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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Promote Yourself—in the Right Way

The first thing any business should do is to look for and attract clients. The translation business is no different, except that we're not selling nuts and bolts where most vendors offer basically the same merchandise, the only difference being price, service, and other intangibles like the vendor's reputation.

Translation is different in that each job is custom-made for a specific client, and no two translations, even of the same text, are identical. Therefore, the price is but one factor for the client to decide for a particular provider. Your job, as a translation provider, is to convince your potential client that the product and service you're offering is better than those of your competitor. 

How can you tell your story so that you reach the largest possible number of potential translation buyers and convince them to buy your product? In the old days you would have placed ads in newspapers, sent out thousands of pieces of mail, and placed expensive display ads in the Yellow Pages of several key markets. Today, with all the electronic communication tools, your job is easier, but you also have more competition vying for the same customers. 

The first key to a successful promotion is convincing the potential client of your professionalism. There are millions of people who speak two or more languages; many of them call themselves translators, but only a handful can handle anything but the simplest translation job. You must stand out of the crowd to be noticed. But being noticed and getting your first job is just the beginning. If the translation you deliver is not up to your client's quality standard, it can also be the last job, at least from that client. So, no matter how hungry for work you are, never accept a job you cannot competently handle. It is preferable to lose a job that to lose a client. Don't try to "fake" it. most areas of human activity have a specific style and vocabulary, and if you can't write instructions for a machine like an engineer or describe a disease like a doctor, your work will appear as amateurish, regardless of how fluent you are in the languages involved and how competent you may be in other areas. 

Today, the first thing a translator should consider is having a professional-looking website. It doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles, but make sure it has an attractive design and provides the right information about you and your services. There are several WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get) program packages that allow you to design your own website, even if you're not familiar with HTML programming. Or look around for a website you like, contact its designer, and negotiate a price you can afford. 

The different social media can also serve as tools to promote your translation services. Again, professionalism is of primary concern, both in selecting the right medium and in posting the right content. 

Sending our e-mails to potential clients seems to be a good successor to old-time mailings, but with the volume of e-mails in everybody's inbox, e-mail message tend to end up in the trash can. 

Personal contact remains the best promotion. Visit your client or potential client personally if you can. Go to events your potential clients are likely to attend. And, as always, keep professionalism in mind: in your way of dressing, speaking, and behaving yourself in your client's presence. 

Promotion via traditional and electronic media plus occasional personal contacts is a winning combination that should make your client remember you when it comes to selecting a provider.

Good luck!