Questions you should expect to answer when ordering marketing translations
In a perfect world, a translator would look at your document and immediately know exactly what everything is, and means, and what you are trying to say. Sadly however, in the real world, that’s rarely the case- especially when it comes to marketing translations. The tone, the subtleties and the messages of marketing content must also be matched with perfect knowledge of a product, as well as a complete immersion in exactly the right language and vernacular of a brand to be able to achieve real credibility.
The even sadder truth is that many agencies and translators are so aware of that expectation, and are so keen to deliver it, they simply don’t ask the questions that they should. But the truth is, questions lead to better understanding and better quality results. This means that, if a translator doesn’t ask questions, either out of inability to do so, or resists out of the desire to please you, they are working on supposition and assumption. What’s more, the translation company has their own heavy workloads, so they are usually dependant on translators to flag doubts, which means important questions might go unasked, losing the opportunity for real learning and absolute accuracy. The sad end to this story is that the client’s money and effort has been wasted on a marketing translation that doesn’t sell, but out of a lack of brand-specific knowledge, rather than a lack of linguistic abilities.
So, what we’re trying to say is that you should expect questions, and you should make it clear that translators can ask them. We love questions at Integro. The right questions at the right times can save a translation project, and make the difference between a mediocre translation and a fantastic translation. If your translation provider never asks you questions, it’s probably not because they already know the answers. If they don’t ask, they’re assuming, which means they’re not taking your business or your challenges as seriously as they should be.
Here are some of the fundamental questions we like to get to the bottom of when we onboard a new client, or take on a new project:
What is your USP?
Sounds crazy, right? You want to get some words translated, and we’re asking about your USP? This is really important though. If we’re going to help you grow in another country, we have to understand how you’ve grown to where you are now in your domestic market, and that’s usually thanks to your USP. Your USP is your most central basic message: all of your marketing literature stands on it, like a statue stands on a plinth. So, faithfully relaying that USP in a target language and, perhaps more importantly, to that target audience, is essential for marketing translations to be successful.
Why are you translating this?
Without wanting to sound like a Hollywood diva, “what’s my inspiration here?”. We ask a client to tell us in their own words why they want to translate a document. This is because the why behind a project can tell us volumes about what we need to achieve in terms of tone, ideal length, degree of technicality and other such things that will affect the end translation.
What do you want to achieve with this translation?
In other words, what are you hoping the reader will do, after they’ve read this translated text? Bear in mind that translators don’t see your files in the same context that you do: you know your whole marketing plan inside out, you know your sales process and how this particular file fits into your content calendar. We need to get to know all of that so we know how people are supposed to react to the content.
A document might be an initial explanation for people who know nothing about the product, or it could be intended as a piece of online lead generation text. The text might be intended to be part of a newsletter for existing customers, or as a descriptive piece for the website to actually trigger a sale.
Understanding everything we can about the content itself, but also the intent or the purpose of a document is essential to producing quality, effective work.
Who will be reading this?
In other words, who are you writing this for? Could you describe a typical reader in terms of their age, or their job, or anything else that might be relevant to why they would be reading your content? And, importantly, have you considered the possible differences between the people reading this in the target language and the source language of the document? Will they be the same age, the same sex, or demographic profile? These are important things to know when translating marketing content.
If you could describe your brand as a person, or a food, what would it be?
Might sound silly, but giving your brand a personality can help to quickly and effectively portray it as a whole. I tend to describe Integro’s brand as a strawberry cheesecake: multiple layers that complement one another to achieve a fantastic end result- and a dash of fun. And if it were a person, they would be smart and quick-witted but fun to be around- the kind of guy you might want to have on your table at a wedding when you don’t know anyone else.
These descriptions are something tangible a translator can work with, and can help them to understand both what you are, and what you aren’t, which is just as important, right? After that, it’s up to us to work out how to achieve “strawberry cheesecake” in Russian, or any other of your target languages.
What exactly do you take “__________” to mean?
It might sound obvious, but the key terminology matters, especially your particular use and understanding of that terminology- not just the obvious definition that would appear on Google. For example, the meaning of “highlighting” might seem obvious, but if your brand has the slogan highlighting great haircare, we need to be careful about how it’s translated. So, what does it mean exactly? Could say it in other words? If so, how – and why aren’t you using them? We don’t want to make you change these words, we simply want know exactly where you’re coming from as this will help us get to where you want to go.
Though each of these questions might seem irrelevant or unimportant when considered individually, they can make a huge difference to the translation of your marketing content, which impacts how effective your marketing is in your target markets, making answering these questions well worth your time. Because these questions are so important, you need to make your translators aware that you are happy to answer questions they might have, and encourage them to do so as often as they need to.