Elevator Pitch Translation – Marketing Translation Class n°1
Elevator Pitch Translation – How to translate the term Pitch
When translating marketing material, one of the first difficulties you will face is that English uses dozens of words untranslatable into other languages. I can speak about the difficulties of translating some marketing terms into Italian, but I’m sure that translators of many other languages struggle as well.
The problem is this: English is dominant, English is the language of marketing and business, so English decides what terms the world has to use when talking about marketing and business.
It’s fine, I’m not complaining from a political point of view (we Italians did the same with Latin for centuries, so have no right to complain now) but I have to cope with the linguistic aspect.
One of my favourite untranslatable term is PITCH or PITCHING. What is the best elevator pitch translation?
Pitching is defined as “a fast and effective way of convincing the others that your idea is amazing.” (source)
A pitch can be done face to face, with a call, an email, a Power Point Presentation or a video.
As Mr. David S. Rose explains in his video on TED, a pitch can be a presentation used to raise money for your company, describing it to potential investors and convincing them to give you their money. (Watch the video here: source)
However, it can also be a sales process. Indeed, Wikipedia says that “in selling technique, a sales pitch is a line of talk that attempts to persuade someone or something, with a planned sales presentation strategy, of a product or service designed to initiate and close a sale of the product or service.” (source)
Great. A bit wide as a concept, but clear. Now, how do I translate this into Italian?
I have several options:
- 1 – presentare, “to present”. As we saw in Mr Rose’s talk, a pitch can be a presentation. It is more than a simple presentation though, because the speaker presents a product or an idea not for the sake of presenting it, but with the aim of obtaining something (usually money)
- 2 – promuovere, “to promote”, it’s a slightly better translation. But still it’s not 100% accurate, because marketing is also promoting, but it is not pitching.
- 3 – vendere, “to sell”, it can work in some contexts. It is inaccurate, though, because, while the pitching process aims to sell, it’s not just a sale.
- 4 – convincere, “to convince”. This is more of a mental act, whereas when I pitch my book to an editor to convince him to publish it I want him to take action, not only to be convinced.
- 5 – chiudere un affare “close a deal”, might work in certain contexts.
- 6 – piazzare, “to launch a product, to market”. It sounds more accurate in Italian, although a bit slang and a bit old fashioned. Moreover, it makes me think of the seller who knocks at your door trying to sell you a vacuum cleaner.
A specific type of pitching is the “elevator pitching”, a short speech that takes from 30 seconds to one and a half minutes maximum. Why this name? Because this is the kind of speech you might give to a potential investor who happens to be in the elevator with you, when you only have that short span of time that brings him to the right floor. (source)
So we can say that the process of pitching is similar to a sale, but it’s not only a sale.
It is a presentation, but not the academic kind of presentation.
It involves the promotion of a product or an idea, but it’s not advertisement.
It aims to convince someone, but not with a marketing strategy.
There is no way to translate all these concepts into Italian using one word. According to the context you might choose a different term as a translation, or keep the English term if you’re talking to a specialistic audience. As so often happens, I believe that we don’t have the term in our language because we don’t have this concept in our culture.
Could it be because we prefer the stairs to the elevator?
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