Due to the great feedback I got on a series of client-transcreator dialogues that I wrote on LinkedIn, I am posting the five-week series here for anyone wanting to re-read them in full:
FIRST CONTACT — THE BIG REVELATION
– I‘m a transcreator.
– Say WHAT?
– A transcreator. You know, someone who is both a trained translator and a copywriter.
– But … isn’t every translator also a copywriter?
– No. Many translators have learned to write for academic or literary purposes, but not for business. Copywriting is about writing texts for commercial purposes.
– But as a client, why would I want a translator who doesn’t know how to write business stuff?
– Well, you need translators for lots of non-commercial texts – legal, medical, IT, you name it.
– Okay, so what is it a transcreator does?
– A transcreator is a translator who takes care of texts that are meant to engage, inspire, and motivate people in other markets to interact with you. To take an interest in whatever it is you have to offer.
– Uh, you mean, like, when I want people in Germany to check out the German version of my website and think, wow, this is awesome, this is a great product, this is exactly what I need?
– Interesting! Listen, I need to run now. Can we continue this next week?
– Sure thing.
CAN’T YOU JUST TRANSLATE MY AWESOME ENGLISH COPY?
– So, last week you said that a transcreator handles texts that are meant to engage, inspire, and motivate people in other markets to interact with me. To take an interest in what I offer. Like on my website.
– But I already had a copywriter create awesome English copy for me. Can’t you just take that and translate it?
– You could have it translated, of course, but your German readers will immediately realize that you didn’t care about writing for THEM.
– What do you mean?
– A translation, if done well, is a faithful and flawless rendering of the source text. It will be correct and complete, with all the facts and details in place. But to make your website copy sound as if it was written specifically for your German target audience, you need to adapt and sometimes rewrite it. And you need a copywriter to do that.
– But won’t that copywriter write totally new stuff?
– Possibly. That’s why you want a transcreator.
– How so?
– Because transcreators are by definition experts at both translation and copywriting. Transcreators translate where possible and re-write where necessary. And remember what I said last week? Most translators lack the marketing background for that. And most copywriters lack the translation expertise.
– Ah yes. A transcreator is what I need then, for all my marketing collateral.
– Exactly. Including for most PR material.
– I’ll round up the texts I need translated then.
– Transcreated, you mean.
– Yes, transcreated. Let me get back to you next week.
– Sure thing.
NOW WE ARE TALKING
– Hi again, so, continuing last week’s conversation, I’ve put together all the marketing material that I need you to transcreate for me.
– Great. Now we‘re talking! I mean literally: We have to talk.
– But aren’t we done with the talking already? I know that I need a transcreator instead of a translator for my marketing texts so that’s why I am reaching out to you, the transcreation expert.
– And rightly so! But remember when I said that a transcreator is both a translator and a copywriter?
– Yeah …?
– And like any copywriter worth their salt I need additional information to make sure I strike the right tone and get people engaged, inspired, and motivated to interact with you.
– Uh … is that really necessary?
– Don’t worry. I’ll just ask a series of questions, we can do that over the phone, then I’ll put that in writing, as part of a brief, and send it to you so you can sign off on it. And you can add whatever else you consider relevant. Remember: I am the expert when it comes to the writing part, but you are the expert when it comes to your brand and the way you want it to be perceived. I will help you with everything, but we need to work it from both angles.
– Okay. You’re the expert so I guess you know what you’re doing …
– You bet! I’ll prepare a quote detailing cost and timelines so we can get started.
– Thanks! Send it over and I’ll get back to you next week at the latest.
– Sure thing.
YOU ARE NOT BUYING WORDS (NOR CHEESE)
– Hi, so, I got your cost quote for the transcreation of my website into German. I‘m surprised though. It‘s much more expensive than what my translators usually charge. Why is that?
– It’s not more expensive. Unless you look at it as dollars per word, of course. But you aren’t buying words. You are buying all the experience and research and thoughts that go into carefully crafting your messages for your German target market.
– Uh, can you explain that?
– Think of the added value you get. Like, when you go to the supermarket to buy cheese laid out on display, as opposed to when you go to a local cheese deli where the owner asks you what you intend to use the cheese for, what your taste preferences are, if it‘s something you want to serve guests (what kind of guests?) at the end of a meal (what kind of meal?), and would you like some wine recommendations to go with it too? On the face of it, the cheese at that deli will be more expensive than at the supermarket, but the thing is, you don’t just get cheese. You get carefully selected delicious produce, plus guidance and extra tips. You get a full package that will help you shine at that exquisite dinner you are going to serve your guests.
– So what you’re saying is that you want me to shine?
– Exactly. I want you to shine at your very best! And to achieve that, I need to probe and ask questions, just like that deli owner. Remember we talked about the brief last week?
– Yes, I remember …
… And I ask all those questions because it‘s important that we discuss a lot of details that you might not have thought of. That’s what you hire me for. And then I start working on the text. I’ll use your English copy as reference and make sure I get all the facts exactly right. Then I’ll start honing and adapting and polishing the messages so that your readers say, wow, this is awesome, I love that this company appears so attuned to my needs and expectations as a German customer.
– “Awesome.” “Attuned.” I like the sound of that!
– Yeah, right?! But getting there is a lot of work, obviously. However, if you are serious about your expansion plans in Germany, it’s an investment you should consider.
– I’m sold. Quote is approved. Let’s get this rolling!
– Sure thing!
– Hi, listen, so I‘m really impressed with the result of your German transcreation! The people at our German subsidiary were telling me that finally here is a text that will get them qualified leads and clients. How come they were always so cranky and unhappy with our previous translations?
– Well, I told you that transcreations are different from translations, especially because as a transcreator, I actively reach out to people to see where we need to go.
– So you think that you talking to our people in Germany did the trick?
– I don’t know about “trick” … but yes, that’s basically the secret to good copy: Talking to the people who are actually going to use the material, and to people more generally in the target market.
– Wow, I would never have thought of that. I mean, we paid a lot for creating great English copy for our English website, so I would have thought that a translation of that would be easy and equally great.
– I know … Most people think so, until they work with a genuine transcreator and see the difference.
– I’m so happy this worked out so well. Can I call you my lifesaver?
– Thanks!! But I’ll leave the lifesaving to others. I’d be happy to be the one who saved your brand though!
– My brand-saver then!
– Sure thing 😊
Wishing you all many successful brand-saving projects!