Lesson 2: Do you know your translation clients?

Lesson 2: Do you know your translation clients?

You know what marketing is, don’t you? Almost everyone linked to doing business knows some basic details or blurry definitions. Let’s assume all marketing activities have one common goal: to attract potential clients.

Freelance translators and translation agencies spend quite a chunk of time on devising marketing strategies and tactics, establishing their position and creating a huge WOW around their services. And doesn’t matter how much time and money they spend, all that very often has no results whatsoever. Frustrated translators give up and stick with their existing clients, and agencies finally slow down.

But well, there are people out there who are extremely successful with their marketing strategies. Why?

Let’s go back to our general goal of marketing: to attract potential clients. What’s the point in doing the “attract” bit if you don’t know your potential clients?

I know what you’ll ask now: How can I know who is going to need translation? You can’t know that, but you can try to predict that using simple market analysis methods.

1. What are the three broad categories of clients?

It’s easy: everyone in translation sell their services to private clients, corporate or governmental clients or agencies. Knowing that you are actually targeting three completely different groups of people is essential. Certainly you won’t convince your one-off private client with the same methods as an agency. Take three pieces of paper and write down your groups one on each. Then circle them.

2. Who are your translation clients?

Having in mind your specialist areas, think who will buy your translations. If we’re talking about private clients and you specialise in legal translation, simply write down anyone who comes to your mind that may need translations in your language pair: international lawyers, migrants, law students, Criminal Justice System, people subject to contracts, etc. Write as many potential clients as you can for each group, and draw a bigger circle.

3. What kind of services they need?

Think what do they actually need to translate or interpret. Lawyers will need contracts, agreements, perhaps even some previous cases translated into other language. This step may require a bit of researching, but you’ll end up with a comprehensive list of your clients’ needs. Time for even a bigger circle.

4. What do they value in these services?

The next step is to get in their shoes and think what qualities about your service are most desired. I’d say that lawyers will value professionalism and accuracy the most. Do the same for all your potential clients and you will know which chords you have to strike to make them want your services.

5. What does it mean to you?

After you’re done with your circles, it’s time to summarise the analysis. Try to write down what actions to take result from all circles. Just to be clearer: you’re translating legal texts and you know that your potential clients love clarity and accuracy in language. Next time you advertise to them make sure that your copy is very clear and to the point. Impress them with your grasp of legal language. And so on, until you end up with a valuable market analysis!

The secret of some people is that they actually know who their potential clients are and they know who they are trying to sell their services to. Time to join these successful translators!

Here comes a case study!

Marta is a Polish to English and English to Polish translator and interpreter in London. She’s an energetic and enthusiastic person. She had quite a few good deals with other service providers, but recent changes introduced by the Ministry of Justice hit her wallet. Marta decided that she’ll try to market her translation services to Polish people living in London. What does she need to know about this group to market her services?

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