The truth about your marketing issues

truth

“I hate marketing”, “I really should do some marketing”, “I just don’t think marketing is for me”, “I’m a linguist, I’m just not good at the business side”, “I know what I need to do in theory but somehow I never get round to it”. Ever heard any of these or said something similar yourself? If so, read on!

What makes marketing into such a big (negative) thing for so many people?

We all know the theory: marketing is essential for every business. It brings you new clients which makes sure that your business grows and thrives. Marketing is for your business what exercise is for your body. We don’t have to exercise, but if we don’t we’ll be unfit. It’s the same with marketing: if we want a healthy business we need to do it. Let’s draw another comparison: chores around the house. Probably not your favourite thing, certainly not mine. And we may put them off and put them off but eventually we’ll get round to doing them. For some people not doing any marketing really is purely and simply about procrastination. It’s just something they rarely make time to do. For many people, however, marketing isn’t simply a chore like the washing and ironing that they put off but do get round to doing eventually. Marketing is something that they don’t want to touch with barge pole. They may get as far as dipping their big toe in but then they get the barge pole out again and it’s back to square one. Ring any bells?

So what’s going on here?

Unlike chores which we may simply dislike, people tend to have a deeper emotional relationship with their feelings towards marketing. If you get round to other chores eventually but not to your marketing then this might be true for you. Let’s explore this idea some more.

So you know what marketing is, you know it’s good for your business, you’ve been to seminars and attended webinars, you’ve probably also read a few books on the subject but somehow this is the furthest you have got. Let’s take a look at why that might be.

When you think about marketing what emotions do you feel? If you’ve “simply” been dismissing marketing as something you just don’t like for a long time then you might need to sit quietly for a while and really listen to what your body is telling you. Perhaps you can relate to one or more of these responses:

  • Fear of the unknown – What if nobody is interested in my services? What if everyone is interested in my services? How will I handle that?
  • Lack of control – What if none of my prospects respond?
  • Rejection – What if my prospects aren’t interested? What if they reject me?
  • Lack of confidence – What if I’m not good enough? What if potential clients find out that I don’t have much experience? I’m not as self-confident as my website suggests, what if my prospects find out?

These are all viable and typical responses and they all stem from programmes which we have been running since early childhood. So the reason why so many people are unsuccessful with their marketing efforts is that although they are trying to implement tried and tested techniques, they haven’t started at the root of the problem. They’re trying to start somewhere higher up. It’s like spending thousands on renovating a house but not bothering to deal with the unsteady foundations or like trying to heal an illness by only treating the symptoms.

Ok so now what?

First of all don’t be tempted to run away from the uncomfortable feelings. Simply feel them and then start to examine them. Take them apart piece by piece and ask questions like “is this true for me now?”, “do I really believe this?”, “is this a likely outcome or am I simply making up stories?”, “is a rejection of my services really the same as a rejection of me as a person?”. This kind of introspection work can be extremely insightful. You may discover that some of the stories your mind is making up are pretty far-fetched and extreme scenarios. You can then start asking questions like “is this the only way I can see this?”, “what if I look at it in another way?”

Perspective is a powerful tool because your thoughts determine your experience. If you can be open to the unknown, do your marketing in good faith, focus on the possibility of creating new connections and finding new clients rather than on the potential for rejection and accept that you (can) have little control over the outcome, you will find marketing a much more straight-forward and less burdensome task which may still feel like a chore but will hopefully no longer be something you fear to such an extent that it paralyses you into inaction.

 

 

Photo credit: Leigh Blackall, flickr.com

Content Marketing for Translators – What You Need to Know

SEO

Would you like to fill your website with content that your customers love and improves search engine rankings but aren’t yet on first name terms with SEO & Co? No problem – in this guest post, Katharine Eyre presents 5 tips on how you can optimise your web presence with even the smallest of budgets.

Content marketing

The concept of “content marketing” has enjoyed a firm place in US corporate life for several years now; now it is slowly being recognised in Europe. Content marketing is a type of online marketing which does not have the sale of goods and services as its primary objective, but the supply of relevant, informative and entertaining web content to the internet user. This content could take the form of a blog, a white paper or tips for using a product manufactured by the company behind the website.

By offering a continual flow of quality content, the credibility of the company grows – as does the level of trust by the customer. In this way, long term customer relationships are built and maintained. In short: with a well thought-through and consistent content marketing strategy, the chances increase that a visitor to your website becomes a customer and that a one-off commission becomes a long-term business relationship.

Making content marketing work for translators

As a translator, it’s difficult to assert yourself on the market and distinguish yourself from other service providers. However, with good content marketing, it is possible to gain an advantage over the competition.

Since many translators are sole traders who have only small marketing budgets, the production of the right content marketing strategy is a must. Only in this way can you choose and take the most suitable measures for your target group – thus using your available resources in the most efficient and economical way.

With these particularities of the translation industry in mind, I have put together the following 5 content marketing tips for translators.

#1 – Give your website a spring clean!

The first step in any content marketing strategy is to take an inventory of your website. Check for outdated content, “dead” links, contradictions and overlaps. I recommend entering all the pages of your website into an Excel table inventory, recording which content is contained on which page (text, pictures, info-graphics etc.). You can then use this as a basis to decide which content requires amendment, which content should be removed from the website and which new content needs to be produced.

#2 – Make a customer profile

The customer is always at the centre of any content marketing strategy. The content you provide has to gain his interest and keep it. In order to get to know your customer, I recommend putting together a customer profile. This could (for example) cover the following characteristics: age, sex, nationality, job, relationship status or hobbies. The more characteristics your profile considers, the more accurately you can tailor your web content towards the needs and wants of the customer.

#3 – Feed your website regularly

Google loves new content and rewards websites which are constantly updated with fresh content with better rankings in the search results. For you, this means that filling your website with content is no longer a one-off job, but an ongoing project which you have to keep going besides your core translation activities.

If you have a blog, be sure to publish at least one new article every month. Other regular features, such as a “Word of the Week” or information on seminars which you hold, should also be refreshed as often as possible.

#4 – Spread the word

Another method with which you can raise your visibility on the internet is to publish your content on other websites, e.g. networking platforms such as “Xing” or “LinkedIn”. In the marketing business, this technique is referred to as “seeding” – you sow your content on ground belonging to others in the hope that your business will grow.

By seeding your content, you are highlighting your special competencies and skills and are seen by more people – who may well need a translation at some point!

#5 – Thy shalt learn to love SEO

Do not be scared of these three letters! With a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of instinct, you can configure your website in such a way – structurally, technically but above all regarding content – that Google can easily understand and interpret it.

Here, there is no getting around detailed keyword research. By keywords, I mean those fundamental concepts which describe the main content of a website. This also includes word combinations. Which keywords are selected will depend on your customer – think not only about what you offer (e.g. “Translation”, “Italian”, “Arabic”), but also what words the customer may type into the search engine while looking for such services (e.g. “technical translations”, “law”, “German” or “contract”).

Once you have chosen your keywords, it is time to integrate them into your website in the most advantageous way. Use the keywords in titles, headings and descriptions – and be sure to place them at the start of a paragraph.

The use of keywords should, however, remain modest: the number one principle of SEO is always the relevance and readability of the content for the user. Google reacts negatively to the overuse of a specific word and punishes websites for this with lower rankings.

If you would like to learn more about SEO-optimised writing and read German, this article offers further Information.

Start your content marketing campaign today and get web-fit!

 

Katharine Eyre is a former lawyer, turned content marketing consultant and translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. While she is not busy translating legal texts from German into English, she focuses on building up her content marketing company, Content Instinct (www.contentinstinct.com).

Photo credit: http://www.seolinkbuilding.org/

The Five Steps to Charging on Value not on Price

Value

Today’s post is a guest post by my own coach, Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert. Over to Vanessa:

No doubt, you’ve heard it before – focus on value, not on price.  The question is are you doing that or not?  I would hazard a guess that many businesses pay lip service to this, rather than really doing it.  Fear dominates the world of commerce – there’s always someone willing to do it cheaper.  So let’s get straight to the point – no procrastination or shilly-shallying; it’s time to make a decision and the sooner you make it the better.  Neither path is easy; ultimately the choice is yours.

Step 1

Ask yourself the following question:

Do I want to be the person doing it cheaper?

If the answer is yes, keep on doing the same thing and I can guarantee that you will get the same results. Don’t bother reading this article either, because you’ll be wasting your time. On the other hand, if the answer is no, take a deep breath and carry on reading.

So far, so good.  If you’re still with me, you’ve successfully jumped over the first hurdle.  Well done.

Step 2

Ask yourself this: When was the last time I really looked at and understood my value?

For most people who have an expertise, it’s not easy to understand their value.  The longer they have been doing it, and the easier it has become, the more they take it for granted.  Consider the following:

  • How long did it take you to become a professional translator?
  • What did it cost you?
  • What did you have to give up while training/learning?
  • How long have you been a professional translator?
  • If you were to rate yourself in terms of how good you were when you first trained on a scale of 1-10, what figure would you put on it?
  • If you were to rate yourself in terms of how good you are now on a scale of 1-10, what figure would you put on it?

I will hazard a guess that it took years – longer than it took a chartered accountant to train, a doctor or even an architect.  It’s no mean feat.  Although I’m not a translator, I am a fluent French speaker and know how much time and effort was required to reach that stage. Remember you have gone beyond that level and are able to communicate a message effectively from one language into another. It’s an amazing skill and don’t you ever doubt it!  Are you starting to see your value?  If you don’t understand your own value, it will be unlikely that your clients will.  Understanding your value is something which takes time and you also need to review it on a regular basis.

Step 3

Ask yourself the following question:

Are the clients I’m working with in general the sort of clients who will pay me on value or are they looking for cheap and cheerful? 

If it’s the latter, then clearly you’re working with the wrong clients!  As previously mentioned, although I’m not a translator, I do know from coaching Karen that those of you who are working for agencies, for example, will definitely not be able to charge on value, as the agencies are dictating the prices and driving them down.

This situation means that you are not actually in control of your business; the agency acts as your employer, but without any of the benefits of actually being employed. This then erodes confidence, creates self-doubt and makes it harder to change.  It’s a vicious circle which needs to be broken.

Either way, you must target those clients who will value your service and pay you accordingly.  This may well mean making some radical changes in your business to be able to achieve this.  I would also encourage you to decide on a specialism so that your marketing can be focussed on a particular industry or profession.  As a generalist, you will be competing with all and sundry and therefore price will likely be the dictator.  On the other hand, as a specialist, you elevate yourself from the masses and it’s then that you can charge a premium for your expertise.

Step 4

Eliminating limiting beliefs

By now, I get the impression that you could be feeling a little overwhelmed.  If that’s the case, I apologise.  However, I’m not one of those fluffy people who say this is going to be easy.  If it was, everyone would be doing it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; you’ll need focus, patience and determination to get where you want to.  Moreover, it’s not just about marketing and what you do practically; it’s also vital to work on yourself.   If you fail to do this, you’ll potentially limit your earnings and feel frustrated into the bargain.

What limiting beliefs do you have which are getting in the way of your success?

Karen is proof of what I’m saying.  She recently told me that because of the work we’ve been doing together, that she is now charging top fees to her clients and getting them, whereas before, that wasn’t happening.  Even though there are others in the marketplace willing to charge significantly less, (their competence level may or may not be as good as hers) because she now understands her value, both consciously and unconsciously, and has no qualms stating her fees, she is able to charge her true worth.

Step 5

Get help!  You can’t do it alone.  Be willing to invest in yourself.  Find the right people to support you on your journey.

Author biography:

Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert, coach, speaker and author of Amazon Bestseller, True Worth, dramatically shifts the thinking for people in professional services  taking them from their own perceptions of not feeling they can really charge what they are worth, to doing just that – and more! This unique ability, to bring out the best in people, has evolved for her over many years of facing similar challenges both professionally and personally, even questioning her own value in business. 

To access a complimentary copy of True Worth: How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It, and to find out more, visit: www.thetrueworthexpert.com.

True Worth

 

 

 

 

Title photo credit: Got Credit

Are you undervaluing yourself? The effects on you, your business and the translation industry

Value

Many translators complain that industry rates are low. They feel forced to lower their rates in order to attract new clients and even to continue to be able to get regular work from their existing clients. Indeed, it is not only translation agencies who are reducing the rates they pay to their freelancer translators, but also direct clients in many sectors. This particularly applies to companies whose internal regulations require them to obtain several price quotes and to go with the cheapest each time.

Language services undervalued

People generally don’t see why they should pay what they consider to be high prices for translation services because everyone has a friend, acquaintance, niece or nephew who did languages at school who could probably help out, or so they think. Unfortunately misconceptions about the skills translation involves continue to be widespread. But not charging what your work is worth only reinforces these misconceptions and beliefs and is not only bad for you and your business but also for the translation industry as a whole.

The downward spiral of underpricing

Not charging and earning the rates you know that you need to survive – not to mention that you know your work is worth – is a sure-fire way to run both yourself and your business into the ground. You will be working long hours, weekends, be neglecting your health and your family and friends and still not be satisfied with the amount of money coming in at the end of the month.

Avoiding the vicious circle

Competing on price is simply not a good idea in an era where there will always be someone somewhere in the world willing to provide what appears on paper to be a similar service for a much lower price. This is a fact we must accept. It is our job to convince our clients that the value we provide to them in terms of the benefits they receive is worth the money they pay. This is a much more sustainable marketing strategy than always trying to undercut the competition on price.

Translations are not commodities

If you are looking for a product and you find the exact same product on two different websites, one much cheaper than the other, then you are likely to plump for the cheaper offer – providing of course that delivery charges, delivery period and service are all comparable with the more expensive offer. Translations, on the other hand, are never exactly the same – but many potential clients are simply not aware of this. If you want to avoid potential clients making a decision solely on the basis of price, you need to explain the benefits the potential client will get for his/her money.

Communicating value

In her international bestselling book, True Worth, How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It, Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert, says “Prospective clients will always regard the quote you give as high if you don’t first demonstrate the value of what you do. Without knowing the benefit, they will regard the fee as too high, no matter what fee you offer”.

Without being aware of additional benefits and, in turn, the value you provide, can you really blame prospective clients for comparing quotes on the basis of price alone? It is our responsibility as translators, both freelancers and agencies, in the 21st century to be proactive in turning the tide and helping our clients understand that quality translations by skilled qualified translators have, and indeed should have, their price.

Photo credit: © eef ink Do-not-undervalue-your-work

Marketing to translation agencies

Defining targets differently

Defining Targets Differently © Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

Working with translation agencies

Readers of this blog will know that my focus is on working with direct clients. However, I do recognize that translation agencies have their place. Many translators start out working with translation agencies and some translators choose to continue working primarily with translation agencies throughout their careers. Aspiring specialist translators without any industry experience will likely benefit greatly from working with good agencies that provide constructive feedback, particularly in the early days when they themselves recognize that they still have a lot to learn and are motivated to do so.

Marketing to translation agencies

Marketing to translation agencies is a different kettle of fish to marketing to direct clients but it is marketing nonetheless. I, as a freelance practitioner who does not outsource work, receive many badly written applications from freelance translators every week – I wrote a blog post about this last year which you can find here – so large translation agencies must receive a large number of such applications every day.

Finding agencies suited to your skillset

As a translator my advice would be to refrain from sending out mass applications to large numbers of agencies but to drill down and find those agencies specializing in the fields and languages you yourself specialize in or want to focus on. These will often be smaller boutique agencies and translation companies which have the added advantage of being small enough to be in a position to treat their translators as individuals rather than simply as names in a database.

How to make contact, information to provide

Some agencies have forms on their websites which prospective translators need to fill in. Others ask for applications by email. When emailing translation agencies it is important to specify your language pair(s) and direction(s), your specialist areas and, very importantly, your rates. You are the service provider: translation agencies don’t have to agree to work with you on the basis of the rates you suggest, they may propose or require a rate adjustment as a condition for including you on their list of translators, but you should not let them dictate rates to you either. Be aware of how low you are prepared to go and stick to your guns. You are not destined to work with every potential agency.

Advice from the agency’s perspective

I recently came across this useful Translator’s Guide to Contacting Translation Agencies by Email which Affinity Translation has written about best practices, things to avoid and advanced techniques for contacting translation agencies. The Guide includes advice on what to put in the body of the email, why it is important to differentiate yourself from other translators and why it is essential that your follow up. Perhaps readers of this blog will find it useful.

Tess Whitty’s most recent podcast interview on Marketing Tips for Translators Episode 045: Marketing your translation services to translation companies/agencies, which I listened to this morning, also provides some good advice from a translation company’s perspective. Be sure to check that out too.

 

 

 

 

Regarding disclosure, I have no commercial relationship with the company Affinity Translation of any kind, and provide the above information purely for information purposes.

 

How can niche marketing help translators?

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Photo credit: Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

One of the questions I’m always asked by mentees I work with is how to go about identifying prospects and – once identified – how to work out the best person to contact. As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m a very big fan of specialization and this is always my starting point when answering this question. There are so many advantages of specializing as a translator, some of which I talk about here. In this post, however, I want to look at how specializing can help you with your marketing efforts and, more specifically, at the concept of niche marketing.

Concepts

  • Target market = the entire market which you serve (i.e. (specific types of) businesses/private individuals who need translations in your language pair(s))
  • Niche = the subset of your target market on which you focus your services

What is niche marketing?

An online business dictionary defines “niche marketing” as “concentrating all marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Niches to not ‘exist’ but are ‘created’ by identifying needs, wants and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by other firms, and developing and delivering goods or services to satisfy them. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small point instead of being a small fish in a big pond.”

In niche marketing then, you take advantage of your specialization and your USP to determine your niche and target your marketing efforts directly to those members of your target market who require the specific services you offer.

What are the advantages of niche marketing?

As you drill down you will find that

the focus group is smaller meaning that it is

  1. easier to identify prospects,
  2. easier to identify suitable contact persons at the prospect,
  3. easier to identify which client events, networks and activities will be the most productive for your marketing efforts.

All this makes marketing much less overwhelming and time-consuming and much more focussed and effective.

The Business Guide for Translators by Marta Stelmaszak

The Business Guide for Translators

Today I would like to recommend to you all a new book on marketing for freelance translators by Marta Stelmaszak entitled “The Business Guide for Translators”. Here’s my review:

Marta Stelmaszak’s “The Business Guide for Translators“ is a wealth of information for both aspiring and experienced freelance translators. The book begins with clear and concise presentation of business economics which is, in my view, absolutely essential and rarely covered in books aimed at freelance translators. The carefully chosen dictionary-style structure of topic following by a relevant link to the translation industry helps to bring concepts, which will be “foreign” to many translators without a background in business, to life. At the same time the scientific approach helps to take the emotionality, which I know many freelance translators struggle with, out of business decisions.

With the theory in place the section on strategies sets out many different ways in which freelance translators can devise strategies for their businesses. There seems to be a general tendency among freelance translators to think that freelance translation is not comparable with other businesses. This, of course, is not true. Freelance translation is a business like any other. Marta’s comparisons with other industries with which we are all familiar makes the information about strategies easier to digest. Lots of different strategies are presented here – I’m sure that every reader serious about enhancing his/her business will find at least one method which will appeal to him/her.

Part 3 covers all of the important topics relevant to running a business from market research, through strategy and  goals to customer service. This section will appeal to both beginner translators as well as to translators like myself who have built up their businesses step by step with no formal framework who are looking to tighten up their businesses and to take them to another level. Taking advantage of many of the modern means of communication I was surprised but pleased to see that the eBook version contains links to articles and blog posts on the internet as well as to YouTube videos urging the reader to find out more and pointing the reader in the direction of other useful information. Intended as and indeed entitled “The Business Guide for Translators” this book will be one to which many freelance translators will refer at regular intervals during their freelance careers whether they need guidance with setting up their businesses, are looking to grow them in a particular way or are looking for a framework within which to take them to the next level.

An excellent book which I certainly wish had been available when I was starting out and which will, I am sure, go some way towards ensuring that future freelance translators are better prepared for freelancing, have a clearer understanding of their freelance translation businesses and will ultimately lead to an industry of more business-savvy professional freelance translators.

A few of my favourite quotes from Marta Stelmaszak’s “The Business Guide for Translators”:

“The law of supply and demand makes it clear that we need to deliver translations in the areas where the demand is high.”

“We should also try to build up barriers to entry, limit access to information or introduce heterogeneous products.”

“Freelancers need to have a direction and know their scope, advantage, resources, environment and stakeholders to make sure that their businesses grow.”

“It is important to differentiate from other suppliers by providing unique Services.”

“…if you only work with a small number of customers, you are giving them a lot of power over your business.”

“It is important to strive for continual innovation rather than instant perfection.”

Further information and how to order

For further information and to order the book, visit Marta’s site here.