CHAPTER 4 - MARKETING AND CLIENT ACQUISITION
Marketing can be done in numerous ways. One customary method of promoting a language service company is email marketing. Additionally, an entrepreneur may have profiles in different media where potential clients can find them. A website is recommended, but not everyone has one. If you don’t want to create a website, invest in your social media presence. If you can’t be found on the web, you don’t exist – do you trust service providers whose information is not available on the web?
Online Service Profiles
There are several global portals where a language service entrepreneur can create a profile and where people can scout for commissions. Through these services, the clients can also communicate their needs. Examples of such portals include Proz.com, Translatorscafé.com and TranslationDirectory.com. These services are mainly used by translation agencies to find translators. Don’t forget that in addition to profitable contacts, you can get many utterly terrible offers through these services. Another good tip is to check out translation organizations in the countries of your language pairs. It’s possible to have visibility in their directories, if you pay a membership fee.
Website and LinkedIn Profile
One of the best business cards your company can have on the web is your website. The site can be very simple. It may even be just one page, which contains all the necessary information (the services offered and contact information). If you don’t want to build your own site, be sure that you have at least a LinkedIn profile and that your information is up to date. You should also think about where your clients are: a LinkedIn profile can be created in all the supported languages. Most commissioners check the LinkedIn profiles of their partners, so you should definitely pay attention to what your profile looks like. You can create an impressive profile, for example, with these tips. Check out the profiles of translators you know or the creators of this site (in Finnish).
Blogs are a popular method for content marketing. However, blogging about a specialist subject requires considerable experience and competence. Therefore, a blog may not be the best marketing tool for someone just starting their career. Explore blogs created by other professionals and companies. Here are a few Finnish blogs worth checking out:
Marketing can be done via email as well. Email marketing is usually an effective method, especially when targeting translation agencies. Compile a list of contacts and be thorough: Explore the websites of different translation agencies and pick the ones you want to contact. Send them a short message and your CV with your vital information: the services you offer, the tools you use, and your rates. Websites of translation agencies usually have instructions on how to become a part of their supplier base. Follow the instructions. If you don’t get a reply, find out who the vendor manager is and contact them directly.
You shouldn’t contact direct clients via email before some prior contact. Your message may end up in the trash folder or spam filter.
You can get clients the old-fashioned way by calling them. It’s neither easy nor particularly effective. Creating a good calling list requires meticulous research: you have to choose a field and then the companies you’re planning to contact, familiarize yourself with their websites, and call them and ask for the person responsible for acquiring language services. This varies widely from company to company and even depends on the special field you’re looking to work in.
In many companies, people who are responsible for answering the incoming calls are advised to not forward calls if the caller doesn’t know the name of the person they’re trying to reach. Therefore, it’s not enough to know the job title, but you have to know the name of the person as well.
You can acquire both translation agency clients and direct clients by networking. The best way is to go through all your acquaintances: family friends, relatives, friends, LinkedIn contacts and so on. Let them know about the services you’re offering.
Different conferences, trade fairs and events are great places for networking and promoting your services as well. In translation-related events you can meet other translators and interpreters with whom you can network and collaborate. Often, there are also representatives of translation agencies present at these events, and it is well worth the effort to approach them and offer them your business card.
Events and conventions in other fields, as well as different entrepreneur events, are also a good way to network and find direct clients. In our field, even a small company can be a great client.
For a small language service company, it’s not cost-effective to buy an expensive front-page advertising spot in a print newspaper. The expense is way too high compared to the benefits. Instead, you could consider online advertising. It’s relatively cheap and the costs are easy to manage. When your target group is companies, the most sensible options are Google and LinkedIn ads.