When working with international clients, we are faced with a whole new array of potential problems. Working with clients closer to home, we get used to how things work.
We know who to talk to
We know when to contact them
We know how to introduce ourselves
We know our sales funnel and how this is going to play out (some of us more than others!)
When we start working with new audiences and markets, all of this changes. The ‘norm’ is suddenly thrown on its head and we have to start again from scratch.
So, what's wrong?
One of the biggest mistakes is one that I’m making right here – the language that I’m using.
There are 3 phrases I would never use with an international client – regardless of their mother tongue. Take a look back and see if you can find them.
Now read on and see if they match up with my suggested answers:
“how this is going to play out”
“thrown on its head”
“start again from scratch”
Is that what you found? (And if you want to know why these are wrong, come along to my session on March 9)
Language: watch out!
Language and how we use it ranges from how we express ourselves, to when we do this, and who we speak to. It also includes the turn taking, the length of pauses, the speed of the communication, the topics we can discuss, and the order we speak to those in the room (or Zoom meeting nowadays!). And the list goes on.
All of this doesn’t even take into account what we need to do when we talk to those who are speaking other languages or using interpreters!
Now, if language is the most important thing to consider when we communicate internationally...
why aren’t we supporting those who create international content or international marketing campaigns with the language that they use?
why aren’t we showing them how to use International English?
even when a client can communicate with you in English, you need to play your part in adapting the language, too
Here in the UK it’s really common to think that most of the world will understand and speak English. And to an extent we’re in the very, very lucky position that this is often the case. But even when a client can communicate with you in English, you need to play your part in adapting the language, too.
Google Translate is not the answer
People also fall into the trap of thinking that we can just translate the content, or put it into Google Translate (please: NEVER DO THIS!).
As a translator myself and qualified member and assessor for the Institute of Translation and Interpreting here in the UK, I wholeheartedly support the use of translators and understand their value. But they can only do so much – we need to know what it is we want to transmit. If you ask them to translate an idea into another language but the cultural references don’t match, there is room for confusion and error.
We need to be more culturally aware ourselves, we need to understand the use and importance of the words that we choose, and we need to do this to take control of our own work and protect that. This puts us in a stronger position when we work with translators (if that’s something that we need to do) but it also allows us to really hone in on differences and nuances of the target market to adapt what we’re doing so that it resonates with them. We don’t want people to just understand the words, we want them to engage with the content and feel like it hits home for them.
Now is the time to act. Use this opportunity!
With the world growing ever smaller and the benefit of us all working from home and accessing clients anywhere and everywhere, getting this right now can stand us in good stead for the year to come. Who’s with me?
Want to know more about this?
Register for my event on March 9: The Power of International Intelligence
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