All posts by Sarah Silva

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Behind the Scenes: Expectation and Reality

How Much Information Is Too Much?

Too much detail or do you think knowledge is power?

Do you sigh at too much detail or appreciate the clarity about what you should expect from your business partner or supplier?

A web developer colleague asked for a ballpark figure for translation in an online forum. Prices vary just as they do in your industry and so do the levels of service and professionalism. After suggesting a rough price range for guidance, I advised him to check that individual quotes included proofreading by a colleague to ensure a fair comparison.

Another forum member was shocked:

“I assumed that no (professional) translation would be delivered without being proofread by another person”

What would you expect?

When I elaborated further and explained there was translation to suit every budget but the service provided would differ, he gave me his perspective:

“From a client perspective, I just see two offers and assume the same quality from each person. The fact that one contains proofreading and one doesn’t is too much information for me personally. I want to know the price and be done with it.”

If you feel the same, that’s fine.  Just know that the services you’re comparing may not offer the same benefits. For instance: I translate into my native language – English – and include proofreading by a similarly qualified translator colleague as standard.

Not always the case

Some professionals translate out of their native language and quality assurance stops at proofreading their own work. Not only do you lose the second pair of eyes and perspective, you miss the cultural insights and idiomatic phrasing that a native speaker naturally adds. This is what can take a translation from adequate to impressive, with the corresponding results for your business.

A sprinkle of native speaker glamour for sparkling texts

Optimisation potential

Another option for non-native speakers translating into their second language is to partner up with a native speaker editor. One of my Austrian colleagues who translates into English describes my role as sprinkling some “Native-Speaker-Glamour” on her translation. I wanted the same for my newsletter so I ask my German colleague, Zoe, to sprinkle hers. That way readers can focus on enjoying the content instead of stumbling over the odd awkward phrase – written by someone who speaks and writes German on a daily basis but will still never pass for a native speaker.

As with anything in life, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples not artichokes (or machine translation) and evaluate the services on offer in terms of the results and enquiries you want to achieve.

Bear Grylls, a Rock Face, and a Cup of Tea

I was always brought up to have a cup of tea halfway up a rock face.
Bear Grylls

What a great quote. You’re imagining it now, aren’t you? The rugged survival guy breaking his climb to be quintessentially British with a cup of tea. I’m pretty sure this involves a thermos flask and not a bone china cup and saucer but that’s what I envisaged.

It’s a great opener and all credit to Towergate Insurance, who sent this to me in an email. They followed with this: You might not be half-way up a rock face right now but you are halfway through your Professional Liability policy… 

They found a way to make insurance interesting. That’s clever.

It’s genius and an obvious link if you think about it. Extreme sports enthusiasts and adventurers are a high risk for insurance – how do you insure someone who breaks their back in a parachuting accident, nearly drowns in a fast-flowing jungle river, and willingly pushes themselves to the limit? But what thrilling stories they make.

The opener made me smile and instantly more receptive to the rest of their email, which was just to keep in touch and remind me of a few details. Usually, you get a reminder a week or so before your insurance is due for renewal asking for money. No-one likes that kind of reminders so ultimately, an email or letter from an insurance company causes you to groan inwardly. The alternative, keeping in touch with your clients just to say hi and not just when you’re asking for something is refreshing. Are you doing this?

A Strong Finish

They even ended the email with a smile: If you are in fact half-way up a rock face, and you’ve left your home unoccupied, you might want to look at our Unoccupied Property Insurance.
A little call to action, a hint that they offer other products plus they make you feel good.

Despite the fact that you’re sitting at your desk, possibly with a snack and a cuppa, still holding a little extra weight than you’d like (just me?), this insurance company believes in you. You’re an adventurer ready to throw yourself out of a plane for pleasure at any given time. Yes indeed, I may just go and book a jungle trek, or perhaps just a flight to that industry conference I want to attend. Oh, travel insurance… where can I get that from I wonder…

So many businesses forget the fun you can have when building long-term relationships. No matter how serious your product, find a way to make your clients smile and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Now, go and book that skydive!

The entrance to the BrauBeviale trade show 2018

Battle of the Sales Pitch

There was beer. A lot of beer.

  It was a brewing and beverage trade fair after all but I still felt a little strange sampling the products while being all professional and talking business. Well, when in Rome, or Nuremberg…

What not to do

  What tends to happen at trade shows is that the sales people on the stands are ready with their pitches. They see you slow down as you walk by and then they pounce. You ask an opening question and they’re off. Yes, they’re very happy to offer you drinks and brochures and tell you everything about their company, asking very little of you. It could turn into a Battle of the Pitch if you take a similar stance (I didn’t).

  Most of the information these very capable sales people tell you, you can find on the company’s website. Which, if you’ve prepared for the show, you’ve already checked out.

Do this instead

  A few people on the stands asked great questions. From my answers, it was easy to see how they could help me or how I could help them and we found a common point of discussion. I bet these sales guys made the most rewarding contacts.

  Exhibiting is expensive, especially for small and medium-sized companies who can’t compete with the big names, crazy exhibits and ten-strong sales teams. And yet it’s usually the smaller companies with their genuine interest and more customised approach that get the most return on their investment.

  Do you have an exhibition or event planned soon?

Attracting and retaining visitors

  My advice, along with listening and adapting to your visitors (just having a normal conversation really) is to have a great story to encourage people to linger. Say, the beer tasting has a theme – the yeast was cultivated from a century-old oak keg and you’ve brought it back into use. Or you have a Frankenstein in Lederhosen everyone wants a selfie with (there’s a great story behind this model, for another time). It makes it much easier to start a conversation and sparks genuine interest.

  Find a story behind your products and services and bring that to the fore. And if you want to impress your international visitors once you’ve drawn them in, have your marketing material ready in gleaming English. I’m pretty sure I know someone who could help with that. Let’s get you the best return on investment for your next trade show.