmap from beginning to end.
We also determine the type of marketing to best accomplish a goal and the techniques that fit the need. If it’s sales growth you’re after, one of the simplest, most cost-effective campaigns for local and global expansion is a translation management strategy (TMS). Translation means reaching non- and limited-English speakers abroad while also earning the trust of Americans who prefer to shop, eat, live in their native language.
Key to TMS success is incorporating translation into your marketing plan and communicating it to corporate as a KPI so that it gets prioritized every step of the roadmap. It’s a novel idea, in a sense, because only 1% of US companies export, compared with overseas companies that build a foundation around a TMS due to geography. Yet in every instance, a translation management plan serves the dual purpose of broadening your company’s profile while generating exponential sales.
Here we outline how to PLAN for translation, CHOOSE a language services company, and EXTRACT VALUE out of a translation campaign.
PLAN to Translate
Having a TMS in place at the start of any marketing campaign means it will play into every business and budgeting decision – messaging, branding, and possibly even pricing. It may also influence how the company ultimately decides to go-to-market – maybe cultural, outbound, or even affiliate marketing to start, followed by inbound or non-linear marketing once you find your international footholds.
Key drivers to consider:
- Ninety percent of buyers start out impartial to brand
- A TMS generates company and brand awareness (people prioritize information in their native language over price)
- A TMS differentiates you from competitors during the consideration stage (42% of people would never purchase products or services from a website in a different language)
- A TMS leads to the sale and brand loyalty (60% of Spanish speakers in the US agree that a company providing Spanish translation values the Hispanic community)
Notice how the statistics correlate with the buyer’s journey, from awareness to consideration to decision? Aligning a TMS with that journey works to elevate your company above the competition and enhance the customer experience to generate sales and brand loyalty.
At the same time, it may be that you’re suddenly seeing sales from abroad, simply due to the ever-shrinking online world we live in. That “accidental exporter” status is a sure sign that it’s time to translate and while you no longer have the luxury of time, you do have the benefit of accidental market research. A high-quality multilingual marketing company can quickly turn that reactive situation into a proactive campaign, repeatable in future markets.
CHOOSE a Language Services Provider (LSP)
As global marketers we choose vendors all the time, so we get the drill, and our journey emulates the buyer’s path through awareness, consideration, and decision. Choosing an LSP is no different, but with the added facets of:
One, the inherently personal nature of translation means you’re selecting a partner rather than simply a vendor; and,
Two, trusting your language services partner is essential since you likely cannot personally proofread the translation.
An LSP specifically focused on marketing works best for TMS campaigns since they understand where you’re coming from, whether it be for market research or a nuanced tag line, a brochure or translated and subtitled commercial spot. Multilingual marketing services builds upon and enhances your marketing plan with new market identification and testing, TMS project definition, and content prioritization, then executes your TMS with culturally adapted translation.
Finding a high-quality LSP means focusing not on total cost but on total value. Machine translation is only partially to blame for bad translation, though it does top the list of the most common translation strategy missteps. A high-quality, multilingual marketing translation company relies on a circle of skilled, native-speaking translators with deep experience in marketing, and matchmakes for lasting client/translator relationships. This ensures clear understanding of the company’s essential messaging and consistency throughout any campaign, and across all media types (print, digital, ecommerce, etc.).
In addition, language services can grow in tandem with your TMS, meaning increased sales essentially fund subsequent projects. To help with this, a high-quality LSP:
- Reuses content appropriately to control cost, e.g., leverages the same copy on packaging and collateral
- Offers cost-effective beginning strategies, e.g., landing pages instead of full-service email translation
- Pairs phone interpreting with FAQs and knowledge articles for comprehensive customer service for new customers
- Includes an internal review process at with every translation project, to ensure quality
- Promotes ongoing client/translator pairings to minimize the re-learning of client needs
EXTRACT Maximum Value From Your Translation Campaign
The big-time TMS successes and failures are fascinating. Mistakes, misconceptions, mistranslations happen, and in the business world, dare I say they are 100% without intention? On average, 3,000 to 4,000 words are added to a given lexicon each year (selfie, anyone?) and polysemes – words and phrases with multiple meanings – make the marketing world go ‘round, simultaneously eliciting neural and emotional responses, all designed to at once attract and gain a customer’s trust.
High-quality translation means deftly conveying these cultural subtleties to a group of people who are human just like you, just with a slightly different way of being human. Here at Rapport International, for example, when Staples changed its branding to “Make [More] Happen,” we quickly learned there is no such thing as “refrigerator art” in France, hence the phrase “Make [Refrigerator Art] Happen” held no resonance in French. At the same time, upon explanation that same translator could easily understand the concept and offer a comparable custom to elicit that same sense of joy.
The benefits of multilingual marketing span myriad industries and its effectiveness correlates with your company’s maturity level, capacity for increased sales, and larger corporate strategy. The following real-world examples represent the range of services a high-quality LSP can provide, as opposed to a pay-per-word service:
- A US manufacturer acquired companies from the US, UK, and Germany. We identified the key documents and website pages for translation, creating a simple, repeatable process into new markets.
- A not-for-profit health services company needed a quality assurance check for an app experience newly available in Spanish. We reviewed the app for cultural propriety while also noting technical bugs.
- A Maine-based stamp company became an “accidental exporter” to Spanish language countries. We translated website pages and a blog and the company still sees spikes in sales after every Spanish language blog post. Expansion to other languages and countries are now in the works.
- A US designer, producer, and marketer of children’s toys and nursery products, shortly after a successful US debut, launched the same product line into the European market to disappointing results. We identified a confusing brand message as the sticking point, changed the name of the product line, and it is still offered in that market today.
One of my favorite personal stories involves a US toy company dealing with a sudden spike in sales from Japan. In lieu of a costly translation project for the entire company website we quickly determined – at no cost – that the increased sales were for a single product line. That won us the company’s trust and loyalty and we continue to work with them today!
Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice and the correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. With our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.