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

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Mastermind groups and how they can benefit translators

Mastermind

I was very excited when Karen asked me to write a guest post about mastermind groups, because I absolutely love mine. I look forward to the session and always come out feeling that I’ve made progress. So let’s jump right in and talk about what a mastermind group is, what the benefits are, and some factors to consider when putting a group together.

What is a mastermind group?

A mastermind group consists of like-minded people who come together to support each other in moving their businesses forward. The idea is to meet for regular, structured sessions in which each participant takes a turn at being in the limelight for an agreed period of time. When it’s your turn, you get to report on what’s happened since the last meeting, and then talk about things you’re currently working on, asking the group for feedback and ideas. You typically come away with a few action items that you plan to work on in the period before the next meeting.

Beyond that, the mastermind group can be set up according to the requirements and preferences of those involved. The number of people in the group can vary, as can the length or frequency of meetings. Some mastermind groups meet locally and face-to-face; others are online.

What are the benefits?

Reality Check
Sometimes it’s easier to see things clearly if you have to explain them to other people. As you start to explain, you realise where the gaps are and what you have to perhaps work on a bit more.

On the other hand, it could be that your mastermind buddies notice that you’re really on to something and encourage you to pursue it.

Challenge
When discussing an issue or an idea, you may realise that you’re basing your thinking on certain assumptions, and by asking questions such as “why do you think that?” or “why not?” the other participants may help you to realise that these assumptions are not necessarily true.

Brainstorming
When you’re working on something new, other participants can act as a sounding board, offering feedback and asking questions to help you refine your concept. Even hearing suggestions that you don’t like can help you figure out what you do want.

Extended Network
Participants benefit from each other’s networks. It often happens that you need something doing, and another person will say “I know someone who can help with that”. So your network expands.

Experience
People bring different experiences and perspectives to the table. If one of you is facing a particular situation and isn’t sure how to handle it, it can help to talk things through, discuss various strategies or play through scenarios.

Accountability
For me, one of the most important aspects of the masterminding group is accountability. If I make a commitment to, say, write a blog post before the next meeting, I find it easier to be disciplined and actually do it, knowing that I’ll be asked about it when we meet again. Of course there are no consequences if I choose not to do my action items, but I find that the act of writing them down and telling the others in the group is very motivating.

Encouragement
After working with people in a mastermind group for a while, you get to understand their journey, and you know exactly what it means when they say “Hey, I achieved X this week!” It’s great to be able to offer and receive praise and encouragement.

Social Contact
You get to go out for breakfast! Well obviously not if you’re meeting on Skype, and of course it doesn’t have to be a breakfast meeting, but in my case we meet at a café and discuss business over scrambled egg and cappuccino. Whether online or face-to-face, it’s good to get out of your own head once in a while and meet with like-minded people.

What do you need to consider when setting up a mastermind group?

My mastermind group grew organically out of a couple of networking meetings where we felt we all got on well and could help each other. If you’re thinking of putting a group together, here are a few things to consider:

Trust
One of the most important things is that you feel comfortable with the others in the group. A mastermind group works best if you can talk openly, knowing that what you say will be treated confidentially. And since we often talk about ideas in their early stages, it’s important to know that nobody’s going to run off with them.

Balance
The whole point of a mastermind group is that everyone has something to add, everyone benefits. So it’s important to have a feeling of balance – otherwise it can turn into a one-way coaching session, which is not necessarily beneficial for the person in the coaching role.

Similar yet Different
Your mastermind buddies should be people you can relate to and who will understand what you’re going through. But at the same time it is tremendously beneficial to be in a group of people with complementary skills, different ways of thinking and networks that don’t overlap too much.

An important factor to consider is whether you want to be in a group with people from your industry or from a mix of industries. There are advantages to both approaches: people from your own industry will have a good understanding of issues you may be facing, while people from other industries bring a fresh perspective.

Commitment
The mastermind concept works best if all of you are committed to meeting up regularly, so it’s important to find people who, perhaps after a trial period, are prepared to stick at it in the medium to long term.

How to find mastermind buddies

There are as many ways to find mastermind buddies as there are to network. Mastermind concepts are offered in various business groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. Alternatively you could join up with colleagues you’ve met at conferences or networking events, or interacted with online.

I’ll offer just a couple of links out of many:

One of my own mastermind buddies, Thomas Lorbacher, now offers a Germany-based service that brings like-minded people together to form mastermind groups (http://mastermind.covisto.de/)

And there is a brand-new Facebook group that offers a platform for translators interested in mastermind groups or other types of collaboration (https://www.facebook.com/groups/standingoutexchange)

I would definitely recommend joining (or forming) a mastermind group. I’ve come to know my mastermind buddies very well and we all help each other stay on track with our businesses. Add to that the opportunity to go out for breakfast every two weeks, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Author: Jane Eggers is a British freelance translator who lives in Heidelberg, Germany and specialises in IT and all-round English-language support for small businesses. Her website is here: www.jane-eggers-translations.de.

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

Focus on your goal – but don’t get ahead of yourself

The elevator to success is out of order

After talking to my mentee recently, I realised that it was perhaps about time I wrote a post on how to transition from where you are now to the better paid direct client market. Because it is, of course, a process and doesn’t happen overnight. The journey won’t be the same for everyone, however, so my aim in this article is to provide a few tips to point you in the right direction and to help you stay on track:

  1. Keep your sights on your goal – but don’t get impatient and don’t rush it

If you have been working exclusively or mainly for agencies for some years, there is no sense whatsoever in waking up one day and deciding to ditch all of those agencies so that you can start working for direct clients – as tempting as this may be – because, unless you have a magic wand, it’s going to take time to build up a direct client base. The important thing is to note the status quo and to ascertain what it is that you want to change and why (perhaps you would like to work with more direct clients because you think the work will be more rewarding, perhaps you want to find better paying clients so that you can work less whilst earning the same amount). It is important that you know your “what” and your “why” so that you can keep yourself focussed and on track.

  1. Step by step – replace clients successively

If you have been freelancing for a while you probably have at least a handful of different clients. Make a list of them and rate them according to categories that are important to you (e.g. good communication, fast payers, interesting work, rates, etc.). Do you already have some clients that you consider to be category A clients? If you do, make a list of all of the qualities and characteristics of those clients so that you know what you are looking for in new clients. If not, use your imagination. What qualities would your ideal category A clients have? When potential clients come along who seem to have these qualities and characteristics, you can start to replace the less than ideal clients on your list with these new clients. Be sure to do it successively and not to cross off all of your less than ideal clients at once: you still have to ensure that you are earning at least the same amount as before and ideally more.

  1. Create time for marketing – and do it

If you are currently working flat out for agencies to make ends meet, then you will need to claw back some time from somewhere in your day for marketing activities. Although it can sometimes feel like marketing is futile because it is unusual to see immediate results, constant steady marketing will bring you a steady stream of new clients over time and allow you to build your business in a gradual and healthy manner.

  1. Accept where you are now – and that growth is a gradual process

It is tempting to get frustrated and impatient about business growth but the fact is that you are where you are at the moment and you can’t change that for the present. By constantly taking steps, however small, towards your goal you will get there – in time. Just stick with it.

  1. Face your fears – and move past them

Many people find that the reason they can’t move forward with their business in the direction they want to go is that they are standing in their own way. Somewhere there is a misalignment between what they want to achieve and what they think they can achieve. There can be all kinds of reasons for this, usually based on past experience or the limiting beliefs they have grown up with. As a freelance translator you are your business’ most important asset. Personal development is a key aspect of business development and well worth considering undertaking if you find that you are struggling to reach your goals – or even to take the action which you hope will take you there.

Photo credit: Steps to success © Celestine Chua, http://www.flickr.com

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.

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.