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Entering New Markets

Translation for Marketing and Sales

This quote from legendary German chancellor Billy Brandt says it all: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.”

Recent figures from Global Reach International Online Marketing support Brandt’s pronouncement:

  • 517 million non-English speaking people use the Internet today and two-thirds of all Internet users live in Asia and Europe.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s e-commerce spending originates outside the United States.
  • 70% of the world’s purchasing power and 92% of the world’s population live in countries where English is not the native language.
  • 75% of the online population worldwide access the Internet in a language other than English.

Entering New Markets

Now more than ever, it is vitally important to respond to the needs and demands of diverse demographics and markets. Gone are the days when a one-size-fits-all approach could be relied on to help you break into new markets. These days, if an advert isn’t in your language, you ignore it, because there will almost certainly be a similar product which is marketed directly to you.

Yes, it is fundamental that a company or product have a strong, coherent global image. But the best way to develop and sustain a ‘total’ brand identity is by making a place for it in local markets. And this adaptation is about much more than simply putting your marketing collateral through Google Translate.

Localising your content

It’s not just about the words!

The great myth about translation being simply a matter of transferring words from one language to another is definitively debunked in the localisation of marketing copy. There are many subtle considerations to take into account: from whether certain pictures or phrases would be acceptable in the target community, to how much space you will need for the translated text. Take Spanish, for example — almost invariably, a Spanish translation will take up 30% more space than the English source text. What sort of effect will this have on your carefully laid-out design? Is there anything you can do to anticipate this sort of problem?

This is compounded by the fact that many language service providers (LSPs) lack an understanding of marketing, and are only accustomed to translating from one Word file into another. This approach can lead to serious problems and — crucially — unnecessary costs.

Translations that emerge from this process are often too literal and lack the desired sales impact. In-country personnel usually revise the translations themselves, resulting in an increased time-to-market, and higher costs. Not to mention the added risks and negative consequences that can arise when regional sales managers become impromptu, and often unwilling, copy editors.

‘Translationese’

An all-too-common translation pitfall is to slip into what we call ‘translationese’. With technical translation, such as User Guides or Installation Manuals, accuracy to the original is essential. However, when it comes to marketing copy, it is fundamentally important to produce a text which reads as if it were written by a native speaker. ‘Translationese’ is when you sacrifice this authenticity in order to reproduce the exact meaning of the original, and end up with something which is grammatically correct, but phrased in a way that a native speaker would never use.

One small example (from the cartoon Family Guy) illustrates this principle. In conversation, a native of the USA would always say that something cost ‘one-fifty’, but never that it cost ‘one-dollar-fifty-cents’. Now, the second option is perfectly correct, it’s just totally unidiomatic. This is the sort of ‘mistake’ which a non-native (or inexperienced) translator won’t notice, but for any native speaker… “it just sounds wrong” — classic translationese!

An Integrated Approach

The best way to eliminate these risks is to adopt an integrated approach to translation. At QuickSilver, we have expanded the LSPs involvement in the project. We take care of every aspect of the translation process, from the initial stages of drafting (if required), all the way through to tweaking the page layout of the final document — making it easier for you to enter new markets.

We only, and always, use translators who are native speakers of the target language. In addition, during the final stage of our review process, translations are evaluated on their own merits; that is, without comparing them to the source text. Having been edited thoroughly for accuracy, we check that all translations are phrased in a way that a native speaker would use.

Find out more: Preparing Layouts for Translation

Find out more: Metrics for Evaluating Translations

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