Choose the translation agency to fit your marketing needs: 10 Steps to a successful experience

A lot of first-time translation clients find themselves overwhelmed with the number of agencies that handle multilingual translation. Searching for a company that will fit one’s marketing efforts can be daunting, unless one knows the type of agency to look for when molding a marketing campaign for his/her company, brand, etc. 1. First, make sure to know who your audience will be in the campaign. As important as this is in marketing in general, it’s just as important in translation of marketing (or for that matter, any kind of) materials. Where does the ideal audience live and work? What dialect do they speak? And no, Spanish is not a dialect. Do a little homework on the group you want to reach so that you can provide this information to the agency you choose for your project.

2. Ask about localization of your materials, whether these will be in print, on your website or part of a social media outreach plan. Localization is more than just translation of the text to reach a specific population. It encompasses the entire concept of the message via the terminology, language, images, etc. used to be relevant to the audience in a specific region (you don’t want to use anything that might be offensive in another culture and you want to sell your brand well to this audience of consumers). So, ask the agency if localization is a service it provides.

3. Be sure to ask if the agency utilizes specialized translators for the type of translation you require. You don’t want a medical translator who is a native of Chilean Spanish to be translating your site’s electronic brochures meant for customers in Mexico City.

4. Ask how the agency ensures quality in the translations it provides to clients. This may seem like an obvious question, but you’d be surprised how often potential clients fail to ask this. It’s perfectly acceptable to inquire.

5. Relating to point 4, you may want to know if the agency will complete the service in-house, or if it contracts the translator and proofreader who will work on your project. Either way, both methods are effective and widely utilized in the translation and interpretation industry, but you may want to know this for the mere peace of mind of knowing that the agency has a confidentiality clause in its independent contractors agreements that will keep your information completely classified and safe from third-parties.

6. Make sure to specify turn-around time on the project you need translated. Don’t expect it to be done overnight unless you are willing to pay a rush fee. And if you aren’t asked to pay one, you may need to look into the agency’s methods if it says it can turn around a 100,000 word document in less than 24 hours. This typically doesn’t happen, so be sure to specify when you need the document back and be prepared to pay a rush fee if you needed it back yesterday.

7. Note the payment terms of the agreement you make with an agency and be sure to let your Accounts Payable department know ahead of time. If you are used to paying for services on a NET 60 basis, you may need to get the invoice to AP as soon as possible to meet a typical NET 30 payment term policy. Many times agencies charge late fees for overdue payments, so check back with AP if your company is not used to working with translation agencies.

8. Be prepared to pay for changes. If you decide once you get the translation back that you would like to change something in the original document, it isn’t ok to assume that the agency who worked on your translation will automatically translate the change(s) for you. You don’t ask your hair stylist to change your hair color the week after you dye it because you aren’t sure about how the color looks with your complexion. Don’t expect an agency to make changes to the text without paying for it. Sending the final document the first time will save everyone a headache (and money!).

9. If you are pleased with the work the agency has done in the past for you, it is perfectly ok to ask that they utilize the same translators and proofreaders that handled your previous projects. Agencies keep track of who does each project and ensuring consistency can be as simple as maintaining the same individuals to work on projects that require similar terminology (here’s another situation where dialects affect translation projects). On a parallel note, it’s worth asking the agency if it has the capacity to produce and maintain a running glossary for your translation projects, especially if you plan to have multiple texts translated and localized over a period of time. We are often asked to do this and it helps both our clients and our company to maintain for consistency and accuracy.

10. If you are pleased with the work an agency provides for you, verbalize it. Pass the word on to colleagues and friends who may need or know someone who needs a text translated. The translation and interpreting industry counts on quite a bit of word-of-mouth marketing. You never know when the agency may spread the word about you and your business to others who need your services because they were so pleased to have you as a client as well.

What other tips do you have that would ensure a successful experience?