Years ago a friend travelled to Europe from Asia by train. He was unilingual then. So he had some most frequently used expressions translated into four languages. His multilingual cards helped him reach Paris smoothly. Now trilingual, he joked that those cards were his survival kit on that trip!
You may think: if that friend did not have multilingual cards with him, he might still end up in Paris. That’s a reasonable assumption, and I agree. But I am sure, as a business owner or manager, you are not content with just being surviving, as important as it is. You are interested in growing a business beyond borders.
Running a global business is easier than ever today due to modern technologies. However far your clients, customers or suppliers are from you, they are just a phone call away. Sales can be made through fax, and deals can be reached on the internet. On a recent television show, a small private enterprise in Southeastern China won a million- dollar contract from a Japanese company. The Chinese firm received its first big order from overseas after three months’ persistence through fax.
How exciting! Visualize the day when you achieve even greater success! To turn your imagination into reality, you need to fulfill three indispensable conditions, namely, the right products and services, the will and perseverance to work hard at your dream, and last but not least, the ability to make yourself understood by your prospects and customers. Do you know what first step that Chinese firm took in order to go global? The owner had its company and product information translated into Japanese! When you choose to speak your prospects’ and customers’ language, they have an instant sense of familiarity. It is easier to build trust and make sales.
So take action. Get the following translated into the language of your target market:
Business card – your important relationship building tool. It helps those who does not speak your language remember you. Even if your customers know your language, having a card of their language shows your respect, helps to open up some small talk, and brings you closer to your customer emotionally. Never underestimate the impact of a small card.
Brochures or information sheets – basic marketing materials.
Website – your global marketing tool. The World Wide Web is making the world smaller and closer than ever. But can your target market understand what you present when they are on your site?
Corporate video – an effective promotional method. Is it produced or dubbed in the language of your target market, or does it at least have the right subtitle?
Newsletters – an advanced marketing approach.
Press releases – informing and updating, but are you communicating?
Sales and various other presentations – your perfect opportunity to make it, or break it. Never end up with an “alas” simply because you can’t overcome that language barrier.
Books – the best way to establish your authority in your service. Is your book published in the language of your target market? Are they buying your book? And are they buying more of your products and services as a result of reading your book?
You see, having the above translated is not a fuss over nothing, is it? Willy Brandt, former West German Chancellor, seemed to have answered it very concisely many years ago. He reportedly said: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann muessen Sie Deutsch sprechen (Translation: then you must speak German).” In other words, this is what the fuss is all about: get ready to sell, and sell big!
© 2010 Jacqueline Wu
Jacqueline Wu is the managing director of Olive Kan Global. Her firm specializes in helping companies increase the return on investment of their global ventures, in particular, China and other Asia Pacific ventures. Jacqueline has over 20 years’ experience in global marketing, corporate training and university teaching. She has been invited to present at many international conferences. To find out more about Jacqueline and her firm, please visit.