All posts by Linguistica International

Translation myths demystified

5 Common Translation Myths Demystified

We like to think we’re a pretty enigmatic bunch here at Linguistica International, shrouded in a cool air of mystery; but in reality, it’s all a bit of farce. You see, there’s no room for mystery when you spend much of your time completing certified translations, sworn translations and notarised translations, where every detail has to be precise and exact. We bring this down to earth approach to every area of our work, and love to demystify the myths our clients have about our services.

Here are five of the most widely held translation myths…

1. Translation is a small, niche market

Au contraire! The business of translation, interpreting and localisation generates £25billion a year (source: Common Sense Advisory). What’s more, this market is growing and widening. Whilst translation in continental Europe was once dominated by the French, Italian, German and Spanish languages, now the EU has to communicate its messages to 24 different countries.

Then there’s the Asian market. Once upon a time it was only Japanese, Chinese and Korean translations we were asked to perform, but now once neglected languages like Vietnamese and Indonesian really matter as more Asian countries become commercial heavyweights.

Even colossal multinationals like Microsoft now deem it profitable to localise their software packages into tiny languages like Maya and Luxembourgish.

2. Machine translation is reducing demand for human translators

Did you read our last blog on Google Translate vs. Human Translators? If you missed it, basically automated translation software has a long way to go.

Far from replacing humans, machine translation is actually increasing demand for human translation. How? Well, automated translation is serving as an awareness campaign, showing decision makers that translating large volumes of information using machine translation is just not feasible, unless of course you’re happy with an end product littered with mistakes.

Technology certainly does have a part to play in the translation industry, but it’s more effective at coordinating our work with clients and allowing us to produce a more efficient, streamlined service.

3. Anyone who’s bilingual can work as a translator

Just as the ability to write in English does not make you a professional writer, the ability to speak two languages does not make you a professional translator. We have some of the strictest selection criteria in the industry. All of our mother-tongue translators hold excellent language qualifications with at least five years’ experience in professional translation and interpreting work.

Successful applicants must also be subject experts with professional experience of their chosen field of specialisation. More people who are perfectly fluent in two languages will fail professional translation and interpreting exams than pass, simply because the standards are so high.

4. Most translators translate books

It is a commonly thought that most translators spend their time translating books, whilst most interpreters work for the EU or the United Nations. It’s simply that these are the two most visible examples of translation services in action. In reality, the largest commercial translation sectors are software, manufacturing, healthcare, legal and financial services.

5. Translators and interpreters speak ‘dozens’ of languages

It is a misconception that translators and interpreters speak 4 or 5 languages. In reality, to keep the quality at a premium, most translators only work in two languages, and many only work in one direction, from one language into another but not in reverse.

As with any professional skill, it is always best to specialise. The average English person uses about 5,000 words on a regular basis, whilst those who are well educated will use up to 10,000. The professions with particularly wide vocabularies, such as lawyers and doctors, can use in excess of 20,000 words.

Translators and interpreters working in these specialised fields have to be able to use advanced technical terms and vocabulary in two languages, which is close to 40,000 words. For this reason, none of our translators work in more than two languages.

Get in touch

Do you have any translation myths you’d like us to debunk? We love to hear from our readers, so send us your translation misconceptions on Facebook or Twitter.

Google Translate vs human translator

Google Translate vs. Human Translator – Which is Best for your Business?

There seems to be no end to the lengths some of America’s richest firms will go in their pursuit of technological advancement. We’re still a long way from inventing a machine with the intelligence to rival that of a human being, but the likes of Google and Amazon are certainly giving it a good go. From Google we have the driverless car, which functions well in early tests but also raises a lot of ethical questions. And from Amazon we have the commercial delivery drone, which frankly just seems a bit ridiculous.

For now, we have the automated translation tool from Google, called Google Translate, which has recently been re-released with a number of enhancements, including the ability to translate both audio and textual content from one language into another. Google translate can be downloaded onto a smartphone, tablet or desktop, so it’s extremely accessible and cost effective, which is all wonderful. But is it actually any good?

The test

As a team of professional translators, we were intrigued to see just how good the new Google Translate really is. We didn’t have  long to wait as a fellow translation took up the challenge, and this is what they did.

To test how Google’s application measured up against a human, they matched the tool against one of their top Spanish translators. The key to the test was to determine whether Google Translate could detect the nuances that exist in language communication, which have such a dramatic impact on the interpretation and final translation.

The test focused on several key elements which are vital to producing an accurate translation, including comprehension, grammar and cultural idioms.

The results

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google Translate easily beat its flesh and bone equivalent for speed. But this was never a test of speed. Below are the two English translations produced by Google Translate and the human translator:

Google translate

National Council Bee

Beekeeping has become an activity of great relevance. Lets get high demand in foreign market and provides services such as pollination in crops of commercial interest.

Human translator

National Beekeeping Council

Beekeeping has become an enterprise of great importance, as it allows for creating high demand products in foreign markets and provides services such as the pollination of crops that have commercial interest.

The good news is that we’re still in a job! Despite a number of overhauls since its initial release in 2001, Google Translate is still making many of the same mistakes. In this example the translation is overly literal, the syntax is fractured and the word choice and grammar usage is poor.

What does this mean for you and your business?

There’s no doubt that Google Translate certainly has its place. As a quick translation tool it can serve a multitude of purposes, such as:

• Translating menus and road signs when travelling abroad
• Helping you get the gist or understanding of a topic
• Conversations with overseas relatives and friends
• Skimming non-English websites

However, there are also plenty of occasions when only a professional translator will do:

• Business documents
• Financial medical or legal materials
• Advertising and any public facing-content
• Whenever you need a 100 percent accurate translation

At Linguistica International, our mother tongue translators understand the cultural idioms and nuances that are indicative of how a particular word is used. We understand that a literal translation rarely provides the most accurate translation, and are firm believers that there’s still no substitution for human intelligence – at least for now.

Get in touch

What do you think? Could you ever be usurped by a robot? Perhaps you’re a spam bot with something interesting to say? Either way, we always love to hear from our readers, so please share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

Translation services and content marketing

How Can Translation Services Boost Your Content Marketing Campaign?

Content marketing is everywhere nowadays. If you want to be found online for terms that are pertinent to the products and services you offer, it’s likely that content marketing will form the lion’s share of your online marketing campaign.

According to the Content Marketing Institute

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

It probably hasn’t gone unnoticed that this very piece of content you’re reading now is an example of content marketing in action.

The statistics show that content marketing is here to stay, at least for the short to mid-term any way. Research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that an amazing 93 percent of B2B organisations rely on content marketing for brand building and demand generation, while 78 percent of senior marketers believe custom-built content such as articles, blogs and whitepapers are the future of marketing.

The role of translation in content marketing

As a team of translators who are not only responsible for producing quality translations for our clients, but also for marketing ourselves, we’ve learnt a few things about how repackaging content through translation can be an effective method of increasing our return on investment.

When we’ve taken the time to produce an original article or piece of research that drives traffic to our website, we translate the same piece of work (as long as it’s culturally relevant) into another language to effectively double our content’s reach. Simple it may be, but it’s surprisingly effective.

The benefits of translating your content

This approach to content marketing is particularly suitable for businesses expanding overseas, but even if you don’t harbour international expansion plans, this strategy can still work for you.

So what are the potential benefits for your business?

1. SEO

Concentrating your content marketing efforts on the domestic market can help you climb the local search results, but it won’t have any sway further afield. If you want your website to perform well in international search, it’s important to build your international exposure by gaining links and increasing your traffic. Translating your content will help you do just that.

2. Link building

No matter how many digital marketers proclaim that link building is dead, we all know how important good quality links can be. If the quality of your content or translation is poor, then you can kiss the links goodbye, but if you go the extra mile to produce top quality work, you could give your website a powerful boost on the search engine result pages.

3. New audiences

One of the most exciting benefits of translating your content is the ability to communicate with new audiences and increase your business’ exposure. With prospective customers and interested readers consuming your content, it’s easy to make great strides in new markets.

4. Keywords

When the search engines pay a visit to your website they’ll expect to see plenty of references to men’s shoes (if you’re an online shoe shop), or mobile phones (if you’re phone reseller), but none of these terms in different languages. If the search engines start to see some occurrences of the French or German alternatives to these terms in your content, they’ll start to associate your website with these keywords too. Before you know it, your content will be showing in the search results for foreign language searches.

5. New digital relationships

If you produce high quality, relevant and original content on a regular basis, good things will come. Perhaps the biggest potential benefit for your business is the opportunity to build new digital relationships with fellow bloggers, social media curators or journalists who want to be associated with your content. Meaningful digital relationships are the foundation of modern SEO, and every new relationship you form gives you the potential to reach a new market.

Get in touch

Have you tried translating your business content? Was it successful? We’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Alternatively, if you want some help transforming your quality English language content into attention grabbing translations, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Etiquette is important when conducting business abroad

The Importance of Etiquette when Conducting Business Abroad

Sending the right signals with the correct body language, gestures and etiquette is an important part of conducting business abroad. The ability to be deferential and adapt your way of working to meet the expectations of clients and suppliers is essential. Thankfully, most hosts will be sympathetic of your mistakes, providing you make the effort. It is this willingness to learn and to go the extra mile that will speak volumes about you and your business.

Country specific etiquette

In many cases, your overseas clients, partners and suppliers will be just as unprepared for the way you like to do business; but, when you’re the one setting foot in their country, the onus is on you to do your homework. Proper preparation to send and receive culturally appropriate signals can make the difference between the success and failure of a new venture, so it’s well worth a few minutes of your time.

If you’re looking to build bridges in the Asian market, the traditionally firm Western handshake that we see as a sign of respect can be highly offensive. Instead, a faster, lighter handshake will work more effectively.

In Japan, the business card is something to be revered. If you are given a business card you should treat it with respect. This includes not scribbling notes on it or stuffing it instantly into your pocket. If you are travelling to Japan to do business, it is well worth spending a few quid to translate your business card into Japanese. This is exactly the type of extra effort that’ll stand you in good stead.

In Korea, it takes time to build trust. Asking straight questions that require yes or no answers is frowned upon. Instead, appreciate that the negotiation process in Korea has a completely different rhythm. While you might want to get a deal sewn up in a day, it may take several visits to win their trust.

If you’re working in the Middle East, specifically in Arab countries, you should be mindful of the signals you are sending with your shoes. Showing the soles of your shoes to an Arabian partner or client is extremely offensive, so when you’re seated, make sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground.

That all important personal touch

One of the biggest hurdles we face in the UK is treating business as a purely professional event. In some cultures the personal touch is essential. In much of the western world, we are quite content to stick to the cold hard facts without it affecting our professional relationships.

However, in some countries, the lack of time to ask about personal matters, such as the health of an individual’s family, could cause great offensive. By neglecting to ask these questions you can badly damage your prospects overseas.

Where can you find help?

With thorough research and preparation it is possible to form excellent working relationships with clients, partners and suppliers overseas, you just need to be sensitive to the cultural differences.

The British Chambers of Commerce has a network of experts around the world with an intricate understanding of the culture at play in particular countries to help you to get grips with that market. There’s also plenty of government advice on exporting and importing to and from the UK, including regulations, intellectual property issues and establishing a presence in foreign markets.

And remember, if you need a helping hand to put your best foot forward overseas, Linguistica International should be your first port of call for translating and telephone interpreting services. Just give us a call on +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com.

Alternatively, if you’ve had any calamitous experiences conducting business abroad, we’d love to hear from you on Facebook or Twitter

Facial expressions and culture

The Link between Facial Expressions and Culture

As any holidaymaker will know, when you’re struggling with a foreign language you revert to the basics to get by. At Linguistica International, by no means do we condone the act of pointing at pastries in some far flung corner of the world, but sometimes, when a language barrier exists, there are few other methods of getting your message across.

Along with the pointing and the brainless gesticulating comes your friendliest, most disarming smile. You know the smile we’re talking about, it’s the one that says: “Hello there, I don’t speak your language and I’m very sorry about that, but I would love three of your delicious looking apple strudels please.” The trouble is, your slightly gormless, toothy smile might be disarming here in the UK, but it won’t necessarily be perceived in the same way in that delicious foreign cake shop.

What does the research say?

Most of us would assume that facial expressions convey the same emotion or meaning wherever you are in the world. However, recent research has caused an about turn in conventional thinking, and could be the reason why you’ve been getting all those funny looks…

In the first study, two completely different cultural groups, visitors to the Boston Museum of Science and the Himba people from the Namibian mountains, were asked to listen to nine different audio clips. They were then asked to describe the emotion each sound evoked in a single word.

The American participants guessed the emotions tied to all the sounds correctly, but the Himba’s accuracy in seven out of the nine sounds was less than five percent.

In another study, the same two ethnic groups were asked to interpret a number of facial expressions. The participants were asked to sort pictures of the faces of 36 African Americans into five different emotional groups, before labelling these five piles with the emotion attributed to them.

The American respondents split their pictures into five different expressions, which included: smiling, scowling, neutral, wide-eyed and a combination nose-wrinkled and pouting. The Himba created two piles, one with happy and the other with fearful expressions. The three other piles they created were completely different to those assembled by the Americans. The Himba also found it hard to describe the piles by attributing a mental state to each, and instead had to resort to facial actions to describe their piles.

What this shows, the researchers believe, is that the meaning of some facial expressions changes in different parts of the world.

How do we interpret facial expressions?

Interpreting facial expressions in a study is not the same as it is in everyday life. When you’re out and about in a foreign country, or just in your home town, you are using a number of different signals to interpret what you think people’s expressions mean.

Context is hugely important. Humans do not actually recognise emotions in others, but perceive them. As an example, the facial expression of an athlete who is jumping for joy after winning an event, if viewed alone, could look pained. It is not until the full image is revealed, which shows us some context, that we can see they are celebrating a triumph.

We once believed emotions to be natural events that are specific signatures, but we are now starting to realise that emotions are “constructed events that arise in the moment from a set of more basic ingredients.” Our emotions can actually be filtered by elements such as a positive/negative mood, and these perceptions are not fixed but occur in a moment.

What can we learn?

This tells us that different people, in different cultures, can express their emotions in different ways. But more than that, the facial expressions the Himba used to describe the emotions evoked when sorting the picture piles suggests that the very notion of emotion can differ in each culture as well.

This simply enhances the importance of appreciating, acknowledging and understanding the cultural differences at play when working with foreign customers, suppliers or business partners. The incorrect interpretation of cultural signals is one of the greatest challenges that businesses expanding into new markets must overcome. While our mother tongue linguists can help you get the language right, interpreting emotions and facial expressions is something only experience can help with.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced a miscommunication resulting from your incorrect interpretation of a facial expression? What about body language? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Climbing to the top of local language search

Climbing to the Top of Local Language Search

72.5 percent of worldwide consumers use search engines to find what they need online.

50 percent of users start by entering a keyword or phrase into the search engines.

Searchers scan an average of just 3.9 results, reading just 140 words, and taking 6.4 seconds before they click.

What do these statistics tell us? Well for starters, we’ve gone way beyond our remit in terms of research for this post. But that’s a good thing, because you’re about to benefit from some actionable tips that can help your website climb to the top of local language search.

The good news

Assuming you already have an English language website, the good news is that the majority of foreign language keywords are not as competitive as they are here in the UK. In much of Europe for example, acquiring top rankings for the Italian or Spanish equivalent of ‘bedside tables’, ‘car hire’ or ‘palatial hamster cages’ will not take as much time or require the same level of concerted effort as here in the UK. There’s simply less competition.

The bad news

Wherever you are, success in the search engines results pages does not come for free. You need a certain amount of technical wherewithal to tick all the relevant boxes. As you can see from the statistics above, searchers scan an average of just 3.9 results, taking 6.4 seconds before they click. So, the chances are, if you’re not in the top four search engine rankings, your website will simply not be seen.

The fix

The worst case scenario is that you go to the expense of transcreating your 30 page website into beautiful Italian, or Portuguese, or Vietnamese, only to attract a measly 10 visitors a month through organic search. You’ve put on an all expenses paid party but forgotten to invite the guests. Every party needs guests as much as every website needs traffic. Here’s how to solve this pesky little problem.

1. Align your keywords to your target locales and put them where it matters

It’s not enough to translate your English keywords literally and hope for the best. In the above example, there may be a more common used term to describe the item of furniture we know as a ‘bedside table’ in your target language. A professional translation team (like us!) will be able to help you identify the terms that resonate with each of your target locations.

Once you have a solid list of the most popular searched for terms, it’s then time to put them where it matters, namely, in your meta data, and sprinkled liberally throughout your content. Here’s a handy guide to help you get it right.

2. Use a country code top level domain

Whilst this might sound dauntingly technical, it’s not. This simply refers to the suffix that follows your website’s URL in the address bar, so while the English version of your website might be a .co.uk, your French site will be a .fr.

Country-specific domains are one of the most effective methods of making sure your website is found by the right people. It clearly indicates that each website is intended for a particular audience. The search engines then rank sites more favourably in particular countries. Here’s a simple explanation from Google.

3. Dig a little deeper into Webmaster Tools

Google’s Webmaster Tools is an essential bit of kit for any website owner. It helps you keep tabs on your website’s performance and identify any underlying problems. However, it also has an added bonus for multilingual websites, allowing users to select a target location for each of their websites.

The process itself is pretty straightforward. You simply go into your dashboard and target a location for your website. This effectively tells the search engine which region your website is intended for. This works most effectively in tandem with country specific domains as discussed in point 2. Without these top level domains in place, targeting a single .com website at one location would limit your audience rather than target it more effectively.

4. Avoid duplicate content penalties

The hreflang tag might look and sound like gobbledegook, but it can play an important part in your multilingual SEO efforts. Quite simply, this attribute tag tells the Google algorithm that “this page has been translated into a specific language”. Again, it’s all about giving the search engines as much information as possible, helping them effectively prioritise the right website for a particular region.

This can even work for two versions of the same website, written in the same language but for two separate regions. For example, you may have separate sites for UK and US markets. They will both be written in the same language, but one might be slightly more ‘bodacious’ than the other. In this case, even if the content is very similar, the pages tagged with the appropriate language attribute will be boosted in the rankings for searches in that target country. This will also help you avoid any nasty duplicate content penalties.

And there you have it – to the top of the search engines you go! And if you need any help with any of the associate translating and transcreating work, just give us a shout and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

 

The hidden benefits of localisation

The Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Benefits of Localisation

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been drumming home just how important a localisation strategy is to your international success. We’re bound to say that, right? Well maybe; but there is an increasing acceptance that in order to succeed abroad, UK businesses must localise their products and their accompanying literature. Why? Because business owners and decision makers are beginning to see both the hidden, and the not-so-hidden benefits a localisation strategy can bring.

1. Competitive edge

If you’re competing against domestic suppliers native to the market you’re moving into, or competing against overseas market entrants that have localised their products and services, you have no choice but to localise. It’s as simple as that. Imagine yourself as a customer looking for a product online. There are four websites in your native language, and one written entirely in Spanish. Which will you disregard first? I think it’s pretty obvious.

As a nation of fairly lazy linguists, it’s all too easy to think of English as the language of business; it’s not. The language of business is always the customers’ language, whatever that may be. If your competitors have taken the lazy option, then localising your literature and product specific information will present you with a distinct competitive advantage.

2. Visible commitment to your customers

Taking the time to localise your literature is not only a commitment to your international customer base, it’s also a commitment to your workforce. Leading by example in this way will illustrate to employees at every level of the company just how important your overseas customers are. Of course, native language products and services should be accompanied by a native language customer service provision, so that’s something you should consider too.

3. A local and international brand

Whilst a localised website will help your business become a brand in your newly created market pockets, your overarching and original offering will be working away in the background to service all of your English speaking customers, clients and prospects. During the localisation process, your business can alter your marketing messages to make them more appropriate to particular markets, allowing you strike the right chord with every customer, wherever they are.

4. Unparalleled market penetration

If you’re already selling abroad and your sales have plateaued, localisation is one way to increase your market penetration without forking out for an expensive and potentially fruitless marketing campaign. The simple act of translating your website into the native language will help you attract internet search traffic for all those foreign language keywords you were previously missing out on. Not only will this approach improve your customers’ understanding of your products, it is also an extremely cost effective method of reaching hundreds of thousands of potential new customers.

5. Reduced liability and copyright infringement

The translation and localisation of the associated legal gubbins that go hand-in-hand with the sale of your products and services, such as contracts, product use and end-user agreements, will help to minimise conflict that may result from the language barrier. This can provide your business with more comprehensive legal protection. Consumers must obey copyright documentation written in their native language, providing your business with additional recourse in case of any corporate sneakiness!

So there you have it, the hidden and not-so-hidden benefits of localisation. Only now, those benefits aren’t hidden anymore; we’ve just lifted the lid! So, if you’re looking for a high quality localisation service that can be your company’s voice abroad, get in touch today! Call +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com.

Telephone interpreters

Effective Global Communication is just a Phone Call Away

The role of telephone interpretation has changed beyond recognition in the last couple of decades. What started as a tool to help Australian immigrants with limited English proficiency access the emergency services, now allows us to communicate seamlessly with people overseas.

The internet has added to this global reach by making it possible to access websites from all over the world. This presents a huge opportunity for businesses of every shape and size.

However, a problem still persists. The language barrier for many companies is the one obstacle that can slow their success overseas. Even small businesses can now enter foreign markets without the need for an established and expensive physical presence, but direct communication with international customers, clients and partners remains an unavoidable part of expansion.

Thankfully, rather than battling against the prohibitive price of foreign travel, Linguistica’s telephone interpreting services now allow businesses to communicate with foreign prospects at a tiny fraction of the cost.

How does our telephone interpreting service work?

Telephone interpreting services allow you to communicate with individuals who do not share a common language via an interpreter on a three-way phone line. The vast majority of telephone interpreting takes place consecutively. That is, you speak, then pause to wait for the interpreter to summarise or repeat verbatim what you have said in the third party’s language. The interpreter then repeats their reply to you in English.

The main advantage of our telephone interpreting service is that no specialist equipment is required. All you need is a telephone and an account number which we will provide you with.

What about the price?

Due to the varying time zones at play, a telephone interpreting provider should be there to support you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Linguistica does just that.

You never know when you’ll need to pick up the phone and speak to a distributor, supplier or prospect overseas, so it’s important you only pay for the talk time you need. We charge just £1.85 + VAT per minute, which is billed by the second.

There should also be no minimum spend, so you can use our telephone interpreters as much or as little as you need.

How can you determine the quality of a telephone interpreting service?

Whether it’s in person, by email, or over the phone, communication within an international business or with customers and clients overseas should be efficient, fluid and effective. Misunderstandings can be expensive and damaging to productive business relationships, which is why a trial and error method of determining the quality of an interpreting service is a risky approach to take.

Telephone interpreting is a very specific skill, so working with specialist telephone interpreters, rather than linguists who work across a spectrum of services, is always a good start.

Telephone interpreters require specialist training and qualifications. Achieving the highest standard of qualification relies on impeccable comprehension, first class language abilities, comprehensive knowledge of industry specific terminology and excellent customer service skills.

Telephone interpreters also require the technological prowess to deal with unavoidable issues which can hamper communication. Poor sound quality, interference on the line or distracting noises will reduce the clarity of your message. Only when a telephone interpretation service offers this level of expertise can you be sure your voice is heard.

We’re ready to take your call…

Seamless global communication is just a phone call away. At Linguistica International, we help hundreds of organisations connect instantly with customers and clients overseas. Please call +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com to see how we can help you.

 

Expanding overseas

When is the Right Time to Expand Your Business Overseas?

Let’s face it. Christmas Eve is probably not the best time to expand your business overseas. What with all the last minute present buying and Christmas tipples, there’s more than enough to keep you busy. But if Christmas Eve isn’t the best time to expand your business, when is?

While selling overseas will widen your company’s reach, you should not move into international markets without properly establishing your business on home turf. In this festive edition of the Linguistica International blog, we’ll take a look at five questions you should ask before making that leap.

1. Do you have solid foundations in the domestic market?

Putting the provisions and processes in place to maintain the day-to-day running of your business is a crucial building block before expanding into new markets. Could your domestic business continue to function if you or your senior employees were absent, or spending the majority of your time chasing opportunities overseas?

An important factor in your decision will be your ability to move senior staff from their current responsibilities to focus on the expansion. There’s also nothing to stay they’ll have the necessary skills to develop successful overseas sales and marketing operations. If you don’t have the skills in-house, is training the best bet or should you hire new staff? At the very least, you’ll need someone to be accountable for the export sales part of the business.

2. How will you find new talent in another country?

Finding the right local talent can help your business make its mark overseas. However, many countries will simply not have the skilled labour you’ll need. You’ll also be competing with more established companies who understand how to identify and recruit the best local talent.

One potential source of great local talent will be places of further education, such as business schools or engineering programs. What the candidates lack in real world experience, they’ll more than make up for in enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and lower wages.

3. Can you adapt to the local culture?

Your ability to adapt to the culture is more important in some markets than others. Countries like France and Japan have a strong sense of culture and expect overseas companies to conform to their way of doing things.

In this case, you may have to customise your product to satisfy the tastes and preferences of local customers. At the very least, you’ll have to make sure your marketing message and website has been transcreated in the local lingo.

4. How will you pay for your overseas expansion plans?

The start-up period for many overseas expansions lasts longer than most entrepreneurs anticipate. You have to expect the new operation to run at a loss for a period of time, and be able to sustain this loss. So, not only do you need the initial capital to invest in the infrastructure to make an overseas expansion possible; you also need to have a workable long-term financial plan in place.

Initial forecasts are notoriously inaccurate so make sure you rework your plans as the actual revenues and expenses become clear. No business should expect to enter a new market and turn a profit right away. Businesses that expand successfully are in it for the long-haul.

5. Could you expand your online presence instead?

It is not always necessary to establish a physical presence abroad to expand into foreign markets. Those businesses with a strong online presence can simply adapt their operation to offer overseas shipping and expand their payment options.

Selling online through an ecommerce partner with established international credibility is far more cost effective than building a local presence online. However, in some markets you will still need to develop websites that accept the local currency and are written in the native language.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Linguistica International. We’ve enjoyed an unbelievable 2014, and hope next year brings much of the same for all of our wonderful clients!

How can Your Small Business Compete with Global Brands Overseas

How can Your Small Business Compete with Big Brands Overseas?

As consumers, we’re benefit obsessed. We’re always on the lookout for products and services that deliver the most bang for our buck. Whether it’s better prices, an improved service or the ability to respond to the specific needs of individual customers, small businesses hold all the cards they need to trump national players in the local market.

But what happens when small businesses harbour lofty ambitions in markets overseas? Can they ever hope to get one over on the global players? Small businesses don’t have the luxury of massive advertising budgets, large teams of developers, marketers and sales staff, or any of the economies of scale associated with global corporations.

However, in the world of international business, bigger is not always better, and as the world moves into the increasingly faceless digital age, consumers still value the unique, personalised experiences small organisations provide.

So, if you’re a small business, here are a few tips to help you make an indelible mark on markets overseas…

Create a localised plan

There are plenty of examples of large brands entering new markets  without properly planned international expansion programmes. Groupon made this mistake in 2011, when they entered the Chinese market with a westernised management team who had no previous experience working in China.

Small businesses are perfectly equipped to evolve their plan to capitalise on opportunities or sidestep potential threats. Large, sprawling organisations are slower to adapt to market conditions, and any mistakes in their initial planning can take a long time to correct.

Collaborate with local firms

One unassailable weapon in the global business’ arsenal is the ability to access the resources they need to succeed in overseas markets. Small businesses simply cannot compete with this level of investment.

However, smaller businesses can bypass this resource restriction by developing mutually beneficial partnerships with local companies. This enables smaller businesses to share resources such as office space and other infrastructure, while benefiting from the native company’s innate understanding of market conditions and culture.

Personalise your messages

Regardless of the culture of the country you are moving into, customers always respond more positively to messages that are personalised to target their particular market. Personalised messages play an important part in generating brand awareness, customer loyalty and retention rates. It’s all about hitting the right customer with the right message. To achieve this, market research is essential.

Large brands often rely on automated tools to generate their marketing messages, sometimes with disastrous results. One example occurred just last year, when Amazon suggested UK customers browsing balaclavas might also be interested in their comprehensive selection of baseball bats!

Make a mark with social

Even successful brands can be daunted by the prospect of starting afresh in new markets around the world. Thankfully, social media is an effective method of dipping your toe in the water, allowing you to establish a potential market before you physically set foot in another country.

As always, gaining leverage in a foreign market through social media will rely on the localisation of your social media page and all of your updates. For your activity to be deemed authentic, you should either hire community managers who speak the local lingo, or work with a translation agency that employs mother tongue translators capable of recreating posts in the colloquialisms native to that culture.

And that’s where our transcreation service can help. So please call +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com for more information.