#82 | Translation Strategy is Important

Stephen Shortt, Managing Director at ETC Consult, was prior owner of Alpha College of English a school in Ireland where professionals could go to learn English.

Currently he’s an investor, leadership and career coach, keynote speaker, succession planner, and self-proclaimed Geek.

He explains his rational for using Global English and where translation was necessary, and deep dives into his experiences in Global Marketing.

His insights, experience, and go to market strategies clearly show that he thinks strategically.

Listen to this episode to learn from a true entrepreneur.





Connect with Wendy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendypease/

Connect with Stephen - http://shortt.me/li

Music: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com


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ATTENTION: Below is a machine generated transcription of the podcast. Yes, at Rapport International, we talk a lot about how machine translation is not good quality. Here you see an example of what a machine can do in your own your language. This transcription is provided as a gist and to give time indicators to find a topic of interest.


[00:00:34] Wendy: Welcome listeners. . We're going to introduce Stephen Shortt in just a minute. Um, but I want to remind you that The Global Marketing Show is sponsored by Rapport International and, uh, Rapport International connects people around the world and over 200 languages with high quality translation and interpretation.

[00:00:57] So Rapport International likes to do tidbits and they put them out on social media. And I've got one for you here today. You remember that show on TV. I think it was wheel a fortune that you'd say I'd like to buy a Vowel well, did you know, you can make a sentence in Romanian that contains no consonant and every Vowel and it, I don't know how to say it.

[00:01:23] Do you know Romanian at all?

[00:01:24] Stephen: Stephen? I don't, but I'm very keen to hear you give this one a go.

[00:01:31] Wendy: Eu iau o oaie. And it translates as I'm taking a sheep into English.

[00:01:39] I don't know what the actual meaning is, but now we know that you can make a whole sentences, a whole sentence in Romania without without a consonant. So on that note, I'll introduce Stephen Shortt and then we can actually get him into the conversation. He's the former owner of one of the top English language schools in Ireland.

[00:01:59] And he is currently focusing on helping people find their ideal career path and helping family businesses to scale through the generation. So he is owner of successful succession and career fit. So welcome Stephen. And I'm so anxious to hear your story.

[00:02:18] Stephen: Hi, Wendy. Good morning for you. I think good afternoon for me.

[00:02:22] Yes.

[00:02:22] Wendy: Good. I guess we should say the Australian good day. Good day. Good day. Yeah. Um, yeah. So you said you're an Irish man. If I put a microphone in front of you, you'd be good to go to, to entertain

[00:02:35] Stephen: us. So, so there are, there are some stereotypical traits that I do . Embody of, of the Irish. Although one of them that I don't buddy, I'm not, uh, I'm one of the few Irish men you'll meet that doesn't drink by choice.

[00:02:48] Which of course means that international people don't believe I'm Irish and Irish people don't trust.

[00:02:55] Wendy: So you don't drink by choice. So that means you drank only under pressure.

[00:03:00] Stephen: Um, so most of the time when I meet new people now, uh, I kind of, since I hit probably my mid parties, which was not in the last year or two, uh, when I meet new people and I tell them I don't drink, I can see them finishing the sentence with any more.

[00:03:18] Like I had an absolutely fantastic time in my twenties and thirties, and now I just can't drink anymore. For me it was, I bought my first car when I was 18. I got into the habit of driving and not drinking, and it's a boring, boring.

[00:03:31] Wendy: Well, you know what, it's fine because I have cut back a lot of my drink.

[00:03:36] I'll let you know, like Friday night, I like my glass of wine, but you do feel better if you don't. So there's, there's a lot. I found a non-alcoholic liquor that is, is quite tasty. It's low calorie. It's all natural. Um, and you're going to ask me the name. We'll have to put it in the show notes.

[00:03:53] Stephen: Perfect.

[00:03:53] And get them to sponsor the show

[00:03:55] Wendy: and get them to, yeah, there you go. The show, would they be a perfect sponsor for, for, but anyway, I want to get into the ESL school in Ireland, you were in 50 countries. You were marketing in 50 countries and you had people from 30 to 35 different countries that came there.

[00:04:11] I don't know what, the 30 to 50, the

[00:04:13] Stephen: differences that we had We would have students from up to 50 different countries every year that will come to us in Dublin to learn English. So we would market in most of those countries, some of those countries we didn't visit, but we had a local agents on the ground who were like tour operators, the traditional tour operators of pre-internet age, who would be their local point of contact for students who are looking to studying machine Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, wherever they were going, or to learn French in France and Russian in Russia and things like that.

[00:04:51] So these agents would help those students find the right course for them based on what they're looking for. So they'd have the schools that they would work with and they might have a portfolio of 10 or 15 schools that they would work with or more but we would do an awful lot of traveling out to those countries.

[00:05:05] So the majority of those countries we would visit at least once every three years. To me S partners to me corporate clients to meet former students, to be potential students doing trade fairs, doing student affairs and interacting with all these people through English, sometimes with an interpreter, for some of the markets and some of the destinations, but predominantly it was through English and, uh, and being very expressive and speaking in a kind of a pre intermediate, I don't know if you're familiar with CA for, uh, the council of Europe framework for language levels, but pre intermediate kind of be one level so people could understand and get a feel for the culture of the school and the culture of the organization.

[00:05:47] Wendy: Oh, okay. So there was so much in there that was really interesting. And I didn't realize that there was people that would help students pick where they wanted to go. So tell us about your students. Why were they looking to learn English? What were their ages?

[00:06:05] Stephen: So our demographic was quite different from most of the schools and aren't we, and we pitched ourselves at a really at a different demographic.

[00:06:14] A lot of schools in Ireland would be kind of 18, 19 years of age, the traditional student for those schools long-term working holiday because in Ireland, students who are coming from non-European countries can study for 25 weeks. So a, a university term or university year duration, but while they're studying, they can also work part-time, which they can't do in America.

[00:06:38] They can't do in Canada. They can't do in the UK, for example, which gave Arnold a bit of an edge for some of those destination, for some of those markets. So that would be the traditional done the traditional demographic for an awful lot of English language schools are average. So they would have 25 week long course it's 25 week long students and they'd be 18 or 19 years.

[00:07:00] Our average age was 28. And our average stay was 3.2 weeks because we would do a lot more short-term courses, people who are more at the professional end of things, we're looking to improve their career prospects, where they would be using English as a core part of their international business development or their international sales or their international and any element of their business, whether it's sales, networking, or working across international companies.

[00:07:26] So that was the type of student that we would target and that we would welcome to our school.

[00:07:32] Wendy: Okay. And so which, which countries did most of your students come from?

[00:07:37] Stephen: Top five countries would have been Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Brazil.

[00:07:46] Wendy: Brazil. Oh, that's interesting. Cause I was falling around the European countries and saying

[00:07:50] Stephen: that's been a big one and then Brazil.

[00:07:52] But we would have, we would have gotten lots of students from Asia, particularly from Japan and Korea, fewer from China. We wouldn't get any Arland is not a big destination for countries like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, any of those places? We're just not known. We're not on the map there. Middle east Kuwait, Saudi Arabia Bahrain Northern Africa, Libya.

[00:08:16] We would have gotten quite a few students east African know the, I mean they speak English. They don't, they don't go to, they don't go to Europe to learn English. If they were going, they'd probably go to South Africa. Uh, it'd be cheaper and easier for them and we will get quite a few from, from south America, Latin America.

[00:08:33] Wendy: And so tell me a little bit more about how you started your school, what the intention was, and then how you built your global marketing.

[00:08:42] Stephen: So we start a family business. So, which is why it's sort of two family businesses. I bought both to them and sold the language. So the English go to is obviously a hundred percent reliant on international travel.

[00:08:54] Um, my last day in that industry was the 6th of December, 2019, which was just, which was, I think it was actually the same day that the government and officially announced the COVID-19 was the thing. So I mean I've been called everything from an evil genius to stuff that's far less complimentary by, uh, friends and former competitors.

[00:09:14] So but when we started the school, when my parents started the school, I was 11. I say we we started the school. It was very much. It wasn't an English language school. It was an executive training school for international students, but the demand very quickly became apparent that it was really English language skills that people wanted.

[00:09:33] So it was less about the new students at a certain level would kind of know the technical words and the technical terms for their industry. What they were interested in was the communication bits was the networking bits and the being able to have those. Natural flowing conversations with colleagues and competitors, as opposed to explaining whatever widget was that they use, because they knew those terms that were probably even in Spanish, those terms were probably English terms anyway.

[00:10:01] So what they wanted was the fluency, the ability to have those natural conversations with people. So that's when we got into the more of the English language side of things, but we always had very much our focus on the professional end of the market. We would do a lot of business English courses. We did a lot of English for special purposes, very specific courses.

[00:10:21] We would do teacher training programs that were funded by the European union for Erasmus. We did business English courses. We did technical English courses. So we did very close groups. We did very specific English for special purpose.

[00:10:34] Wendy: Like the, the business English, what kinds of, I know there, I had heard of somebody that was here in the United States that asked somebody to do some accent reduction in business English, because he wanted to be able to speak American sports, you know, baseball and basketball and stuff. So if you've got a bunch of people that are coming in to learn business English, they're not looking for.

[00:10:58] I, you know, English from Ireland, they're looking for global English. So what kinds of things would you be teaching them and how do you start? Cause you've got all different levels

[00:11:07] Stephen: coming in. So we've got all different levels, but we would have classes at all levels. So we don't, we wouldn't have mixed ability classes.

[00:11:14] We would have levels. So we use it, we use the CFR framework, counseling framework which ranked levels across all languages with a series of can-do statements. So if you were as a zero

[00:11:25] C1, C2, sorry, Siri just popped up on my screen. I must have said some kind of a trigger that Siri thought I was talking to her. So they would be banded. So those bands, they correlate. Pretty much to things like beginner elementary, pre-intermediate intermediate, upper, intermediate, and advanced. So, but there are, there's a very specific framework which is developed by the council of Europe to allow people to understand, okay, if I'm at C1 in English, it means this.

[00:11:55] And if I'm at C one in French, it means this and Hyman C1 in German, it means this, and they're all the same. There were lists of things that can communicate in the past. Tense can discuss ideas in the future tense. So it is quite technical terms of your understanding of how those languages work. So so we would have classes at all levels every week.

[00:12:14] We used to guarantee every lesson, every class from pre intermediate to upper intermediate, that we would have a class available for you. Absolute beginners were so few and far between, especially for a school like ours. We had, I think one, one week of intake a year, For beginners and we'd still only get one or two people on those courses on the advanced, the very advanced and the proficiency.

[00:12:38] Again, we'd only have two classes a year that would run for two weeks and we might have five or six people in those classes. So the rest of the time that people would come in, they will come into the class at their level. We test them. On the first day we do an interview, we do a written test, a grammar test.

[00:12:50] And then we placed them in class with other students at their level to be able to communicate at the same level and learn together as they're progressing through the class and the students can come. So this is another part of the, uh, and it's one of the, I suppose, the intricacies of running an English language school, you have some students who were there for 25 weeks.

[00:13:12] Some students were there for one. And everything in between. So every Monday you might have a couple of new students arriving into the class. You have a maximum of 14 or 15 in your class, so you have to juggle, who's leaving. Who's coming in. What levels are coming in, who can move up, who needs to stay another week at that level?

[00:13:29] So we would have weekly meetings with teachers to discuss the progress that individual students have made. So at 25 weeks student over the course of those 25 weeks would have moved up to maybe three levels because they're making progress and moving along, somebody who's there for two or three weeks, probably wouldn't move up a level distinctly, but they would make an immense amount of progress and be ready to move up to that next level where they staying on a little bit longer.

[00:13:53] Wendy: Right. So that just, that sounds overwhelming to me because you've got to have new content for people that are staying for 25 weeks, but then you've got to have like basic content at each level for the people who are coming in for a couple of weeks.

[00:14:08] Stephen: So we created a curriculum at 12 weeks. Where we would have a 12 week, every week, every student would be working on a similar theme.

[00:14:19] So we, we use real world scenarios. We use real world projects. So we, people weren't learning English in theory, they were learning English how to use this in in the real world environment. So if I was to give you the example of, let's say on week seven, it was a couple of years ago. So I can't remember exactly what the, the frameworks are, but if we were to say on week seven, everybody's going to be doing tourism.

[00:14:39] Tourism is the theme over the course of the 20 weeks of that 20 hours of that week's training, they would be covering grammar. They would be covering vocabulary, covering learning, covering are covering reading and writing. So those are the major skills, but there would be a theme for the week around.

[00:14:59] Now if you were at a lower level class. So if you were in a pre intermediate class or a beginner entry class, maybe your tourism might be explaining things in your country, or being able to talk to people about the best tourism things to do in your country, because you're, you're expressing your, your ideas through English, but your English isn't.

[00:15:20] So you're doing basic stuff and explaining this tour, and it's a beautiful site and it's this it's that. But when you are up at the, let's say upper intermediate level or almost, or at the advanced level, you're still doing tourism, but actually the project you're working on to practice your reading, writing, listening, and speaking is you actually have to develop an itinerary for somebody going to your country.

[00:15:41] So you have to use the past tense about when they booked something, the future tense of where they're going, the present tense about what is there at that place. So it's putting it into a real world. Sorry.

[00:15:51] Wendy: Okay. So you would take like tourism and then cooking and then gardening or whatever it is. And then just,

[00:15:58] Stephen: and so there'd be more of a theme.

[00:16:00] So I might be reading one week or it might be like literature one week or movies and other week or something like that. So, but there was a 12 week program, the 12 week syllabus that we followed in a loop. So even if you got, so for example, the student who's here for 25 weeks, the first time that they were doing tourism, they might be doing, as I said, explaining what's happening.

[00:16:18] But then in seven weeks time, when there are a tourism, again, they're at a different level. So they're actually doing different projects around the theme of tourism.

[00:16:25] Wendy: So that's really brilliant to have, have that rotating. So you don't have the time when people are coming in. All right. So building that school and trying to attract international people in, how do, what were some of the challenges? I don't know if you really had the fears, because it sounds like your parents started it and then you came in and got a progress.

[00:16:50] Stephen: So my, my parents started as I got involved property. Full-time. Probably 20 years before we sold us. I was building it. I came in as a marketing executive, worked my way up to different bits and pieces, but was actively involved in all of the promotions. So the marketing of the business was, was really a lot of my focus.

[00:17:12] My background was not academics or the actual learning of the language learning or the academic side of things. I had a fantastic team of people who looked after all of that. My job really was to go out and put bums on seats. So we would do a lot of trade fairs. We would have a lot of agents.

[00:17:27] So as I mentioned to you at the beginning, agents would be. Travel agents, tour operators who might have one part of their business is just booking holidays for people to go away for a week with their family, to a city break or a beach holiday or whatever. But a large part of their business will be dedicated to helping people find language courses for them to go to because quality can vary dramatically city by city school, by school country, by country.

[00:17:56] People have different ideas of destinations, different destinations or different prices. So the UK, like London would be more expensive to study than in R than in Dublin. And Galway would probably be cheaper again. New York would be very expensive. Whereas if you went to Denver, for example, the flights might be a bit more expensive to get to from Europe.

[00:18:13] But one year there, the fees for three months might be 20% less than the. Three months in New York and the living expenses are different. So these agents would have done all of this. These re this research, they would have met schools at different industry events. They would have met them at different networking events, which is basically like speed dating for professionals for the schools will have a table.

[00:18:34] The agents will come round every 20 minutes, a bell will ring and you have this conversation of, this is what we offer. This is what we do. Like a, fair then schools would also go to thing locally, organized student fairs, for example. So one of these agents might decide in Turkey, they're going to invite maybe 20 schools from around the world that they work with to come and have a stand on.

[00:18:55] They'd have one of their interpreters there in case the student's level of English wasn't good enough. And the schools would then talk about their school directly to the student. The student would then go, okay. At the end of the day, I've met like six of these schools. And I want to get more information about that school.

[00:19:10] That's good. And then they will get that through the agent. The agent will get their commission.

[00:19:17] Wendy: Okay. So, so the first makes sense to me. So you're going to trade shows to meet travel agents and tour operators. And so your, this is all a, a B2B sale, and then you're depending on them to sell to you

[00:19:34] Stephen: for you.

[00:19:35] And we would do so let's say for example, there was a Spanish agent. So we would go out. I probably wouldn't meet them at a fair so much because it was so I would just fly over to Madrid, meet six or seven of our partners in two days in their offices. So for an hour in each place, just how are you have a coffee, have a chat what's new, what's different.

[00:19:56] They would then take our information, which we produced in English. And they would have a Spanish brochure of all of the schools that they represented with the photographs that we provided with texts that we provided, what they translated into Spanish. And then those brochures or that website would be marketed heavily in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville all the, like the places where they would have offices or inroads.

[00:20:20] Then when students or students in this case, it's not, I'm not talking about just like high school students. I'm talking about anybody. Who's coming to learn English like a client. They might be going, oh, I really, I need to improve my. I want to get this promotion. I need to up my English. So they start Googling or they start looking for, where can I find out more about language schools?

[00:20:41] These guys come up, they get their brochure, they read through the government. Yeah, I kind of, I like the idea of Dublin or maybe I like the idea of England or I want the adventure of going to Australia for two months or whatever it is. And then they find, they looked at the schools, they look at the descriptions, they look at the star ratings, they look or the recommendations.

[00:20:56] Then they contact the agent in Spanish and they have a chat to them on the phone. Or they have a meeting with them in person. The agent then would get more information like, well, what are you looking for? Why are you looking for this course? What kind of budget do you have? What kind of timeframe do you have?

[00:21:09] And then they would have in their head. Okay. This is the student would be good for a school, a B a school, a school X school D and school F so they present their information. That student makes a booking through the agent. The agent sends us the information and then we handle everything.

[00:21:26] Wendy: So you were doing all your marketing in English then?

[00:21:30] Stephen: Yeah. So we because were we made a couple of very conscious decisions. Now, some people there, we did have a couple of pages that we would have professionally translated into big ones, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, for example. But because back then anyway, to guess all of this stuff translated in real time, all the time, that was not Google translation.

[00:21:55] I mean, let's be honest, Google translate is a nonsense for, for marketing. And my view was we couldn't be using Google translate on our website to be trying to get students to learn the language instead of using Google translate, we couldn't then turn around and use Google translate. So so we did get stuff professionally translated, but then.

[00:22:18] I mean, we, we couldn't do the blog. Like we wouldn't have had the budget to be able to do the blogs and to update stuff all the time, because back then it was, it was more expensive. I'm sure. There, there are ways of doing this more effectively now. But our business was B2B anyway. So our, our website was really just as an informational point for potential students.

[00:22:36] Our direct bookings while high for our competitors was only ever around 20 to 25%. So 75% of our business came through these agents who were translating it to their local language and putting it into their local context. Anyway so for us, we aimed all, we made sure that when we were writing stuff on our site, whether we were doing blog posts or whether we were doing information pages for each of our courses, we wrote at a pre intermediate level.

[00:23:03] So it's, the fluency was fine. The pace, the tempo and everything else was fine. But you could understand that even if your level of English wasn't that high, because we didn't want, we were really, it was, our website was as much a reassurance for students that were looking at us after they'd booked through the agency, that we were legitimate school, as opposed to a hardcore selling page on our site.

[00:23:31] Wendy: All right. So then you were talking about the distributors or, you know, the agents that you were working with in Spain. How many agents did you work with in a country?

[00:23:42] Stephen: Depends on the country. So we would, we would have had any given year. We'd probably get students from over 120 agents. Some agents would send us one student, some students, some agents would send us 50 students, a hundred students.

[00:23:58] So everything in the mix of that, but like all things, the, the 80 20 rule, 80% of our students came from 20% of our.

[00:24:08] Wendy: So what I'm wondering about, like it just in thinking about marketing is a consistent voice. That's going out, you're having the same message that's reiterated. So you're really establishing your brand.

[00:24:21] If you've got multiple agents in Spain and you give them the English and they do the translation and you're trusting them to bring the business in, you've diluted your brand, your message could be very different. Did you ever worry about that or look at

[00:24:40] Stephen: that. So we, I mean, we would look at the stuff that people would do and, and have conversations with them about what we were selling because when we had agents who we worked with for 15, 20 years, so we had good longstanding relationships with them.

[00:24:56] One, a lot of agents will do though, is they won't actually include the name of the school in the. So they'll give all the information. They'll have all the photographs they'll have the location, they'll have the quality marks, but they don't put the name of the school because they don't want the student then going to the website gone.

[00:25:13] Oh yeah, that's a really good school. I'm booking direct because they lose that commission because there's no way of tracking that kind of activity. So the agents would be selling their bit on their support and their pre-sale support and their aftercare and things like that. And L what are the things that the agency can do, whether it's booking flights or making sure that the tour is or whatever.

[00:25:35] So and the agents would have their own marketing channels. So they might have contracts in with a couple of engineering companies or big tech firms or something like that, where they would be the point that those people would go through. They didn't want to book directly. They just wanted to say, Hey, this Kwan and.

[00:25:55] Want to go for a week to Dublin bookish. And then for them it's like, okay, which one of these do you want? Then they'll sell, tell you the name and everything else, because they're not going to lose that client. So it depends on the agent. It depends on the situation.

[00:26:09] Wendy: Okay. Right. Cause I was quite concerned thinking about losing that, but it was no advantage to the agents.

[00:26:15] If you provided materials that were already translated because they were going to take it and put it on their own and take your name away. Yup. Yeah. So you really were depending on them to do all the lead generation and pull, pull people in. Yeah.

[00:26:32] Stephen: Okay. So you're doing, you know, create a, we did a lot of stuff in terms of video.

[00:26:36] We did a lot of stuff on social. Word of mouth for referrals, worked very well for us as well. And that was definitely us reinforcing what our students were saying about us.

[00:26:47] Wendy: And was that only an English or that's what you would translate. Okay, but you knew to keep it at a pre-intermediate level. Okay.

[00:26:57] Because then you were tracking the OD, so you had clearly defined your audience. Yeah. And then it's interesting. Yes. You didn't do trade shows that were targeting college students at all. You were doing trade shoes to get to the agents that were going to the business professionals that wanted to take a vacation and

[00:27:14] Stephen: college students as well.

[00:27:15] Because, so when we would do a ch a student fair, it would be a student fair, organized by one of the agents. So in Turkey, for example, there'd be a couple of big agents that would do this from time to time. So once a year, like five schools from Ireland, six schools from the UK to schools in the U S two schools from Canada and the school from Malta would all arrive out in Istanbul.

[00:27:36] We'd meet together for dinner with the agent the next day, we'd all have a stand in this big conference. That'd be a couple of hundred students coming in, getting information, talking to people, but they wouldn't be booking with us. They would be there. Cause the, the name of the agency is that the agency fair, we were there supporting the agent.

[00:27:56] So we were there supporting our B2B relationship. Whereas their relationship with the student was their B2C. They were selling the student. It was really just to get us to come over, to help them to organize a big event because we paid for ourselves to be there. We paid to be a space in that fair.

[00:28:14] But then we also paid a commission for every student that we matched that came through that agent because it's building the relationship, it's building that B2B relationship and then those students are happy. So it's easier for them to refer their future students to us. And then in two years, time, we come and we do.

[00:28:30] Wendy: Okay. All right. So this is very, very good marketing. Now there's always mistakes along the way. So do tell some mistakes stories.

[00:28:42] Stephen: One of the things that we used to, we used to be hyper anxious about was ever having printed typos, because if we were an English language school, we're supposed to be the, the bellwether and the, the number one location for people to be able to improve their English language skills.

[00:29:01] If we have typos in our brochure, well, why, how could you trust us? So I'm in the stories of people arriving out and getting like 3000 flyers printed for one of these student events, for example. And then when they get there, somebody's looking at it with fresh eyes and realizing that the headline has a glaring spelling.

[00:29:21] And they have to ditch the whole thing and try and scramble to get like a Kinko's or something similar to print these off again, really quickly with the correction made. So there's things like that really was because it was a lot about the person to person stuff. So, I mean, this there's plenty of stories.

[00:29:36] I've threatened to write a book on this. Many times when some of the short stories, some of the stuff that people get up to on these marketing trips because usually there's a fair amount of alcohol involved on late nights. And then early starts where you're sitting at your table, first thing in the morning, and you have an agent who's sitting down in front of you on there, just breathing alcohol fumes on you trying to talk to you.

[00:29:57] I remember being in Russia years and years ago and the agent we're five minutes into the meeting and the agent goes, oh no, we will have vodka. And we drank like four shots of vodka through during the meeting. And I think he negotiated a new commission rate with us and then drove us back in the snow.

[00:30:12] I mean, it was just crazy stuff. But it was all, I mean, we, we, we dealt with people, as I said, when we were getting students from 50 students, 50 countries around the world. So, I mean, we can't speak 50 languages. We didn't have the budget to translate into 50. So we might have like one student from Ghana or one student from Laos or three students a year from Cambodia.

[00:30:33] So it still wouldn't have even over the course of five years to translate everything and the whole massive information into Cambodian or into Vietnamese, it would have, wouldn't have been constantly. So, because it just, we weren't a big enough market. So that's why we had the agents, the, those agents in Cambodia or Vietnam or whatever, they probably sent 99% of their students to Australia because that's the big destination for Southeast Asia to learn English.

[00:31:01] But if they had one random person said, oh, I saw this thing on TV, about our island on the Vietnamese would go, oh, I actually met a guy two years ago from our, let me look up his details, you know, okay, this is a good school, send them off. Cause I had a good relationship with him. I met him, he followed up, he sent me the stuff.

[00:31:15] So we wouldn't get students every year from Vietnam, but it'd be one of those countries that every, every two or three years we get one or two students and that would bump up our national.

[00:31:25] Wendy: And I think that's a lot of global marketers are talking about that is, is you have to have a strategy. You can't do it all at once.

[00:31:33] And you mentioned earlier that you do a couple of pages and translate into your most frequently serviced audience, which was the Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese. And so that, that you could see, and now with the metrics, I mean, you can go onto Google analytics and you can see where people are coming in from and bring them in through the journey.

[00:31:53] But if you get the one-offs, you know, that's not. And I think some companies can jump and say, oh, well, maybe we should go here now. But it takes this concentrated thinking that what you did and you knew where to spend your money and where

[00:32:05] Stephen: not. Absolutely. And I mean, we, so we were probably a slightly different, so I mean, a lot of the companies that you would be dealing with, especially you professionally would be dealing with would be trying to market and sell their wares internationally.

[00:32:21] So speaking the local language. Is like hugely important having that nuance, like Google translate is just not going to give you and being able to not only translate it, but localize some of this stuff and like using idioms and using local knowledge and local turns of phrases to actually make people understand this is a product I can relate to for us, the product we were selling was English language training.

[00:32:45] So it was a slightly different marketing. So we had to do it through English most of the time, because that's what we were selling. So if you were selling an experiential summer camp, for example and you were trying to sell that internationally, you wouldn't have pages and pages of just pure tax.

[00:33:03] You're going to have as many photos and videos as you can to try and let people feel the immersion of it. So having the understanding of. You're selling how you can translate that and how you can get that nuanced is really, really important. But for us, we were selling English language. So we had, we, we were very focused on those countries that we translated those pages for.

[00:33:24] It was very much the why, like the, the core of who we are, what, why, why we're different for why we think we're why we think we're better than the competition without saying we're better than the competition. Although a lot of the time I did say we're better than the competition. So wha what makes us different?

[00:33:39] What can you expect from us to get a proper understanding in local language? That's easy to digest and then they go, okay, I want to learn more. Okay. I'll put in the little bit of work to, to have the mental load, to read it and pre intermediate English. But for the first bit, especially the, the opening salvo to have that in the local language, which is digestible and can relate to people, then that was money well spent.

[00:34:07] Wendy: Biggest challenges in marketing the school?

[00:34:13] Stephen: Well, I mean, with all things in the service industry business would be great if it weren't for the customers. I mean, we dealt with people, we dealt with thousands of people from around the world with thousands of personalities, thousands of quirks year in, year out different cultural things, different even within cultures, the subcultures.

[00:34:29] So, I mean, it's really, our business is all about people. So the, the, the turns of phrases that people use and some people picked up the language quicker, some people didn't. So it really all of the, this, and

[00:34:43] Wendy: you give us a funny story about a cultural misunderstanding,

[00:34:47] Stephen: One that I won't get in trouble for.

[00:34:49] Let me say, yeah. Um,

[00:34:50] Wendy: you're not going to get in trouble here.

[00:34:52] Stephen: I mean really a lot of it is. So we would have one thing that was really interesting to see. A lot of the times we had, like, let's say we had a long-term Japanese student an in Japan, there would be a culture, as we know it kind of quite conservative and like, you're, you are very polite and respectful to everybody.

[00:35:11] And then we'd have a student that would be like six or seven weeks in Ireland and kind of loosening up, getting a bit more a bit more Western left, a bit more comfortable with the, the rowdy Spanish and the swab, French and all these kinds of stuff. And then after a couple of weeks, they'd be effervescent in class and they'd be getting much more involved and much more engaged.

[00:35:29] And then another Japanese student would arrive in on the first Japanese student who had changed, who had kind of grown as a person, as soon as the other Japanese person arrived in. They reverted back to what they understood. Until they got a sense of how the other person's gonna react. And then when the other person started to show signs of effervescence, then the first student would be like, okay, back to where I was a couple of weeks ago and, or a couple of days ago before this new person came in, which would allow the other person to come out of their shell a bit quicker, but it was it's , we found a very interesting.

[00:36:02] Wendy: That's fascinating. That's absolutely fascinating that you see a fellow country person come in and then you revert to that culture rather than feeling like I've already established this group. Yeah, that's a great example. All right. So what are you doing now, then?

[00:36:19] Stephen: So now, so as I said, the language school was my family business.

[00:36:23] We had two family businesses, the language school, the ESL school, and we also have a psychometric business. We do career guidance, we do selection and we do strategy planning for companies. So I'm specializing. So I bought that business as well as the language school sold the language school, as I said.

[00:36:40] So now I'm focusing on the other business, which is career guidance for individuals selection, for companies to help them find the right people for their jobs. And I'm also helping family businesses to have proper succession planning in place to be able to scale their business through the generations.

[00:36:55] Wendy: Yeah, that's a, that's a very specific one that you've had an example with now, are you, is this business global?

[00:37:03] Stephen: So right now it is so we've built the career guidance program. The coding on the backend has been specifically designed to be global. But it is going to be English speaking global first.

[00:37:15] And so we have, so let's say one of the careers might be in Ireland. The health service is called the HSC, the health service executive. So that's the national body that looks after hospitals and doctors and nurses and everything else. So one career that you might get as part of when you filled in all the reports to be able to get your interest, your verbal numerical, aptitude, aptitude tests, and your interest inventory, one career might be HSE executive, and a description of what a HSE executive does.

[00:37:45] But if you're in the UK, the HSE doesn't mean anything to you because in the UK it's called DNA. So we'll have a variant of that career that will only show up if you're in the UK, is if you're, if that career was in your report, which will be an NHS executive, the other one then for the U S whatever is the local term for a health executive.

[00:38:09] I know it's a bit more fragmented than the U S but so we have those examples built in for localization, and then we'll be able to translate each of these and build those variants in. But again, it's definitely not going to be just a straight translation of that description. That's gotta be localized for each of those countries.

[00:38:26] So what does a health service executive do in Spain? It's a slightly different job or might have a slightly different nuance in terms of the, the amount of bureaucracy or less bureaucracy as the case may be. Somebody who works in a charity, there are different regulations and different things that you need to do in a charity in the U S and a charity in Ireland.

[00:38:46] So those careers will have to be localized as opposed to just translate it. But it is. With global in mind from the, from the very beginning and it's baked into the software.

[00:38:56] Wendy: Oh, that just, it warms my heart and makes me grin ear to ear that you say you're building it in from the start that it can be globalized because you don't know how many technology companies or companies that I've seen that don't think global at the start.

[00:39:11] And then they end up scrambling or they have to put all sorts of band-aids on to be able to globalize. So thinking about that from the star, oh, it gets so clunky and then it's, it's really difficult for the users. And so if you think global from the start, so anybody listening to this at starting a company, or is working at a start, just have that person in the room that is saying, think global, think global from the start and it'll save you later on.

[00:39:36] Because the way that we're all connected through the internet now, you know, you're going to be found. Yeah. So what are your biggest challenges that are going on now?

[00:39:47] Stephen: I guess the biggest challenges for the career guidance side of things is just, I mean, we just launched the rebuilt over, over COVID.

[00:39:54] So we launched beginning of this academic year. So in September we launched we've had fantastic feedback. And because we put so much talk in the beginning into the user journey, into where the buttons need to be. And then with, with that view of going well, okay, this is going to work in Ireland, but will this work in America?

[00:40:15] Like, will this button will this flow work in America? Will we be able to, will that make sense in an American context? And when we put this in Spanish, Is the phrasing gotta be bigger like that, that button is going to need to be bigger because download your report that you can say download in English, but in Spanish it's a different phrase to download something or in Russian or in Japanese.

[00:40:36] So how is that going to play with the different characters to understanding how that design has to be flexible means that we spent a lot of time building it. Now we have to get in front of as many people as possible to show them this. So I mean, people can get the report for themselves individually on the website, which will give them 16 careers that are personalized.

[00:40:55] So each one of those careers you're going to enjoy doing and be good at doing based on your unique mix of interests verbally numerical and abstract reasoning skills. So we we've been able to pinpoint if you take most people. If I asked you Wendy, over the next three hours, we're going to sit down and I want you to name as many careers as you can think of how many do you think you'd be able to.

[00:41:17] Three hours, all types of careers, every career you can think of

[00:41:22] Wendy: 500.

[00:41:25] Stephen: Yeah. Most people say three. So I like the 500 that's good

[00:41:29] Wendy: careers. No, three, 300.

[00:41:33] Stephen: So if I was to then say to you, okay. How many of those do you think you could describe to somebody what's actually involved in that career? Most people kind of cut it in half.

[00:41:44] Yeah. That's

[00:41:45] Wendy: kind of what I was doing about half. Yeah. For

[00:41:49] Stephen: that. So now you've described the career. Can you describe the type of person in terms of their numerical ability, their verbal ability, their abstract reasoning and their interests, who would be good at that career?

[00:42:01] Wendy: Well, probably. How many

[00:42:05] Stephen: of those again, so that's, that's where most people, they, they generally go from 300 to half to half. We have 1000, 270 careers in our database where we know what's involved in each of those grades. And we have a description for each of those careers. So we know what's actually involved, not the the romanticized version of the career.

[00:42:28] We know Watson Baldwin that career. We also know what it takes in terms of your natural ability and your interests to do well in that career. So when we're able to, what we're able to do is you sit down, you do your series of assessments with us online. You can do it on your phone. You can do an intolerant, whatever.

[00:42:44] You will get a report of 16 careers up to six inquiries. It might be less 16 careers maximum, and every single one of those careers you would enjoy. And you would be good at based on your unique mix, a description of those creators, and then have to go about going and getting into those what college course, what career, what courses you should look at.

[00:43:03] And what other options you could look at in terms of apprenticeships are moving sideways, if you're already in your career. So

[00:43:10] Wendy: are you targeting high school students? Secondary students.

[00:43:13] Stephen: Hi, high school and up. Yeah. So I mean, it'll work, it's, it's perfectly valid as well for anybody who's looking at changing career finished college and kind of gone.

[00:43:22] Maybe that college course wasn't for me. What should I be looking at now? So it's aimed at everybody and anybody who is interested in finding out what they should, what they would be happy and fulfilled doing for the next 40 years.

[00:43:34] Wendy: That's really interesting. So both going back to globalizing it, then you've got to have the.

[00:43:41] Over thousand 12, 1,270 careers, the right title, and then the description. So somebody who understands

[00:43:52] Stephen: the nuance of not just straight translation, what it actually takes in those countries. So that's why when we get into it, now we understand what it is and look, 95% of the careers are there, there are flexible and translatable, there are nuanced differences.

[00:44:06] So we'd have to kind of sit down with some people and go, okay, well, okay. You think it's the, okay, well, we'll, we can adapt it in America, a business transformation executive is this whereas opposed to in Ireland at this, but 99% of the job is the same. Right. But it will be localizing as opposed to, again, I mean, we, we wouldn't be going through Google translate to do all this.

[00:44:28] Wendy: Right. But that, so that's the real difficult. And then you have the description and the person who would be good at. Yeah. Would that be, that would be similar across, that would be similar

[00:44:39] Stephen: across whole. We're still looking at personnel. I mean, we don't have a personality profile specifically in it, but our interest inventory does have some elements of personality and preferences in there.

[00:44:49] Um, so it would still be this, somebody who is going to do well as an accountant in Ireland is going to do well as an accountant in America, because the personality is exactly somebody who is a market here in Australia is probably just as capable and just as interested in being in a market here in America.

[00:45:13] So the job is to say that the personality type, the aptitudes and the abilities should be pretty much the same, but there is some, some nuance in the day.

[00:45:24] Wendy: Right, right. Cause that's, I've often wondered about some of the personality tests, like predictive into X or you know, Myers-Brigg and how they go across cultures.

[00:45:35] Stephen: So, so we, we are actually developed, we are distributed for Hogan assessments, which is an assessment there. They're fantastic. And they are localized in different languages. So they, they do do quite a bit of work at making sure that what works in one country is again, localized as opposed to just straight translated into different.

[00:45:56] Wendy: Okay. So then you can build that in to find out preferences

[00:45:59] Stephen: and they've already, and we'll do our own, we'll do our own research on us because that's Hogan's research and Hogan's data, but the essence will be the same. Like we would have to have a research team and build out a research team in each of these new markets to go through each of the careers with a fine tooth comb to do the research locally and say, yep, that one's right.

[00:46:18] That one's the same. This one has a little nuance difference here. And then we can have a discussion about it and want to work what it needs to be, what needs to be adapted and then rolled it out.

[00:46:26] Wendy: That is so cool. And I love that. You're dope. You're going global with that and we're kind of running out of time.

[00:46:34] So I want to get to some of the questions that I normally ask guests, like, what's your favorite foreign word?

[00:46:41] Stephen: Well, I speak quite a bit of Spanish. My wife is Spanish, so I've again, I I've never really had formal Spanish classes. It's most of the stuff that I've picked up. So I have a few words in Spanish that I probably will get you bond of whatever podcasting station you're on.

[00:46:58] So actually one in, in Portuguese and Brazilian. So data, I think it is it's this this sense of missing somebody in sense of loss. I've always thought that's a very poetic word. But my, my favorite phrase that I use a lot is actually Polish, which is, uh, , which is not my circus, not my monkeys.

[00:47:20] Wendy: I love that.

[00:47:23] I use that a lot too.

[00:47:26] Stephen: I actually, the other one that I really like another phrase that I like in a foreign language is in. Because I was born in Saudi Arabia. So I have an affinity for hearing Arabic. I think it's a beautiful language. Lithical Michigan, which means for every problem solution for every problem, there is a solution.

[00:47:42] So, and sometimes that is not my market. Not my circus, not my, not me. Monkeys.

[00:47:50] Wendy: It's knowing what, it's not your circus. That's a great solution. It takes a skill. Yeah. It's interesting about Saudi. I think at least two other people have picked that same word for the podcast.

[00:48:06] You're going to be different. Yeah. Well they're all, they're all very good ones. Yeah. You think about all the languages in the world and all the words and to have that many people say so Dowdy, which is that nostalgic missing somebody. Yeah. Okay. How about a favorite vacation?

[00:48:24] Stephen: I kind of have to say Spain and different parts of Spain because I love going back.

[00:48:28] And we lived there for a year with the kids a couple of years ago. It's when I actually decided to sell the school and, and focus on the other business at that time to reflect and time to, to myself. But, I mean, I've, I've, I've been so lucky to travel to so many places and there are a lot of places on my bucket list.

[00:48:43] So I have a public bucket list that I've shared. I share with people all the time. And a lot of those countries that are on my bucket list, I've actually been to, but I've been to for work. So I haven't really seen it for tourism. So it's on my bucket list because I want to go back with my wife and kids.

[00:48:56] I want to share it with my family. And then I'll, I feel that I've experienced it, but I've been to a lot of these countries already.

[00:49:03] Wendy: So what, uh, what are some of the places on your bucket list to share with them?

[00:49:06] Stephen: Oman is absolutely beautiful. I really fell in love with man when I was there. It's a beautiful, beautiful mix of the old and middle Eastern culture that hasn't got as westernized.

[00:49:15] It's only a couple of hours drive from Dubai, which is obviously glitz and glamour and Western, but to, and really has that since I love traveling around some of the parks and some of the monuments in Tokyo in Japan really love Was really impressed with Malta really enjoyed us. Thought it was a lovely, lovely country and had gone back again this year.

[00:49:35] Parts of Russia are spectacular. St. Petersburg is really pretty Ukraine, obviously everything that's going on there at the moment, Kiev is a beautiful, beautiful city to walk around with the steps. I mean, I've been in most of Italy and really enjoyed this. You can always find these just amazing little cafes and you can just sit and people watch have a nice cup of coffee and a nice snack or something.

[00:49:55] And the word is out there. Go, go, go everywhere. If you just, just go

[00:50:02] Wendy: well, I've, you know, it's interesting to hear you say St. Pete, that's been on my bucket list for a while and, you know, hopefully in this lifetime I'll be able to get there.

[00:50:11] Stephen: So the last time I was in St. Petersburg, I was staying at, and this is probably about 7, 6, 7 years ago.

[00:50:17] I was staying in a hotel in this. And I was on the last flight to arrive at whatever time into the airport. And I had a driver pick me up from there cause I knew it was late and it was just, I was going to be exhausted. And he said, okay, get into the car. The bridges, all seven of the bridges are going up for the night in, in about 20 minutes.

[00:50:38] So we need to get there fast and he just hammered down the main road. And I think I had all three of the seatbelts on me at the back because he was flying to beat the bridges because otherwise we'd have to go all the way around. It would take about an hour and a half to get to the hotel. But a beautiful, beautiful city.

[00:50:58] Wendy: Why did the bridges I'll go up

[00:50:59] Stephen: at night? It was whatever way at that time, a year or something. It was I can't remember the, I, I don't remember the reason for it. I just know that this guy was going hell for leather to get me to there before the bridges went up.

[00:51:12] Wendy: That's hysterical. I I've never heard of that before, but I can imagine how afraid you were.

[00:51:19] Stephen: So I've been, I mean, there's all kinds of stuff that I've been in. I was in Taiwan just before I left as a typhoon warning was coming into the country. I've been in Seoul when tensions were pretty high with Kim, Jong-un threatening to press buttons in the north.

[00:51:37] I've been in a six point something earthquake in Tokyo. Met Yoko Ono in a hotel in Tokyo. Um, been yeah, I mean, it's just, there's just so many life experiences you can have when you, when you get.

[00:51:51] Wendy: Yeah, it's absolutely fabulous. And just no way you can explain it to anybody about being in another country and how you can really function if you don't speak the language or if you have an interpreter, how interesting that can be to get that deeper level of understanding.

[00:52:09] Yeah. Any good stories about working with an interpreter?

[00:52:12] Stephen: No, I'm pretty lucky with, so some of the times the interpreters if you're there in a two day fair, for example, this happened to me in Japan, where I was at a two day fair with this agent. And so the first day, the first kind of three or four sessions, I would say things, the students had no idea what I was saying, but they were looking at me very politely.

[00:52:36] And then the interpreter would then interpret everything that I had said. Then the third or fourth time. The interpreter just started speaking because she knew the answers because they'd already been asked like 20 minutes ago. And then by the end of the day, I was just sitting there and the interpreter was doing all of the talking and she only turned to me if she didn't know an answer to something.

[00:52:55] So I was sitting there going, I could be walking around one of these money places. They just sit in here at this desk doing nothing. So it was good fun,

[00:53:03] Wendy: but I'm kind of quaking in the background going, that's not a professional inter I mean, it worked out for you cause you had trust that she was getting the answers right.

[00:53:13] And saying, but a professionally trained interpreter is going to wait. So you answer and then repeat exactly what you said and make sure the information goes across. So yeah, you go with the flow there. Well, Stephen, this has been absolutely wonderful talking to you. Do you have any final recommendations for people that are doing or thinking about doing global marketing?

[00:53:35] Stephen: Yeah. I mean, it really comes back to what you said at the beginning. If you, if you're thinking in Ireland, we have this expression of like thinking about the piracy or just thinking about your local area. So the parish is where the churches and the neighborhood around the church, and people have this mentality of just thinking about the parish.

[00:53:55] You really got to open your mind to seeing other possibilities, no matter how big your local market is. It's only a fraction of what's out there globally. And it's not that hard to add that to the mix at the beginning and build with the idea from the very beginning that you're going to have this internationalization international best, you don't even need to build this.

[00:54:17] You just need to make sure that you have the right hooks in the right place to be able to bolt it in later, as opposed to trying to jackhammer it. And so having that mentality at the beginning to think beyond your borders, Gives you the scope to be able to understand, okay, I'm going to need, I'm really going to need to go to let's even say, serve America where I don't know where your market is, but I know you're based in the states.

[00:54:42] So imagine you're gone. Okay. America is a really big destination, but also Latin America has a massive population. So I need to at least think that in five years time, I might need to have this accessible in Spanish and Portuguese and understanding that at the beginning, as you build an app, as you build a, an e-commerce, or as you build something allows you to know, okay, I'm going to need to do this in the future.

[00:55:05] So I think about it now. So as I can plug it in so easily later on, as opposed to shoehorning in and having another like mx.my website.com to have a new website that you've got to build in Spanish and a new one that you've got to build in Portuguese Having that idea too, to put in those components at the beginning makes life so much easier later on.

[00:55:27] Wendy: I think that's fantastic advice. I'm so glad to hear you saying that and also acting that way. So where can people find you if they'd like to learn more, get in touch?

[00:55:37] Stephen: So for the career guidance program, it's career fish.com for the succession planning for family businesses or for any kind of succession, helping somebody scale, it's successful succession.com and yeah, you can find me on either of those.

[00:55:52] I'm more than happy to have a chat.

[00:55:54] Wendy: Great. Well, thank you so much for sharing all your experience and, and, uh, great global stories. I really appreciate

[00:56:01] Stephen: that. My pleasure.

[00:56:04] Wendy: So listeners, if you want to engage, remember that we have a global marketing and growth group on Facebook. You just go search that and asked to join and we'll let you in.

[00:56:15] There's some good conversations. If you have questions, if you need connections, if you need context, that's the place to go. And remember to forward this along to somebody, particularly if you know, they're building out a you know, a technology platform or something that they should be thinking about going global now, because Steven Short gave us some excellent advice on how to be able to bolt it in future and not Jack hammer it.

[00:56:40] So thanks for listening. And we'll catch up with you next time.


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