Once the decision has been made to invest in an international communications strategy to support your exporting activities, as with any investment, it’s important to make sure it pays off.
But how do you avoid the pitfalls of a world that can be difficult to understand, that is the world of foreign languages? For those who don’t speak or understand another language, it can be a scary place.
But by following some very simple steps, you can make sure your international communications really get the right message across and help to boost your export sales.
STEP 1: PLANNING
Preparation is the key to ensuring your company’s success in overseas markets. If you plan your campaign properly, you’ll be sure to:
In short, you’ll get an overall better return on investment.
And to do that, you need to consider the following points:
If your material hasn’t yet been written, it’s helpful to think about how the English you are writing would work in another language. I’m not suggesting you need to be able to speak the other language, but consider that certain styles of writing are not as easily conveyed in another language. Clever use of word play and idioms create challenges in other languages and are unlikely to have the same impact as they do in English. Take a look at these examples:
The chances of either of these two phrases working as well in other language as they do in English, both in terms of meaning and word play, is quite small.
And if you’re material has already been written, don’t worry! Professional translators are trained to handle these types of challenges and employ techniques in order to ensure they get the right meaning across.
The message you want to convey isn’t just limited to the words you use, pictures are equally important. The reaction that the following picture will provoke in a British person will be very different to the one a French or Turkish person will have.
So in order to provoke the same types of reactions in your target audiences, you may need to consider changing the pictures to something more relevant to them.
Normally, translation costs are calculated according to the number of words to be translated. So it goes without saying that if you reduce the number of words you can reduce your costs. And to do this, take a look at whether you can incorporate more images to get the message across. This technique can be used quite well in instruction manuals to show the various steps of a process. A perfect example of this is an IKEA manual. We’ve all bought their furniture and seen the guides with the pictures of the funny looking man putting it together. But have you ever noticed that there are no words at all in those manuals? And the reason? So that they are understood in all the countries served by IKEA without having to be translated.
For more on planning, look out for Part 2 coming soon.
By Helen Provart, Managing Director, March 2017
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