If you are in charge of buying “marketing translations,” here’s how you can make your management love you.
First, a bit of anecdotal info:
I have a partner who used to work in senior roles for a large international advertising agency network, mostly for global blue-chip FMCG companies. Add to that many years in B2B sales. His experience is immense, for having seen so much and dealt with so many different clients and markets.
He does not position himself as a copywriter but delivers solid German copy whenever asked to. I love working with him for his knack for what resonates. Most of all though he has the background. Having himself been in the customer-facing roles that most marketers and especially, salespeople are in on a daily basis, he has the empathy and insights that help him understand what prospects want.
What you may find interesting is that, despite his excellent grasp of two foreign languages in addition to his native language (German), giving him a foreign-language source text to use as a basis for delivering great German copy doesn’t work. For some reason, having a source text hampers him.
Give him a thorough brief and a couple of visuals instead and his work will shine.
The reason why I am telling you this is that most professionals face the same predicament. They either translate OR write copy. Very few combine both translation AND copy creation expertise.
Most professionals either translate OR write copy.
Few combine both translation AND copy creation expertise.
When these two abilities come together in one process, I call it “transcreation” — which neatly combines the terms “translation” and “copy creation” — or more precisely, the Transcreation Continuum.
In other words: Transcreators offer the combined skill set of translation experience and copywriting experience. Note that I insist on “copywriting” experience, which is about writing specifically for marketing and sales enablement purposes, not just “writing” in the general sense.
I offer transcreation because I have that combined background, having worked with multinational global accounts both as a translator and as a market researcher, and through years of marketing studies.
My clients love it, and they have told me that such expertise is hard to come by. Maybe you can confirm that impression.
Transcreation is definitely a niche. And it’s definitely challenging.
In most cases the results of a transcreative approach will be much better aligned with what you really want to achieve if you give transcreators a thorough brief and include the source text only as part of the brief.
That way, the transcreator can develop copy based on what you – the client – really want to achieve in the target market, rather than having to stick to a source text that may work great in your language and market but might fall flat (or even backfire!) in the foreign target market.
And you may not be aware of them (after all, that’s not your job!) but there are many reasons why a translation may and will likely not work, among them:
- untranslatable wordplay
- allusions to pop culture unknown in the target market
- humor and sarcasm work differently, or not at all
- a translation would become much too longwinded (happens often when you work from English into German, for instance)
- doesn’t have the right SEO keywords for the target market
- doesn’t address the target market’s real pain points (which would be frustrating for local sales people)
- is too close to what a local competitor in the target market says
More and more marketers seem to understand that they need to rethink their translation processes when it comes to marketing and sales collateral.
Your transcreator is able to recommend the best approach in each case, based on all the different aspects to take into account, and based on the conversation with you about what you want to achieve with your text.
Sometimes the recommendation might even be to write new copy rather than try to instill life into a text written, for instance, for a UK audience that just doesn’t work with German customers, for reasons listed above.
Certain texts require a transcreator’s expertise and analytical approach, and their role as part of your marketing team steeped in the target market, mindset, and competitive environment.
So, if you are the person tasked with buying “marketing translations” in your company, think twice.
Get in touch with an expert in transcreation to guide you through the process rather than requesting a translation. A transcreator’s results will be so much more attuned to what really resonates with the target market.
The marketing people in your company, and the salespeople in the foreign target market, plus your top management (!), will love you for finally getting foreign-language marketing texts that they can actually use.
Intrigued? Get in touch if you would like to learn more about transcreation and what I can do to help you specifically with your English-into-German “marketing translation” needs.