By Amelia Rodriguez
CEO, Vocalink Language Services
Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: I love this title! It comes from one of my favorite companies in the whole world, Common Sense Advisory. They are the gods of language industry research. Studying about our industry has made them wise beyond their years. I quote: “Common Sense Advisory polled 3,002 consumers in 10 countries in their languages to test the hypothesis that companies can increase their sales by localizing their products and websites. We found a substantial preference for the consumer’s mother tongue”. Listen, Linda, listen… localization is key!
I am intrigued by that title because in an age of knowledge, reputable companies are still not convinced of making the investment of localizing their products into different languages to market their products abroad. They risk product sales-anemia, by pinching pennies on critical brand communication that will make their products shine. Let’s get a little more real, here. In fact, for a company to become truly global, language and culture must be at the forefront of global initiatives.
Blunder #1, check.
Leapfrog your competitors. Learn from their mistakes
My confidence in sharing this would not be so high had our company not proven this first-hand. You see, our company participated in an ongoing panel of international marketers to discuss best international marketing practices. The goal was to address concerns that companies face when selling their products abroad. Not surprisingly, most expressed their woes, lamenting that, had they just taken that one step of inviting localization experts to the strategy table, their products would not have had lackluster sales. Avoid this mistake. Invest in providing a native experience!
Even a passive effort can provide surprising results. Some studies show that website visitors reading in their language spend twice as much time as those who visit English-only websites. It is important also to note that some of your competitors have learned that there is a high demand for bilingual sales people on staff.
Blunder #2, check.
Subject Matter Sages
Alert! Boring anecdote ahead. I would not recommend hiring me personally as your Spanish translator, either. Why? Because, even though I am a fluent, native Spanish speaker, a former simultaneous Spanish interpreter, gusting at 175 words per minute, (a) I am not fluent in your industry vernacular. Worse, my (b) linguistic skills have eroded with time. (c) I am not a Spanish copywriter or (d) a marketer, either. Lack of these, automatically disqualifies me from giving your products the marketing flair and the native experience needed for your brand to thrive abroad. Still, you would be surprised how many well-known companies take that risk! There are word magicians out there who can make ideas come alive! So why risk it? Do not fall into that trap. Insist that your brand managers pick the right linguistic specialists who are experts in those four areas and task them with creating nothing less than a native brand experience.
Blunder #3, check.
By the way, before your product hits land, make sure your website and product collateral messaging match. Also, remember to have precise product information on your website that will answer the questions inquisitive buyers will ask before making a buying decision. That brings me to an important topic. Your e-commerce site should be global-ready. Create and optimize your content for the global marketplace and ensure your content is consistent. That means translation memory engines must be highly tuned during the product launch process. This will ensure messaging consistency. Maybe I can share a little about MT in my next blog. What do you think?
Blunder #4, check.
If you are a global manager, I hope that some of my words have convinced you to take action to translate your website, product collateral and to localize your products. Don’t take a chance after all the effort and resources you have invested on preparing your product campaigns, only to launch your product in English.
Blunder #5, check.