Marketing Translation – Interview with Nicole Adams
How Marketing Translation Can Help Small Businesses
A couple of months ago I was looking for translators specialized in marketing translation for my interviews series.
After much research I found Nicole Adams’ website www.nyacommunications.com. She was very kind and agreed to answer my questions about her specialization.
Nicole is not running a typical “translation business” but a “communication business”. She specializes in PR translation, corporate communication and marketing translation.
Her new book “Diversification in the Language Industry” (www.xl8diversification.com) will be officially released at the AUSIT Excellence Awards in Melbourne on 16 November.
Nicole has recently released also a course for translators called “The A to Z of Freelance Translation“
The A to Z of Freelance Translation has been designed as a comprehensive online course that will equip you with all the information you need to kick-start your freelance translation business and to tackle the most common issues freelancers are faced with in their first years of operation. It is the first fully online course of its type for freelance translators and allows you to progress as fast or slow as you wish, with as much or as little interaction with the coach and other participants as you like. It is the only course you’ll need to get your business up and running and to develop it in your first year and beyond.
What does the course include:
5 comprehensive lessons
• 50,000+ words of course material
• 24/7 course access; self-paced format
• Exclusive forum for interaction with coach and other participants (optional)
• More than 10 templates (quotation, invoice, reminder, T&Cs, CV, price list and many more)
• Downloadable e-books and articles for each lesson
• Videos and podcasts
• Workbook and journal to complete
• Interactive self-assessments, tasks and assignments
• Exclusive access to a private Facebook group for participants and alumni
• Certificate of completion for your CPD record
Click here to learn more about the course.
I hope you enjoy the interview. Thanks Nicole!
Interview with Nicole Y. Adams
1. You specialize in PR, business and marketing translations. Why did you choose these fields?
When I started out as a freelance translator in 2003, I wasn’t planning to become a marketing and PR translator although I had some in-house marketing experience with a publisher. Like most freelance translators, I started out as a generalist but pretty quickly realised that there are certain types of text I’m not qualified to handle or that I simply don’t enjoy. And just as quickly I realised that I really enjoy translating press releases, sales presentations, advertising campaigns, marketing collateral, and so forth. I decided to attend professional development courses in those fields to familiarise myself with the theory behind it all and be better able to establish myself as an expert in those areas. I obtained distance learning diplomas in marketing communications and social media marketing, and I went on to become a certified public relations consultant. I believe having the relevant theoretical knowledge, coupled with specialising in only one to three areas makes a freelance translator a lot more productive and enables them to command higher rates, which clients will happily pay in return for your expertise.
2. Do you think there is a real requirement for translation services in this sectors?
Absolutely. The marketing and PR sectors are very fast moving, and businesses certainly have a lot of material that needs to be translated. Companies with headquarters in, say, Germany, and subsidiaries all over Europe need to have their German documents translated into the local languages, or their company magazine published in English as a lingua franca among all subsidiaries. Press releases come out every day that need to be understood in other markets. Brands expand and need to make their marketing collateral available in additional languages and adapt their marketing campaigns to their various target markets. It never stops, and it never gets boring or monotonous.
3. Who are your typical translation clients?
My favourite clients are very small, highly specialised communications agencies who handle the entire production process for their end clients, from copywriting and graphic design to translation and multilingual typesetting. Over the years, I have become a genuine part of the team for a number of such agencies. Typical end clients serviced by us are airlines, car manufacturers or large coffee house chains. It’s a pleasure to be involved in campaigns and see the whole process from start to finish. The final product is always something to be proud of, especially when you can see your translation in a corporate brochure or an in-flight magazine that you know will soon be read by travellers all over the world.
4. From your first-hand experience, do you think English companies are willing to translate their message into other languages or do they expect customers to understand English?
To quote Willy Brandt: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. But if I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.” I think in the last decade, small- and medium-sized businesses have come to realise that translation can and should be an integral part of their business strategy. We live in a globalised information age, and the whole world is now networked. Physical distances have decreased in importance and e-commerce has become a matter of course. Today it’s quite normal to go online and order a product from a company in another country. Many customers don’t speak another language, so it makes sense for SMEs to localise their website into the local languages of the markets they’re targeting. Studies (such as Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites by Common Sense Advisory in 2006) have shown that customers are more likely to buy from a business if all the information about the products is available in their native language, so expecting customers to speak English would certainly be a costly mistake. There’s no faster and more efficient way to reach a global audience of potential clients, and from my experience small- and medium-size businesses have come to realise this.
5. Is there a real benefit for a small/medium company to translate their marketing collateral? What ROI can they expect?
This ties in with the previous question. There is no doubt that localising your marketing collateral will increase your reach, but SMEs in particular should carry out a thorough analysis first to make sure their investment will bring the desired ROI. It makes sense to identify which languages will bring the greatest reach and translate your material into those first, or even only into those. Generally speaking, sales volumes will increase with any additional language version of a company’s website marketing material, which will in turn affect the SME’s ROI. The more marginal the chosen languages, however, the lower the ROI. Smaller businesses also need to bear in mind possible printing and distribution costs in their new target markets as these will naturally also affect their ROI. As new customers come on board in the new markets, they will likely also expect customer support or additional materials in their local language (with more opportunities for specialised translators!). While this may initially be a burden on the company’s budget, an increased in-country presence will ultimately lead to an increase in sales and therefore a greater ROI.
6. Why couldn’t a generic translator translate a marketing strategy effectively?
If you needed a new knee joint, would you see a generalist surgeon who may be performing three of those operations a year, or a knee replacement specialist who does four a day? I certainly know whom I’d choose. Personally, I do believe that there is a market for generalist translators. Recent graduates or beginners with no experience typically don’t have any specialist knowledge yet and have no choice but to be generalists, usually competing at the bottom end of the market for less than satisfactory rates. Specialist translators, on the other hand, are able to command higher rates and work in an entirely different market segment than the generalists. All the discussions we frequently witness in translator forums, mailing lists or Facebook groups about ‘bad agencies’, low prices and the end of freelance translation as a viable business model only affect generalist translators. Specialists aren’t the slightest bit concerned about any of these issues, so it’s highly advisable to specialise and establish yourself at the other end of the market.
Being a specialist translator doesn’t happen over night of course. Just because you’ve once worked the till at McDonald’s in your student days doesn’t make you a financial translator. Ideally, specialist translators have first-hand practical experience in their industry of specialisation. As a marketing translator, it helps if you’ve worked in a marketing department, legal translators are also often lawyers with hands-on experience, and so forth. Personally, I also believe that studying the underlying theory is important, so continuing professional development in the form of specialised courses is crucial to expand your expert knowledge in your chosen field.
For marketing and communications translations, the translator needs to understand the nuances of the language and the connotations of the company’s intended message in the local geography of the target market. Experienced marketing translators are experts in cultural adaptation, understand the customer profile and are able to translate the implied meaning rather than just the literal meaning, which makes a real difference to effective marketing. Marketing translators also need to have a creative streak and hit the right tone. The goal is for the consumer to feel that the material he is reading was written directly in his local language. Marketing material can only be effective if it doesn’t read like a translation – which is precisely why specialist translators are required.
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