8 Reasons Why You Should Use Professional Translation

The UK translation market alone is worth some GBP 1.35 billion (2019), which goes some way to demonstrating its importance to many successful companies.

But getting translation done professionally is fast changing from being a competitive differentiator to a basic cost of doing business overseas.

However, a business case is still sometimes required to demonstrate a need for professional translation over automated or in-house resources. It might be that translation is seen as peripheral to key activities, or simply as an unexpected additional cost rather than a revenue generator. Whatever the reason, you should be armed with a solid argument.

Firstly, what are the possible alternatives to professional translation?

In-house translation

It could often seem quicker and easier to liaise with a bilingual colleague than to source an external supplier. But resulting costs can be high as you either take existing personnel away from their day jobs or may need to employ someone specifically and thus try to keep them busy full time. You also need someone who is fluent in both the source and target languages. Most importantly, that someone also needs to know how to write effective and engaging marketing copy that completely encapsulates your brand’s positioning in each territory and to each audience.

Machine translation

Extremely fast and low cost but still requires an investment in machine-translation-engine training. Its quality improves over time, but despite the growth of AI and improvements in neural machine translation, it does not yet grasp or convey the nuances required for compelling marketing content, so the end product will almost certainly be sub-par as a standalone solution.

Post-edited machine translation

Fast, but slower than machine translation, although the language quality is more palatable. Its costs can be lowish but done well will certainly rise. It is a skill that takes time to develop – so either a full-time internal resource is needed, or an external professional translator, which seems to defeat the purpose.

And what about your marketing and brand in each new territory?

Brand perception

A key requirement for any organisation trading internationally is to have a strong brand that audiences readily engage with. A simple error in translation can immediately cause a negative perception and place a roadblock between your brand and your audience. As every marketer knows, it takes just a minute to damage a brand, but months or years to regain trust. The cost of re-building brand trust is always going to far outweigh the cost of a good translation or professional localisation programme in the first place.

Customer retention

A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by at least 25%… or far more. [Earl Sasser, Harvard Business School] But the opposite may also be true. Imagine what a 25% loss of profitability would look like. Compare that against the relatively modest cost of a professional translation company looking after your brand’s language in each overseas territory. If your marketing message jars with a local audience because of a poor translation, no matter how strong your product is, customers will look elsewhere, and your competition will gain market share.

Eight Reasons to Use a Professional Translation Provider

  1. Errors and accountability
    Professionals know their relationship with you is based on the quality of their last piece of work. They are highly trained and will ensure you do not fall into any linguistic traps, such as KFC’s infamous, inadvertently snappy “We Eat Your Fingers Off” Chinese translation of their “Finger Lickin’ Good” strapline.
  2. Industry expertise
    Trained translators are specialists – they are polymaths with first-rate research skills and relevant industry experience and know how to handle linguistic nuances and complexities to your best advantage.
  3. Professional networks
    Professional translation providers are a far better option than relying on a bilingual colleague to squeeze translation in as part of their other work commitments. Even at short notice, they can call on a network of carefully selected linguists and industry experts to produce accurate, on-brand translations, on time, every time.
  4. On-time delivery
    If a project or campaign is important enough to need translation, there is probably an immovable deadline involved. A professional translation provider will be able to accurately estimate how long things will take and be able to deliver on time.
  5. Results-focused
    Highly qualified, professional translators are skilled wordsmiths and will be adept at using turns of phrase that will truly resonate with your target audience. A machine can’t do that and it’s unlikely you have the in-house resources to get your carefully crafted marketing message across in both languages.
  6. Consistency
    Just as working with the same creative agency over time helps you to maintain a consistent brand message, enlisting a professional translation provider will help you achieve the same goal in your target market. And continuity cultivates care. In close communication with your dedicated project manager, a professional translator will make it their mission to really understand your brand. They will also use the latest technology to ensure that your message and your corporate language are translated consistently each and every time.
  7. Transparency
    A professional translator will be able to provide a clear cost breakdown and delivery estimate based on your exact project specifications. If they do not provide that, look elsewhere.
  8. Confidentiality / data security
    If it’s commercial then it’s probably confidential. Professional translation providers understand the need to keep everything away from prying eyes and ears. They also have the systems and procedures to ensure that happens. Credentials like certification to ISO standards can be a good indication of which companies can keep your information safe.

So there you have it – the case for using a professional translation provider for your translation and localisation needs is there. But next you need to define what it is you need in terms of a service provider.

Find out if your procurement process is robust and how to find the right supplier for your needs.