In my career field, Localisation, I think there is a lot of scope for expanding a service offering to smaller businesses.
localisation - (l10n) Adapting a product to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market "locale".
The abbreviation l10n means "L - 10 letters - N".
(definition taken from the free dictionary)
At present, only larger companies consider Localising their products. However, I think that, in these challenging economic times, it is the smaller businesses which could see the greater ROI. What Localisation can offer to a smaller business is a way of opening up new markets by making their product accessible to speakers of other languages. This can be by introducing your product to new international markets OR by tapping into the hidden markets in their own locale.
For example, in the UK there are many small Asian and Polish shops and businesses. These thrive on the older immigrant population who haven’t learnt English very well or prefer to deal in their native language. This market is untapped by English businesses simply because they don’t advertise or communicate in any language other than English. Translating your menu, price list, flyers, invoicing and shop signs can draw in a whole new group of customers. For more bespoke businesses, you could consider adding face-to-face or telephone interpreting to your service offering. Yes, there are expenses in these things but they may not be as prohibitive as you think.
Translations typically cost around 10 pence per word. This means your 1,000 work menu would cost no more than £100 per language to translate. However, there are ways to reduce these cost significantly! You only pay full price for a translation once. If you an reuse a translation or parts of it, then you can see huge savings. There is a Review rate which translators charge which is a tiny fraction of what you would pay for a translation. This Review is to ensure that the translation you are reusing still carries the same meaning if you are using it in a different “context”. I’m sure you’ve seen some strange results if you try to use an online translation tool. This is because the computer does not have a way to understand the context of how you are using the language. Think, for example the confusion that could be caused by the different context when using the word “bum”! A mistranslation of this word could lead to embarrassment or the alienation of potential clients. There are also cultural sensitivities which need to be taken into account. A Localisation professional can show you techniques to keep those costs low by carefully considering how you compose the English text to be translated. Let’s look at some examples of how to do this.
There is no reason not to use the same English in your menu, flyers, online and newspaper advertising. The names of dishes will always be the same but, if you also make sure that the descriptions used are also the same from item to item, then you don’t have to pay to retranslate every time.
Property descriptions generally tend to utilise set phrases which are standard. When you are advertising a new property, try to use similar language patterns wherever possible. This reduces cost AND means you can have translations ready in a fraction of the time. Updating your flyers and website to be available in several languages at once can be done in a matter of minutes if correctly organised.
Also, consider using an interpreting service to help you communicate with the clients during viewings and negotiations. This can be done face-to-face or over the phone and the cost can be quite reasonable.
This is where Localisation really comes into it’s own for a smaller business; both in-store and online!! POS signs, information sheets, flyers for distribution, mail shots and websites can all be quickly and cheaply produced in multiple languages. Customers can browse online in their own language. They can then shop online or come into the store having already researched their purchases. You can help to ensure repeat business by sending out mail shots in their language of preference.
These are just the tip of iceberg ! Use your imagination and see how your business can expand in these times of contracting markets by opening up your business offering to multiple markets rather than relying on the health of your traditional customer base. Make Localisation your best friend.