Thinking of selling internationally? Developing your business in international markets can drive profits and growth. If you talk to us at an early stage, we can help you plan for translation and localisation as part of your international strategy.

Issues to think about when developing your business in international markets:

  • Get expert professional help. For UK businesses, the Department for International Trade are an excellent and impartial way to get advice about trading internationally. They can help you consider possible routes to market, access to trade missions, and market research.
  • Product/Service readiness. Do you have a product or service which already sells well within the United Kingdom? If not it is likely to be a giant leap developing your business in international markets. Having a good product or service isn’t of itself necessarily enough. Will it sell in another country? There could be regulatory issues and country specific requirements, as well as cultural considerations.
  • Business readiness: you may have a great product or service, which is ready for the market you are targeting, but is the business ready? Can you handle sales and after sales enquiries? Can you manage your overseas sales alongside everything else?
  • Translation readiness: when you have ticked all of the above, it can be tempting to think, “right, now let’s conquer the world” and to start thinking about translating your packaging and product manuals into as many languages as possible, and to create a killer 900 page website in 14 languages. If you are a large enough company, you may just manage this, but even big multi-nationals can struggle with a new market if not properly planned and thought through.

So what should you do about translation for your target market:

  • Make sure you are happy with your English marketing, website and product packaging information before thinking about translation. If the original isn’t very good, translating it into 14 languages will just waste money, without adding value for the business.
  • For the web, a large site as a first entry into a new target market can be a big commercial risk. If you are happy to take it, we would of course be delighted to help with translation, but how about creating a mini-site first, and trialling a few top selling products to see how it works?
  • Don’t compromise a website by poor SEO and hosting. If no-one can find your UK site, putting up a foreign language version won’t help much. Conversely, if you have a great UK site which ranks well, with some careful work by your web developers working alongside your chosen translation partner, the result should be a good foreign language site. Remember the caveat that proper SEO takes time.
  • Marketing materials in other languages. We are of course happy to help translating any kind of marketing information. When it comes to product packaging, it is often the marketing copy which is the first to go when trying to save space to fit other languages on pack. Good idea? Well you may have no choice if there is legally required text which must go on, but “less is more” in the sense that less languages will allow more text per language, with greater prominence for the target text, and a clearer message.

Legal compliance and translation prominence:

  • Legal compliance may require equal prominence for the local language(s), rather than something which is more English focussed. It is good compliance to adequately feature the target language, it’s also good business sense giving a clearer marketing message. Unfortunately in the real world, multilingual packaging has constraints and is usually a compromise. Just make sure it’s a legal compromise! We wouldn’t want your products to be stopped at port, or you to be fined. We can signpost compliance advice for most kinds of product packaging.

This article is intended as a first few thoughts on the complex subject of developing your business in international markets. There is more information on the rest of our website. Especially read the sections on website translation, packaging and label translation, localisation, branding, and typesetting multi-lingual artwork.