Decades ago, entering into international markets was not such an easy feat. After all, the language gap can present a huge issue in business. In earlier days, you would hardly be able to perform as well as you do in your home market.
However, in the cutthroat environment of today’s competitive markets, you can never go too far in exploring new markets and possibilities. Even though your company’s home market might be your primary one, entering the global marketplace can boost your profits and build up your company like never before.
And the best part: it’s easier than ever before! If you want to market your products and services in a foreign country, the circumstances are much more business-friendly than they were just a few decades ago. It’s also one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business.
Nowadays, you can easily find professional translators and localization experts that will help you transfer your brand message to the target market successfully and effectively.
Start with market and competition analysis
In order to fully benefit from the power of localization, first you have to make sure that your product or service will perform as well as they do in the home market.
To do this, you have to do the necessary research to prove that your product is equally popular and used in the target country that you want to localize to.
As a blatant example, if you ran a beef product company, it wouldn’t make sense to localize and enter the target market of India, for instance.
In other cases, localization will likely be successful in most foreign markets, but make sure you start with big countries where success is more likely. As someone who knows your product the best, you should use these insights to deduce which is the best market for you to enter.
Find reliable and professional localization suppliers
The localization industry is booming and has rapidly increased its worth to almost 47 billion USD in 2019. The drivers behind this explosive growth are definitely globalization, digitalization and increased connectivity.
However, just like in any industry, there are great companies doing amazing work, and there are… not so great companies. With translation and localization, the situation is even trickier because the barrier to enter the market and start a localization agency is relatively low.
One of the crucial steps in growing your business through localization is finding a reliable, trustworthy partner with a track record of client satisfaction. For example, if you’re looking to enter the Vietnamese market, currently ranked 34th in the world by GDP and rising, you can use the service PickWriters to find Vietnamese professionals who will help you succeed in this promising market.
Hire local agencies instead of global language service providers
The language and localization industry is highly complex, as it includes a number of key players, all with specific roles and added values.
For example, an individual freelance translator provides only the service of translation, while a translation agency will also provide you with the services of project management, vendor management and quality assurance.
According to industry experts Renato Beninatto and Tucker Johnson, the basic value chain of the translation industry looks more or less like this (outlined in their book General Theory of the Translation Company):
- individual translator (freelancer)
- local language service provider (small and specialized single-language agency)
- regional language service provider (translation agency covering multiple, but similar languages)
- multi-language service provider (global corporation providing localization for most of the world languages)
In a typical scenario, a localization buyer would approach a multi-language service provider and purchase the service of localization to one or more languages. The agency will then outsource to work to smaller, regional or local agencies or even to individual freelances.
The key fact about this value chain is that each company on the value chain adds their own profit margin. Therefore, a local agency would add a margin on the freelancer’s translation, a regional agency would add a margin on a local agency’s project and so on.
Having this in mind, as a business owner, the wisest and the most efficient way to go about localization is to hire a local language service provider. These are agencies who are headquartered in your target market and are specialized in localizing to that target language.
Individual translators are also a possible option, but when working with an agency, you will get a much higher level of quality assurance and project management.
Consider foreign social media channels
If you’re running social media campaigns in the West, you are most likely to be present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. However, keep in mind that other nations tend to use many different social media channels that you may not be familiar with.
Local social media networks have a huge marketing potential for international businesses, as they are still not as competitive as Facebook or Twitter.
For example, if you want to enter the Chinese market, you can benefit from utilizing Qzone, the third largest social media network in the world. For Russia, that would be VK (VKontakte) with a recorded number of over 500 million users in 2018.
Whichever foreign market you may be entering, make sure you do research on whether there’s a local social network. If there is, it can be highly beneficial as it’s likely underused by your competition.
Conclusion: Localize, Expand, Grow
If you run a successful business, you should definitely not underestimate the potential of entering foreign markets. However, the success you achieve internationally will strongly depend on your localization efforts.
When it comes to localization practices and connecting with a target audience, it’s definitely worth it to do thorough research and invest in a long-term relationship with a localization partner.
If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry, there are many websites out there that review and recommend translation agencies. Simply check the agency you want to start working with and make sure they have a track record of fast responses, quality localization and good customer support.
By Donald Fomby who is a valued member of the writing team at translation and localization company. Donald studied Computer Science at Texas A&M. In his spare time, Donald writes Sci-Fi short stories.