Lesson 71: 7 ways to make your translation competition irrelevant

Lesson 71: 7 ways to make your translation competition irrelevant

In my previous post, I looked at the definition of competition and I argued that in fact translators hardly ever are competitors, because they provide distinctively different services.

This week, I want to look a bit more in detail at how translators can make competition irrelevant. I encourage you to give it a go!

The core to making competition irrelevant is the understanding that we’re all in fact providing different services: the core of your business is you, and nobody else out there can replicate exactly the same education, experience and skills as you have. Our different backgrounds are reflected in the services we provide and in the way we run our businesses. Let’s take a look at how we can leverage that.

Broadcast your Unique Selling Point

Unique Selling Point (USP) is the factor that differentiates you in a very clear and basic way from all other translators in your language combination or even specialisation. Discovering what constitutes your USP is indeed a challenging process (perhaps I should blog about it sometime soon?), but if you browse a few marketing resources and blogs, you’ll get a better idea on how to craft it (or you can wait until I write about it).

Once you’ve identified your USP, infuse your whole business, especially marketing, with it – it creates the identity of your business and services. Don’t be afraid to play the card of being different.

Add value to services

I’m a big fan of all value-add strategies, as you could see in the past month. I recommend you browse through my articles on this topic, especially “Value innovation in translation: what can you offer that nobody else does”.

By adding value (or creating new value), you’re yet again differentiating from your competition and delivering a service like nobody else does. How’s that for making competition irrelevant?

Innovate in your business

Earlier on this week we hosted The Freelance Box event on innovation in the language industry, where we talked about what innovation is and how freelancers can apply it to their translation and interpreting businesses.

Innovation doesn’t mean you have to go all technology, or ditch the way you’ve been doing business until now. To innovate means to improve your processes and offerings to introduce new ways of delivering value. This calls for another blog post, too, don’t you think?

Discover new ways of marketing

Another approach to making translation competition irrelevant is to discover and engage with new ways of marketing your business. Look across other industries to look for inspiration. How lawyers are marketing their services? How do accountants do that? What about web designers?

By discovering new marketing tools and channels, you’re yet again escaping your competition. For example, when I started using Twitter a few years back, there were hardly any Polish English translators or interpreters using it regularly. I worked hard on gaining visibility there, which in turn brought me a number of good clients and many more leads.

Join forces

Sometimes making your competitors irrelevant is a matter of looking at them from a whole new perspective. We all know some freelance translators and interpreters working in co-ops and loving it. Maybe you can team up with a colleague to be able to reach to clients who are out of your reach now?

Set up cross-industry partnerships

Entering into partnerships with freelancers or small businesses providing complementary services to translation, or sometimes just targeting the same audience can dramatically increase your visibility, leading in turn to making competition less relevant.

I have colleagues partnering for example with publishers, magazines, online portals and writing articles for them in return for advertising or access to client databases.

Expand your target market

The final approach to making competition irrelevant I wanted to discuss is related to one of my favourite business strategies – the Blue Ocean Strategy (which calls for a separate month to talk about it!). One of the principles of this strategy is the need to reach outside of the existing market and capture new demand for translation.

In other words, it’s all about reaching to potential clients who’re not translating yet. This is the ultimate approach to making competition irrelevant. By talking to people who don’t know and have never met your competitors, you’re basically creating an unspoilt market just for yourself. And who wouldn’t like that?

I hope that this brief overview of approaches to making translation irrelevant will help you start working on your differentiation strategy. Which of these approaches you think you’ll be able to implement?

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