Don't Get Lost In Translation
Thanks to the international business is a lot easier now that it was in the recent past. Before the days of dot coms and corporate websites, a business had to do far more research in order to find tie-ups, enter markets, and bridge the gap between language and expectations.
Back in the early 1990's, I represented a local business that wanted to start selling products in Japan. At that time, we contacted a Japanese government agency with a branch office in Denver that catered to companies that wanted to export to Japan. We met with their representatives, showed them the product, and were scheduled to display our goods at a trade show in Osaka.
The trade show was interesting. Smaller businesses that didn't buy individual display booths were lumped into large displays that represented regions. We shared a booth with people from Wyoming and Colorado. Some of the products had representatives present, others did not. Every area had a couple of interpreters and a couple of "companions," which were attractive young ladies who's main purpose was to shuffle business forms and run faxes back and forth. Business representatives from Japan then files through the areas, looking at various products and exchanging contact information if they were interested.
The smaller businesses were hindered by the fact that they had no documentation in Japanese, and some of those that did had used students or other non-professionals who made humorous mistakes. I was especially surprised by the lack of documentation from companies that didn't send a representative. At least with a representative, an interpreter could translate and mediate, but with no documentation and no representative, the product was left to stand alone. Needless to say, not many people took down information on those products. The whole affair hit home the point that if you are going to try to enter a different market, it pays to use document translation services.
The internet has made that conclusion all the more relevant. Not only do documents need to be translated professionally, websites and other business material need to be handled by competent business translation services. Trade shows are still relevant, but it is much easier now for a company or product representative to contact a potential parter by means of the internet, or to skip the middleman altogether and enter the market directly by hosting a foreign language version of their website, targeted at that particular country. In any case, having your information correctly translated is an absolute must.
by: Art Gib