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SDL-type mailing from MemoQ
Thread poster: Rod Walters

Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:54
Japanese to English
Jun 20, 2009

Today I was quite displeased to get what looked like an SDL mailing - from Kilgray.

Below is my response.

================================

Hi

I'm a bit disappointed to be getting a Trados-style email from Kilgray, full of the same sort of hype that SDL peddles.

First of all, I don't expect to have 'fun' with a CAT tool. If you think CAT tools are fun, you're nuts, frankly. They're a tiresome business tool that we put up with so as to earn money. As for it being like playing a computer game, whoever said that was exaggerating wildly, and isn't to be trusted.

Also, why do you think that clip-art grinning 'translators' (with the obligatory black person of course!) are a valid promotional tool? What is it about them do you think that sells products?

Finally, I don't understand why I'm getting this email at all. I just bought the product, didn't I? It's confusing and impersonal to be invited to buy it again. Don't you use some sort of customer management software that would prevent you from sending out buy offers to people who are hoping not to buy again for a while?

If you want to differentiate yourself from Trados, please be different.

Best wishes

Rod

================================

I hope other people will join me in guiding Kilgray away from the crass approach of SDL. Kilgray, please concentrate on the software, and it will market itself.


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xxxValerie35
Local time: 14:54
German to English
Real World Jun 20, 2009

Rod Walters wrote:
Kilgray, please concentrate on the software, and it will market itself.


That is a good sentiment, but unfortunately that's not how it works in the real world.

SDL seems to me to be a massive marketing operation, and it WORKS.

Really unfortunate, but a good marketer could sell dog poop in a cardboard box.


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xxxValerie35
Local time: 14:54
German to English
Clarity Jun 20, 2009

Just to be clear: I personally think that MemoQ is a lot better than SDL.

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:54
Member
English to French
Interesting sales pitch Jun 20, 2009

While I understand your point of view, I wasn't upset with this email. I was far more shaken when some outsourcer contacted me to offer me an hourly rate of USD15 the other day.

The tone might be a bit familiar and overboard, but I think their marketing strategy makes a lot of sense right now.

The video game quotation sounds out of place, but maybe it is a generation thing. If I were 15 years younger, I'd probably relate to the comparison. It's a "young" company, aiming at capturing "new" translators besides Trados customers.

To their credit, although I agree that translating is not "fun" but a way to earn a living, I understood that their product is more user-friendly than other CAT tools.

And even though I own the product, it's still interesting to see how Samson fights Goliath.

Anyway it is 33°C here this morning, too hot to get heated.
Have a good day,
Philippe


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:54
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
So I must not be in the real world then Jun 20, 2009

ValBerlin wrote:

Rod Walters wrote:
Kilgray, please concentrate on the software, and it will market itself.


That is a good sentiment, but unfortunately that's not how it works in the real world.

SDL seems to me to be a massive marketing operation, and it WORKS.


I know what you're saying, but I wonder if what SDL does will be sustainable for much longer. I rather doubt it.

On the other hand, I bought MemoQ largely on the basis of Kevin Lossner's qualified recommendation and on the very simple, no-nonsense character of Kilgray's website. I've also liked the collaborative support I've had. I was thinking about recommending MemoQ to some of my own clients on the basis of my experience so far. This is the world I live in, for what it's worth.

But then I got this SDL-clone email, and decided not to put my own reputation on the line just yet. Anybody who got that email imitating SDL and plaintively targeting SDL at the same time would surely wonder sort of outfit I was recommending.

I hate getting SDL emails because, although I've hitherto been interested in what the updates might contain, they always bombard me with transparent hype and harass me with deadlines. I sincerely hope MemoQ won't take this route.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:54
French to German
+ ...
Kilgray should be more careful... Jun 20, 2009

because they build (at least in the e-mail I received) upon SDL's supposed "failure" with Studio 2009 - I agree, the market introduction was not a booming success - in order to advertise for MemoQ, with a special offer to upgrade from any Trados version.

This is not the best marketing strategy I could think off, at least not AFAIAC: I cannot stand the word "upgrade" anymore.

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-06-20 16:55 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:54
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
My take on it Jun 21, 2009

Although the e-mail was a bit heavy-handed and perhaps not the phrasing I would have chosen for the attack on the Beast, I was pleased to receive it, because it told me that more people would have an opportunity to get a very useful tool at a very, very reasonable price. And bear in mind Rod that with the exception of Peter, the executive management of the company is in fact rather young. On the whole they keep their feet out of their mouths better than I did when I was 15 years or so younger. The video game comment is definitely a generational thing, but I do in fact have fun with the product. I drove Monique nuts for weeks with little squeals of delight as I discovered one useful feature after another in the office next to hers. She possibly thought I's sneaked a mistress in there, but in fact I was having a better time than that

Seriously though, I agree with you that it was clumsy, but direct comparisons are indeed called for. I hope for better ones. SDL Trados is trying and not entirely succeeding at this point in taking an interface design pioneered AFAIK by Atril and improved by others and selling that interface as an "innovation". When they boldly go where most others have gone before one might call it many things, but innovation really isn't on my list in that case.

Bottom line is that I'm pleased that Kilgray used the excuse to offer a good deal to a lot of people who will pay significantly less than I did for my license.

I think you and I probably ended up on the spam list because it may have been purchased from ProZ for a mailshot, and in such cases there may be restrictions on access/filtering of the data. Thus existing customers will like us will get an annoying e-mail that we don't need. But this doesn't change other useful things we *are* getting, like good support and active development to improve the product at an amazingly fast pace. The product is by no means perfect as we both know, but it offers a lot and is offering more almost every month. I trust that team enough to risk my reputation by endorsing the product, and although we may not all agree about the fun part, I'm sure we know that many alternatives are definitely much less fun.

[Edited at 2009-06-21 00:14 GMT]


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:54
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Response from Kilgray Jun 21, 2009

I got a very prompt and gracious response from István Lengyel. One point he made is that they do use a CRM tool and they're not happy with it because it sends out mail to the wrong people. (Is all CRM software crap? My stockbroker sends me chummy letters that start "Dear Charles..." He blames it on his CRM program. As with translation software, perhaps CRM software needs an alert human to guide the process.)

As guidelines for marketing, I'd like to suggest the following points.

- Don't try to characterise the translator in any way, because if you do, you'll stand a very good chance of getting it wrong and being annoying. That includes using stock photos of grinning people in business attire, clutching laptops, sucking pens, and shaking hands with people.

- Don't attack 'the opposition'. The brickbats you throw, or very similar brickbats, can just as easily be thrown at you. MemoQ is not really market-ready for Japanese yet, and Trados is still better for many things. In this situation, anything other than showing determination to improve is unwelcome.

- Don't talk about fun or anything else that smacks of bullshit. Fun is our business, to be defined in personal ways of our choice. I for one am not looking for translation software that makes a 'lifestyle statement'.

- Do go into detail about the functions, using plain language that somebody with no familiarity with the software might reasonably understand. That is what you're selling, and that is the deal maker or breaker.

- Do characterise your own support and development policy. This is where you seem to be most different from SDL, so for sanity's sake, promise to support translators when they need support.


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 15:54
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
My second posting Jun 21, 2009

This is my second posting here. Yesterday, I wrote the following, then decided to delete it.

No, SDL did not acquire MemoQ (yet)

Upon reading your posting, I searched google with the keywords sdl+memoq+acquisition. Thanks goodness, no such breaking news. But SDL-like marketing is not good for such a promising tool.


MemoQ really looks like a promising tool, but I also have some concerns about the tool itself and its future. So many builds. Sometimes 2 new builds in one week. Yes, Kilgray engineers are responsive, trying to find solutions for the bugs. But, it makes me question whether MemoQ is a stable tool or not. MemoQ looks like a tool which is always in beta version.

Similar example is WordFast, which has released hundreds of builds; see http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/wordfast/files/Wordfast%20repository/

It appears that MemoQ does not care so much about beta testing. Festina lente, MemoQ.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:54
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Stable or not? And how should MQ be sold? Jun 21, 2009

Selcuk Akyuz wrote:
MemoQ really looks like a promising tool, but I also have some concerns about the tool itself and its future. So many builds. Sometimes 2 new builds in one week. Yes, Kilgray engineers are responsive, trying to find solutions for the bugs. But, it makes me question whether MemoQ is a stable tool or not. MemoQ looks like a tool which is always in beta version.


If the alternative is years of stasis like we both experience with my primary tool, then I'll go for the appearance of a perpetual beta, an appearance which is deceiving. I have experienced no unusual levels of instability and suffer no more crashes than I know from other environments. Whether improvements come in small, quickly downloadable bits and bytes twice a week or are in a fat package every five years or so is a matter of taste I suppose. I'll take the nybbles.

I think major changes are indeed subject to significant beta testing, though I'll admit that I haven't followed these things closely. I usually take the lower-risk option of working with released versions. These little fixes remind me more of the way Emilio responded to things at Atril years ago. I can live with that, and I miss it.

I really like Rod's "guidelines", though he & I might disagree on the interpretation in individual instances. I vehemently agree with his first point. His last two points really are my "comfort zone" and a place where I think it would be hard for any company to go wrong. But the second point - "don't attack the 'opposition'" - is one we may look at differently. Attacks can backfire and must be calibrated carefully, but sometimes they are useful indeed. I myself do not hesitate to attack carefully selected targets for what I consider to be appropriate cause, and I know from having been on the blunt end of Rod's comments occasionally in the past that his feelings are not all that different on the matter. I think what is very, very important and must not be neglected is comparison, sometimes in stark language where appropriate. Comparison may be interpreted by some as an attack, but in fact it is not. But the confusion of the two concepts is inevitable given the prevalence of sloppy thinking.

I would not mind seeing a point-by-point analysis and comparison of major claims by the opposition and a gauntlet thrown down on other features in a factual way. Is that an attack? I don't think so. A majority of ProZ readers might disagree with me on this, and some might be horrified at the idea for cultural reasons, but they won't persuade me on that point. However, I will agree that in their local cultures the product may have to be marketed very differently. Even someone as thick-headed as I am should understand that. A successful marketing strategy in Rod's Japan will surely be very different in many points than a strategy for Germany or Brazil. Seen through the cultural lens, some of the "sins" of thew mailshot under discussion may be magnified for Japan.

But a good deal remains just that


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:54
French to German
+ ...
Point-by-point analysis Jun 21, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:


I would not mind seeing a point-by-point analysis and comparison of major claims by the opposition and a gauntlet thrown down on other features in a factual way. Is that an attack? I don't think so. A majority of ProZ readers might disagree with me on this, and some might be horrified at the idea for cultural reasons, but they won't persuade me on that point.


Comparative advertising has been forbidden in France until 1992 and I would really like an objective, fair and extensive point-by-point analysis, were it only for the sake of showing what are the major strengths and weaknesses of major CAT tools.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:54
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Not just a French problem Jun 21, 2009

ScottishWildCat wrote:
Comparative advertising has been forbidden in France until 1992 and I would really like an objective, fair and extensive point-by-point analysis, were it only for the sake of showing what are the major strengths and weaknesses of major CAT tools.


The US and German markets have experienced the same issue to varying degrees over the years, and I am sure that others have. However, I think here any restrictions that apply would be based on EU and Hungarian law if the messages originate in Hungary. Things may differ with local subsidiaries sending messages.

But I think on the whole things have loosened up now, and there are no legal barriers to making such comparisons in many cases. Occasionally large-scale comparisons of multiple products are made and published in professional journals, but even the best I have seen are largely irrelevant and deeply flawed. It's hard to cover the full complexity of all these systems in a 2D comparison matrix and harder still to understand even the best presentation in a way that will be useful for every scenario.

Thus I favor the less wissenschaftlich approach of more limited, often qualitative comparisons focusing on the needs of a particular group or application. I don't give a rat's tail what any product will offer a translator of Chinese unless somehow my work has to be integrated with a process involving Chinese translation. I will tend to focus on optimizing for a narrow group of subject areas for a particular language pair and direction, and every other combination will be of lesser importance to me, though I will try to understand and take into account important differences when talking to a translator of Japanese or Russian.

So for now what I really want to see is a point by point factual commentary on SDL's major hype items and a short list of important features that SDL lacks but MemoQ (or another product) offers. Is that biased? Damned right it is. But it tells me what I want to know, and it directly addresses the questions in the minds of SDL's propaganda victims. As far as I am concerned, kicking below the belt is allowed as long as the blows are honest ones and there are no personal attacks on the character of individuals unless they are justified. If a "smoking gun memo" leaks in which a member of the executive board talks about herding the cattle known as user and rendering them in the capitalist slaughterhouse for maximum gain, then I would say that fellow is fair game as long as we stick to the facts. I doubt we'll see such an internal memo from SDL, however, because I suspect they just convert ideas like that directly into mailshot messages like the infamous "amnesty" offer last year. i'm still trying to figure out what my original crime was if it wasn't buying a Trados license.


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T F F  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:54
English to Italian
(Point by point) Analysis is not Comparative Advertising Jun 21, 2009

Italy prohibits "Comparative Advertising" as well, but this means that HERE you cannot say "Mine is better than yours"...You can instead surely say: "Mine costs 100, Yours 1.000" (but I suppose this is true not just in Italy).

Kilgray, are you listening?
So why don't you translate your plus into "data" (not just emotion), put them into a table and send that email out: I'll definitely read it!

Obviously I don't mean teaching your already wise Marketing department!
Even if...Well, I'm going to do this now, submissively ---> Please put in the table what MemoQ is unable to do as well. Using your "videogame" scenario, this will give you the "Bonus" point!


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István Lengyel
Hungary
Local time: 14:54
English to Hungarian
+ ...
we are working on just that Jun 22, 2009

Thanks a lot for all your comments and suggestions. We are just on the verge of coming up with a feature comparison table on our website. It works for me when selecting an application, so it should work for anyone. However, we have some concerns posting those few items that MemoQ does not do. Not that they are secret at all (we have no problem telling customers we are not the right solution for them if that's the case), but that they may give an impression that others are better just because they don't do this.

On Saturday I sat down and entered 18k characters of mindflow regarding our feature set. After all, marketing is always a hard nut to crack because in reality those are the sales people who talk to customers. We have a few general messages (ease of use, teamwork, etc.), but in reality we need to point out why MemoQ is a good tool, and this is done through problem description and solution. Although this description won't make it to the website very soon (it's the responsibility of our marketing manager and needs to be reviewed too), my gut feeling is that our website will be more factual than before.

István


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