Is your business going global?

Going global? Think local – and don’t ignore your ‘long tail’…

As 2017 is well underway, savvy marketing teams (and by definition we naturally include McFelder clients here) will already be implementing their plans for business expansion this year.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the factors to consider when pursuing business from new markets – particularly new markets in which English is not the lingua franca.

Global Village? Really?

We all pay lip service to that over-used phrase that describes the world as a ‘global village’ – but that’s not really the case. A global village implies that we all deal with each other in a commonly-understood language, using commonly-understood conventions. We don’t.

What the business world really is is a huge collection of ‘villages’, some very much larger than others, but each with their own identities, outlooks and behaviours.

Speak to me in my language

If a business wants to compete and succeed in these different environments, it needs clear sight and the application of best practices – and that begins by considering the following:

  • 75% of consumers prefer to buy products and services in their native language*
  • 70% of internet users are not native English speakers*

(independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory Inc. research published 2014)

Given these numbers, it beggars belief that for example, in the USA almost 66% of Fortune 500 companies haven’t yet translated their websites.

But here’s a thing: The Fortune 500 companies that have invested in translation of websites and wider marketing collateral are 2.67 times more likely to increase revenue than their ‘non-translated’ competitors, and 2.6 times more likely to generate increased profits. (Common Sense Advisory Inc. research published 2014)

Going local: learn from some of the big names

It doesn’t matter what the size of your company is, or in what markets it operates, there’s something to be learned from the biggest global brands.

Microsoft really know how to make localisation work: they have translated their products into more than 90 foreign languages and variants. The result? A huge chunk of their revenue comes from non-US territories.

Toshiba have translated into more than 30 languages – and Apple have covered more than 40.

In the face of this data, the real question for any company should not be ‘why translate’; rather it should be ‘where to translate’.

Where are your target customers? What channels can you use to connect with them? What’s needed to make a significant push across those channels?

Questions are easy: answers are hard

The questions are easy. It’s the answers that take the hard work – and of course the answers for any two companies are never exactly the same. For a simple e-commerce company it may just be a case of looking at where products are being shipped and where there’s a noticeable and growing demand. Spend your localisation budget to maximise those trends – simple.

For other companies selling more complex goods and services it might be harder to push into a new market. In this instance you might be looking at aligning an existing brand message; localising a website; translating technical documents; and developing multi-lingual customer support, delivered by various means, whether written, as audio or in a visual medium.

Irrespective of size or market sector, few companies can now avoid the necessity of getting out there and speaking with many tongues (and none of them forked!).

Long-tail languages?

For twenty years and more, English – closely followed by the other ‘colonial’ languages such as French, Spanish and German – has dominated the web.

But our new, better-connected digital age is empowering many mother-tongue language groups beyond English, and specifically, “long tail languages.”

These are languages that traditionally have been seen as economically unimportant when viewed in isolation, but that when added together, have more spending power than any single major language in the world.

As a result, the business playing field is now a different place, with different rules and new opportunities for companies who realise the competitive advantage to be gained from grasping the importance of the ‘long tail’.

Of course, to really succeed in going for ‘long tail’ markets, you need to harness the expertise of a translation company that already knows what it takes to master the subtleties, the nuances and the idioms of many worldwide languages.

Here at McFelder Translations, we’re no strangers to handling projects requiring translations into 30 languages or more – so contact us and discover how we can help you get to grips with the opportunities presented by a long tail…and much more besides.

To find out more, get in touch today