Taking a business global can seem like a formidable task. You have a lot to do, and parts of the process may not seem obvious from the start. Knowing what to consider when expanding a business internationally is a crucial starting point, so you don’t waste time working in fruitless directions or in ways that will clash with your localization efforts in the long run. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. A language service provider (LSP) can advise you on how to prepare and help you set up workflows, critical assets, locale-specific practices, and the ideal localization team.
What to Consider When Expanding a Business Internationally
Here are some of the larger issues you will encounter as you expand into international markets.
Translation is often the first thing people think of in connection with expanding a business globally, but the first sub-step in this realm is selecting the languages to translate. You’ll plan to expand into markets, and those markets should be chosen based on careful research. Even after you identify your markets, the languages you’ll commit to aren’t a given. Every language multiplies the cost of localization, so the selection has to be made carefully. Watch out for the expensive temptation of hyper-localization—British vs. American vs. Australian English, or Swiss vs. Austrian German, for example. Avoiding this level of localization, if possible, is a good way to keep your budget under control. Your LSP should be able to advise you on necessary levels of localization.
You need to also gather a complete picture of what you’re needing to translate and who will be involved in the whole content process. You’re likely looking at a number of departments in your company that will need translations. The legal, marketing, customer support, and product development teams at a minimum are likely to contribute to the localization workflow. From those departments, what content is most important to translate at first? Regardless of how much, centralizing the various departments’ translation projects is in your best interest in order to share linguists, assets, quality standards, and overall management efforts.
Don’t take for granted that any and all file types will easily merge with a centralized localization system. Early planning is critical to make sure you’re prepared to take advantage of automation technology and streamlined localization workflows. An experienced partner can come in particularly handy here if you’re unsure of all of the things to consider when preparing for translation and localization.
Localization is the intersection of translation and culture. Knowing the appropriate tone for marketing materials, avoiding cultural taboos, and presenting a product that’s attractive to local audiences are goals that have to work together.
You might be thinking that the native speaker on staff can be brought in to do some translating in their “spare” time. But this is most often a mistake. It takes highly qualified linguists to advance localization best practices and to take care of your foreign audiences and your brand at the same time. Your LSP should provide capable translators and editors, and it should also provide the transparency for you to see the translators working on your material and what their qualifications are.
Another cultural safeguard comes with in-country reviewers. Chances are that your company will not have the need or resources to maintain a full-time in-country reviewer, but a local PR or marketing firm can probably provide an expert reader who will understand cultural sensitivities, local marketing trends, and other ground-level issues and be able to guide you through potential minefields. One of the best ways to keep your in-country reviewer engaged is to include them on your localization management platform, where they will be automatically notified of assignments and they will be visible to managers and accessible to translators and others who may have questions.
Don’t forget about some of the finer details that have a major impact when not handled properly in advance. Of course, payment methods vary around the world, and you can’t expect your European or Asian consumers to interact with your source method. Making payments easy is an important part of localization. You need to know how people pay in the markets you are entering and think about joining those payment systems. Payment options and preferences differ regionally. American customers may like to use their credit cards, but Asians are more likely to pay by mobile transfer and to do so using different companies from the ones popular in Europe.
There are also certain things that have to be translated by law. This might be legal material related to the sale of a product, lists of components in a product, or other material a government considers essential for buyers in its country or for itself. Finding out about these rules and meeting them is another reason to have an in-market PR or marketing company on your side as mistakes could be very costly.
An Experienced Partner Can Make All the Difference
Working with a partner that has seen it and done it all before can contribute to your success in a big way. Sage advice can help you avoid typical mistakes as you figure out what to consider when expanding a business internationally. Experience is especially helpful when you are setting up your workflow. Localization is a continual process. You need a workflow platform that is sustainable, flexible, and scalable. A centralized, automated localization management platform will save time while allowing for maximum transparency and collaboration. An LSP that can integrate your workflow into its optimized platform will also save you from problems and delays.
At Bureau Works, our centralized, automated platform provides comprehensive localization solutions for businesses going global. Our technology is backed by a team of experts who can support you as you start your international expansion. Contact our team today to learn more about what we can do to make your localization a success.