Translation and Localization for your business: Building trust among consumers

Last week we shared our first piece of a new series on our blog entitled Interview with an Expert, with Natasha Pongonis of Nativa. This week we want to expand on some of the key points from the interview and point out ways companies can build trust among multilingual consumer bases via translation and localization. A strong theme throughout our interview with Natasha, and one that comes up often when talking about the best way to reach multilingual consumers, is trust. Building trust is not only important with an English-speaking client base, but it can make or break a business' success with a client base whose first language is one other than English. For practical purposes, we'll mention Spanish speakers as the consumer group in our commentary.

Trust comes in many forms, but trust among consumers is vital to a company's performance in the long term. So, what does trust look like when dealing with multilingual clients? In a recent New York Times article, Marketing Tips for Reaching Hispanic Americans, Kelly McDonald, President of McDonald Marketing, mentioned that call times for Latino callers were longer than those of non-Latinos. She adds, "Hispanics are more relationship-oriented and less transactional. They want to feel comfortable with the sales or customer-service person and feel like they got the time they needed to gather information and get all their questions answered. Their customs and norm is you should be polite and that means spending more time with a customer." McDonald touches on a very key aspect of dealing with Latino consumers. She understands the time it takes to build a relationship with this group and deliver quality service, which builds trust.

So, how can translation and localization also build this trust for your company? It's not enough to gather multicultural sales data and analyze where your largest group of Latino consumers live and shop. This information won't do much for your business unless you can execute a strategy to really reach the group and build a relationship based on trust. Translation of website material, marketing materials, etc. will only take a company so far. The content to be translated must also be localized for this group. In translating text that has not been localized, a company takes a risk by assuming that its audience will understand and connect with the concepts portrayed in the translation. However, some concepts and ideas may not resonate with a native Spanish speaker, as they do with native English speakers. One can't rely on the same marketing strategies for both linguistic and cultural markets. By localizing content, you take the time to adapt it for a specific market. Such content must be tangible to the consumer and relevant to one's lifestyle.

An example of this is General Mills and the Que Rica Vida campaign. By launching a quarterly magazine and a website aimed at Latina moms, General Mills built trust by dishing out advice on education, health, holidays and family, four key points that are important to mothers and Latina consumers. In 2008 General Mills partnered with Univision to reach the market on television by launching a series of ads that mixed traditional content with popular culture. Instead of utilizing current ads and marketing materials used with native English-speaking consumers, General Mills sought ways to build trust and a following among Latino consumers via translation and localization of content.

You might say that General Mills has a larger budget and more resources than many companies who wish to reach this market, but translation and content localization don't have to break the bank. By investing in marketing to a multilingual, multicultural group, your company makes an investment, which will see returns if executed properly. As Natasha mentioned in our interview, companies should be sure to allocate the same amount of budget for a multilingual marketing campaign as they do for their usual English-language marketing campaigns, especially as Latino buying power booms in the U.S. This means taking the time to understand the target consumer group and fully reaching out to it by employing meaningful and informative content. Employ a team of internal and external experts in order to come up with a marketing strategy for your next multicultural marketing campaign.