Niche marketing and other aspects of the occupation of translation
Thread poster: xxxMalik Beytek
xxxMalik Beytek
Local time: 19:50
Jan 20, 2007

This is basically a summary of a recent discussion I started in the Turkish forum, which seems to be completed for the time being even though my last two posts are still -- I guess - being processed (they are not yet visible). Here are the main points that I make out of that discussion:

1- Translation Science, or Traductologie, does not seem to be helping to establish "barriers to market entry", contrary to other occupations, e.g., pharmacology. In other words, whereas one cannot run a practice as a pharmacist without a qualification, this is not necessarily the case in translation.

2- The occupation of translation does not benefit from a system of apprenticeship training, graduation, and certification either. Translators are not really artisans and craftsmen, who, unlike translators, are well organized, have established traditions and institutions, and are perfectly capable of setting up barriers to market entry at local level.

3- Therefore translators, knowingly or instinctively are developing and applying, on an individual basis, concepts and techniques of "niche marketing" as applicable to their respective situations, as they should be.

4- As translators are, at least in general, products of higher education system, and not of an apprenticeship training system, therefore, the moral basis of their upbringing is "idealism (and modernity)" and not "tradition". A degree of emphasis on "ethics (and aesthetics)", therefore, should be of vital importance to the health of occupation of translation.

[Edited at 2007-01-20 12:11]

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xxxMalik Beytek
Local time: 19:50
"Translation is an industry of niche markets." (Aw shucks, ATA discovered that before I did!) Jan 20, 2007

That statement, i.e. "Translation is an industry of niche markets." comes from ATA brochure titled "Getting it right - a guide to buying translations". URL below:

I stumbled onto it on the the net a couple of hours ago and my first impression is that every translator -- and also every translation agency / project manager -- should memorize it and keep it handy and use it at every opportunity to educate project owners, clients.

And that reminds me: One of the issues that came along in the Turkish forum I mentioned in the previous note (an issue that came along but didn't make it to the stage of a conclusion) was the question about "who writes -- or who should write-- *technical specifications* in procurement of translation services?" (please note bracketing between star (*) signs and I'll explain when I pick up that subject again). I'll see if I can push that question to at least a preliminary conclusion in this thread (if the related discussion does not evolve to justifying its own thread).

Other than that, I think, of the four points I tried to make in the initial note, I'll pick up here in this thread the subject of "niche marketing" -- the other three are long term, *heavy* issues.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:50
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Bit highbrow Jan 21, 2007

to my taste, but definitely true. But a more important feature is the global nature of our trade. And that unlike with craftsmenship the tools we use (computers) are in everyone's possession and do not need year-long training to use.
And unlike pharmacists we translators are unlike to kill anyone giving the wrong file to someone!
So I would not go much into this niche-thing but leave it to professors at the university to brood upon.

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xxxMalik Beytek
Local time: 19:50
As regards *technical specifications* in procurement of translation services... Jan 21, 2007

...although I'm a bit familiar with procurement processes and technical specs and ToRs, I've never even seen *technical specifications* for procurement of translation services - I simply did not happen to review any bidding documents for procurement of translation-, I don't even know if that's what they call it.

I checked internet last night for about half an hour. As far as I can see, the only development in that area since 1994 (that was when I quit a job relevant to procurement) is that EU has now officially instituted "framework agreement" method of procurement and that would be applicable to procurement of translation services as well as certain other categories of procurement.

But that doesn't say much about *techical specs*.

The other thing I noticed on the web was that some commission either in Ireland or Scotland (look, it was late and I was sleepy) resolved that from now (then?) on the emphasis in procurement of translation would be placed on quality assurance processes rather than accreditation per se.

As an interim recommendation, I'd say it could be fruitful if somebody could get the procurement people at World Bank HQ to review ATA guide to buying translation (link above) and see if they could derive from that (and whatever else they know about procurement of translation) a few basic principles that would help assure optimal price / quality combinations.

Until I get a better idea about this, I'll be paying attention to niche marketing.

Incidentally, all my posts in the Turkish forum are now visible -- the storm in Europe caused a glitch in a computer, which could not be repaired for quite a while.

[Edited at 2007-01-21 22:26]

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xxxMalik Beytek
Local time: 19:50
Niche marketing is one of four basic "market segmentation" strategies... Jan 23, 2007

I'm not marketing specialist and marketing specialists are particularly invited to comment -- in fact, I would much prefer if a marketing specialist were to take over this thread or start a new one, if s/he wants to. If no one volunteers, however, I shall continue to post for a while and see what happens, in terms of reaction, constructive criticism, etc.

OK. I stumbled on to web site of Monash University, where they are publishing a "marketing dictionary" (URL below). The following is inspired by entries in that dictionary, entries pertaining to market segmentation. Table tag is not allowed here, I gather, so, we'll do without them.

( Monash dictionary of marketing terms URL: )

You may have (1) Single or (2) Multiple Products and you may also be addressing(1) Single or (2) Multiple Market Segments. This makes 2 x2 equals four possible combinations of segmentation strategies.

1- Single Product - Single Segment: This is niche marketing, also referred to as Concentrated Segmentation Strategy.

2- Single Product - Multiple Segments: This is referred to as Market Segments Expansion Strategy.

3- Multiple Products - Single Segment: This is referred to as Product Line Expansion Strategy.

4-Multiple Products - Multiple Segments: This is referred to as Differentiated Segmentation Strategy.

For my next note, I'm going to consider that even though it looks intutively obvious that "Translation is an industry of niche markets.", as ATA observed, is niche marketing really best for translators and translation agencies or could it be Differentiated Segmentation Strategy? To answer that, of course, I first need to find out exactly how Differentiated Segmentation Strategy works and compare that to Concentrated Segmentation.

It could be an excersize both useful and entertaining, at this point, for each to consider his / her / its / their segmentaton strategy / strategies in comparison to foregoing -- and maybe comment here?

[Edited at 2007-01-23 07:29]

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xxxMalik Beytek
Local time: 19:50
Well it looks like all marketing is nothing but niche marketing, basically... Jan 24, 2007

... I mean niching appears to be the *common denominator*, sort of *standart unit of application*of all segmentation strategies. For example, with differentiated segmentation strategy, you address multiple segments with a different product mix for each, in other words, multiple niches.

The "niche", then, is the market, YOUR market, as YOU define it, to your heart's content.

And you address your market with your "marketing mix", which consists of (1) product, (2) price, (3) means and ways of delivery, and (4) promotion.

What I'm doing right now is promotion, for example (is it?)

I have delivered by e-mail, by parcel post, and I have also delivered personally, in diskettes.

I charge market prices as agencies pay translators.

Most of what I do is "for-information" translation.

And my niche at any one time is one sole translation agency that is willing to put up with me (the current one is the third!).

That's how it worked (did'nt work?) for me so far, ever since I began working with translation agencies in 2003(?).

It seems to me that you, your marketing mix, and your market, together with the all other relevant aspects of business environment and actors thereof (i.e., your competitors, your suppliers, the general public, the good ole gov'mint, etc.) constitute some sort of a business equivalent of an eco-system, a micro-climate.

Like a little bug, like a living organism, you slowly build that eco-system, that micro-climate around you and keep it alive, by providing a product, a good, a service that has utility for others, namely, your clients.

If you are freelance translator, you will probably have one or a small number of niches.

If you are a project manager at a translation office, however, you would probably need to think up, build, and run a large number of those niches.

And you could get pretty sophisticated. As I was surfing the net chasing the subject of niche marketing in translation business, I stumbled onto a web page of a translation office in which they were trying to convince the law offices that they should be niching on resident aliens. In doing that, of course, the translation agency was trying to build a niche for itself, a niche consisting of a number of law offices specializing in services to resident aliens. Once those law offices develop as such, to whom do you think they would turn for translation, if not the translation agency that got them into that business?

Well, isn't any body going to contribute? A discussion here could perhaps eventually lead to a jointly authored article?

For example, doesn't any one know of any courses in marketing specifically designed for translation offices?

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xxxMalik Beytek
Local time: 19:50
Wrapping up "this niche-thing" now... Jan 28, 2007

Of course I haven't forgotten this thread. I put off posting by a bit for a number of reasons including (a) I didn't want to disturb that girl talk about "how to switch off" and I was afraid that their thread would go down the list if I posted in this thread and also (b) I got held up by this contest thing in the forum -- you see marketing or finance is not one of the three main functions of an enterprise in which I'm better; operations (production operations) are.

I checked internet a bit; no, not much work seems to have been done in marketing particularly for translation agencies or for freelance translators. So there may be a gap in there.

How to attract the attention of marketing specialists to marketing problems of translation agencies?

That would be the main question, I think, in my mind, as far as marketing is concerned, since I'm not marketing specialist.

In a separate thread, here in the forums or perhaps in a thread only in my mind-- good news for you, Heinrich! - I'll be thinking about financing aspects of translation agency and freelance operations.

And then I guess I'll be paying attention to operations, strategic and operational aspects of translation and related processes, from points of view of different parties -- particularly, translators, agencies, translation buyers.

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