Is marketing - i.e. seeking new contacts within agencies - considered "spamming"?
Thread poster: Dinny

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:24
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Nov 28, 2013

Hi all,

Once in a while I endure some efforts in marketing myself - maybe the work load is low, so I have time left over, maybe I just feel that I simply ought to find new customers once in a while, it is common business knowledge not to sit on your behind waiting for them to find you.

So I go looking for prosperous translation agencies, who might want to make use of my services.
I visit their website, see if they have an online form for registration as a vendor, or otherwise I send them an email and attaching my c.v. for their consideration.

But from a post on ProZ.com I get a feeling that these agencies - or maybe just some of them - consider it as spamming them, if you take that approach.

I felt really put down by this, if you cannot contact the agencies without them feeling offended and spammed, how DO you approach them?

I hate marketing anyway, been 20+ years around I feel I really do not need it so much, no need for begging anyone for work. But "common business rules" keep me thinking that I should endure it once in a while to keep in touch with new potential partners. Now, why would they be offended or feel spammed by my contacting them.

Anyone else have this experience?

Dinny

Just adding that this was the post I read: http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_project_vendor_management/249812-joint_black_list_for_spamming_translators.html

[Edited at 2013-11-28 15:34 GMT]


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:24
Member
Italian to English
Definition of "spam" Nov 28, 2013

Dictionary.com gives the following definition:

"to send unsolicited electronic mail or text messages simultaneously to a number of e-mail addresses or mobile phones."

A number of considerations. Without translators, agencies would not exist. They need you. That said, certain freelancers buy into the idea of downloading a database of email addresses, to which they indiscriminately send emails with their CV attached. This is spamming.

Agencies need you, and you (perhaps) need them. If you take the correct approach, there is no way that contacting them can be construed as spamming. Research agencies that would be interested in your services. Do they work in your language pairs and areas of specialisation? After that, investigate how they wish to be contacted. Do they have an online form they want you to complete, or do they prefer direct contact by email? State in your email or your correspondence the reasons WHY you have contacted them.

After that, you may wish to avoid attaching your CV; emails with attachments often get binned automatically because of virus risk. Direct them to your online profile, if you have one, or paste your CV into the body of your email.

If an agency feels "offended" by this approach then they should probably reconsider their business practices.

Best of luck!


 

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:24
Italian to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Fiona! Nov 28, 2013

Hi Fiona,

I guess that I more or less follow your suggestions, I do not contact agencies indiscriminated, I check their website, see if we have "common interests" (check their Blue Board record!) and then decide whether I want to approach them or not.

I have not thought of NOT attaching my c.v. in this first approach, and you might be totally right about this. So I guess I will change my email approach to those without an on-site registration form to be so convincing that they might want to ask for it.icon_wink.gif

Cheers!
Dinny


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The other post, and you Nov 28, 2013

Dinny wrote:
But from a post on ProZ.com I get a feeling that these agencies - or maybe just some of them - consider it as spamming them, if you take that approach.


The thread that you refer to was lead by someone whose definition of "spam" is "unsolicited commercial e-mail", i.e. regardless of how often it is send, or whether it is sent in bulk, or whether it is relevant to the agency's business.

That is a very narrow definition of spam, and although it is a valid definition, I would speculate that most translation agencies would not consider it spam if freelance translators offer their services. The reason I think this is because the business model of many agencies actually depend on it.

What agency PMs will find annoying, however, and what the poster of the other thread found annoying, is if you send applications or if you offer your services to an e-mail address that would normally be used for other, legitimate business. The original poster's biggest concern was that she would miss legitimate business e-mails while deleting e-mails from irrelevant freelancers.

So, I think the issue here is not whether it is spam but whether it is annoying for the recipient. You can take steps to make your e-mail less annoying, but ultimate you have no idea how many e-mails the PM regularly gets from people like you, and you can't avoid that.


 

James Hodges  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 20:24
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
It Cuts Both Ways Nov 29, 2013

If agencies want to get snotty about translators who contact them, then they shouldn't fill our in-boxes with "unbelievable" job offers at 0.02 a word.

Being more serious, there is nothing wrong with trying to market yourself. My only suggestion would be putting some serious thought into your marketing plan. While everybody would love a steady stream of work from a reliable client, it can be an issue if the company that takes up your offer has 3,000 employees, each of whom want to become your new best buddy (it happened to someone I know). Making contact and not being able to close the deal might be a bigger sin than attempting to drum up business in the first place.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Huh, what? Nov 29, 2013

James Hodges wrote:
If agencies want to get snotty about translators who contact them, then they shouldn't fill our in-boxes with "unbelievable" job offers at 0.02 a word.


I risk stating the obvious, but... the agencies that complain about spam aren't necessarily the same ones as the ones that send 0.02 job offers. There is no cabal.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:24
English to Polish
+ ...
Hint Nov 29, 2013

Look at their website, see if it invites applications. Otherwise you can always write and ask if they're interested in offers from freelancers.

Agencies who think it's okay to write to freelancers uninvited when they need someone to man a job but not when a freelancer is looking for new contacts need to get over themselves.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
EU law Nov 29, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
Look at their website, see if it invites applications. Otherwise you can always write and ask if they're interested in offers from freelancers.


Different EU countries have different laws about this, but in some countries it is illegal for you as a freelancer to write to an agency and offer your translation services to them unless they invited you specifically to do so. I'm not sure how strictly such laws would be applied to freelancers who don't send bulk mail and whose argument is "their web site says it's okay for me to do so".


 

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:24
Italian to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
??? Nov 29, 2013

"...in some countries it is illegal for you as a freelancer to write to an agency and offer your translation services to them unless they invited you specifically to do so."

I have never heard about such a thing! Could you be more specific, f.inst. link a decrete or something of that sort? I mean, if you cannot contact companies which are operating in the market, how on earth would you ever have a chance to market yourself?

The companies I contact are of course marketing themselves on the internet, on ProZ.com, and anywhere else.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Dinny Nov 29, 2013

Dinny wrote:
Samuel wrote:
...in some countries it is illegal for you as a freelancer to write to an agency and offer your translation services to them unless they invited you specifically to do so.

I have never heard about such a thing!


Well, the Netherlands is one such country. I'm not sure what the position of Greece is.

In the EU, as a freelancer, you are free to e-mail the agency if you want to buy services from the agency, but not automatically also if you want to sell services to the agency. If you want to sell services to the agency, then you have to make sure that your country's government chose to implement the EU directive's "B2B opt-out" option for business-to-business unsolicited commercial e-mailing. Not all EU countries did that.

In some EU countries, you may only sell your services to other businesses via e-mail if you have explicit permission from the recipient to do so (not implied permission, but explicit permission). In EU countries that implemented the "B2B opt-out" option, it is legal for you to sell your services to agencies via e-mail without their prior consent (as long as you give them the option to opt out of further e-mails), but in EU countries that implemented the "B2B opt-in" option it is illegal to sell your services to agencies via e-mail. How strictly these laws will be applied is another issue.

See also:
http://www.lsoft.com/resources/optinlaws.asp

But this is not really relevant to the current discussion -- I only noted it as an aside. What matters in the current discussion is whether the agency *feels* like they're being spammed, even if they aren't.



Samuel


 

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:24
Italian to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Samuel Nov 29, 2013

Thanks my friend, this gives me a perfect excuse for why I really do not want to spend time on marketing myself!

You know, you get those odd days, maybe even more in a row, where no work is coming in. In those occasions I might make a remark to friends like "oh, work is low, maybe I will never work again" and normally they would turn their eyes to the sky and say "for goodness sake, you always say that whenever you have a day off, but you have been working for 20 years. Just get on with some marketing!"

I now have the perfect answer for that: Cannot, it is forbidden by law!icon_wink.gif

I am now thinking about a funny new approach to marketing, which will cost me no efforts at all.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:24
English to Polish
+ ...
... Nov 29, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
Look at their website, see if it invites applications. Otherwise you can always write and ask if they're interested in offers from freelancers.


Different EU countries have different laws about this, but in some countries it is illegal for you as a freelancer to write to an agency and offer your translation services to them unless they invited you specifically to do so. I'm not sure how strictly such laws would be applied to freelancers who don't send bulk mail and whose argument is "their web site says it's okay for me to do so".


If they as much as provide an e-mail address for recruitment, they you don't need a specific invitation. If there's no such information, then you can still write and ask if they would like/consent/suffer/deign to receive an offer and little can be done against that.icon_wink.gif

Again, it works both ways: they shouldn't be contacting specific freelancers with their jobs without specific invitations, either, just the same.


 

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:24
Italian to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But we DO promote ourselves Nov 29, 2013

Hi Lukasz,

I guess that as long as we promote ourselves on a ProZ.com profile, we DO invite just anybody in this business to contact us, whatever miserable their offer might be. Maybe we need to add on our profile that we specifically prohibit anybody to contact us with an offer which is lower than our specified minimum rate?

Personally, I just delete offers like that without crying out loud that I am being "spammed" - they simply try, and somebody might want to fall for it.


 

Alexandra Schneeuhr  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 14:24
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
Sort of OT, but... Nov 29, 2013

Dinny wrote:

I guess that as long as we promote ourselves on a ProZ.com profile, we DO invite just anybody in this business to contact us, whatever miserable their offer might be. Maybe we need to add on our profile that we specifically prohibit anybody to contact us with an offer which is lower than our specified minimum rate?


Ironical, is it, but as soon as I finished reading this thread I found the following email in my inbox:

"Dear translators,
First of all – our apologies for the mass email on a Friday evening.
We are currently looking for several English – Russian translators working with Trados 2009 or 2011 to translate several technical user manuals.
The total volume is around 200 pages (...) The price for this particular project is 0.018 USD per word."

Shoot me if I ever dreamt of getting, forget *solicited*, offers like this one so I find it as offensive as any spam message. On the other hand, if the offering was US$0.18 per word, I wouldn't mind being "spammed" dailyicon_smile.gif In other words, a good thing is always welcome, while the rubbish emails are as useless and annoying as spam, aren't they?

[Edited at 2013-11-30 00:47 GMT]


 


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