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Prioritising: key in face of economic downturn

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Negative world economic prospects are a great opportunity for focusing on business aspects that are usually given second priority. So says Penny Marinou, President of the European Union Association of Translation Companies, who outlines below how prioritisation can increase comparative advantage during these tough times.

We might not have as much business in 2009 but we will probably have more of a rare and valuable asset, that is, time, which can be spent on all the things that we usually set aside simply because we are short of time. Some of the aspects that suffer in a business due to time shortages include marketing and certification, which in the long run can help companies to improve their services, grow and expand.

In terms of marketing, I believe that LSPs should step up their promotion activities. A recession is THE time when businesses need to increase their efforts in this field. Instead of cutting back on marketing expenses, one should focus on fixing income leaks that are usually overlooked when times are good, and outsourcing certain tasks that can be accomplished more cost effectively by outsiders. Given sufficient thought and imagination, all the staff in a business can contribute to the marketing process.

With respect to certification, a time-consuming endeavour per se, I believe that a recession is perfect for spending time on drafting procedures, producing a manual and undergoing the EN 15038 thirdparty certification process. Certification might appear to be a luxury but it is, in fact, a mark of excellence. In other words, it is a comparative advantage in today’s changing business environment, and the best way to improve company processes and thereby efficiency, which ultimately saves time and resources.

History shows us that downturns don't last forever so my recommendation would be: make sure that you are well prepared for the next economic boom by increasing your comparative advantages through marketing and certification.



PENNY MARINOU photo“The translation sector will feel the economic slowdown like all other sectors. It is not easy to say by what percentage especially as this depends on the niche market of each translation company.

The main opportunities are the chances to gain market share through marketing. Several studies have shown that firms maintaining their advertising expenditure usually achieve higher growth both during a recession and 2-3 years later compared to those that eliminate or decrease advertising.”


COLIN SMITH photo“There is no doubt the UK market is tough at present. But, as our company has a longestablished Euro price list and an equally long-established bank account based in Germany, it means that we are benefitting from the weakness of the Pound against the Euro. Many of our clients in Euro-land are other translation companies, who are beginning to see that purchasing from us makes economic sense and gives them a competitive edge. We, of course, receive more Pounds once we transfer funds into our UK bank, which is no bad thing.

Having a Euro-zone bank account not only greatly streamlines receiving in payment from clients on the Continent, it also makes payment to our freelancers far more efficient and less costly. If I were to offer any advice to others thinking about what strategies they should be adopting during the downturn, then I would certainly suggest that they look at the most effective ways of taking advantage of the Pound’s current weakness and the advantages of opening up a bank account in a Euro-zone country. You need to comply with various regulations of course, but once you have navigated the bureaucracy, it is well worth it.”


MILA TOVA photo“In view of the current worldwide economic crisis, I believe that businesses will look in all directions to exploit any and all opportunities. This will result in looking beyond borders and increasing the need for professional translations.

Successful decision makers know that clear communication is the key to success, hence an increased need for quality translation when dealing with foreign business partners or potential clients. They also know that “when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” and take that into account when prioritising their shrunken budgets.

This should lead to an increased demand for quality translations, and boost the business of translation companies able to guarantee an impeccable translation. At Mila Tova, we already see the first signs of this tendency.”

Published - April 2009

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