“…having literature and brochures to distribute to customers in local languages is a very important tool in the selling process”.
We spoke with one of our long-term clients about the challenges of distributing multilingual content and information to an international consumer base. This regional business operates in the technology sector and exports its products all over the world. Here, the marketing & communications manager gives her insight into managing the translation process as part of the broader strategy.
You are responsible for engaging a global audience and providing the information that your international customers need to access and enjoy your products. Tell us a bit about your role and the challenges you face.
Our company markets to a global audience through a network of distributors, supported by our Sales team. Sales have responsibility for large geographical regions and, although we do have a number of areas covered by native speakers, having literature and brochures to distribute to customers in local languages is a very important tool in the selling process as we have highly technical products.
The main challenge we face in terms of translations is providing local language materials that are translated by someone who has enough understanding of the industry we work in and our highly technical products.
“…our Japanese customers like to digest lots of information on posters at exhibitions. We would never use that format in Europe though”.
Which overseas markets does your company operate in and which have been the most challenging from a marketing perspective?
We operate in all geographical markets. We have a sales workforce across Europe, in the US and in Japan. It becomes increasingly challenging when cultures differ from our own. The most difficult part is learning and understanding regional differences – how people operate and what type of information they are used to. For instance, our Japanese customers like to digest lots of information on posters at exhibitions. We would never use that format in Europe though.
“Thinking you can mix and match translation providers is a mistake”
What practical advice would you give to UK businesses who are looking to enter new overseas markets but daunted by perceived language/cultural barriers?
Do your research and, where possible, have a local employee, representative or partner. I am a big believer in doing something over nothing. If you let fear stop you trying, you will have nothing to review and improve. And use native local speakers from within your industry to help with the final sign-off for content, especially in the early stages
How important has a relationship with a language services provider been to your role and the wider company? What’s the recipe for success with this relationship from your perspective as a marketing communications manager?
As with any relationship, you get out what you put in. Thinking you can mix and match translations providers is a mistake. You need to continue to build the relationship and feed in keywords and industry terms. Spend time reading and improving the copy (with help from your native speaking partners) and remember to feedback to your translation provider in order to get the best outcome in the long term.