Promoting Our Freelance Translation Business
This post would well be categorized under the “hot bloopers.” But the point to be covered here has more to do with marketing than with bloopers.
Successful promotion is the key to success in any business, and first impression is the critical element in it. And a well-written message (be it an email reply or a short promotional message posted at forums, mailing lists, etc.) is the most critical factors of all in translation business, since the text is the only measuring rod against which our target audience measures the quality of our service. That is why I am posting this message under the “Business” category.
For the last couple of weeks I am receiving a promotional message from one of the Yahoo translation groups to which I am also a subscriber. The message originates from an Istanbul based agency that claims to have decades of experience, professional staff, and the like. But reading the first line of the message, you would probably think that it is the last one to whom you would trust your translation projects. I am including the whole message here:
Our company which is giving translation services and written and orally translations (simultaneous, concecutive) for any subject in whole world languages for five years, has all sorts of knowledge, aggregation and technological supplies.
Each of our written and orally translator staffs approximately near to 1500 in all over the world are formed by expert persons who have at least 5-10-15 years knowledge, aggregation and experince and are at the world standards.
Our translators are orientated through the translation projects which are classified one by one about their subjects, such as technical, medical, law, engineering etc..
Our translators’ professionalism and our coordinatos’s efforts are effective on submitting the translation businesses on time.
For all of your written and orally translation projects, you can get into contact with us by contentmently through the following addresses…
This is really a terrible first impression for a translator claiming experience and expertise. Anyone reading this message would hardly consider assigning a translation job to its originator. They would simply ignore it.
For freelance translators, self-promotion (bidding for a particular translation project, writing personalized emails, submitting CVs and references, counting relevant experiences, or designing a profile page) is the only marketing tool available. If used effectively, it may help us to attain a high level of “conversion.” And if not used properly, it can forestall our efforts to win new clients. Using this tool effectively means nothing more than using the language effectively (fluent, grammatically correct, focused, succinct: neither too long to be boring, nor too short).
We can theorize about the stages of winning a new client in freelance business such as: plausibility (first impression), capability (relevant experience, having required qualifications, credentials, etc.), affordability (cost), and the like.
As in any other human interaction, here too first impression plays a determining role in establishing or failing to establish a relationship of any duration (short-term or long-term). It is necessary but not a sufficient condition for winning clients. Necessary, because without a good first impression, the potential client simply turns away to other alternatives. Not sufficient, because we have to meet a couple of other criteria set by the potential clients. And since the words are all that we have for yielding a positive impression enough to have potential clients consider using our services, we should be extremely careful in our first attempt at contact.
Mostly, outsourcers have an initial, but mostly accurate judgment as to the quality level of your services simply through your first email. (I said “mostly,” because there may be cases where the outsourcer himself may not be good at the communication language, and therefore may fail to form a sound judgment on the language skills of the translator. But this is the exception, and not the rule.) Therefore, writing a good email, or a message is essential in yielding a favorable first impression.
Then, how can we learn to write a good message? We can study messages written by native-language speakers: How they introduce themselves, how they address the issue, and how they conclude the message. Sooner or later, we would notice a discernible pattern: A proper greeting, stating the reason why the message is written, elaborating on it, concluding about it, and closing the message with a thanks and regards phrase.
After all, this pattern is easy to learn. What is difficult is to convince the outsourcer that we are capable of delivering quality services, and meeting their requirements. To this end, text of our message should give the impression that we know the language in question well, that we are capable of expressing ourselves well in that language. Failing to give this initial impression amounts to a lost client!
In summary, writing a good initial message may draw the line between success and failure. Therefore, a non-native speaker should check every single line of his message, every phrase and term he uses against reliable resources to ensure that the text of his message is grammatically correct, the phrases are appropriate, and the terms are used properly. Never write a message like the one mentioned above. It would be better not to write it at all!
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