Client Education Series: How to Save Money on Translation?

A very Happy New Year to our clients who are the reason for our being. Thank you for your business in 2016. We look forward to an even stronger relationship in 2017 and the years to come.

Overseas DTP is committed to providing you translation services par excellence. As part of our efforts to improve client experience, we are starting the Client Education Series. Under this series, we will publish a blog each month whose goal will be to help you acquire the knowledge you will find useful in your interactions with translation professionals.

We are going start the series with probably the most important subject – money.

Let’s be honest. Our budgets aren’t really bottomless pits of money. We would like to save when we can and when savings don’t affect our business’ core values or its brand negatively.

It turns out, there are ways to save money on translation while still providing an optimal experience to your clients.

Translate Only What’s Relevant

Translating all your documents in full may boost your ego but it’s rarely a sound business strategy. Decide with your market research team which information your clients really need. Your foreign clients don’t really care about your last year’s intra-company baseball games. In much of Asia and some European countries, such passages can even make your company appear arrogant.

Speak to your translation agency. They can flag the sections that don’t apply to foreign clients and keep them out from the translated product. According to the American Translators’ Association (ATA), a French company could reduce the size of a 500-page manual to 230 pages with the help of an expert translator. They probably cut the translation price tag to less than one-half.

Use Pictures Instead of Words

Judicious use of images and diagrams is more effective with a multilingual audience than literary ramblings or and jargon-filled descriptions. It will make life easier for your clients, as well as your translator. IKEA and your local government lead the way.

IKEA is a Swedish multinational operating in 38 countries and 25 languages. Its strategy to defeat the confusion of Babel and cut down on translation costs is to use images heavily. The ATA has estimated that 80 percent of IKEA’s instructions and customer guides are images-only.

Most traffic signs you see on the neighborhood can be transported to any city in the world and they will understand. Those signs are international. Your company can use such signs or come up with intuitive diagrams to cut translation costs.

Think International

Google, Microsoft, Apple, and other multinationals with deep pockets can localize their services. They can create a version of their product for Chinese users in Hong Kong and another version for Chinese speakers in China. They can allow their customers to choose from English (US) and English (UK). Most small and medium-size businesses don’t have this luxury.

A nice strategy for them will be to avoid cultural cliches. You don’t have to create nine different product descriptions of a document if you are planning to expand in Lusophone countries. You can work with an agency that will create an international version in Portuguese that will be readily understood in Brazil, Portugal, Angola, and other regions where Portuguese is a popular language.

Following the same line of thought, you can create an English version that will be understood in all the world’s English-speaking countries and not merely the US. The key will be to avoid references to baseball and other phenomena specific to the US.

Don’t be a Cheapskate

Do you really think that a minimum-wage earner can translate a patent application from Japanese or German? How many patents will he or she have to translate in an hour to stay afloat? Can he or she do justice to your job? The chances are slim.

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Put yourself in your translator’s shoes and consider how much you will charge to pay your bills. It will help you hire a competent person for the job.

That’s it for now. We hope that by applying the tips in this blog you will improve your chances of getting a translation that works without exceeding your budget.

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