3 top tips to help small businesses impact multilingual markets

By Endri Hasanaj

Doing business across borders before the dawn of the digital age was mainly the preserve of large global corporations with the funds to hire interpreters and build offices abroad. But thanks to the wide reach of the web and secure online payments, ambitious small businesses can successfully market their products and services for a reasonably low outlay.

So if you’re an entrepreneur looking to establish a global footprint for your business, here are three top tips to help small businesses impact multilingual markets.

Adaptation

If you’re developing products and services from scratch, you might be in a position to design them so they’re suitable for the particular markets you’re targeting. But established smart brands adapt to local markets by tweaking their offerings to suit local tastes and marketing themselves as sophisticated players that understand and appreciate the subtleties of local traditions.

Whatever your approach, research is required to ensure there’s a demand for what you’re selling, that it meets a gap in the market, and that it’s presented in a thoughtful and culturally-sensitive manner.

There are lots of factors to consider–customers in developing economies might evaluate certain products according to different criteria and the efficiency and quality of products can be compromised by different climates.

So do your research before you dive into international markets or you might make an expensive mistake.

Translation

Basic automated translation services are available online–but if you want to make a professional impression in multilingual markets, these are best avoided.

Paying for the services of a professional translator is money well spent. Because they understand the subtleties of grammar, tone and style, you’ll ensure customers aren’t confused.

This is particularly important for certain business sectors — if you’re offering accredited online degrees, for example, you’ll want your marketing messages to be as sharp and clear as your teaching methods. The appeal of your distance learning masters in any subject will dwindle if local students are bewildered by bad translation.

The same principle applies to specialized technical products you want to sell to a niche multilingual market–B2B marketing relies heavily on trust, which is hard to establish without professional proficiency in the local language.

So don’t cut corners when it comes to translation–pay for a pro and you’ll reap the benefits.

Localized website and SEO

A well-designed website that’s properly SEO optimized and includes local links can allow any small company to punch above its weight. Provided that your translation is on-point and your SEO is tweaked to cater for the prime keywords in each market, the bespoke international versions of your website allow you to make your mark around the world.

Website translation is fairly technical and you’ll have to adapt the structure of your site and the various coded elements on each page so that Google’s crawlers recognize its relevance in a particular linguistic market–and reward it with a prime search engine results page ranking. If you don’t have this type of expertise in-house, then it’s best to pay for the services of expert developers and digital marketers. But you’ll recoup your initial outlay fairly quickly once your website connects with customers powerfully in various territories so you can convince them to part with their cash for your products.

These three top tips to help small businesses impact multilingual markets will help you build a far flung entrepreneurial empire in no time at all.

Does your small business operate in multilingual markets? Share your advice in the comments section.

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Endri Hasanaj is a trilingual marketing professional who has diversified experience in start-ups, business ideas, and their process of integrating with marketing.

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