Summer is here and with it: blockbuster movies. We're lucky in the U.S., blockbuster movies are written and produced in English, so we get to see and hear them exactly as the director intended. But in other countries, audiences are usually treated to subtitles or dubbing. This can make for some very funny or awkward moments if the translator isn't up to par. We've probably all watched foreign films where a touching scene is made hilarious by a mis-translated word.
Accurately translating movies and television shows is very difficult and requires highly skilled linguists. Similar cultural references often don't exist in the destination country, jokes can be extremely hard to translate, and problems that seem serious in a first world country may not resonate at all in a less developed country.
This summer, when you find yourself with a tub of popcorn, frozen to your seat in a large air-conditioned theater, think about how the movie you're watching would be if it were over-dubbed or if it had subtitles. And the next time you watch a foreign film with really great subtitles, give some thought to the talented and hard-working translators that made it possible.
Are you someone who thinks corporate meetings are a boondoggle, dreamed up by people who want a party and don't care about wasting valuable time and money?
SAP's CEO Bill McDermot argues in this CNBC OpEd that corporate meetings can be highly productive and extremely influential in improving employee moral and productivity, even helping companies to turn themselves around. Additionally, they inject money into the local economies where they are held, providing a positive ripple effect to local businesses.
McDermont's right, you can accomplish far more with people when you're all in the same room. But, when you bring together employees from all over the world to meet each other and get aligned with corporate strategy, you're likely to run into some language barriers as well. In order to foster productive discussions and make sure that everyone's voice is heard and that everyone leaves the meeting feeling valued and knowing what direction to take in their corner of the business, you should have materials translated and hire interpreters. Don't make employees use their second or third language skills. This can lead to misunderstandings and a failure to properly communicate. By having linguists on hand to help your overseas employees navigate the meeting, you'll ensure full participation and money well spent.
Conferences draw more and more of their audiences from overseas, and the number of meetings that rotate among at least three countries is up as well. Add in that in March, The Center for Exhibition Industry Research reported the 18th straight quarter of growth for the industry, and you’ll see that in spite of access to conference calls, Skype, and social media, we all really value the chance to meet others in-person and create the deeper connections such opportunities provide. With that in mind, we have a few tips for how to attract international attendees and make sure they go home raving about your conference.
1. Identify your attendees and target them in their language. This seems obvious, but many people don’t think through this carefully enough. In addition to buyers, are you targeting suppliers, partners, or trade groups? Next, market to those groups in their own languages with the content adjusted to reflect what they value and want to learn about. You will come across with much more credibility, plus it will reassure them that your conference really is set-up for international attendees. Bonus tip: check the holiday calendars of your international markets to avoid scheduling your conference when your target attendees are unavailable.
2. Hire an event manager. This is especially important if the conference you’re planning is outside your own country. Event Managers know the local venues and suppliers and can make sure that you get exactly what you need for your conference. If the site you pick is overseas, it may be difficult or too expensive for you to visit more than once before your conference, so an event manager is an essential go-between. Additionally, if there are language barriers, an event manager can help you negotiate contracts and make sure the little details are properly discussed. Your event manager should be local and speak the local language, which means you may find you need to hire an interpreter to work with you and your event manager to be sure you fully understand each other, but in the long run you will save money and reduce your stress level.
3. Offer translation and interpretation services. Although your international attendees are highly likely to speak English, it is not their first language and they may find it difficult to understand all of your speakers and to follow along in fast paced discussions. Think about how hard it can be for you to understand people with heavy accents, even the difference between U.S. English and Irish English can be difficult. Hire interpreters for all your sessions from keynote to breakout in the major languages that are in attendance. If you have interpreters, your Q&A sessions and discussions will be livelier and more inclusive.
Depending on your budget, you may also want to offer to translate key handouts, especially for your high profile speakers. And you should consider having signage in multiple languages if you anticipate a large number of international attendees. Finally, if you plan to communicate conference information through a mobile app or Twitter, you should hire a translator to make your communications available in all the major languages spoken at the conference. This will ensure that all of your attendees are in the loop.
4. Consider cultural differences. Think about how the customs of your international attendees may be different from your own. For example, in many cultures, people drink hot chocolate in the morning or during coffee breaks. In China, food is usually served during coffee breaks. It’s relatively easy and low cost to have muffins or fruit available, and if it makes your attendees happier, why not accommodate them? For dinners, you should offer vegetarian alternatives, and talk to your caterer to get his advice about the dietary customs of other cultures.
Be prepared for your international attendees to be extremely punctual or perhaps more than fashionably late, based on their own cultural norms. German attendees are likely to be right on time and expect you to be on time too. Japanese are likely to arrive early, while Brazilians may arrive late. If you expect a large contingent from one culture, you should find out ahead of time what to expect and manage speaker expectations accordingly.
Getting attendees from other countries to attend your conference will raise your institution’s profile, improve conference networking opportunities, and create exciting business opportunities for your entire audience. By following these four tips, you will ensure that your international audience will return home planning to attend the following year, and even better, they'll spread the word.
Marketers increasingly recognize the importance of localizing websites, but many only translate their product and service pages and often into only one or two languages. While we all know that the customer experience is king and that inbound marketing (thanks Hubspot) will radically improve our sales, we continue to neglect to localize for customer experience, and we overlook localizing inbound funnel content.
Take, for example, Hubspot’s classic inbound marketing funnel. You can find this on their website. Hubspot defines 4 steps in the inbound marketing process: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. To reach all of your potential customers, you need to localize your content for each step.
Notice that product and service pages do not even appear on the chart. The sales process begins with blogs, keywords, promotional videos, and social media, for which you need to create content that piques interest and draws visitors in. This means that if you want to attract customers to your website to see your localized product and service pages, you need to make sure you’re also localizing your social media, that you’ve optimized your SEO for the local market, and that you’re blogging in local languages.
Localizing the attraction portion of your funnel requires more than just translating what you’ve written in English. You need to truly understand your customer and then tailor your messaging for that market and to the local language. Start by drawing up a list of customer attributes and then find all the information you can to see how those attributes differ across country borders and how you need to modify and talk about your offerings. Keep in mind that you may even need to tailor your marketing within a country. Think about regional, cultural, and linguistic differences within the U.S. Are you customizing your social media marketing to take advantage of the different niches?
Buying habits vary greatly across cultures. For instance, only 20% of German customers use credit cards and many Japanese consumers pick up their packages at local convenience stores and pay COD.(+) Find out how buyers differ across your market and optimize your SEO ads and blog content for those differences. Finally, research how your customers access your website. Do they prefer a desktop, a tablet, or a mobile phone? During they access your site during business hours, leisure time, or on their commute? Recognizing the differences between your international consumers will help you better target your keyword ads, time your email campaigns, and blog about what resonates for them.
By this point you’ve gotten the word out, and people are showing up on your site. You have a local team tweeting about your brand and your blogs are relevant. No longer is your Brazilian market hearing about how great it is that summer has arrived when they’re watching the leaves fall. The next step is converting those visitors. When a customer in Spain reacts to an ad, does he arrive on a localized landing page? Is the CTA relevant for his purchasing potential? Again think about how your South American visitors might be more interested in purchasing a sweater in July than a bathing suit.
What about your forms? If you want Susi Q to sign up for email offers or company news, you need to translate your forms and adjust them for the local market. The last thing you want is to get someone to visit your website only to discover that the pages you so painstakingly created to explain your brand are only in English. Remember, you’ve done your homework and created tons of rich content, designed to educate and entice. Now follow through by translating them and adjusting them to attract your local customers. Dramatically increase your conversion rates by putting a process in place whereby all your content gets localized.
You’ve almost made the sale. Here’s where it helps to know payment and shipping preferences. Can you deal with the COD customer? Have you included all the duties and taxes in the price of your product or do they get tacked on at the end as an unfortunate surprise? How long will it take you to ship the product? Do you have local distribution centers or are you shipping on a slow boat from the U.S? If you’ve captured information about the customer in a form, do you have localized content that you can send that will tip him into purchasing?
Think through the end of the sale. This is where you work not only to close the sale but also to get repeat business. Your follow up emails should be localized. Find out what level of post-purchase service competitors in the local market provide and go above and beyond to ensure your customers are delighted. Which brings us to:
Hubspot lists surveys, smart content, and social marketing as three areas you should be using to delight your customer. Again, they should be tailored for the local market. This doesn’t just mean translated, but also adjusted to gather and provide information on what is important to your customer. Telefonica, a Spanish telephone company, realized that it needed to improve its customer experience, so it opened regional call centers both within Spain and in overseas locations. It wanted its Spanish customers to be able to talk to people who spoke the same dialect, walked the same streets, and could form connections with them. Telefonica also realized that it had different competitors in different regions, and by opening local call centers, they could respond to customer needs more rapidly, more effectively, and more competitively because their reps would know the local market better. Now Telephonica is working to make a seamless user experience for customers that walk into a shop and then contact the company through the website or by phone. Telefonica wants to make sure that customers get consistent information that is relevant to their market and their needs. This goes far beyond translation, to a strategic localization effort that works to consistently delight the customer. (++)
From your earliest outreach to post-sale engagement, you need to think about what your local customer needs and responds to and make sure that your marketing content reflects that. This doesn’t mean that you need to create new content for every market, rather, create stellar content and then adjust it and localize it for each market. Your increased sales will justify the time and effort you put in.
+(MultiChannelMerchant article Global Ecommerce on the Rise as Options for Addressing Barriers Increase, June 2015)
RABI has opened a new Washington D.C. office!
We are so excited to have a permanent space in the nation's capital. Our full range of services will continue to be offered to D.C. area businesses, with a particular focus on events management.
RABI has provided interpreters and technical equipment for conferences and events of all sizes across the U.S. for many years. We have experience working events that encompass multiple venues, and our extensive linguistic network means that we can easily accommodate last minute changes. We also provide localization services for marketing content and video production for product/brand marketing campaigns and event marketing.
For international vendors exhibiting at trade shows and conferences, we arrange conference booth services, negotiate sponsorships and event advertising, and coordinate transportation and shipping logistics. We can also help you with localizing your presentations and event literature.
The next time you're organizing a conference or plan to attend one, call RABI to help with your localization and interpretation needs.