How to Translate Marketing Materials for an International Audience

How to Translate Marketing Materials for an International Audience

The growth of the international community over the last half-century has been something of a marvel.

Taking a country like South Korea for example, at its inception, its per capita income was around $350. Less than 40 years later, the country has become an international powerhouse!

That same trend can be found in other countries across the globe and is the reason why so many businesses are investing in international markets.

If your company is looking to expand its reach to countries outside of its native borders, one of the first things you’ll need to do is to figure out how to manage the translation of your marketing materials.

Translation can often be a tricky and mistake-filled process. To help you avoid pitfalls when you translate marketing materials, consider our team’s tips below.

1. Write Materials With Translation in Mind

When you translate marketing materials, the process can either be streamlined or difficult. One of the primary factors that determine which of those camps you’ll fall into is how your source material is written.

Marketing that’s filled with humor, idioms, and local references will not translate. In order to market effectively in other territories, those kinds of materials will need to be completely re-written which can skyrocket costs and ruin the cohesion of your campaign.

Therein lies the value of writing with translation in mind.

When you challenge your domestic marketing team to be creative and culturally agnostic, the materials you get will move to the global market seamlessly.

2. If Cost is a Concern, Drip Your Marketing

A lot of companies decide not to translate marketing materials because they know that they can’t afford translation for all of their territories. In these cases, we advise that businesses drip their international rollout as opposed to forgoing it.

Take the time to understand how much it would cost to translate marketing materials for each of the areas you’re considering expanding into. From there, deduce which areas are likely to move the needle the most for your company and move forward with translating in those areas first.

You can then continue expansion as resources become available.

3. Weigh the Pros and Cons of Internal VS External Translators

Choosing to outsource translation or manage it internally can be a tricky decision for businesses.

An internal team will better appreciate your company’s culture and will likely be easier to work with than an external team. External teams though, especially ones that are localized in the territory you’re trying to break into, might be more efficient and will cost you less money.

Understand the pros and cons of both prospects and decide which works best for you. We recommend starting with an outsourced translation team like International Contact and transitioning to an internal team if your external partnership doesn’t work out.

4. Provide Context to Translators

Words translated verbatim can lose their meaning. In order for a professional to translate marketing materials effectively, they need to understand the context of what they’re working with.

If you’re working with an external agency, get on a call with the agency’s director and walk him/her through your product. Send an informational packet and even sample products to your translation agency so they understand what you’re going for.

After they’re fully familiarized with what you’re trying to do, that’s when translation should start.

If you bring on a translation agency and don’t give them context, you’re going to be disappointed with the work you receive.

5. Pay Special Attention to Hot Button Words and Symbols

A good, localized translation team should be able to help you avoid using words or symbols that are considered in poor taste within the territory you’re expanding to.

If you don’t have a localized external team, hiring a cultural expert to consult with your internal team is a good alternative.

Remember, something as simple as the color white on a product package could symbolize misfortune in certain markets. Getting out ahead of those issues so you’re not forced to make adjustments on the fly can save your business a lot of headaches and a lot of money.

6. Never Rely on Automated Translation

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses use tools like Google Translate to translate marketing materials.

We can’t stress this enough… Never have a machine translate for you and then use that translation verbatim. If you do, you’re going to open yourself up to a world of criticism.

Best case scenario, your company will look unprofessional. Worst case scenario, something you auto-translated will offend.

There is no substitute for a bilingual human translator.

7. Test Translated Materials Before Wide Distribution

After you’ve gone through all of the steps to translate marketing materials, don’t rush your rollout. Doing so could result in needing to spend money to claw back mistakes.

Instead, invest in having your materials tested first.

Engage focus groups in your territory and ask them for their opinion on your marketing materials.

Is your point getting across? What feelings do your materials evoke?

After focus testing, you can further test your translated marketing materials in public by starting rollout in select markets to see how they fair.

Summarizing How to Translate Marketing Materials for an International Audience

How to translate marketing materials comes down to seven core steps.

Understand your budget, pick a team, provide them with context, watch out for cultural snafus, test, and rollout.

If you follow those steps and don’t cut corners, you’ll raise your odds substantially of expanding your business’ reach without stumbling!

Do you want more legendary advice on how you can take your business to the next level? If so, check out more expertly crafted content on Legend Valley today!

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