For modern businesses, the key to being successful is to stay current. The advent and growth of the Internet and social media have made the world a smaller and more connected place. We are seeing a transition from business-to-consumer and business-to-business to human-to-human. Marketing initiatives must adapt accordingly.

When developing a marketing campaign, you want it to evoke emotion with your customer base. So it's important to understand different types of consumers, their habits, and their culture.

Connected intimately to culture and identity is language. To better relate your product or service to consumers, try presenting those products and services in a way that identifies with consumers of a particular culture—via multilingual marketing.

A successful multilingual marketing campaign involves the following:

  1. Research
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Distribution

As a marketer, you are familiar with planning and implementing a marketing campaign; through the following tips, we will talk about the best ways to research, plan, execute, and distribute a multilingual marketing campaign.

1. Research: Knowing the Market

Your company has decided to move into new markets. It's time to plan your marketing initiatives.

Marketing research is essential in the modern global market. Start with a country assessment. Take a look at key factors: geographic, demographic, economic, cultural, legal, political, and infrastructure.

Your first goal is to find out more about your target consumer. What languages do they speak? What websites are they visiting? What social media outlets do they interact on? Do they shop frequently online?

Your second goal is to find out how well the way you market your product or service relates to those target consumers. Assess your current English-language or US-based marketing campaign. Look at the premise. Would it work for another culture? Why or why not?

2. Planning: How to Bridge the Language (and Culture) Barrier

When planning a multilingual marketing campaign, think about how you are going to tackle the language barrier. Free translation tools such as Google Translate may work for understanding the gist of an email, but it will not work in the context of marketing.

Marketing content is supposed to have a human element, whereas machine-translated text can often sound unnatural and takes away from the native brand experience.

Bilingual employees are often considered a cost-effective option: They work within your organization, and they have good knowledge of the target language. However, bilingual employees may not have a marketing background. But such a background is important when considering translation of marketing materials or corporate communications. Bilingual employees may be more important as internal reviewers for translations to make sure the materials "speak the language" of your company (company-specific terms).

Choosing a reputable translator is an important part of the planning stage. The freelancer or translation agency you choose must have a good reputation. Qualifications should include the use of in-country, native-speaking linguists: They will know about cultural sensitivities, current events, and other nuances that will make translations relevant and engaging.

Word-for-translation will not always resonate, so take a look at firms who are adept at transcreation—translation plus creation. This approach takes translation to the next level: Marketing content is adapted so that the words and the meaning carry the same weight in different cultures.

Creating a style guide is also an important part of the planning stage. Your brand's source content has a distinct voice. You will want to make sure that your, voice carries over into multilingual markets. Your style guide should include any frequently used industry jargon, including acronyms and abbreviations as well as keywords related to your brand. Such guidelines will allow translators and content creators to make sure content maintains a consistency of voice and tone.

3. Execution: Putting Your Plan Into Practice

The planning phase involves a lot of assessing and choosing strategic partnerships. The execution phase is all about efficiency, timeliness, and communication.

If you have chosen a partner to work with on your multilingual marketing campaign, communication is vital. First, confirm that the source content is final—so that you avoid a lot of back-and-forth issues. Also, to avoid delay, ensure the source content creator is available for any questions.

If you have elected to have translations or multilingual content reviewed (highly recommended that you do), then you should have the reviewers ready. As noted earlier, bilingual employees are often used to this end. Since they have other jobs, it is important to let them know when they will have to review content and establish deadlines. Set expectations for the translators, the reviewers, and yourself.

Also, plan for what happens when the translations or multilingual content are ready and final, at which point the next phase of the campaign comes into play.

4. Distribution: It's Not One-Size Fits All

A lot of time is spent on planning and creating content. In the case of multilingual marketing campaigns, a lot of time is spent preparing content for translation, translating the content, and then finalizing it. Just as important is spending time to think about distribution.

Will the content be printed? Will it be provided online? Who is responsible for printing and posting the content?

When launching a project into multiple new markets, all translations must be ready so that they can be released simultaneously with the source language, if that is intended to be part of the marketing campaign.

* * *

For today's modern business, global customer engagement is paramount. Successful planning and implementation of a multilingual marketing campaign means huge potential for gains in company growth.

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image of Caitlin Nicholson

Caitlin Nicholson is a business development specialist at LinguaLinx, a translation and global marketing service provider that works with thousands of clients and linguists around the world.

LinkedIn: Caitlin Nicholson