Creating Authentic Connections with Multilingual Audiences

Are your marketing strategies limited to just one language? 

In the US, one in five residents speaks a language other than English at home, and globally, just a quarter of internet users are native speakers of English. According to the American Marketing Association, if you’re limiting your marketing strategies to one language, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity to connect and engage with your potential customers – nationally and globally. 

The AMA contacted Multilingual Connections, a Chicago-area and woman-owned translation agency, for insights for brands looking to connect authentically with their diverse audiences. In the interview with AMA, Founder & CEO Dr. Jill Kushner Bishop emphasizes the importance of cultural nuance and transcreation when localizing your marketing campaigns.

Here are some highlights from their conversation:

1. Transcreation of Content

Translation is part art and part science – and you can’t forget the art! When marketing your message across cultures, a direct translation from one language to another isn’t enough. If you want your audience to engage with your brand’s message, you have to go beyond the words and focus on culture, context, and nuance. Transcreation is an important approach to consider and involves creative marketing translators and copywriters adapting your brand’s message in a way that will resonate with your audience while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context.

“If you’re a marketer, you don’t want to lose the relevance or immediacy of something just by going with a translation where people will understand the words but not the feeling,” Dr. Bishop says. Sports metaphors are a great example of a language device that can easily become lost in a direct translation: while they may be prevalent in English, for an audience that doesn’t play baseball, expressions like “out of left field,” “off base” or “three strikes” are meaningless – and therefore a direct translation is not the right approach. Expressions like these are often so embedded in a culture that it’s not always obvious what their origin is, and that’s why it’s essential to have a cultural insider working on your copy to make sure your message resonates with your audience, wherever they are. 

An illustration of people communicating across a global map.

2. Regional Localization

At Multilingual Connections, we assign translators to projects based on native language, region, and industry expertise. It’s not enough to be a native speaker of a language; marketers should also consider the nuances of the language across different regions and dialects. For example, if your target market is Canada, it’s important to translate and localize your French content by working with a Canadian French translator. But even within a country, you have to think about who your audience is. As Bishop says, “If you’re [writing] something that’s very slang-heavy – where you’re trying to reach out to young people or a particular subsection of the community – you’re going to want to understand the way they talk among themselves and make sure you’re connecting with that.”

3. Invest in Authentic Connections

Another piece of advice centers around investing resources and tools to support your multilingual marketing initiatives. If you’re looking to launch a global campaign, Bishop recommends, find a good translation partner you can trust, and take the time and set aside the budget to do it right. 

“If you really want to connect with [a multilingual audience], you have to build a relationship,” Bishop says. “You must spend the time and the money to do that. When companies just put up a Google-translated version of their website, it’s as if they’re telling customers, ‘We care about you, and we want your business, but not enough to really invest.’”

Getting a multilingual campaign right can take time, and marketers need to explore a variety of strategies. But effectively translating your marketing campaigns to the language of your audience allows you to build trust, credibility, and connections – which demonstrates to consumers that you’re a brand worth investing in. Our job at Multilingual Connections is to help you create connections that matter to you and your audience, no matter the language.

You can read the entire Marketing News post on the American Marketing Association website and connect with us to discuss your next marketing translation project.

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