From Translators To Marketer

Marketing seems like a complex science at first, but for translation professionals it’s just an extension of the language skills we already possess.

Life is a complex pattern of behaviours and events. On the one hand, it’s vital to keep learning and growing as a person – from that first bud of curiosity when you were a child all the way through to your last moments, you must continue to seek out the new and to learn new skills and bits of data. It’s the only way to keep your brain and spirit elastic and vibrant.

At the same time, you have to use the skills you have and apply knowledge you’ve already learned. Continuously collecting experiences and knowledge without ever using them is a waste of time and effort – your brain has to be applied, as well. It’s a mistake to think that you must always start over at zero when you take on a new role – your best bet often is to think about how you can apply your knowledge and existing training to the new role.

Take marketing your translation services business: Do you need to go to school to learn how to market yourself? If you work in the translation business, probably not.

Existing Skills

One of our (relatively few) superpowers as translation workers is a mastery over language. Languages are not opaque mysteries to us, they’re fascinating adventures and we know how to burrow into them and figure out their secrets. That’s a marketable skill, obviously, as you’re here the same as I due to making a living working with languages.

It’s also a transferable skill. Marketing is all about language. Yes, there is a visual component you may not be as comfortable and familiar with. There are technologies involved you may not have mastery of, or even knowledge of. But at its core, marketing is language. It’s persuasive, it’s exciting, and it’s absolutely in your wheelhouse as a translator.

Applying Language Skills to Marketing

So how can you apply your translation background to your own marketing? It all starts with putting yourself in the role of your potential client. What is your client looking for? What are their requirements for translation work? Create a sketch of your ideal client – that one person or business that absolutely needs to hire you. What do they look like?

Once you know that, you can start to shape your marketing. Start off by imagining having a conversation with this ideal client. What would they ask you? And how would you answer? These questions will form the basis of your marketing, because marketing is all about identifying what your market wants and then communicating that you have it, in spades.

Notice how all of this has been couched in language-terms – a conversation. In many ways that’s what marketing is. How many marketing pieces are phrased as questions? You ask your clients what they need, then you state that you offer it – and at a pretty good price. That’s all marketing is, and you’re likely very good at it without knowing.

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