For a few days I was a German person living in England.
It wasn’t intentional. I went about doing my thing and people wrongly assumed I was a foreigner – German apparently – and corrected me at every turn.
“You must mean Streatham” [pronounced stretthaem] said the lady at the train station, trying to help.
“No, I actually want to go to Chatham please!” (okay, nobody wants to go to Chatham but I lived there at the time).
It might have been the few seconds it took for me to realise where I was, which language I needed to use, maybe I’d developed a bit of a mixed accent.
I’d been living in Germany for a year and when I got back home to the UK it took some time to adjust. Something I’d never imagined would happen. It baffled, amused, and frustrated me at the same time.
It was a weird experience, being treated like a foreigner in your own country. People tried to help me even though all I needed was a couple of seconds thinking time. Often I’d be searching for the right word, sometimes carrying my rubbish around looking lost as I tried to find the non-existent recycling bins.
You don’t get given thinking time
And while you might not be buying train tickets or trying to sort your rubbish in the UK, the same applies to export.
British clients will identify the foreignness in your marketing like an eagle spots its rabbit dinner – from miles away.
Unfortunately, you don’t get the same ‘helpful’ guidance that you would face to face. Your prospective clients will expect you to make it easy for them instead.
- Easy for them to concentrate on your message instead of the odd word choice.
- Easy for them to understand the benefits of working with a foreign company versus a British one.
- Easy for them to appreciate you have everything covered so they can relax and get on with their business.
And all of this despite being foreign – this is the invisible barrier you have to overcome when dealing with British clients.
Once you’ve broken down this barrier, there’ll be no stopping you. So let’s get that sledge hammer out and start clearing your path.
When I worked in multinational companies, my foreign colleagues often called upon me to explain British behaviour, our hidden messages and how to cope with our cultural oddities. Over the past ten years as a translator, clients and friends have continued to ask for my insider insights.
So I dedicated an entire chapter of my book to Burrowing into the British Brain. You’ll find another about How to be Special and Position Your Business to Beat the Local Competition. Grab your insider’s guide here: www.chemicaltranslator.com/book
I’ll help you banish that hint of otherness and make sure those pesky British clients are lining up to work with you.