4 Ways to Avoid Mistakes When Marketing to Foreign-Language Consumers


If you are interested in reaching new target markets abroad, or those right here in the U.S. who primarily speak a language other than English, you’ve likely considered translating some of your marketing content. But if you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry! Here are four questions you should ask yourself to avoid translation mistakes when marketing to a foreign-language consumer group.

1. Will an automated translation work for your job?

Automated translations sound like a wonderful thing. They’re free, they’re instant, and they do a pretty great job… or do they? Not so fast. While free, automated translation tools can be semi-useful when it comes to some phrases, and can be handy when trying to get the gist of a statement or paragraph, they are not meant for the kind of professional translation your brand calls for.

Generally speaking, marketing materials contain idioms, colloquial language, or phrases with words that could have more than one potential meaning. Machines simply do not have the capabilities to translate 100% accurately or to understand the nuances of language. You’ve got one chance to make a positive first impression on your new target demographic, so make it a professional one and steer clear of those tempting automated tools.

2. When should you send off your document for translation?

Having your materials translated is an investment (and one that is certainly worthwhile if you’re reaching out to a new target demographic!). However, there are a few ways to save on this investment. Making multiple changes can be costly. Making changes mid-process can be inevitable at times, but waiting until you have the final version of a document ready for your translation provider will save you both time and money. Put this savings toward an investment in next quarter’s budget.

3. Should any of your brand’s terms and product names be left in English?  

You’ve spent a lot of time developing your brand and product names! And because it’s important for customers to recognize your brand, your business name, trademarked products and proper names that pertain to your business and/or industry should remain in the source language. In fact, many times, these terms are not commonly known in other languages and may just confuse your customers more. Save a list of trademarked names and terms that you wish to keep in English so that your translation vendor does not mistakenly attempt to translate these terms. Your provider should also let you know if there are any concerns about these terms in the target language.

4. Is localization an important step for my marketing project?

The localization process is a great way to take your translations a step further. Localization ensures that the language, images, layout and more are engaging for your target market, not considered offensive or inappropriate in any way (yikes!) and practical in terms of everyday customs and culture. The images and design of your materials are just as important as the text you send off for translation, so it’s important to make sure they convey your intended message to your new consumers.

If you found this information useful, you may also like:

Localization Fails in International Markets: Don’t Let This Be You!

Cheap Translation Services: Do You Really Get What You Pay For?

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