Social media has quickly become one of the top ways that businesses market their products and services. Many are also seeing the benefit of marketing to their customers in Spanish. And these days, companies are combining the two: social media in Spanish. Why? Check out these numbers… As of 2016, Hispanic buying power had soared to $1.4 trillion. This is up from just $495 billion in 2000. Of the 54 million U.S. Hispanics, 26 million are on Facebook, 12 million on Twitter and 9.6 million on Instagram.Read More
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This is the time of the year when companies tend to put out some of their best advertisements. Consumers are making purchases for the holiday season, and each company is vying for the business. Not only is the holiday season perfect for reaching your normal audience with the advertisements you have planned, it is also a great opportunity to reach a new demographic by considering translating these advertisements.
How you communicate with your consumers in an international or cross-cultural market will vary greatly from culture to culture. An advertisement that works well for your normal audience may not work well for your intended target audience. It’s important to remember that cultural preferences and things of importance will vary and therefore, you’ll want to ensure your advertisements are localized to fit that target demographic appropriately, and not simply translate them.
Since advertisements focus more on the concept and feel of the entire message desired to convey to the audience, it’s not enough to simply rely using correct grammar and lexicon in the translation. It actually may hurt the effectiveness of your advertising to do so. Instead, a localization team should be employed to ensure the advertisement will be well-received in the target culture. This may mean converting measurements, switching up graphics (using models or cultural references from the target culture may appeal more to that audience than the original models or objects, for example), and changing the original layout altogether to ensure the new text fits.
While your original idea may work well within your current audience, it is important to keep an open mind about what may work for your new audience. Your localization team can work directly with you to ensure that you agree with all suggested changes and find the best fit that captures your brand perfectly for the new audience. Your brand’s image should be maintained, but since what works in one language/culture may not work in another, there may need to be some tweaking to gain the best traction in the target culture. With the right team to help you along the way, localizing your advertisements could be just what you need to capture a brand new audience this (or any!) holiday season.
Many of our clients use our services to reach out to their target markets in a foreign language and culture, and they are not just trying to reach those customers abroad. Several would like to work with immigrants in their own communities and country, but they aren't sure where to start. The most common way to begin is to get marketing materials translated, but if you've never worked with anything but English, you might have some questions about the process, or even some misconceptions. Here are 4 translation mistakes to avoid when marketing to a foreign language consumer group:
1) Keep in mind that automatic tools are not the way to go--cheap tools equal poor translations. So many people are quick to copy and paste text into automatic translation tools like Google Translate. Yes, Google can come close on some phrases, and it can be handy when trying to get the gist of a statement or paragraph, but it creates havoc for those who want their messages to remain accurate and appealing to clients. The reason for this is the use of idioms, colloquial language and the fact that machines simply do not have the capabilities to translate 100% accurately. If this isn't enough of a reason to avoid such tools in your business, perhaps you should reconsider approaching a client market in a foreign language altogether.
2) Be sure that all your text is ready for translation before you send it to your translation vendor. Making multiple changes can be costly, although sometimes necessary. So, if possible, try to avoid doing this. If you update your marketing materials often, as many businesses do online, talk with your vendor and let them know ahead of time that you'll be making edits. This way, your vendor will be ready to make updates and your project won't get put on the back burner behind another client's translation. Communicating these details will save you both time in the process.
3) Never translate the names of your business, your trademarked products or proper names that pertain to your business and/or industry. Many times these terms are not commonly known in other languages and may just confuse your customers more. Also, your clients will ask for these products and about your business by using the English term, even if the rest of your interactions with them take place in the target (in this case, the foreign) language. Be sure to request that your translation vendor keep these terms that are specific to your business in English.
4) Look into taking your marketing campaign one step further and localize your materials. Localization is a large part of what companies like ours do for our clients. We don't just translate the text for them (unless this is all they request). Rather, we localize their materials, as well, in order to ensure that the language, images and layout of their brand and message are engaging for their target markets and not offensive or inappropriate in any way. The images and design of your materials are just as important as the text you get translated, so consider localization to take your campaign to the next level.
Have you witnessed the consequences of one of these four translation mistakes? Do you have other tips on good practices for translation and localization of marketing materials?
You may have heard us talk about "transcreation" before. It's a term that we adopted from a colleague and friend, Joe Kutchera, author of Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content. Our CEO, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo reviewed Joe's book in Multilingual Magazine a few years ago and one of the chapters that intrigued us most was Chapter 8: "Localizing your website for Latinos". Ok, we admit that we were intrigued by every chapter, but this one really stood out to us. Many of our clients request translation and localization of their print materials, but they don't always take into account that the way most of their clients find them is via the internet. Yet, a lot still have not translated the text on their site, nor localized the images and language used to fit their multilingual and multicultural target markets. We like to tell our clients that we want to "transcreate" their sites and materials, not just translate and localize them. Yes, both of these are part of the transcreation process, but it's important that companies like ours offer their services in a way that allows our clients' marketing materials to stand out and maintain the heart and message of the brand itself. This means that not only are we translating the text and making sure that images, colors and other visual aspects are appropriate for the target market audience, but we also take it a step further and have our in-country reviewers (i.e. reviewers that look for certain elements in the produced material that will ensure that the brand's message carries over not only to those who speak the foreign language on U.S. soil, but also in the country or countries where the language is spoken).
A basic example of this is the too-often seen image of a man sleeping by a cactus on anything that has to do with Mexico. Many times in the U.S. we see this image on Mexican restaurant signage. However, for most Mexican nationals, this image is offensive, as it promotes a sense of laziness in the culture that could not be further from the truth. In-country reviewers would never allow such an image to appear on marketing materials for a company who wants to do business in Mexico or in the U.S. with the Latino market.
Another element is the language used. Sadly, many people are too quick to integrate a plug-in on their site that allows visitors to click on their language and suddenly the page is translated into what claims to be an accurate translation in another language. However, many of these plug-ins are simply electronic translations that are pulling information from all over the web to match up words and produce a text within seconds that is mostly incomprehensible. This type of plug-in shows multilingual visitors that the company does not care enough about its site and marketing to take the time to reach them properly. They will know that the information was not written for them, and most will not bother to try to decipher the jumble that remains once they click. Think about this carefully....yes, it's free and quick, but would you feel that a company cared about you as a customer if you could not even read their site coherently? We would not, and most people we know would not.
Take the time to get a quote from a professional language service and see what you can do to reach out to a global community. You'd be surprised how much more traffic will be driven to your site, and the market you will attract just by reaching out and transcreating your brand.
We'll leave you with something tweeted by a skilled translator recently...oh, the irony.
"So sad to have to translate stuff like this [...] 'To help you navigate our website, please use Google translate, a third-party service that provides automated computer translations'".