Going International? Avoid these Six Marketing Obstacles

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So you have a great marketing plan in place. It is catchy, thoughtful, and helping customers flock to your business. It is so good, in fact, that you are thinking about entering the international playground. You want to take your business marketing global. Well, there is a lot of marketing work that needs to be addressed before venturing out – especially with a fantastic local marketing plan. International marketing takes a few extra steps. Here are 6 of the most common issues that companies run into and how to be better prepared when it is time to go global with your marketing content:

Idioms don’t “hit the mark”

When translated word-for-word, idioms don’t really “cut the mustard.” The intended meanings simply don’t carry into another language, which could cause confusion and loss of potential international customers. When translators meet up with idioms, they may have a hard time finding a suitable replacement. Don’t “spin your wheels.” Replace idioms with more universal phrases to gain new customers.

Avoid Long Sentences

Often marketing communication can be long-winded. Keeping it short benefits both English speakers and your future global customers. It also makes a translator’s job easier. Sentences that are over 35 words in length are much more difficult to translate. Simplifying sentences to about 20 words will greatly improve the effectiveness of your content. A good rule of thumb is to read a long-winded sentence and then alter it until you remove all extraneous words. Odds are, your message will sound more crisp, better than the original version.

Keep your sentence structure simple

Winston Churchill once said, “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”  Could it be said another way? Surely “I will not put up with this pedantry” would work better. We may not chuckle, but a translator will be happy to do his/her job with this sentence over the former. This should be the same way we look at all of our marketing content. Even quotes that seem simple enough to English speakers, may make little sense in other languages.

Save money with nouns

Often marketing uses catchy phrases such as “This will save you money!” and, “That resulted in a better health.” While these sentences follow all the other rules of simplicity, using only pronouns may hurt you. Translators who are translating languages that use masculine and feminine forms of nouns– such as Spanish or German– may run into trouble. The solution? Use a noun when possible, i.e. “This solution will save you money,” or “This product will give you better health.”

When all else fails, transcreate

When translating the words alone are not enough, try transcreation, the act of translating words along with changing your imagery, layout, colors, etc. to fit cultural norms of other nations. For example, furniture giant, Ikea, connects with its broad-base of customers around the world using a location list on its website http://www.ikea.com. Pick the country you are in and it will bring you to the appropriate website. Each website is unique to the country and has a somewhat different visual style which is tailored to match the cultural expectation of the user.

Avoid better, faster, cheaper

Don’t try to translate your content using your cousin Martha who is semi-fluent in a foreign language that she learned in college 20 years ago. Let a translation company tackle the hard stuff.  Actual translators add their knowledge, expertise, and the human touch that can help your global marketing shine. Soon international customers will flock to your business as well.

by Ilona Knudson

 

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