Why scrimping on translation services might hamper your export journey - Software Cornwall

Your first step into export can feel risky. Don’t try to mitigate that risk by buying cheap translation services.

Here at AJT, we speak to a lot of first-time exporters, who are excited and passionate about the prospect of reaching new customers in new markets.

In short, they’ve honed their products and their sales and marketing materials for their home market and are enjoying the fruits of their labours.

And now they’ve identified overseas markets where they believe they’ll have quick traction and set about freeing up a budget to enter this market with the intention of having the same impact in these overseas markets that they have at home.

However, time and again, we then see those companies putting a minimum amount of effort into the translations that will ultimately dictate how their products will be seen and received in those new markets.

Unfortunately, the logic doesn’t stack up. The reason their products are doing well in their home market is the combination of a number of ‘elements for success’:

Product – Every part of the product will have been carefully sourced, whether that be ingredients or components, to ensure that the product works as well as it can and offers the intended user experience.

Packaging – This will have been meticulously researched and tested and the end result will be a delivery method that catches the right eye, in the right way, firing the right emotions and initiating the right response, i.e. the desire to purchase.

Sales and marketing materials – These too will have been the result of a huge amount of strategic work. How to speak to the target market, the copywriting, the tone of voice, the imagery, the technical info, the pricing. Even the delivery format. If in hardcopy, the paper stocks, sizes, finishes. If digital, the formats, the interactivity, the visual content. They will all have been carefully considered and executed to ensure the information and messages are delivered in the best possible way.

Knowing the customer – All of the above will be driven by the company knowing their target market and how their products will fit into their customers lives. And this won’t have happened overnight.  It will be the result of market research, feedback from customers, feedback from strategic partners, previous trials and errors. Knowing the market, knowing what they want, how to best reach them, speak to them, and ultimately influence them, is essentiual for the product to succeed.

People – The team of people who make up the various roles responsible for bringing these elements together were probably not put together overnight. They will have, most likely, been recruited specifically because of their education, their experience, their aptitude and a particular skill set.

A passion that’s contagious – And they love their product! Of course they do. They’ve worked tirelessly to develop it and get it ready for market. It’s exactly what they’d planned and hoped for. It’s going to be a huge success!! Everyone’s going to love it and want to buy it! And this passion will come across in all of the above. It will be evident at every customer touch point and both the product and the brand will have desirability and integrity. Let’s do this!!!!

But then, all too often, this will happen:

Translation services – Find the cheapest quote. It doesn’t matter who does it, where they are, how many people will be involved or how qualified or experienced they are. Just go for the cheapest quote. That’ll be fine.

The sobering reality of this is that putting less effort into sourcing translation than you do for the other elements for success can seriously undermine the entire export journey, and the ‘investment’ can very quickly turn into a ‘cost’ and an unpleasant, demoralising experience. And, if the campaign is not as successful as hoped for, or budgeted for, then it’s all too easy to blame market forces in that region.

Source your translation services in the same way you source everything else, make sure there is a good fit and that you are buying the right level of quality to accurately represent your brand.

In each of the elements for success, it is extremely doubtful that the stakeholders would have adopted the attitude ‘get the cheapest…’ for the ingredients, or the components, the supplementary materials, the research or the personnel. If they did, then everything would suffer and the end result and the feeling of passion and expertise would not shine through.

And just like for the other elements for success, translation services should be a carefully considered decision. Your translation partners are being trusted with the voice of your products and the voice of your brand. You are trusting them to represent your company in new markets and their translations can be the difference between success or failure in those markets.

In short, if purchasing translation services is a new or sporadic responsibility for your company then please don’t treat it like a cost, in which a perceived saving is seen as a little win. Source the best translation service provider you can and give your product the best chance of success.