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Speaking Their (Own) Language




It shouldn’t need Brexit to remind us why multi-lingual support is the right call.

A Brit, an American and a French person walk into a bar and order a beer.

The Brit gets nothing. The American gets zilch. The Frenchie receives a beer.

Why? Because the first two asked for a beer. The latter asked for une bière – because the bar was in Paris. C’est la vie, non?

Even in a world where English has become the lingua franca, the language of international business, we are a planet of rich diversity and infinite tribal segmentations.

We may land on Gallic soil and pitch our tents at “le camping”, need “le shampooing” after “le weekend” in the vineyards and cry out against “la fake news” from “l’Internet”.

But if we arrive at our clients with sales messaging to offer, asking them to buy our “products” will get entirely lost in translation, even if selling our “services” happens to travel quite well.

Not into Spanish, though, or Italian, although they might get the drift. German? Nein. Mandarin?

Local matters

Cultural reality bites too. The homogenisation of products and brands has accelerated over the past two decades, old faithful marques such as Marathon and Jif jettisoned in favour of global names which can cross borders easily and amplify return for the marketing buck.

But what resonates to one audience flies over the other’s heads. Think global, act local is a wisdom which has not been disproved.

Research from the CSA found three-quarters of customers were more likely to press buy when the information to make a decision was in their own language, whether basic marketing, product guides or warranty info.

And the same body uncovered that 87% of consumers who can’t speak and can’t read English will decline to purchase from an English-only website. If you have global ambitions, that’s a lot of potential customers thrown out into the cold.

And it’s not just language that requires translation. Priceless insights are a matter of interpretation. Local advertising regulations vary widely (soon, even from the UK to the European Union). Different dates resonate, varying national holidays. Sensitivities shape and shift across the miles. Or kilometres, perhaps. Or even kilometers.

Get those confused and you’ll appear out of step and a foreigner lost abroad. Via the power of online, we can be highly-present without being in-market. That does not remove the need to stay close to our consumers and tell stories which resonate directly with them, not us. Localisation is as vital as linguistics.

At SmartPA, we operate in over 15 countries with Partners who have their ears to the ground outside their doors. Who speak their language, as well as ours. Who can both translate – and interpret.

 We rely on them for guidance when we enter a new market so we connect clearly with our customers. 

You can do too. Our Business Support will work with you to translate your marketing communications and help you grow internationally with multi-national call handling or customer service support across different time zones.

We’ll be there to back you every step of the way. And to toast your success.

Although make ours a Diet Coke. Or we’ll order a Coke Light, if that works best.