This post resulted from an internal discussion of a highly-priced quote for a Russian to English website translation. In the course of preparing the quote, I suggested to charge our highest rate while our project manager maintained that this didn’t make sense because the client would never agree. I knew it was likely to be true, but still wouldn’t budge. To sell him on my point of view, I emphasized two considerations. First, since the website was designed to sell a product, we had to deliver high-quality English translation. Second, to be able to do that, we needed to charge our highest rate. In fact, anything less than our best job could turn away at least some of this prospect’s potential clientele, preventing them from realizing the full potential of the investment in translation.
Now, why was the prospect unlikely to accept the quote? Most clients generally want to receive an excellent translation that will provide a high return on investment. But when it comes to decision-making, many focus primarily on the price tag instead of quality, thus reducing the likelihood of achieving the intended result. So, my goal for this longer post is to explain why it might be beneficial to appreciate translation as what it often is—a marketing investment or instrument—and invest wisely.
Approaching Translation from Marketing Perspective
One common purpose of buying translation for many companies is to expand into new countries to tap the revenue potential there. When faced with a vendor choice, they have a plethora of options. The translation rates vary widely—from those offered by the hobby translators to seemingly sky-high rates of the industry veterans—making the sourcing process a challenge. What is the right choice for you? The first step is to understand what it is that you exactly expect from this translation. For those translations that are unlikely to affect your business, it might be indeed appropriate to sacrifice quality for cost. But whenever you translate any customer-facing materials, it makes sense to recognize translation as a marketing expense; that is, an investment that your future earnings rely upon. When you come from that place, you perceive translation not as an overhead or commodity, but rather something of value that your success hinges on.
Saving Pennies while Losing Thousands
Even if you see translation primarily as a marketing tool, a high translation rate might still give you a sticker shock, especially when you think that it’ll be easy to translate your materials. Let’s take a look at it at a different angle though. How much does providing your potential clients with a poor translation cost you in terms of lost profits? A badly translated company brochure or business proposal can make it difficult for your prospects to understand your message, severely reducing your chances of winning their business. A poor translation is really a potential bottleneck to your expansion which can render other efforts and advantages meaningless. You might have the best product in the world accompanied by a great marketing strategy, but a vague or ridiculous translation can nonetheless lay the foundation for failure.
This post is continued in part 2.