These days, no matter what business you are in, competition is guaranteed to be tough. Aggressive new entrants, volatile prices, constantly evolving ways of selling and differentiating products and services: it’s hard to retain a comfort zone. Rational diversification is one solution, and exploring foreign markets can be a surprisingly convenient and rewarding way to go about it.
If your business has a website and email, plus credit card or PayPal facilities, you’ve got just about all you need to dip your big toe into the world at large – all you need is some targeted content. In this and subsequent posts, we’ll look at how working with a qualified professional translator can help you venture outside the home square in a swift and cost-effective way. First, let’s consider an intriguing example of how even totally rarefied activities at home can find abundant oxygen for survival and growth abroad.
PIGS: ONE NATION’S TRASH IS ANOTHER’S TREASURE
Most people know about the massive international success of Australian wine. Not so many think about wild pigs, yet the boar meat trade is a useful reminder that the unlikeliest looking product or service can find a rewarding global niche.
Pigs are not native to Australia, but have successfully adapted into the wild and have grown big, tough and aggressive. Destructive and numerous pests, they are more than a match for the biggest European wild boar. They are controlled by hunting and trapping, often for sport. As far as the Australian authorities are concerned, people who kill wild pigs are doing the nation’s agriculture, flora and fauna a favour. Sadly though, the meat is not generally appreciated at home.
Meanwhile in Europe, wild pigs have been an emblematic game animal for centuries, and their flesh and byproducts are highly prized. However, their traditional forest environments are dwindling; hunting is controlled, and there is insufficient production to satisfy the demand of German, French, Spanish or Czech gourmets. Readers by now have joined the dots, and so did entrepreneurs on each side of the globe.
People in Australia with the right cultural knowledge made the supply vs demand connection, and consequently Australian (and subsequently New Zealand) specialist providores can do a nice trade supplying Europe with wild-sourced pig meat. Niche as it is, this market is nevertheless maturing: Canadian producers have been courting European palates with wild pigs from their colder, wetter climate. This yields a different quality of meat, closer to the traditional European ideal: so rather than compete on price, the Canadians are going for quality. A niche within a niche.
SOMEBODY OUT THERE WANTS YOU!
What does it all mean?
- In a global marketplace, somebody somewhere is bound to be interested in what you’ve got.
You are particularly well placed if you also know that your stuff is inherently attractive to certain groups (short supply/ high esteem), so:
- A bit of cultural and linguistic knowledge can give you a big edge in identifying that somebody/somewhere.
But, as the Canadians have shown in the boar meat market, even if you are fortunate enough to find and develop a singular opportunity, you can’t expect to exploit it unmolested forever:
- There’s a constant need to stay informed of trends and adapt to them, no matter how unique, specialised, complicated, prestige, left-field, technical or just plain out-there your activity is.
OK, so one might think “English is a worldwide language, if anyone overseas wants me they can find me, and we can always use online translation engines anyway”. English is all that’s needed to communicate, stay abreast, find and be found…. right?
The thing is, that very assumption lumps us in with everyone else who thinks the same way. And it forces us to compete on their terms. But that’s not for us, because we’re looking outside the square. And not even that far outside: just enough to get that crucial edge so we can run our own race.
Which brings us to the kind of industry partner services that a qualified professional translator can provide.
TRANSLATORS AS INDUSTRY PARTNERS
A common concept about translation is that it’s passive. A foreign language document lands on our desk or arrives in our inbox, and we need to figure out what it says, and what to do about it. In some cases we need a top-drawer certified legal translation so we can use the document in an official process (customs, law courts, permits, residency, whatever). There are a range of offerings available to cover all needs, from cheap and cheerful clearing houses to expert and comprehensive translation studios.
The common element is that passive translations follow somebody else’s script: the original document is an unalterable reality. That’s great, and faithfulness is a major part of the translator skill set, but it’s not the whole story.
Successful translation requires reading thoroughly, thinking deeply, and rewriting with confidence, knowledge and conviction. These are attributes that fit naturally with your business in creating and refining its content to give an effective international focus. Not passively following a script, but actively helping you research and write your foreign-focused material. And in the process, often affording insights or uncovering information that you wouldn’t normally access, or even know exists.
If you have a business or concept, and want to project it to the world, active translation is a value-adding investment. Why leave your worldwide portrayal to passive translation engines or budget language clearing houses? An expert translator can personally help you explore fresh fields so you ultimately write your own script about how your business gets to interact with the world.
In upcoming posts we’ll look at some of the ways a qualified professional translator can assist you as an information industry partner to further your business goals. That “bit of cultural and linguistic knowledge”, and the big potential edge that goes with it, are within relatively easy reach.
Next time: finding others vs being found ourselves.
Why simply priming your website with some targeted foreign content can foster unguessed rewards.