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Budget Marketing Can Work

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Ryan ZhaoThere is an old Chinese saying that “Good wine needs no bush.” This wise proverb also appears in writing in the epilogue of Shakespeare’s As You Like it. But, alas, the idea that good things sell themselves is not true in the 21st century translation localization industry.

From MLVs and SLVs to traditional translation agencies and freelancers, catching the clients’ eye has never been such a challenging task.

For small and mid-sized translation and localization service vendors, a proactive and flexible marketing strategy backed by reasonable investments can powerfully expand business.

E-mail marketing
Sending ‘Service Offer’ e-mails to potential customers sounds easy, but does it work? If you position your company intelligently and ensure that you carefully identify your target audience beforehand, the answer can be yes.

A company’s success depends largely on clear positioning within the industry. We cannot be everything to everybody:

  • Avoid offering vendor services in “all languages”;
  • Focus on single or limited language pairs by integrating your best resources;
  • Achieve your goal by offering consistent, industry-recognized performance

How can you find overseas customers more effectively? We have used the Internet as one of our greatest marketing resources. In 1999, there were far fewer companies listed in the Yahoo! Directory for translation agencies than there are today. Now everybody uses Google or other search engines to find what they want - including customers. We have attracted almost all of our overseas customers by initiating contact with them via e-mail. But this is only the first step in establishing a relationship of mutual trust with the potential client. You must also be able to deliver what you promise.

Of course, e-mail and the Internet have improved our efficiency as a company, too. Without e-mail marketing, how could a Chinese localization company employ a U.S.-based native Japanese translator to translate a technical manual for a UK company, and achieve the best possible turnaround times by utilizing time-zone differences among three locations?

A Beat-the-SPAM Filter Tip
Do not send one-size-fits-all group e-mails. Write unique, client-specific e-mails, providing specific information related to your target customer’s business. This information can generally be obtained by doing some preliminary research .

Search engine optimization (SEO) and submission
Since customers often find products and service vendors using search engines, SEO and submission can save you time and increase the chance of customers finding you. Of course, budget-smart expenditures such as Google AdWords or paying for top placement at popular search engines can be worthwhile investments.

Make sure you optimize your website or web pages before submitting them to search engines. Meta Tags, for example, should be optimized with proper Site Title, Description and Keywords. Check these references for additional tips on SEO: www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html and www.webposition.com.

Industry Events
Many small companies cannot afford to attend localization industry conferences twice a year or more. But there are usually interesting local events that provide opportunities to meet potential clients, network with peers, share knowledge, and learn new technologies and industry trends. Ideally, attendance at one event will offset the cost of the air ticket!

Check out the searchable GALA Events Calendar or the event listings at MultiLingual Computing www.multilingual.com for useful events.

There are several industry associations out there, and many industry companies are members of one or all of them: GALA, LISA, ATA, LRC . . . Take advantage of these opportunities to connect with customers and other vendors, gain greater exposure, reduce costs through association discounts and opportunities, or simply join to stay informed about industry trends. My personal recommendation is GALA (and that is not simply because I am writing this article for them)!

Word-of Mouth
When you gain a new client by referral from an existing client, congratulations! This is one of the most powerful and proven marketing approaches, since it underlines your reputation as a reliable performer. Although some vendors seem to have found that slandering the competition can help win business, the best marketing showcases a company’s achievements and does not focus on others’ weaknesses.

Ryan Zhao is Account Manager at Golden View (China) Technologies, Inc. He has been in charge of sales and account management since 1999. Ryan can be reached at ryan@gvlocalization.com.

This article was originally published by GALA: The Globalization and Localization Association (http://www.gala-global.org).

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