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Going Global? Investing in Translation is Not an Option


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Pauline Farris photoBio: Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.




Summary

Businesses that have realized success in their native marketplaces need to look to foreign market expansion if they intend to continue to grow. Investing in the right translation/localization services will help to ensure that moving into a foreign marketplace will be successful. This article will point out the importance of investing in premier translation services and cover the following points:

  • There are challenges involved in appealing to and engaging a foreign audience.
  • There is a well-defined approach/process for identifying the types of translation services a business will need.
  • Choosing the right translation services requires research and trials.
  • You have the right to expect specific outcomes from a translation service.
  • The amount you invest in translation services is secondary to the expertise you need.

Going Global? Investing in Translation is Not an Option

No country is an “island” anymore. And the same can be said for most businesses as well. Evenif a U.S.-based business limitsits customer base to within its own borders, there are now significant segments of a population that are non-English speaking (or at least not fluent).

Add to this the fact that, as businesses grow, there will be a need to expand beyond their national borders, acquiring multilingual business and/or individual clients and customers.

In both of these circumstances, companies must seriously consider investing in translation and localization as a part of their business strategies.

Here is what you need to know.

There are Challenges

While going global or even targeting a native multilingual sub-population is certainly an exciting endeavor, there are a host of challenges, the solutions must not be ambiguous and must eliminate as much risk as possible.

In some ways, targeting a local multilingual population is easier, because there are not the cultural challenges that exist when targeting and expansion into a wholly different cultural environment. Simply assuring that accurate translation of all key documents, materials, website, etc. is accomplished will not be enough.Localization, that is, honoring local cultural values and belief systems, in all of your verbal and visual communications, will also be critical. For this reason, investing in top-notch translation services will be well worth the cost and effort.

Investing in Translation Services – the Right Approach

Expansion into global markets is a process with sequential steps.

  • It begins with the development of a business strategy for expansion. What are your goals – operational, functional, marketing, etc. - for your foreign markets.
  • Will you begin in only one foreign market or more? This strategy may be more long-term, prioritizing several markets over time. Further, expansion may also include acquiring foreign suppliers, and those suppliers may be based in more than one country. In this case, a company may be looking at more than one translation/localization effort simultaneously.
  • Identify the specific documents, materials, etc. that will need translation and the order in which these should occur. For businesses attempting to market products or services, for example, the first priority will be the website and any other online marketing content (e.g., blog, social media advertising). For companies intending to have a physical presence in another country, the process is far more complex. Employing the services of a local attorney and other business specialists will be in order, and it is not the purpose of this piece to address those steps.
  • It is at this point that you want to look for a language service provider with whom you can establish a long-term relationship, based upon your expansion goals and the types of documents, content, and materials you need.

Choosing the Right Language Service Provider

Your business has a unique brand and “voice.” And you have specific translation needs. So, you need to find translation services with the native experts who can both convey your brand appropriately for the target audience and, as well, have a history of success in your niche. This is a tall order, and it will take some research on your part.

You have two options for translation services:

  • You can locate a native in-country translator who has worked with businesses like yours, who can supply references, and who has a portfolio of successful work for similar clients.
  • You can explore professional translation services with the same types of credentials. They generally have more native resources and are able to meet urgent demands as they arise.

You are looking for more than just a translator. You are looking for a long-term relationship, along with expert guidance and advice, as documents and materials are localized for your foreign audience.

Many businesses contract with two or three different individuals or services in the beginning, and ultimately settle on the one that provides the best products and services. Ultimately, though, you want one that can provide for all of your needs and that acts as a true partner. This may be costlier than less effective contractors, but it is an investment well worth it.

Meeting Your Expectations

When you partner with a professional individual or service, here is what you should expect:

  • You have a brand image that you want to portray to your foreign audience. It may be serious and formal (e.g., banking), it may be “fun” and entertaining (e.g., children's toys); or it may be somewhere in between. Regardless, you have a tone and style of communication that you want to remain consistent for a foreign audience and yet culturally appropriate. This consistency can be achieved by investing in the right translation services.
  • You have a unique identity within the marketplace, and that marketplace may be highly competitive. Conveying your unique value to potential customers or clients in a foreign market requires exceptional presentations via website content, visuals, videos with engaging scripts, blog posts, newsletters, social media presences, and any other marketing materials.
  • You want to reach the right target audience in a foreign market. Just as in your native environment, there are specific demographics you need to target. There is a big difference between targeting an audience of older people versus an audience of millennials or Gen X'ers or of business professionals. Content must be uniquely designed for your specific demographic and must include the language and visuals that are culturally appropriate. The right translation/localization service will see this through successfully.

Going Global Requires Third-Party Assistance

Expanding a business in a foreign environment is not a quick, easy, or streamlined process. There are so many factors involved. Even if all of the legal, financial, and other elements successfully navigated, nothing happens until customers/clients are engaged and considering what you have to offer. This element is intimately tied to the right translation/localization of all business outreach activities. Investing in the right translation services will be the difference between success and stagnation. Don't cut corners.

 





Published in January 2019.









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