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The perils of a free translation

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The perils of a free translation

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The importance of investing in your digital and print materials

When you are expanding into global markets, it can be both exciting and challenging at the same time. You are opening new doors for yourself to increase your business, sales and profits. But how are you going to fit yourself in within the new legal structure, culture and language?

When you have your marketing materials, website and legal documents in place in your own language, it doesn’t seem like a daunting task to just get them translated in the language of the host country. But it can gravely impact your business if the quality of this translation is substandard or not within the right cultural context.

In this series of blogs, we will highlight the disadvantages of going for a free translation, whether that means using Google Translate, a distributor in the host country, or even your bilingual cousin!

Part 1: Getting your translations from your international distributor/in-country agent

When you have to localise your online and offline materials for international markets, it can be quite tempting to get it done for free by asking your distributors to do it rather than paying for the costs of a translation service provider.

You might think, “Why not?” Distributors live in the host country; they must know the language and understand the culture. You would assume they are the best people to convert your marketing materials and legal and technical documents from English into their own language.

But, with the amount of time, money and effort you must have invested in coming up with each material, I am sure you would want the right message to be conveyed across all platforms? This is not just about a single translation; it is about establishing your brand and a client base in a new market.

So, consider the following before you jump the gun:

Quality standards: Are you certain that your distributors will put in as much effort in translating your high quality materials as you did while producing the source media? Or will an average quality end product be ‘good enough’ for them?

Technical advantages: If your distributors don’t handle translation tasks on a regular basis, chances are they wouldn’t be using translation software or use tools like translation memories. Without these, they would be compromising on both consistency and speed.

Commitment: Getting the translation done for free from your international distributor might be a pleasing thought, but you cannot help but wonder how they would have the time to accommodate the ongoing tasks of translating your website updates, new marketing materials and technical documents, while successfully managing their actual job of selling your products/services? Likewise, if it’s free, do you think they are committed to doing the best that they can do? Time is money, after all.

Control: If your relationship with the distributor takes a bad turn, who will own all your important materials that have already been translated? It is very likely that by giving your distributors the translation tasks, you are also giving away your ownership rights to the translated documents.

You also need to think about the fact that you would have absolutely no control over how your business and your services/products are being seen in the new marketplace.

Legal consequences: When you are at the early stages of establishing your business in a new country, the last thing you want is to get into legal troubles. Will your distributor share the same level of concerns about the legal implications of mistakes in the translation of your materials?

Venturing into a new global market can of course mean a lot of potential profit, but it can also cost you a lot if not handled properly. One wrong or culturally inaccurate translation can lose you a massive chunk of your new client base or could result in product recalls that translate (forgive the pun!) into enormous loses!

For most, it is the risk of this additional cost that makes them opt for a professional language service provider to translate their key materials. If you invest in getting your messages across right the first time, chances are you are all set to make a successful entry into the new market!

Here, at Surrey Translation Bureau, we can take care of translating all your digital and print materials. Coming to a professional agency like ours will help you expand your business quickly and smoothly, save you costs in the long run and lower the risks of complications further down the line.

fFind out how we can assist you in entering a new global market.


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