Guest post: The 3 myths about selling translations and how to make it work for you Reply


Today’s guest post contributor is best-selling author, speaker, and business owner Andrew Lawless.

This is Andrew’s first post in a two-part guest blog series on selling your translation services.


Myth 1: It’s about price, speed and quality

Translation can be easily viewed as a commodity business. The competition is huge and fierce. Many translators believe that they can only survive if they offer the lowest rates, better quality and quickest turn-around times – preferably all three at the same time.

It is true that many buyers of translation services look at translation like I see electricity. They want it cheap, instantly and of good quality. They simply just ask several translation service providers how much they charge per word and choose the lowest bidder.

It is also true that translation is not that two-dimensional, just as color and price are not the only factors in buying a car.

This is evidenced in a recent survey by Slator. It surveyed all 75 US government-certified language providers and discovered the cheapest average per-word rate for English-to-Spanish translation has a low of USD 0.08 and a high of USD 0.30. The priciest language pairs, English-Japanese and English-Korean, have offers ranging from USD 0.14 to USD 0.57.

So, why would someone pay USD 0.30 for a word translated into Spanish when they can get it for USD 0.08 from another vendor? In the end, it’s all about how you market and position yourself to your prospect customers.

For one, experienced buyers value a good translator, like a many of us value a plumber who shows up on time, is friendly, listens, does a great job as agreed, and leaves without leaving a mess behind. Experienced buyers pay a premium for translators that save them time, money and frustrations.

The Sankt-Hedwig hospital in Berlin, for example, would have welcomed better translations when their surgeons improperly transplanted artificial knees in 47 patients. Instead of using a procedure in which the artificial joints are being cemented without a shank or shaft, they were implanted without any cement. This happened because the term ‘non-modular cemented’ was wrongly translated as ‘zementfrei’, which means ‘does not need cement’ in German. So, surgeons put in the knees loose and patients needed a second surgery.

The secret is to build a list of customers who value the benefits that you bring and then foster a relationship with the people on that list. It’s not the quantity of people that are on your list. Otherwise, everybody in localization could buy a list of names from a database acquisition service and be a millionaire in no time.

That’s why in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I will show you how to build a relationship with your audience, so that it becomes natural to buy from you.

Myth 2: Digital marketing is only for big LSP

Years ago, this statement might have been true. Today, not so much. Forrester Research Inc. reports that by 2017, 60% of sales will involve the Internet in some way, either as a direct e-commerce transaction or as part of a shopper’s research. Buyers of both products and services are online, connecting with other buyers on social media and evaluating options on their tablets and smartphones. As a result, modern customers are 65-90% of the way through the purchase decision process before they contact sales.

That’s different from 10 years ago when we were dependent on a sales person to show us what they thought were our best options. Today, buyers have all information upfront – and you will need to deliver that information to them.

While it is true that the higher your budget, the grander your digital marketing campaign can be, don’t assume that you need tens of thousands of dollars to get started. In fact, in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I show how small-budget marketing campaigns can be very successful.

Many pitches from translation vendors are all so similar, it’s nearly impossible to discern the differences. The constant use of digital buzzwords can make it difficult to tell vendors apart. But asking a precise set of the right questions can make finding the right customer much easier. It’s like in job interviews – always good when the candidate has the right answers, even better when he or she asks the right questions.

What also leads to this most common myth about digital marketing is that many small businesses and freelancers believe that they have to generate and post new content every single day.

But the simple concept of dividing campaigns in marathons and sprints will keep your material fresh and readers interested. That’s why I focus on developing a consistent schedule where new material is published two to four times a month.

Remember, 96% of 18 – 29 year olds are online… and so are 93% of people 30-49, and 81% of 50-64. Your customer base is online – and if they can’t find your business… they’re probably looking at your competition.

Myth 3: Webinars don’t sell

Most business owners and freelancers view webinars as just a means to present a product or service. If you are one of them, you might think that webinars attract a lot of your competitors that want to learn more about you and copy one or the other thing from you. You might attract a few customers to view the webinar, but you won’t sell.

However, presentation of a product or service is only about 15% of an entire, well-integrated webinar strategy.

A truly effective webinar strategy involves 5 key stages (planning, pre, live, post, automated) and there will be cash exchange at the end of your presentation. A webinar is more than just showing a set of slides, a product demo and a Q&A session at the end.

Specifically, great webinars include strategic content that precisely aligns with your paid services or products. It also includes list building, email marketing plan, user engagement, and much more. And most importantly, there will be an exchange of cash at the end. A webinar strategy gives you the opportunity to grow your business at will.

I always highlight the importance of webinars in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services.’ Many students in my course are stunned to learn how many opportunities a webinar can create – even if they do not have or own any content.

You can use webinars for Q&A sessions, inviting people to come ask you questions around a specific topic. Topic like ‘Grill the Consultant’ or ‘The Roast of the Translator’ can produce wonderful results. So can topics, such as, Best Kept Secrets, Common Mistakes or What’s Working Now.

What counts is that a webinar provides value to the audience. Great webinars solve a problem.


Interested in learning more from Andrew about selling your translation services?

On June 7th Andrew will be hosting a free webinar on “Three no-cost list building strategies.”

Learn more and register today »

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