Ten years ago, language services largely centered on documents. Translators tapping away in cubicles or cafés all had one goal: to transform text from language A into language B.
Not so today, when the translation industry is quickly evolving with the increased drive for globalization. As more companies of all sizes enter foreign markets, they can easily find themselves lost in an unfamiliar culture. Language services companies are uniquely positioned to serve as a guide.
So, how can translation agencies tap into their clients’ needs? How can they expand their services to help clients achieve success in a foreign market?
Develop a niche market
First and most importantly, develop a niche market. Take the Japanese market, for example, which happens to be our specialty. We have first-hand knowledge of the language, culture and business context. Most of our team is Japanese, and we also have a small army of native Japanese translators across a broad range of specialties. It’s our market, and our team knows how to do business there.
Grow or hire business savvy
Notice that we say that our team “knows business” – not “knows Japanese.” That’s not to say that we don’t need our highly-trained Japanese linguists; they’re our pulse. Even so, your team must also bring strong business knowledge to the table. You need to know the business environment in your target market and how to succeed there.
Know your clients
We have clients come to us all the time with materials to translate into Japanese. Because we take the time to speak with them, we learn about their larger goals. As a result, we can not only create better, localised translation services, but we also can identify where they might need help.
Determine what success looks like
Most of all, ask clients for more than their core values and marketing strategy before translating an ad campaign. You also want to know what success looks like for them in your niche market. Since you know the market well, you can begin to identify ways to help them get there.
Likewise, when you know a client’s goals, you get a grasp on their overall strategy. Maybe their strategy works perfectly well in France, but they don’t know how to accomplish their goals in an unfamiliar market like Japan. Ten years ago, big multi-nationals entering the Japanese market would have hired consultants or teams on the ground to help adjust their strategy. Now, even small companies go global. With smaller teams, there’s make room for you, the language services provider, to also put on your consultant hat.
Be a bridge
As a consultant, a translation agency can be a bridge for a client to succeed across cultural and linguistic barriers. And this goes both ways – for the clients entering Japan and for Japanese clients doing business with foreign clients.
I want my language services to go beyond translation – what’s next?
Since every client is different, you likely will not have a one-size-fits-all “beyond translation” package. As you begin to identify your clients’ needs, you can step in with solutions that are best suited to their goals.
Finally, one of the best ways to illustrate what such solutions might look like is to share our own stories. In upcoming posts, we will delve deeper into what translation services we offer, and how we have helped clients achieve success.
This article is the first in our “Beyond Translation” series. Check back soon for more about how to help clients achieve success in their target market.