Persuasion is a complex art. When you’re gearing up to enter a new market or multiple new markets, it can be tempting to do bulk translations and “just get the word out.” But rushed, mediocre results can lead to a rapid turn-off of potential customers – quite the opposite of persuasion.
The unknown human landscape of a new market is both a challenge and a potential trap for marketing translators. For example, when Skrivanek was asked to translate a French cheese maker’s packaging for introduction into a major Polish supermarket chain, we knew we had to look closely at word choices for the slogan and other texts. Experience told us that we could not assume that the people of two European countries would identify with the same marketing scheme. Our care paid off and the marketing, as well as the cheese, were a success in Poland.
A Swedish asset management company specializing in emerging markets came to us for help translating for the Czech market. We were happy to oblige, knowing well that one of the key points we had to research was the information channels that their potential customers use. Further, looking ahead, as we developed our texts and graphics, we kept in mind the kind of changes that might be necessary for additional markets in the future. This laid the groundwork for efficiency and marketing uniformity as our client expands.
Marketing translation is an art
The linguist who translates your marketing texts won’t be the same one who does your product’s assembly directions. Marketing translation is a creative process, and the translator who does it well is usually as much copywriter as language specialist. When your translator takes your marketing materials to a new culture, they must carry over your product’s qualities, value, and branding, while at the same time convincing “strangers” that this new concept from another culture is something they need and want.
It’s tricky, and definitely an art. The marketing translator should develop such a deep understanding of your product that they are able to contribute to the messaging development. They must be able to help you figure out what your target audience needs to see and hear in order to understand your product’s value.
Nine marketing translation issues to consider
Spend some time thinking about the elements below to prepare for a sophisticated entry into a new foreign market:
1. What’s in a color? Emotion, history, symbolism – all of these, and they’re different for different cultures. Advertising and packaging campaigns may require color changes from the original.
2. There will be words and phrases that don’t have direct or even close correlates in your target languages. Idioms, jokes, slang … the need to re-imagine what you’re trying to say, with new or approximate ideas, will definitely come up.
3. Language direction, word lengths, and layout preferences vary. The issue of how things look on the translated page comes into play with everything from fliers to mobile app screens. Try to keep this in mind from the start as you develop text for your marketing translators to use.
4. Even basic slogans may need re-invention. Should you just leave your taglines in English? Sometimes maybe. But when you decide to translate, do your research and enlist a creative translator to help develop a slogan with equal punch but cultural accuracy.
5. Music, video, characters, and cultural references: what does your new audience love? You can’t just guess, find out! With the help of native residents, research, and professional marketing translators, you can pinpoint the preferences and expectations of your new audience.
6. Where is your target audience finding their information? Don’t take for granted that the online and offline marketing methods you’ve used in other countries are the right ones for your new market. The apps, websites, social media, and every other channel of information that leads to consumer purchases vary drastically from country to country and among different demographics. But the data is out there to help you develop an appropriate plan.
7. Marketing translation takes time. As you may know firsthand, letting the mind wander in search of creative solutions is not usually a fast process. The same goes for marketing translation when special research and thought is almost always required. Expect that, plan on investing in it, and don’t settle for shortcuts.
8. Experienced marketing translation experts can help you develop complimentary campaigns for multiple countries and cultures. You know your product and the original messaging you created for it. Convey that information to marketing translation professionals who deeply understand your target markets and you are on your way to persuading a whole new set of markets and potential customers that your product has value for them. While you may want to take your expansion country by country, having an overall strategy that accounts for future target cultures is smart.
9. Remember that you’re connecting with people. There’s joy in shopping for products and services, and it’s personal. Never forget to be human with the human beings you want to reach.
Selecting a sophisticated Language Service Provider as partner in your global marketing is an important step in your company’s growth. Skrivanek has translated marketing materials for over 2,600 clients in 261 language combinations. Even such rare translation combinations as Danish to Macedonian, Norwegian to Czech, and Finnish to Greek are part of our list of successfully completed jobs. We have the depth and breadth of experience to take your company into every market you want to enter.
J. V. McShulskis