These days there are few barriers to international business, even for smaller companies. With a good website and proposition, there’s no reason why you can’t target a global audience and sell to multiple markets. But what does that mean for the way you prepare your marketing materials?
Here are a few of the things you will need to ask yourself when creating content for an international audience. This is by no means an exhaustive list but will go some way to helping you plan your campaign delivery.
A typical campaign will include core content pieces and a number of promotional items such as emails, banners and social media updates. When it comes to translation, make sure your agency localises the copy for each market – it’s the only way to capture the nuance of language and make sure it works as you intend in different geographies. Consider whether you want to use humour in your materials as jokes may not translate quite as well as you expect them to!
Translated copy may take up more (or less) space than the original. Whatever artwork templates and layouts you use will need to be adaptable for each market to make them work nicely. Keep this requirement in mind when creating your ‘master’ version and you’ll save a lot of headaches later on. If your eBook or whitepaper already looks cramped, extend your pagination. If your web and email banners are trying to say too much, consider simplifying.
Diagrams are a key visual aid that can help any copy come to life. But, as above, review your labels and explanatory copy. Abbreviations may not translate well, so use full sentences that properly explain what is happening in the graphic. And make sure you have plenty of room to map the translated copy onto the localised verison.
- Tone of voice
A bit like humour, a very specific tone of voice does not always translate well. Write in clear, simple terms that will be easy to understand in any language. It will help your translators to understand what you mean and avoid miscommunicating your intent. Ultimately, clear copy will make it easier for audiences in all markets to grasp the proposition.
- Market maturity
Does every market have the same expectations as your home market? How mature are those markets? Your proposition may be solid but you might need to tweak your promotional messages to reflect local needs.
Localisation for multiple markets can be a lot of work, especially when you are managing several projects simultaneously. Ask yourself if you can simplify the process – do you need to translate all elements, or are there come key assets that are high priority?
Don’t be too rigid in your expectations. You may need to adapt copy in order to make it fit in different language versions, so be prepared to think on your feet. Social media is a good example of this – 140 characters do not stretch as far in German as they do in English, for example.
No simple answer
There’s no simple formula to getting this right – every global campaign will be different. The most important thing to bear in mind is that one piece of collateral does not fit all, so your content, messaging and promotions will need to adapt. Be sure to build contingency into your planning process as soon as multiple languages are included in the scope and you’ll hopefully avoid big surprises!