Here is the potential trap. If you don’t approach prospects in their own language, your chances of success are much lower than if you do. However, if your translation is shoddy, your reputation both as a business and as an expert in your area of specialism could well be compromised.
Sales material must make an immediate impact. Sales literature, sales presentations or online sales copy must draw the prospect in, not create a barrier to the sale. This is why it is so important to invest in accurate translations when entering a new market.
Research by Forrester¹ has shown that prospects are three times more likely to buy online if the web copy is in their native language and the same is true in other sales environments. Well translated sales copy makes your company more accessible to prospects, it convinces them that you are serious about their custom and it gives them confidence that a commercial relationship with you can be sustained.
However, it is important that the translation is of good quality and is sensitive to local idioms. The quality of your translated copy will make a statement about your company but if executed badly, will adversely affect your reputation.
Take a classic sporting example. When David Beckham was playing for Real Madrid, a section of the English translation giving his squad profile via the Real Madrid website read:
“his speciality are the central shots from the wing, called ‘bananas’, and free kicks, two types of plays where he displays a shooting technique which is unique in the world of football”
We may know what they mean, but some might need to be convinced that the writer knew anything about football, let alone that the website concerned belonged to a football club that aspired to be the greatest in the world.
Understanding local idioms is enormously important and mistakes in this area have become the stuff of marketing urban legend. When Pepsi announced “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” the Chinese translation apparently promised “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. Even within the English speaking world there are varying local idioms. When Electrolux took their enormously successful UK vacuum cleaner advertising campaign to the United States they failed to appreciate that in America the slogan “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” has an entirely different meaning!
The opportunities for getting it wrong are numerous. Chevrolet had to think carefully when they wanted to launch the Nova model in Latin America as in Spanish “no va” means “it doesn’t go”. Ford apparently had a similar issue with Portuguese translation for its Pinto model in Brazil, where “pinto” is a term for a poorly endowed man – not a great selling point in Brazil’s very macho society.
To avoid these kinds of mistakes, the answer is to buy your translation services very carefully, not in a last minute rush.
- Check the qualifications of the translators used by your prospective translation company and also that they are native speakers of the language into which they are translating.
- Make sure the company has translation experience in the industry in which you specialise so that they are familiar with the terminology that you are using.
- Ensure the original English text is finalised before the translation process starts and provide a clear brief to your supplier in terms of your objectives, your target market, the nature of the copy and your deadlines.
Finally, understand that, like any business partnership, you need to build a relationship with your translation partner so that you understand their needs and they fully understand yours.
You’ve probably guessed by now that we’re incredibly enthusiastic about all things languages! So if you have a question or would like to know more about us, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681.
Would you like us to quote for a particular project? Are you interested in learning more about our services? Would you like to see more evidence of the sectors we work in? Or maybe you’re just not sure if now is the time to expand into overseas markets and would like some advice. We’re here ready and waiting to to help.