5 Tips for Small Companies Looking to Export to Non-Anglophone Countries

statue of dock worker in Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is small and English speaking, so we look to larger Anglophone markets to expand. But there are some other very large markets right on our doorstep and expanding in to them can be done if some care is taken up front.

Speaking at the monthly Last Tuesday entrepreneur meet up in Dublin, Ross O’Loughlin of Translations.com, outlined the process companies should take when expanding abroad.

Leverage Your Skills: If you have already made forays to America or the U.K., there is logistically no reason you cannot do the same in France, Germany or further afield, O’Loughlin said.

Website Pratfalls: Websites need to be fine-tuned for the market you hope to win business in, O’Loughlin said. “Your brand is your image. If that gets lost in translation, you are in big, big trouble.” Getting your marketing message is challenging enough in your home country, O’Loughlin acknowledged, so care needs to be taken here.

Don’t Waste Money: There is no need to run out and spend thousands translating an entire website, O’Loughlin said. “Don’t dive in head first. Get a landing page.” This should do initially, he said. However, “The initial contact has to be spot on.”

Don’t Annoy Potential Customers: After working on marketing and maybe buying Google or other online ads, don’t annoy potential customer by bringing them to an English-language page. “Your bounce rate will be sky high,” O’Loughlin said. If site visitors do follow up via email or the phone, however, they will often do so in English, he noted.

Culture: This one can be tricky and local knowledge will be a huge asset, O’Loughlin said. Despite their proximity, food tastes in Ireland and France differ greatly. One food company in Ireland asked Translations.com to rework its site in to French. But the translator balked, saying, “This serving suggestion sounds disgusting,” O’Loughlin said.

Translations.com also worked with a UK firm that wanted to sell tourist and study packages to the Russians. They had a Google Adwords campaign mapped out, but O’Loughlin’s man in Russia was unimpressed. He suggested changing terms such as “study in the UK” to “study in England” because that is predominantly what the UK is called in Russia.

Country Specific: O’Loughlin said setting up country specific domains — such as “.de” for Germany or “.fr” —  would help marketing efforts.

Image of Dublin Dock Worker courtesy of Marco Melillo on Flickr.

3 thoughts on “5 Tips for Small Companies Looking to Export to Non-Anglophone Countries

  1. Pingback: John P. Muldoon » “Your brand is your image. If that gets lost in translation, you are in big, big trouble”

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