A Pitch For Translation

July 12, 2011 by Jennifer Emge · 1 Comment
Filed under: Business, Language, Translation Services 

Have you ever had a task that you really didn’t want to do simply because it would require a good deal of work, even though you knew it was important to do?  Of course you have, we all have…

If you work in an industry that requires a product or service to be sold, you’ve undoubtedly run into the situation where someone outside of your field doesn’t “get” why he/she needs your product/service and you don’t understand why.  The reality is, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re in an industry that you love and feel passionate about.  You may live and breathe engineering or advertising or linguistics, so of course you feel whatever it is you’re “selling” is important.

So, what do you do when someone doesn’t believe in your product or service?  You tell them why it’s worth every penny you’re selling it for!  So here goes…

 Why good translation matters:

Have you ever been in a situation where the person you are interacting with is not a native speaker of the language you are both speaking?  Most of us have at some point.  If it’s a simple social setting, you may have just altered the way you speak or the words you say in an attempt to accommodate the person (if they’ve shown signs of misunderstanding).  But what if it’s a business setting, such as a meeting or customer service interaction?  I’ve heard many people say, “Can they just put someone on the phone that speaks English?!”

 That same feeling of frustration and miscommunication occurs when you’re not able to fully comprehend instructions or a news article or some other collateral in your native language because of a bad translation.  Providing the “gist” of some material isn’t good enough.  It won’t get the full message across to the reader.  It won’t intrigue the reader the way it should.  And it certainly won’t gain the brand the reputation it desires.

So if you’re in a business situation where your task requires considering whether “going global” is worth it or not, remember that maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but one thing is for sure, if you do go global, if you do decide to speak to an international audience, do it right and do it well, or you might as well have not done it at all!

People buy what they can read.

I recently participated in a discussion posted in the International Business Group on LinkedIn, where someone raised the question of the benefits of website translation in a foreign language. The initiator of the discussion mentioned that she had observed that customers abroad preferred to spend money for goods and services on websites in their own languages rather than on websites written in English.

Some of the group members argued that translating a website into a foreign language would be redundant in the software industry, but would be justified in the B2C application. Someone suggested machine translation or a combination of MT and human translation could also be a solution. Although, machine translation has improved over the years, human translation is still the most professional and preferred means of translation.

At ABLE, our philosophy is very simple: “People buy what they can read.” This applies to just about any product or service you try to sell whether in the US or abroad. In this global environment, it is almost essential for a company trying to reach foreign markets to have their website localized into the target language. Do you know that over 1.1 billion people use internet worldwide? And a vast majority of these users favor American products and services to the ones offered in their countries. Having lived abroad, I have personally witnessed buyers prefer shopping online on websites in their own language, even though they knew English very well. The comfort of their own language and locale is more important to them than a beautifully polished and attractive English website.

Many American companies have successfully achieved this goal. Take for instance eBay and Amazon – they have fully understood the benefits of selling to a foreign market in a language clearly understood by the buyer.

In our business, we constantly see companies challenged by the question of whether to translate/localize their products/content/service offerings and what the gain and/or loss would be if they did. What is the cost of localization vs. the increased revenue in the target markets? Return on Investment (ROI) is not always straight forward and sometimes not even measurable to begin with.

Fortunately, today’s technology allows us, language service providers, to translate websites in different languages at a relatively low cost. We help our clients, not only by advising on the proper language to use in a specific locale, but also how to optimize the English content to reduce the number of words for translation.

In taking this leap of faith you will join many other companies that have successfully expanded their market share that was once only available to English speaking buyers. As soon as you have a website, your goods & services become accessible world-wide and to reap the benefits of this, remember – “People buy what they can read”.

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