Writing information products – 4 tips

In previous posts I have talked about ways in which you can add value to your website by including information products. In this post I want to share 4 tips for writing these products

Tip 1 – Things to consider when choosing your topic

What problems do your target customers face? What are their frustrations? Could you write an information product which addresses these issues and offers solutions? These kinds of information product are very effective because they are useful to your target customers. Make the information in your product so indispensable that potential customers and even current customers have a reason to keep coming back to your website.

Tip 2 – Don’t be a perfectionist

Don’t be a perfectionist. Perfect is rarely attainable and if you aim for perfect you are unlikely to ever actually get anything finished and off the ground. Write it, use it, improve it.

Tip 3 – Monolingual will suffice

Don’t fall into the translator trap of thinking that you have to provide every information product in every language you speak – or at least use professionally. The key is to focus on your target customers. In my case, my target customers are German lawyers. It is therefore absolutely sufficient for my information products to be written in German. There is nothing stopping you producing different language versions at a later point in time – if you decide to start targeting a different type of customer for instance – but don’t let the fact that you only have the information product available in one language stop you putting the product up on your website and reaping the benefits of what you have created.

Tip 4 – Include your contact details

Even though information products should be designed to inform, don’t forget that they are extremely valuable  marketing tools: if the information is useful, your target customers will bookmark the page or print out the relevant file. Make sure you therefore include a bit of information about yourself and your services along with contact details so that they can contact you easily and quickly should they have a translation requirement at some point in the future.

Your website is your chance to position yourself as an expert in your field. In addition to information products, don’t forget to include links to any articles you have published and any research projects you have undertaken. Not every prospective customer will want to read everything but if the links are there, they have the option, and it is the cumulative effect of the different types of information on your website that will make prospective customers see you as a credible expert in your field.

How can we add value with our websites?

In my last post I talked about the fact that, in my mind, a website is essential for every freelance translator because it is our opportunity to set ourselves apart from other translators and to provide information to potential customers. Today I want to look at how we can get the most out of our websites, how we can add value with them and make them work to our advantage.

When a potential customer arrives at your website whether this is via a search engine or via a link from a translation association directory or other list, the potential customer will first look for information to ascertain whether or not you are a good fit for his needs. One of his first questions will be whether your language combination and subject field match his requirements? Once he has ascertained that this is indeed the case, the next thing he is going to want to try to determine – and still just by looking at your website – is whether or not you are credible.

Credibility

At this point in the sales cycle a potential customer knows what you do but still doesn’t know whether he can trust you. Are you really that great translator you say you are? Do you really deliver the accurate and reliable translations you say you do? In order to convince himself, the potential customer is going to start looking around your website for evidence that these statements are true.

Evidence

There are many ways in which you can provide this evidence to potential customers:

You can include testimonials – the word of others, particularly happy customers, is much more effective than your own subjective statements.

You can write a blog – not for translators but a subject-field-specific blog (perhaps with a focus on translation) for your customers and use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and to position yourself as an expert in your field.

You can write information products containing interesting and useful information which potential customers can download and use.

All of these methods are opportunities for you to show that you know what you are talking about and know what you are doing and this is ultimately what will convince a potential customer that you are the right person for the job.

Podcast – Information products and added client value with your website

I recently had the opportunity to talk about this subject in a 30 minute interview with Tess Whitty for the podcast series Marketing Tips for Translators. If you would like to listen to this interview (episode 022) and many more interesting interviews with other freelance translators go to www.marketingtipsfortranslators.com.

Why every freelance translator should have a website

Websites are absolutely essential to modern-day business and since they no longer have to cost a lot of money or require specialist IT skills to build, there’s no excuse for not having one.

Marketing is all about visibility and for freelance translators with a potential market spanning most of the face of the earth and doing the vast majority of work via email, the internet is the best place to find customers and, perhaps more importantly, for customers to find you.

How do customers go about finding translators?

Let’s be honest, how to most of us go about finding all kinds of products and services these days? We use the internet. We put key words into a search engine and browse through the top 10, perhaps 20 results. And when we look through these search results, what it is we are looking for? We’re looking for information. We want to find out as much information as possible about the potential product or service provider to see whether it is or they are a good fit. In fast-paced modern life nobody has the time or the patience anymore to call even 10 names on a list in the yellow pages or even in a translation association directory to ascertain which of these people can provide the service they require.

Your website is your opportunity

Your website is your opportunity to provide that initial information a potential customer will use to decide whether you are what he is looking for and whether he will contact you. Without a website you are just another name on a list. These lists (particularly translation association lists) may give you the opportunity to mention your specialist field and language combinations but that is all. Your website is the place where you can distinguish yourself from other translators and tell potential customers why they should work with you.

Alternatives to a website

There are, of course, alternatives to a website such as having a LinkedIn, Xing or Facebook profile but in my mind these should be extras which you use in conjunction with your website. They can work as great tools to funnel potential customers to your website too.

Choose a clearly defined target market

This is certainly one of the best success strategies open to you. It is also one of the oldest strategies and probably the strategy which is most often overlooked by the self-employed and small businesses. And this is the case worldwide.

Choose a defined target market for your business. Make this target market as focussed as possible. The more focussed the better. This is important because clearly defined target markets have a few important features which can provide you with excellent services to help you build and expand your business. The three most important features are:

The members of a clearly defined target market …

  • are seeking the same product or service because they have very similar wants and needs.
  • use an established communication network. You can use this to spread your marketing message.
  • know that you have dedicated yourself to them and will therefore have added confidence in you.

Many self-employed persons and owners of small businesses worry that by choosing a defined target market they are robbing themselves of lucrative business opportunities. They believe that by choosing a defined target market they are excluding potential customers and will therefore not be able to attract as many customers. But precisely the opposite is, in fact, the case. The better you can concentrate on a target market, the faster you will spread your marketing message in this market and the faster you will be able to attract numerous customers.

If you still believe that a very focussed target market is too small for you, you could define the size of the market with the assistance of market analysis. Here is a small, admittedly very general, example:

You are a nutritionist in a large town like Stuttgart in Germany and plan to choose parents with schoolchildren as your target market. You assume that this will allow you to work with both adults and children. You also intend to offer cooking courses in schools, for example. But somehow you have uncertainties and worry that your target market may not be large enough and also think about all of the other potential customers who would then not belong to your target customers.

Before you make a final decision, you therefore want to know whether your target market is, in fact, large enough. You therefore make a list of the schools and number of schoolchildren in a 4km radius of your office. In this area you find 20 schools with approximately 7,000 pupils. Since you assume that each pupil has at least one parent, your target market consists of 14,000 people. This number finally convinces you that your target market really is large enough for your business activities in the next 2 to 3 years.

You do not need to offer your product or services to the mass market. Financially it is much more lucrative to create a product or offer a service which is aimed at the very specific wants and needs of a very narrow target group. Your product or service will then be met with a much higher level of acceptance by your potential customers; they will regard it more highly and will be prepared to pay a higher price for it.

Seek out a “smaller” market and give it a try. You will probably notice that you can generate a very sizeable amount of turnover with this “small” market. And if this market really does end up being too small for you, you can expand it at any time.

If, on the other hand, you start with a large, broad market, then you need a large marketing budget in order to reach all of your potential customers, to place advertisements in numerous publications and to carry out various direct marketing campaigns. You will also have to offer different products or services because the wants and needs of your customers will vary greatly. You will find this financially draining, too time-consuming and content-intensive.

This is why you should therefore start with a clearly defined focussed target market. See how much turnover you can generate in this market and expand from there into other markets.

 

This article has been translated and is being posted here with the kind permission of German marketing coach, Axel Schaumann who advises service professionals on how to get fully booked. If you read German and are interested in receiving further marketing tips, do visit Axel’s website at www.axelschaumann.de and sign up for his free series of articles.

New Series of Podcasts – Marketing Tips for Translators

After a rather long break from blogging – as a result of work commitments in the form of practically every customer I have ever had all wanting a translation in February – in this post I would like to draw your attention to a fairly new series of podcasts entitled “Marketing Tips for Translators“. In each of the approx. 30-minute podcasts English to Swedish translator, Tess Whitty, interviews an experienced translator and asks her (I write “her” because the interviewees were all female so far) about her marketing strategies, about how she started out and about which marketing technique works best for her.

For translators who spend most of their time reading and writing, the podcast format comes as a breath of fresh air. Podcasts are also great for those of us who love or have no choice but to multitask: so far I’ve listened to them whilst travelling, doing the housework and waiting to pick up my daughters from afternoon activities. You can download and subscribe to the podcasts for free from the iTunes store and the links mentioned during the podcasts and further information about the interviewees can be found on the Marketing Tips for Translators website.

Well done to Tess Whitty on this new project which is sure to help new and experienced translators alike!

 

How competitive is the translation industry really?

I often hear people complaining about how competitive the translation industry is and from new translators trying to work out how low they can afford to set their rates in the hope that will get any work at all.

But is the translation industry really that competitive?

In many ways, of course, it is. There are a lot of translation agencies and a lot of freelance translators out there fighting for work and trying their very best to undercut each other on prices. You only need to look at Proz.com and similar sites to see that this is where many translators spend their time and where they seem to find their translation work. The lower-end of the market, therefore, is indeed fiercely competitive. But is the lower-end of the market really where you want to be?

A premium product for a premium price

I for one certainly wouldn’t still be a freelance translator if my daily bread consisted of grappling round at the bottom of the food chain for a few cents here and there. This is why I offer a premium product – but not only that, I offer this premium product to those customers who want and are therefore also prepared to pay for a premium product.

Here’s how:

1) Identify your ideal customers on the basis of your unique set of skills –  you cannot possibly serve everybody or provide the range of different types of services every potential customer will ever need, so work out what you can do and what you want to do and seek out customers who match your profile.

2) Get to know your customers and make sure that you are providing them with the precise service and product they want and need – if not, make adjustments where feasible and where these seem sensible, otherwise consider whether this particular customer is really a good match for you.

3) Build up a long-term partnership with your customers so that when they have a translation requirement, they automatically come straight to you – it is much easier to keep existing customers then to attract new ones and you also have the added benefit of knowing how they operate, that they pay on time, etc.

4) Make yourself indispensable – I know they say we’re all dispensible but if you find ways to go the extra mile for your customers and become a valuable asset, they should never have reason to find out whether or not this is true.

If price is the only thing you feel you have to compete on, I urge you to take another look at your business strategy.

Freelance Translator Development and Mentoring Programmes – A Short Survey

I have compiled a very short survey (ten questions) about freelance translator development and mentoring programmes. If you are a relatively new freelance translator, I would be very grateful if you would take the time to complete the survey. I intend to use the results to tailor the content of this blog to the issues and topics which new freelance translators really want and need to know about. Once 100 people have participated in the survey, I will post an analysis of the results.

Which topics are missing in translator training? Do you have all of the skills you feel you need to run a successful freelance translation business? What would you like to be able to ask more experienced freelancers? Have your say here.

European Multilingual Blogging Day

Today is European Multilingual Blogging Day. This is a chance for participating bloggers to post in a language other than their usual language to highlight the multilingual dimension of the web. For today’s post I therefore asked my own marketing coach, Axel Schaumann, to write a guest post in German about marketing and why marketing is so important for freelancers:

Warum ist Marketing so wichtig, um als Selbständiger Erfolg zu haben?

Warum tun sich so viele Selbständige schwer, mit ihrer Arbeit ein ausreichend hohes Einkommen zu erzeugen? Warum müssen viele Selbständige in den ersten drei Jahren ihrer Selbständigkeit ihr Geschäft wieder schließen? Es liegt fast immer daran, dass sie dem Marketing nicht die erforderliche Aufmerksamkeit geben. Entweder, weil sie es nicht für wichtig halten oder weil sie nicht wissen, was sie überhaupt tun sollen.

Um als Selbständiger langfristig am Markt erfolgreich zu sein, müssen Sie vor allem zwei Dinge beherrschen.

1. Sie müssen gute Produkte oder gute Dienstleistungen anbieten, mit denen Sie für die Menschen in Ihrem Zielmarkt einen Wunsch erfüllen oder ein Bedürfnis befriedigen.

Mit Ihrem Angebot helfen Sie Ihren Kunden deren Leben zu verbessern. Dabei ist es egal, ob Sie als Ernährungsberater, Übersetzer, Arzt, Anwalt, Schuhmacher, Inneneinrichter, Restaurator, Steuerberater, Blumenhändler oder in einem anderen Beruf tätig sind. Mit Ihrem Angebot machen Sie das Leben Ihrer Kunden z.B. einfacher, interessanter, leichter, abwechslungsreicher, angenehmer, schöner oder erfolgreicher.

2. Sie müssen die Grundlagen des Marketings beherrschen, damit Sie für Ihr Angebot eine große Anzahl von Interessenten erzeugen. Nur wenn Sie eine wirklich große Anzahl von Interessenten haben, können Sie auch eine ausreichend große Anzahl von Kunden gewinnen.

Schauen Sie sich um. Ihnen werden zahlreiche Beispiele begegnen, bei denen nicht der Anbieter mit dem besten Produkt oder der besten Dienstleistung den größten Erfolg hat, sondern der Anbieter, der ein gutes Produkt oder eine gute Dienstleistung anbietet UND mit Hilfe seines Marketings eine große Aufmerksamkeit für sein Angebot erzeugt. Ohne das richtige Marketing bleiben Sie mit Ihrem Angebot fast immer ein kleiner Nischenanbieter, der ums Überleben kämpft.

Was ist Marketing? Und warum mögen viele Selbständige Marketing überhaupt nicht?

„Marketing ist die gezielte Erzeugung von Aufmerksamkeit, um eine ausreichend große Anzahl von Interessenten zu gewinnen.“ Wenn wir uns diese Definition ansehen, dann ist unmittelbar klar, dass jeder Selbständige Marketing machen sollte, um langfristig erfolgreich im Markt bestehen zu können. Warum mögen dennoch viele Selbständige Marketing überhaupt nicht? Hierfür gibt es vor allem drei Gründe:

  • Sie wissen nicht, was sie genau tun sollen.
  • Sie wissen nicht, wie sie es genau tun sollen.
  • Sie wissen nicht, was es ihnen konkret bringt.

Dies sind die Hauptgründe für die große Unsicherheit, die viele Selbständige in Bezug auf Marketing verspüren und warum sie sagen, sie mögen Marketing nicht. Eigentlich mögen sie vor allem die Unsicherheit nicht.

Alle drei Gründe basieren darauf, dass sie im Laufe ihrer Ausbildung kaum mit Marketing zu tun hatten. Insbesondere haben sie nicht gelernt, ein für Selbständige geeignetes, effektives Marketingsystem aufzubauen. Dabei betreibt jeder Selbständige fortlaufend Marketing. Selbst wenn er sagt, dass er davon nichts hält und dies nicht eigentlich tut. Er macht es nur auf eine unsystematische, uneffektive und uneffiziente Art. Häufig sogar in einer Form, dass er zahlreiche potentielle Kunden unbewusst abschreckt. Das finde ich schon fast tragisch.

Meine Kunden lernen anhand eines strukturierten Systems genau welche Schritte notwendig sind, wie die einzelnen Teile eines Marketingsystems zusammen arbeiten und was sie tun müssen, um das von ihnen angestrebte Ergebnis zu erhalten. Am Ende unserer Zusammenarbeit verfügen sie über das notwendige Wissen, um die oben genannten Fragen jederzeit beantworten zu können. Sie wissen, was sie wann genau tun sollen, wie sie diese Schritte durchführen müssen und welches Ergebnis sie von jedem dieser Schritte erhalten werden.

Damit bleibt noch eine Frage offen:

Welches Marketing ist für Selbständige das Richtige und wie sollte dieses Marketing aufgebaut sein?

Für Selbständige ist das lernbasierte Marketing die richtige Form. Sie können nicht davon ausgehen, dass Interessenten Ihnen aufgrund Ihres Markennamens vertrauen. Sie wollen in Ihrem Zielmarkt die erforderliche Aufmerksamkeit erzeugen, sich als glaubwürdigen Experten präsentieren und über die Zeit Vertrauen aufbauen. Dies tun Sie am besten, indem Sie Ihren Interessenten Informationsprodukte zur Verfügung stellen.

Mit Hilfe von Informationsprodukten lernen Ihre Interessenten etwas Wichtiges, das Ihnen bei der Erfüllung eines Wunsches oder der Befriedigung eines Bedürfnisses hilft und die Kriterien Ihrer Kaufentscheidung beeinflusst. Ihre Informationsprodukte sind für die Interessenten also wertvoll. Zusätzlich positionieren Sie sich damit als einen Ratgeber, der am Wohl seiner Interessenten gelegen ist und dem seine Interessenten vertrauen können.

Als Informationsprodukte stehen Ihnen zahlreiche Mittel zur Verfügung. Dies kann z.B. ein Dokument, ein Fragebogen, ein Telefonat, ein Webinar, eine Audio- oder Videoaufnahme, ein Vortrag, ein Artikel, ein Buch, Informationen auf Ihrer Website, ein Seminar, ein Workshop oder ein Teleseminar sein. Wichtig ist, dass Ihr Interessent das Informationsprodukt als relevant und wertvoll für sich betrachtet.

Damit Ihr Marketing mit den Informationsprodukten den gewünschten Erfolg hat, müssen diese in ein Marketingsystem eingebettet sein. Mit Hilfe dieses Marketingsystems erzeugen Sie nicht nur die erforderliche Aufmerksamkeit und gewinnen somit eine große Anzahl von Interessenten, sondern Sie begleiten Ihre Interessenten auch über den gesamten Prozess bis zu deren Kaufentscheidung. Auf diese Weise verlieren Sie kein potentielles Geschäft.

Jeder Interessent durchläuft vom Zeitpunkt zu dem er auf Ihr Angebot aufmerksam gemacht wird bis zu seiner Kaufentscheidung dieselben charakteristischen Phasen. Nur die Geschwindigkeit mit der er diese Phasen durchläuft und die Intensität, mit der er sich mit deren Inhalt beschäftigt, ist individuell unterschiedlich. Mit Hilfe Ihres Marketingsystems stellen Sie sicher, dass alle Interessenten diesen Prozess erfolgreich durchlaufen können, die gesuchten Informationen vorfinden, Vertrauen zu Ihnen aufbauen, sich wohlfühlen und Sie letztlich eine große Anzahl von Kunden gewinnen können.

Wenn Sie mehr über das Experten-Marketingsystem erfahren wollen, dann melden Sie sich jetzt gleich unter www.axelschaumann.de für das nächste kostenlose Webinar an.

Axel Schaumann ist Marketingcoach für Selbständige und kleine Unternehmen. Er erarbeitet mit seinen Kunden das Experten-Marketingsystem für deren Geschäft, damit diese zukünftig eine große Anzahl von Kunden gewinnen können und ausgebucht sind. Sie können Ihre Fragen und Kommentare gerne an die E-Mail-Adresse fragen@axelschaumann.de schicken. Die Webadresse lautet http://www.axelschaumann.de. Dort finden Sie auch weitere Informationen über das Experten-Marketingsystem.