Top-Shelf Tip No. 160:

"Communication is not only the essence of being human, but also a vital property of life. "

John A. Pierce

Are You Speaking Your Customer's Language?

When it comes to global connections, are you speaking the right language in order to connect with your customers? You may think your company's products and services speak for themselves, but building a brand beyond borders takes more. If you don't speak your customer's language and understand their culture, you won't reach them emotionally and your reputation will suffer.

These cultural connections don't just have to be for a local business. Perhaps your locally manufactured products are geared toward a specific cultural group within your own region. Either way, you still want to make an emotional connection with the customer—one that drives trust and admiration.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these key points when speaking your customer's language from language translation expert Stephanie Tramdack Cash.

  • When translating actual communication to your customers, such as website copy, don't be fooled by money-saving machine translation. Your image is too important. An online translation button on your website sends precisely the wrong message, since a computer program has no inkling of the nuance or emotion you want to communicate. You're trying to evoke an emotional response in a human being. That's something only a highly skilled human translator can do. With machine translation, you run the risk of severing that emotional connection. Any perceived insult or sloppiness will be an immediate deal-breaker.
  • Find a translation team that knows your industry, understands your target audience and can convey technical points with precision. Industry lingo can vary from market to market and you need to be saying what your target audience is used to hearing. What's more, proper, grammatical writing is indispensable in transmitting a sense of your professionalism and your respect for customers and prospects.
  • Look for translators who specialize in marketing and communications. This step is perhaps the most often overlooked, even by conscientious and knowledgeable actors.
  • Once you've gathered your team, take the time to brief them fully and be open to their creative solutions. Different countries and cultures have their own vibrant emotional "palettes." Often, you will need to strike a different note with a foreign culture than with your own. Translators, with their finely-honed knowledge of other people's ways of seeing, thinking and feeling, can help you arrive at the right mix of emotional messaging.
  • Don't limit your communications to your website or brochure. Think about developing language-specific newsletters or other content marketing tools to help you build trust with your target markets. Regular, high-quality communications, rendered in your customers' languages, can go a long way toward promoting buy-in.

Be bold in your approach to communicating across cultural frontiers. With a careful plan making use of the points above, you'll make an emotional connection with new customers in new markets.

Source: Stephanie Tramdack Cash, CFA translates French investment management and strategy documents. She is an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 100 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson