In the past, only larger businesses could afford to target new markets overseas, but the internet has made this a valid option for small businesses too. It would be short sighted for a struggling small business owner to write off the possibility of expanding overseas.
Just because you are having trouble in the domestic market, doesn’t mean you should shy away from foreign ones. World trade is pushing ever closer to a borderless global system and even the smallest business owners should consider which foreign markets they can move into.
Obviously this kind of expansion requires prior research. You need to find out where your product can be sold, in which countries there is a gap in the market and what the local competition looks like.
Once you have identified suitable areas for foreign expansion, you need to consider translation and localisation services. You don’t actually have to move abroad physically as you can access foreign markets online. More and more internet users are non-English speakers and internet content increasingly reflects this.
Despite the fact that there is such a vast amount of traffic from non-English speakers, many websites fail to attract any because their website is only offered in one language. Arabic is one of the fastest growing online languages and in recent years, a lot more Arabic language has been used on social networking sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Despite this, Arabic online content is still only at about 3% of the total.
As more parts of the world become receptive to new technologies and state censorship and cultural taboos give way to more a more globally receptive attitude towards online content, huge new areas of the market are made available to savvy businesses. Just relying on SEO isn’t good enough though.
Being top of the Google rankings doesn’t guarantee optimum access to global markets. Google isn’t the top search engine in every country; in Russia it’s Yandex, in China it’s Baidu. And users using auto-translate software in those regions may not even be able to tell what your product is, let alone whether it’s reliable and relevant to their needs.
Having identified your market you must check where your traffic is coming from and try to understand why that area of the market is interested in your product. When you have identified the target demographic then you can safely say that it is worth addressing them directly and in a fully professional manner.
You need to hire professionals for effective translation services. It isn’t just about translating websites word for word; translation involves thorough consideration of cultural differences and the intended meaning of the source language text.
Professional translators are not only linguistically competent in the languages they work in, but are also familiar with the cultures from which those languages came and are therefore able to optimise your website or promotional material to a standard that no software can come close to. Your sales copy and marketing approach must be translated through both language and culture.
If you are serious about expanding your business abroad then you need to be serious about translation. Settling for a half measure like Google Translate reflects badly on your business and may do more harm than good.
It is especially vital for small business owners to know their market, and to communicate effectively with the customer. This can make new markets seem daunting and risky but the cultural insight of a professional translator can reduce this risk and build a bridge between the business and customer.