Credibility – Reflecting your audience in translation
Everyone’s talking about it now – being a thought leader, being an authority in your domain. We all want to speak and write with confidence and inspire trust. And we all see people every day who master it and people who fail at it.
But if you’re going to translate marketing content, this is a fundamental issue for you to consider. If your brochure is written to compel English-speaking readers from a specific industry and a focused demographic, how are you going to really make sure that the translated version does the same thing? This most fundamental acid-test for any piece of marketing collateral has to be summed up by one word – credibility.
Anyone who’s studied sales and persuasion techniques will know all about building rapport through shadowing, where people try and mimic your own tone of voice, rhythm of speech and even body language. Whether you think these things are nonsense or not, the point is, it pays to make people think you’re like them. In the classic book on persuasion, “Influence” (if you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it), the point is made abundantly clear. We are more receptive and more responsive to people who we consider to be like us. And not just slightly – the difference is staggering. Persuasive content needs to have the readers’ tone of voice, the readers’ language. They have to feel that they’re listening to someone who is just like them.
In translation, there’s no shortcut to this. The days of the generalist translator are numbered. Language providers need to accept that they are in the era of specialisation, intense research and a commitment to finding out all about you – and digging out the exact target language. It’s not enough to speak perfect Mandarin. If what you need is persuade an air charter buyer, you need to know how air charter is conducted in China, you need to know the jargon and the attitudes of Chinese air charter buyers.
When someone reads your documents, they should feel like they’re listening to someone who is just like them. Someone from their world and who understands their problems. Someone who talks like them and that gets them. That’s credibility.
That means the only real route to success is to work with specialists. The value of the generalist is, unfortunately, limited. Brain surgeons out-earn General Practitioners. Depth is more important than breadth when it comes to delivering perfection. It’s why we’re focused, for example, on marketing departments in growth phase businesses. And it’s why our translators are chosen not to be able to help as many clients as possible, but to be able to completely understand and delight one particular narrow client group.