Great Business Ideas: Translate Your Marketing Materials

Great Ideas for your Small Business: Translate Your Marketing Materials

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is not hiring native speakers to create marketing materials destined for foreign markets. In the 1970s Chevrolet made a legendary cultural faux pas when it decided to market the Chevy Nova in Mexico.

The family car was a big hit in the United States, but the Mexican advertising campaign was a total disaster. Why?

Because “nova” in Spanish means “no go.” Another famous goof involved a soft drink company that used a photograph of a happy family dressed in white clothes to push its sodas in Japan. The ads were beautiful, but white is the color of mourning in Japan, and the campaign was offensive.

If you are going to spend thousands on marketing materials, spend some more up front to make sure you are saying just the right thing. You should avoid using slang at any cost.
It’s easier than you think to find people who are fluent speakers in whatever language you need. You can hire university graduate students or professional translators. Most translators charge by the project, and their fees are negotiable.

You might want to call the consulate of the country you are preparing materials for and ask if they can recommend a native speaker who freelances. Advertising agencies and marketing consultants who specialize in target marketing often have a stable of skilled linguists on call.

Above all, be sure to do your homework and learn everything possible about the culture; you don’t want to end up offending the people you are trying to attract.

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