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Effective Marketing Strategies?
Thread poster: Gabriele Demuth

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Member (2014)
English to German
Jun 27, 2015

I am thinking of marketing my business a bit more widely, but I do not have any experience in this respect and was wondering which marketing strategies worked for you - apart from Proz or contacting agencies.

I do have a LinkedIn profile and my website still needs some work, but I wondered whether it would be worth listing myself in business directories, if so, which ones. Contacting potential direct clients seems a bit like hard sell as I have no idea who would potentially consider buying translation.

Any ideas and opinions are welcome!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
One idea Jun 27, 2015

Frankfurt Book Fair

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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:09
German to English
+ ...
Marketing for translators Jun 27, 2015

First of all, define your main target group(s). Ideally, they should coincide with your fields of expertise/specialization. Then start researching companies in those fields. Trade fairs focusing on industries you serve are good sources of addresses, as are Chambers of Commerce. There are also trade associations online with membership lists, and a multitude of reference books. The German "Wer macht was" comes to mind as a good example (http://www.wermachtwas.net/staticsite/staticsite.php?menuid=34&topmenu=), or the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Register). There must be loads more. The internet has made it all so much easier!

Compile a list of all the interesting target companies in an Excel file with the information you think you might need and to set up serial letters. Email solicitation is frowned on or even specifically prohibited in some places and will likely end up in the trash or spam folders. Make sure you know the laws in your country and the one(s) you are targeting.

It's a lot of work, so you might want to consider address suppliers, either commercial ones or the IHKs in Germany sell lists of addresses, for example. Going to trade fairs for the direct approach may be an option, though usually companies at trade fairs are more interested in selling than buying (your services).

Don't expect a huge response. There are statistics for direct marketing activities, and the response rates are not encouraging. You will need a huge supply of addresses to gain a handful of new clients. But then again, you may get lucky!

To profit from LinkedIn, you will have to spend a lot of time there, join groups and participate in discussions, and connect to a lot of people. Some people like Facebook for marketing, but that is an entirely different kettle of fish. I personally would never use it for business purposes - I can barely tolerate it for keeping up with friends and family.

Anyway, these tips should get you started in the right direction, and good luck to you.

PS: Do not cut corners on an attractive, professional website! That is the one thing that is really important in selling your services. Amateur hour will not cut it. If you hand out business cards at a trade fair, for example, the potential customer will judge you by how your website looks as well as the services you offer. Do not underestimate the importance of your website's appearance!


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Member (2014)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the suggestions! Jun 27, 2015

So far I haven't really specialised in any particular field which will not make it easier, and my background (education) doesn't appear to be something that is much in demand as such - in comparison to legal, technical or medical ...

... but there is food for thought ...


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:09
Member
Italian to English
Identify your customers Jun 27, 2015

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

I have no idea who would potentially consider buying translation


This is the first thing you have to figure out! If you don't know who your customers are, how can you pitch to them?

I can highly recommend Corinne McKay's blog - she has a lot of excellent advice on selling your services.

One approach I really like is Ed Gandia's Warm Email Prospecting; he suggests identifying your customer and their specific needs, then crafting a personalised email to him or her. Corinne writes about it here.

Another excellent resource is Marta Stelmaszak's site.

Marketing is slow, hard work - but as the saying goes, you reap what you sow. Good luck!


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Member (2014)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the links! Jun 27, 2015

I have heard of these before, but I will revisit as I will look at them with different eyes.

The target market is the difficult one for me - maybe something that links my background with the translation experience I have, e.g. training courses for employees?


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:09
German to English
+ ...
Target market Jun 27, 2015

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

The target market is the difficult one for me - maybe something that links my background with the translation experience I have, e.g. training courses for employees?


That I cannot help you with. My main specialization is marketing/advertising, but primarily products and related services, so you would best be served talking to translators with experience more like yours. Specialization is something I learned about here at Proz, because it's impossible to know everything, and the greater your focus on a few narrow fields, the more expertise you can gain in those areas, then you can charge more for them.

But really, you must know who your target group is before you can even think about expanding your services. Translation has grown into a huge global business*, and marketing is a time-consuming undertaking, so it is just unrealistic (not to mention impossible) to target everyone. Start with the type of work you have done most and enjoyed doing in the past, the types of clients you have done the translation work for, and use that as a starting point. Only then can you work on your website and marketing materials. It doesn't make sense otherwise, and you would be unlikely to attract the clientele you seek with unclear or unspecific targeting.

If you need ideas, look at the profiles of translators on Proz whose fields overlap with yours and see what they are doing, what their websites look like, and see if there are any relevant online training courses offered here. If that is too much of a challenge for you, just target agencies until you have gathered more experience and decided what you want to specialize in. They do the marketing for you, and many translators prefer it that way simply because selling your services to direct clients requires an awful lot of effort for little return, at least in the beginning.

*"(BOSTON, MA) – The global market for language services will reach US$26 billion in 2010, according to a study by market research firm Common Sense Advisory. In its report, “Language Services Market 2010,” the firm details the findings of its comprehensive, six-month study, which identified 23,380 unique suppliers of translation and interpreting services across 149 countries. Topping the global list of language service companies is Hewlett-Packard's Application and Content Globalization (ACG) group with 2009 revenues of US$457 million, followed by McNeil Technologies ($404.7 million) and Lionbridge Technologies ($389.2 million)." - Source: https://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Default.aspx?Contenttype=ArticleDet&tabID=64&moduleId=392&Aid=1062&PR=PR


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 13:39
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Lone basket Jun 27, 2015

I have nonchalantly put all the eggs in one basket - proz.com, and it has served me well - so far.

If you opt for this strategy you need to do these things:

- become more active in kudoz - 46 points is not sufficient to get a high place in the translator list for your language pair (the top ranker there has 13,000+ points!)

- become more active in the forums, which you already are. The strategy here should be tod increase your visibility in those threads that are relevant to your language pair and your specialties. You can even consider starting threads of your own. Write posts that are contentious (but intelligent and reasonable) so that other posters feel the need to dispute with you. This will give you the opportunity to write many follow up posts and even become the focal point of the thread. This will increase your visibility on this site, which can translate into job inquiries.

- Translate in both directions. This gives a strong signal that you have a high level of command over both your languages, which is the hall mark of a really accomplished translator. Many translators have very poor source language proficiency and they generally don't turn out accurate translations, as many finer points in the source text will be missed by them.


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:09
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I only use ProZ Jun 27, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

I have nonchalantly put all the eggs in one basket - proz.com, and it has served me well - so far.


People approach me, not the other way around.

In 2008 I contacted one agency, just to see what happened! I began using the glossary here (among other resources) and then decided to become a member.

Judging by what I've read here, KudoZ has changed a lot over the years but, even so, I far prefer investing my time in helping fellow translators, answering questions and learning than in marketing my business.

I wouldn't know where to start!


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Seriously? Jun 27, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

- Translate in both directions. This gives a strong signal that you have a high level of command over both your languages, which is the hall mark of a really accomplished translator.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Marketing Jun 28, 2015

The type of marketing will depend a lot on the industry(ies) that you're targeting as well. I have personally found a lot of new video game localization clients through Facebook and YouTube lately - to the point that I have actually been able to take time off and pursue other hobbies and projects. Let me know if you have any questions about your website and search engine optimization

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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Member (2014)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all the tips! Jun 28, 2015

I think I will make a list of all the ideas and links and start working on that when I get time.

And yes Triston, I need to work on my website and if you had some info about SEO (for dummies) that would be great.

An MA in Translation, which I am starting in September, will give me some more professional credibility and confidence - so I am looking forward to that.

Although I enjoy working with private clients I do find direct marketing daunting and will approach that slowly, but you had plenty of other ideas.

The one private client I have I found on an amateur platform who in the end decided to pay my rates. There was another one from the same platform, who demanded to pay very little (I wouldn't really engage in that kind of post any more today), they also came back, set up a monthly account, but now I haven't heard from them for a long while.

I thought it could be a strategy, as there are many cheap translators and these two clients had a bad experience and decided that the cheapest translator isn't the way to go - I feel that I need some more strategies and some kind of marketing plan though.

My private client is in health/pharma industry. It is not terribly specialised, but maybe I could focus on similar clients.
And I have enjoyed translating online training courses, mainly on health and safety.



[Edited at 2015-06-28 08:17 GMT]


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Wilsonn Perez Reyes  Identity Verified
El Salvador
Local time: 02:09
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Controversial point Jun 29, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:
- Translate in both directions. This gives a strong signal that you have a high level of command over both your languages, which is the hall mark of a really accomplished translator. Many translators have very poor source language proficiency and they generally don't turn out accurate translations, as many finer points in the source text will be missed by them.


This is very controversial. Most agencies require only native speakers in the target language. Translators usually have the same opinion regarding this issue. Generally, it depends what the text is about. If it is poetry, for instance, only native speakers in the TL will do the job properly.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Member (2014)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
The question is how you define a native speaker Jun 29, 2015

The way many people have grown up has changed and there are indeed people who have been educated and brought up with more than one language, or countries where there is more than one official language?

Although I have lived and worked in the UK for 20 years, and my degree is from a British University, I would not translate into English unless it is proofread and tidied up by a native speaker - and this would be an extra cost to the client.


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:09
Portuguese to English
+ ...
People forget Jun 29, 2015

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

The way many people have grown up has changed and there are indeed people who have been educated and brought up with more than one language, or countries where there is more than one official language?



that half the world is bilingual and trilingual, and so I am of the opinion that Western monolingual countries should not impose their view on the profession as a whole. Schools of thought are just that, schools of thought.


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