Are Translation Services Becoming A Crucial Part Of Businesses

The way in which companies conduct business has changed dramatically over the recent years. Today, even a small company from the SME sector can approach and penetrate international markets successfully without having to have a large budget and a big team of experts. With the globalization and developments in technology, approaching new, potential customers and expanding into foreign markets is now more achievable than ever before. Nonetheless, one thing which remains unchanged throughout the years is the fact that people prefer to obtain information in their native language; this is where professional agencies offering translation services come into play.

The good old days when the ‘one-fits-all’ approach was commonly used by business owners who wanted to cut corners seem to be long gone. Today, successful entrepreneurs understand that in order to be competitive within an international market, a more tailored solution is required.

As the world becomes smaller, more and more companies understand just how important local values really are to consumers and that every culture, country and market naturally follows a different set of rules and customs. Consequently, the potential customers within those markets are driven and motivated by different stimuli.

Today, in order to successfully acquire a consumer and convince them to trust your brand, simply showing them a marketing message which worked, even perfectly well, within your home market just isn’t good enough. With the growth of social media and widely available internet the consumers became more sophisticated and now somewhat expect messages, products and services tailored specifically for them.

As this trend continues across international markets, a growing number of business owners understands it and decides to work with professional translation agencies specializing in translating content and materials for the commercial world.

The statistics and data also send a clear message; by 2020 the translation industry is predicted to be worth over £35 billion worldwide.

Working with a translation agency

With these astonishing numbers in mind, a question arises: how crucial are translation services exactly for businesses in 2018, and do business owners predict that translating their company’s materials will become even more significant over the next few years? To establish this and get an expert insight on the matter, we’ve spoken to Adam Miller, the Managing Director for one of London’s fastest growing fin-tech companies. “Typically speaking, translation agencies are nowadays considered as one of the most important business partners for multinational companies, like ours.” He says. “It is often extremely difficult to find a language provider which guarantees accurate translations and fast turnaround times, we’ve been somewhat lucky however. Our company has been working closely with our chosen translation agency for over 3 years and we cannot complain.” He adds that “Translation services are today an inseparable part of our business, not only due to their linguistic knowledge, but also due to their in-depth knowledge about our business.”

Adam isn’t the only business owner who appreciates the importance of a translation agency which can guarantee reliable work. Today, over 60% of London companies asked work directly with their preferred translation provider.

Nonetheless, when it comes to business and marketing translations, linguistic skills often aren’t enough. In order to provide material suitable for international audience, the linguist must also understand the market’s culture and consumer habits.

Cultural, socioeconomic or even political and religious differences between countries and markets can significantly influence whether a company’s international venture will be successful or not. A great example of this could be some Asian or Middle Eastern counties, where symbolism, history and religious views have a direct impact on consumer behavior and play key parts in determining how the market works.

An experienced company providing translation services will be able to determine these nuances and differences between different markets and advise businesses on their material. This can be especially advantageous for businesses translating their marketing materials. Often, a literal translation of such materials is given back to the company. This can be a very dangerous practice as if the company doesn’t have an in-house native speaker of the target language who is able to verify the translation, literal interpretation, especially of advertising material can often negatively affect your company’s image.

Human or machine translations?

One of the most commonly repeated misconceptions is that AI or machine translations are sufficient enough for the business world. Automatic translators such as Google Translate are fantastic tools to translate personal content and be able to communicate with friends and family. For business translations however, it is essential to use a professional human translator who not only has the linguistic skills required, but also understand how your business works and what factors drive your chosen market, which allows them to carefully craft and localize your message so that it is specifically suitable for your target audience.

Translation services are becoming an extremely important part of any business venture, especially for companies which intend to approach foreign markets and customers. Choosing the right company to work with can be a key decision and should be thoroughly planned. A good approach to the problem would be asking translation agencies for sample work, and shortlisting them according to their reliability, price and customer service.

Eight Ways to Avoid Freelance Nightmares

If you find you like to be your own boss, plan your own timetable and lead your own services, you may be considering a freelance career. You’re essentially self-employed providing services that you specialise in to other businesses. If you’re unsure about how to plan your freelance work or require some help, we’ve provided some advice to prevent you coming across any nightmare situations along your path.

Mock up a Business Plan

Every business requires structure to meet the end goals. Having a business plan will be an integral document to help you keep on track and make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Being able to review your weekly, monthly and yearly goals will enable you to understand whether you’re ahead, behind or meeting your schedule. The plan should focus around your management of clients and any deadlines you have. If there’s any costing involved, put that on too. It can be adaptable the larger your business grows but try not to change the plan too much. You can use it to get a gist of your development.

Exhibit Your Work To Potential Suitors

You’re providing a service to a business, so they’ll want to know the quality of your work beforehand. There’s always other competitors out there they can reach out to so display what you have to offer wherever you can. Create a website, a Facebook page or any other method where you can display your skills. It goes along way with clients who have an interest.

Network on Social Media

Similar to exhibiting your work, you want to use any method possible to gain exposure. Social networks are a great way to connect with people who are familiar with your sector or may be interested in your work. Being freelance you also want to minimize costs where possible. Social networks are free platforms and can be managed easily. Being able to attract new customers should be a priority for you.

Keep On Top Of Costs

Working for yourself, you’re going to be your own boss. Having that role means you manage every aspect of the business. Being a freelancer, you’ll have busy periods and not so busy periods, so it’s good to know where your finances are at just in case you come across a quiet spell. If you’re a whizz on Microsoft Excel, the use of formulas can be really beneficial. Alternatively, there are different accounting software available to help you manage your financial affairs easily.

Get Insurance

Nothing can be worse as a freelancer then a client making a claim against you. Freelancers tend to be on the creative side, so it’s unlikely you’ll have experience in dealing with legal matters. You’ll want to keep costs low as possible, but freelancers insurance should be considered a vital investment. If someone decides to take action against you, then at least you’ll have an expert to back your corner.

Manage Your Time Well

This is one of the great advantages of being in freelance. It gives you the opportunity to manage your own timetable and work when it suits you. Make sure you set out a reasonable agenda for yourself that allows you to manage work time, social time and relaxing time. Stressing too much over work could leave you in a bad way.

Maintain Healthy Client Relationships

The more clients you work with, the better your understanding will get of which clients value your work. Being a freelancer and working on your own, you’re essentially the face and person behind the business, so you want to make sure clients remain happy. Just manage their work efficiently and meet their deadlines to a good standard, and you should be okay.

Always Remember Why You’re Freelancing

In any business experience, you’re bound to come across dark days where it’s all just a bit too much and you feel like packing it in. But remember why you’re doing the work in the first place. It’s something that you enjoy and have a passion for, and you’re doing it in a way that suits you. Never give up!

Author Bio: My name is Jennifer Ranking and I’m a student and freelance writer. I’m currently building up my portfolio and write on various topics as I enjoy expanding my knowledge. When I’m not writing I enjoy reading and shopping.

Tackling The Challenges With Remote Project Management

It is quite rare to find someone who does not, at least partly, collaborate on business tasks remotely. Neither is it uncommon for teams within your own organization to be located in other parts of the country (or even the world). If you are someone like me whose clients come from across the world, remote project management is the only way to get things done.

Managing a project remotely can be tricky. No matter how articulate you are in your verbal and written communication, it is still not as good as being there in person. In his book, “Silent Messages”, Professor Albert Mehrabian argues that spoken words contribute to only seven percent in any communication. Your body language, voice and tone contribute towards the rest.

It is of course not realistic to turn back the wheel of time to go back to the way project management happened in the past. We will therefore do the next best thing which is to identify the challenges that one faces with remote project management and finding ways to fix them.

Dealing with different time zones

Working with a team member from the other side of the globe is by far the most challenging aspect of remote project management. Simple queries to your colleagues could take hours to get answered. Not only can this mess up your work schedule, but it can also sometimes be a source of frustration.

This can seem like a bad thing, but is actually not. The fact that you may not be able to catch up with your team members for another day could instead force workers towards organizing their tasks better. Invest in project management software that fits the specific needs of your organization. Also, make sure that all elements of your project are exhaustively documented by the various members in the team. This way, you reduce your dependence on individual members and instead focus on the process.

If you run an agency that deals with clients from around the world, it is important to stick to a specific work schedule. Otherwise, you could be tiring yourself out by trying to work across multiple time zones. The rules change if most of your clients or team members are based in similar time zones. In such cases, it is a good idea to tweak your schedule to fit their working hours. You could, for instance, start a couple of hours early or end your day a couple of hours late if that could help you reach out to your colleagues before one of you logs out for the day.

Dealing with communication barriers

There are several factors that can impede a good transmission of information among the various people in a remote team. The absence of body language is definitely a contributor. Besides this, communication is also affected by channel issues such as poor network reception or internet connectivity. In turn this can accentuate other relatively minor issues like the inability to grasp the accent of the other speaker, not setting a pace that is comfortable for all users, and zoning out during remote meetings.

While there are several collaboration channels available to team members, they are not suitable for all scenarios. At a basic level, your team communication may be classified into two categories – brainstorming and project updates.

Brainstorming may include weekly catch-up meetings and product demo calls as well. In each of these scenarios, the objective is to enable free exchange of thoughts and ideas among the members in your team. While online chat tools can work well in some scenarios, they are not the best option to build a cohesive team. Video conferencing makes it possible for face-to-face conversations and you can also make use of the collaboration features like whiteboard, screen-sharing and control sharing to replicate a real-world conference room.

For project updates however, it is ideal to use a collaboration channel that is type-based. This helps with documenting the efforts from all members of the team which is absolutely crucial. Any team member who has a query relating to the project could look into past conversations which cannot happen with audio/video based discussions. Asana, Basecamp, Trello and Jira are some popular tools for collaboration. Slack, or the recently launched Microsoft Teams, is a better option if documentation is not your primary concern and all your team members are placed in similar time zones.

Tracking progress

Tracking progress on a remote project shouldn’t be so hard. Yet, a significant number of such tasks fail because of improper collaboration. There are essentially two reasons why this happens. Firstly, there are often too many people meddling with the process. When your remote team has a flat hierarchy where people from various departments (like business, sales, design and development) collaborate, it leads to a ‘free for all’ where each member of the team creates their own workflow. This clutters the system and reduces the productivity of the team.

This problem can be frequently seen with project status messages. When different team members set their own status messages, it can lead to chaos where the status message itself does not carry any meaning. To fix this problem, all members of the team need to agree on who is responsible for the various processes like creating a new project, structuring the various project statuses, and who can close projects. Typically, these responsibilities fall on the service seeker. In a webpage design project, for instance, the design and development teams shall be the service providers while the business/sales team would be service seekers.

Another reason that contributes to improper collaboration is the lack of ground rules. Too often, members in a project tend to discuss casual and non-work related stuff from within the collaboration platform. This can drown out any critical project related updates shared by other members in the team. Other times, team members could share updates in the wrong section or without making the appropriate changes to the project status. Not following a protocol while collaborating online could make the whole process futile. It is important for a team to create a protocol document that underlines all the do’s and don’ts and strictly abide by it.

Remote working is already mainstream and is not going away. The only way to survive in this new reality is to acknowledge the problems this comes with and work out suitable ways to fix it.

How To Attract New Customers

A business ceases to be one if it doesn’t have customers. Overnight business successes are hard to come by. But if you approach customer acquisition like a science, it is very easy to build a steady stream of incoming visitors who then convert into leads and eventually into paying customers. Here are a few ideas to start acquiring new customers for your business.

Target the right customers

Every business has a niche set of customers who are extremely passionate about the product or service you are offering. When you are just starting your business, it is important to target these customers and bring them into your fold. Yelp did this right when they launched. The company offers a platform for customers to rate and review businesses. By encouraging regular Joes who had an impactful experience with a business to review them on the site, Yelp hit the initial traction to grow their business into what it is today.

Word of mouth marketing

No marketing strategy can bring the kind of high value customers that word of mouth marketing does. Between 2009 and 2011, Uber had acquired all of 6000 users for their chauffeur service. But these users loved the service so much that they spread the word about the business within the San Francisco circle where the company first began its operations. Word of mouth marketing does truly pay off.

Create a sense of exclusivity

There is no way your customers are going to love and stay loyal to your business if they believe you are just one of the many businesses they engage with. To build exceptionally loyal customers, it is important to make them feel exclusive. It is common knowledge that when Facebook launched, they restricted access to just the Harvard network. This strategy paid off in setting off the traction that led to what Facebook eventually came to be.

Packaging

Do not underestimate the value of good packaging. Premium products need premium packaging regardless of how good the product is. Packaging does not necessarily refer to just the carton your product comes with. Airbnb discovered it very soon after they launched their business when they discovered people were not really booking stays as much as they would have liked. To fix this, they set out to take professional photographs of the rooms that were put up for lease on their website. Soon enough, visitors noticed the ‘good looking’ rooms for lease and started booking on Airbnb.

Influencers

Influencer marketing is a big deal in social media marketing where businesses make use of accounts with thousands or millions of followers to write about their product to the followers. But wait, that is not what we are talking about here. When LinkedIn first launched, CEO Reed Hoffman ‘seeded’ the product in the hands of influential friends and connections – people at the top of the pyramid who were CXOs at their respective organizations. When these people sent invitations to connect with people in their organization, the recipients could not actually refuse. This set the ball rolling for what became the largest professional social networking tool in the world.

Business Planning For The Holidays

Winter is coming, and the holiday season is upon us very soon. As a business, this is either the busiest time of the year, or one when you go into hibernation mode. But networking never stops and this is also a good time to connect with old clients and meet new ones. Here are a few ways your business can plan for the upcoming holiday season.

Start early

As a business owner, you are obligated to make your employees and customers feel special. What better time than now to send them gifts for the holidays. But beware of the price gouging that is so rampant during this season. Prices of many gift items shoot through the roof during the holidays. Just know this – if you have not purchased gifts for your employees and customers yet, get ready to buy some really expensive pens. Lesson learnt. For the next season, start planning much in advance. A good time to start shopping for employee gifts is around June-July.

Personalize your gifts

Are you really getting that expensive pen for your employees? It better be darn good. Nobody likes a gift that is purchased in bulk and delivered like in a clearance sale. Gifting during the holidays is not just to mark this item off your holiday checklist, but to actually make your employees feel special and cared for. Find out what your employees like and buy them personalized gifts that they will truly love and cherish. Bear in mind that the value of the item is not on its price tag but what the gift means to your employee or customer.

Plan your workers

The holidays are a time of intense activity for many retail businesses. But it is also the time of the year when absenteeism and worker leaves are at their maximum. You will need to plan your resources extremely carefully. In fact, you should have started planning for them already. Hire temp workers and plan your wage increase or profit sharing agreement with your existing workers so that you are absolutely sure that your human resources are completely taken care of well before the deluge of shoppers arrive at your door step.

Notify your customers

Good for you if you are one of those businesses that is shutting down for the holidays. What happens to client support requests when you are out of town spending time with your family? It is extremely important that you share all the details about your shutdown and also notify your customers about the support and resources available with them during the shutdown. It is important to keep your customers happy and confident while you are away.

How To Write The Perfect Cold Email

As much as you may hate this, cold outreach is an inevitable component of any business sales process. Between cold email and cold calling, sales representatives often consider the former to be a tad easier. This is because unlike calling, you are not met with a receptionist or a gatekeeper who keeps you away from making the actual sales pitch.

But at the same time, cold emailing is also difficult in the sense that you need to compete for real estate space with hundreds of other personal, promotional and business emails that an average user gets in their inbox every day. How do you make sure that your target recipient reads your email and responds? Here are a few tips below. But make sure you have acquainted yourself with the impending GDPR regulations so that you do not violate any regulations through this outreach process.

Keep the email short

Your recipient aint got all day to read your emails. An average recipient spends not more than 3-5 seconds to take a call on whether or not the email they are reading is worth the time. So the first step in the cold email drafting process is to keep your draft short and crisp. Your cold email should essentially contain just the following pointers:

  • Salutation
  • Who you are and why it’s worth the readers’ time
  • Why are you writing this email
  • A call to action

The entire draft of a cold email should not be more than 100 words long. Every extra word in your draft potentially makes it longer than what the recipient would like. This makes it all the more unlikely for them to stop reading before they get to the call to action.

Do not sell

The most important advice for anybody reaching out via cold email for the first time is to stop selling. Your first email to any target recipient is to merely gauge interest and get them to respond to a specific call to action. Do you want to set up a meeting with the prospect? Do you simply want to know if they think your proposal is interesting? No matter what your proposition is, craft a call to action that the prospect may respond with in just a word or two. For example, you could end your email with a call to action as this “Can I give you a quick call to explain our service”? This can potentially fetch more responses than something like “When is a good time to talk to you?”. The most important objective in the first email is to get your prospect talking. Once they reply one way or the other, it is easier to get them talking more in subsequent emails or calls.

Follow up

There are several reasons why a recipient does not reply to your email. Lack of interest is just one of the may reasons. Other reasons could include your email getting lost in the clutter, the recipient viewing your email on the move (during commute) and forgetting about it, and so on. Following up ensures that your recipients gets a second chance to express interest (or reject your proposal). Of course, following up has been abused by so many ill-informed sales managers that it has lost its charm today. Do not be aggressive and only target the right prospects. Keeping these two points in mind is important to get the most out of a cold outreach campaign.

 

Improving Customer Experience With Technology

Things go wrong with business operations all the time. Your shipment to customers may get delayed because of factors outside your control. Worse, you may fail to deliver a product or service that matches the quality that the customer expects from you. Customer frustration is an inevitable component of every business. But with technology, it is possible to soften the blow so that your customers face as little pain as possible.

Lay it down on the table

How often have your customers come back to you for a replacement or refund because the product was not what they expected it to be. As a business, it is important for you to lay everything you have about the product out on the table. This helps in the customer’s decision making process. While it is possible that your conversion may be affected by this move, the requests for returns and replacement are likely to drop down significantly too. This creates happier customers who spread the word about your business and can more than make up for the lost conversions.

Don’t make customers wait

Each time you let your customers idle through the buying process, you are letting them go without a purchase. A slow loading website is as frustrating as waiting at the checkout line is. Work towards creating a seamless experience right from the time the visitor enters your sales pipeline till the moment they buy their product and leave. A seamless experience also means customers do not hesitate to spend more time browsing your products and this could potentially increase your average order value.

Automation is not the answer to everything

Many businesses equate seamless experience with automation. That is not really true. Customers seek an engagement with a human when they are going through the purchasing process. This helps them seek answers to questions they have better than any machine could do. This is especially true if you are in retail. For businesses that operate an online store, make it possible for your customers to seek human engagement through live chat options. While this does cost you money, the pay offs can be really high. As always, test the system for its effectiveness before taking a call on such a move.

Feedback loop

None of what we have discussed so far can be assumed to be the eternal truth. Each industry is unique and it is possible that there are industries where customers prefer an automated checkout process rather than having to interact with a human. There are likely scenarios where customers prefer a short product description than one that lays down everything on the table. It is here that customer feedback provides businesses with the data they want. Establish a feedback loop that gathers insights from your customers and passes it off to the business process so that any frustrations from the customer can be fixed over time.

Few customers expect the businesses that they engage with to be free of flaws. What matters is how you take ownership of these issues and fix them. Making your customer a stakeholder in the process and tweaking your practices to make them happy is the one and only strategy to reduce customer frustrations and improve your buyers’ experience.

Your Checklist For Selling A Business

As marketers responsible for growing the business of our clients, we often get asked when it is a good time to sell one. Every industry rides a wave and if you are a serial entrepreneur, you may want to liquidate your business assets when the going is good. But selling a business should not be a hasty process. Here is a short checklist of things you must take care of when you decide to sell your business.

Know your business valuation

How do you value your business? As a seller, you may want to look at your business with rose-tinted glasses, but a buyer is not going to fall for that. A reasonable valuation depends on several factors such as your clientele profile, the liquid assets you own, the average net profit you make each month, the growth trajectory, how much this growth depends on your availability and so on. A SaaS based business, for example, has recurring subscribers and this makes revenue projection more predictable. In other words, it is not uncommon for buyers to value it at as much as 24 months worth of revenue.

On the other hand, if you are running a restaurant business, you are in a fickle industry. Not only that, your burn rate, attrition and working capital requirements are all likely to be high. In such cases, the buyer is unlikely to go beyond 12-14 months of revenue. Understand your business model and your revenues to arrive at the right valuation for your business.

What does the buyer get?

A lot of clients who want to sell their business come to us when they have already rode the wave and the business is starting to fall. That’s not a good time to sell. A better time to sell would be when you are still riding the wave and have a few months more of growth left. This is attractive to the buyer because they know that they can recover their money sooner than projected and are hence likely to buy your business at a premium.

While at it, if your intention is to sell, do not maximize your earnings. Keep a few marketing channels unsupervised so that the buyer sees a gap in your marketing and would be likely to pay a premium.

Where to sell?

Ever wondered why tech startups from around the world list themselves on the New York Stock Exchange? It’s because they are likely to fetch a far higher valuation among American investors who are well acquainted to the tech startup world compared to a rundown stock market in a smaller country. Where you sell can determine the price you are selling it at. Find the right auction houses online or the right brokers in your industry who have a knack of finding premium investors. Getting listed here may cost you a lot more, but is well worth the premium.

Your life after the sale

What are your plans after the sale? Do you want to continue working at your business? Or, do you want to reinvest your capital gains in a new business? Some buyers are more than willing to have their sellers stay with them post-sale to help them with the transition period. There are two ways to do this – if the buyer insists on having you after the sale, you may demand a full-value sale plus a salary for yourself after the transaction. But the more common way to do this is by a cash-equity split where the buyer pays a portion of your business value in cash and offers you either equity or royalty in the new company for a certain number of years. This incentivizes you to keep working towards growing the company.

Brace Yourselves, GDPR Is Coming

By May 2018, the UK will be moving towards a new data protection regulation called the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). GDPR will dramatically change the way businesses engage with customers and deal with data. As business owners and marketers, there are a lot of pointers to keep in mind while designing your new processes. Here is a rundown of what your business must take care of.

Controllers and Processors

The GDPR regulations cover two specific types of entities that deal with data – controllers and processors. As an agency who offer marketing services to our clients, we handle confidential personal data of our clients’ customers. In this case, our clients are the controllers (of the data) while we are the processors. GDPR is applicable to not just the controllers, but to also processors like us.

What Constitutes Personal Data

It is erroneously believed that only explicitly personal details like a person’s name or driving license number constitutes a violation of personal data. This is not so. Not only is a person’s name, age, sex, location, ID numbers and demographic details regarded personal, the GDPR also mandates that in the case of anonymized data, any information that can be tied to a specific individual can be regarded personal.

For example, if you state that the average income of your clients in London is £40,000. But if it can somehow also be proven that you only have two clients in London and one of them has publicly provided their income details, then it effectively helps a third party know the income of your second client.

Use Domestic Data Handlers

If you are making use of third party data and file storage providers (cloud or hosted), then please make it a point to use a provider who is located within the UK or at least within the European Union. This way, you can be rest assured that your data service provider is as much ready for GDPR as you are.

Oh while you are it, if you are a business outside the European Union, do not assume that GDPR does not apply to you. It applies to any business anywhere in the world that handles data of EU citizens.

Active Consent Is The Key

Active consent is everything. You can no longer have a pre-checked box at the bottom of your sign up form and claim that your customers agreed to their data being used by your business. Doesn’t work that way. GDPR mandates that your customers actively consent to the use of their data. This means, get them to manually check a box where your data policies are explicitly stated.