Business Development

Growing globally and getting local

Anita Sempels (Wordbee) ( Photo : Olivier Minaire )

Anita Sempels (Wordbee) ( Photo : Olivier Minaire )

Having a conversation with customers is not always easy… Being able to use their native language is an asset, even with the traditional marketing tools, such as flyers, brochure or leaflets, or your website…

The first thought about multilingualism is “everybody speaks English”. So, why bother? Let’s just use your native tongue, and English… For Anita Sempels, from Wordbee, “Companies need to include […] the localisation of their content, products and services. Therefore, they find themselves in need of specialised language services that go well beyond bare translation, but which are conveying the company message and localising it to the specific target market.” And English is not the only one. “Not everybody speaks English: the most spoken language in the world is Mandarin Chinese, followed by Spanish and Hindi. Latin America has one of the lowest levels of English fluency.” If you decide to go abroad, you need to think in more than two languages.

For Troy Bankhead, head of Marketing and Communication at Kneip, “in an environment where building personal relationships with one’s audience is de facto, companies must seriously consider the cost of not marketing their products in the language that will best reach their audiences.” Such sectors are also concerned by different regulations, that require using the national language, instead of an English-esperanto. “The need for clear communication has never been greater.” For Stany van Gelder, director at Connexion Corporate Communication, it is quite clear that “although everybody speaks English, not everybody speaks – and understands – English well.”

But translating documents in many languages can become a financial burden… ; it is, as always, a matter of choice. Anita Sempels underline the fact that “companies have sell and stay local or expand globally.” In other words, small enterprises that are trying to expand beyond their home base will have to make the content available to the new target audience via the different communication channels. And one of the ways to do it is partnering with localisation agencies. For Stany van Gelder, it is true that “costs and time constraints are what prevent most organisations to communicate in several languages.” To help them, they do need “a streamlined workflow, performing translation memories, advanced computer-assisted-translation tools and the use of a professional team of experienced human translators.” This, altogether, is the way to time- and budget-efficient results.

Streamlined worksflows? For Troy Bankhead, “Given the numbers of documents, the number of stakeholders and the liability that these documents carry with them, it is common to have several sign-off stages, and information can change at any time during the production of a document.” Meaning that this workflows have to be as computerised as possible. “Furthermore, cultural dialects – Portuguese/Brazilian Portuguese, American/British English, Spanish/Latin American Spanish… – add to the number of documents to translate.”
In other words, reaching an international market is not impossible, it just needs serious means and organisation, and must be taken seriously.