Anne is a French native certified translator for English and German. After working for 2 years as part of the ProZ.com site staff where she was in charge of translators conferences and in-person events, she is now Marketing Manager, PM and occasional in-house translator at GxP Language Services, a medical LSP based in the Black Forest region in Germany.
She works in parallel as a Social Media & Internet Marketing consultant, speaker and trainer for freelancers and small business owners, in the translation industry and in other industries - she already helped dozens of translators boost their online presence and visibility. In 2012, she even was commissioned by a political party with managing the online image of a candidate running for the French elections and was in charge of his entire online campaign. A regular contributor to marketing and translation publications, she gives training sessions and workshops online and all over Europe.
How did you get started in the translation industry?
I studied translation in Lyon, France, where I graduated with an MA in Translation. As a student, I already was a very active member of the ProZ.com website which led them to offer me my first job fresh out of university. This is how I started in the industry: by working as a service provider for the translation industry, more specifically by organizing conferences worldwide for translators. It was an amazing experience which gave me a unique overview and knowledge of local translation markets, but also of the industry as a whole. Not to mention the amazing contacts I made and the insights they gave me on an intercultural level and of what translators need, the challenges in the industry, etc.
How do you communicate the value of translation services?
As I am primarily the marketing manager for the LSP I work for, my job is basically to get us end clients. I see my job not so much as Sales, but rather education. I do a lot of telephone marketing and attend clients’ industry trade shows and it's amazing how little end clients know (and understand) about what we do - some are even surprised that this is "a real job" and that there is a "real big translation industry".
It's sometimes ungrateful and frustrating work selling translation services to end clients - of 100 phone calls, maybe 15 will sound really interested - and from these 15, max 5 will get back to me within a year, asking for a quote – of which 4 out of the 5 will refuse because they find us too expensive and have found another agency ready to do the same for 10 cents a word. Usually this is the point where I wish them luck and expect to hear back from them soon... which happens most of the time. They get back to me after 1 month or so, in need of a complete retranslation because the cheap provider did a very poor job. Those clients then remain faithful to us and no longer discuss prices, because they learnt "the hard way" that a quality service has a price. But again, that's maybe 3 to 4 clients.
All the others, it's more difficult. I get a lot of, "we don't need translators, my secretary speaks 8 languages, she does all our corporate brochures, user manuals and marketing stuff" (Wow!). I try to make them understand that (a) she couldn’t possibly speak 8 languages so fluently that she could convey cultural aspects when localizing/adapting a brochure, (b) even if she could, being perfectly bilingual does not mean she's actually able to translate, and (c) translation is a real job, with a real university-degree level education.
Then of course, we have our own arguments and sales techniques for clients who are almost convinced but need a little more - we only do medical and pharma texts and have a medical doctor in-house and we work with medical professionals worldwide for languages and medical fields that we don't cover in-house. We can offer additional services, etc. But yes, the main point is the fact that quality has a price and an agency charging 0,10€ per word probably pays their freelancers peanuts and does not even pay a proofreader - and not only hurts the industry but risks poor quality and thus, losses of time and money for the end client are higher.
What has been your single most effective sales or marketing strategy?
In-person networking with the relevant contacts (marketing managers, communication managers etc.) of those medical/pharma companies we target. Nothing beats in-person. I am a big believer of Internet marketing and networking, I strongly believe in its power, but even so, nothing will ever replace the "in-the-flesh" contact.
Do you have a favourite 'type' of client?
Haha, yes! I call them "traumatized" clients, the ones mentioned earlier - those who went to cheap agencies the first time they ever needed a translation, it went completely wrong and they came back to us begging to have the texts corrected or retranslated. If they are happy with what we the deliver, they remain faithful and never discuss prices anymore because they're so relieved to have found a provider that can deliver the quality they need. With time, a real trust and friendship usually builds - one such of our clients told us recently that they trusted our work blindly and were recommending us to all their providers and partners.
What was your most successful project ever, and why?
Any project that results in the client's satisfaction combined with a good business relationship (including timely payment) is a successful project.
Do you ever negotiate on rates?
Only when necessary - we have educated our existing clients to respect our work, so they do not discuss prices. 90% of the time, deadlines are just fine, when they need a big translation in a rush, it means they really do and there's no way around it. It is a "client retain" strategy as well - when you have a good client with whom you have a good relationship, if they exceptionally need one huge text in a very tight timeframe, you just do it, you can't let them down. New potential clients however are another matter and we do negotiate with those, mostly on rates.
What would you ideally invest in next in order to grow your business?
Constant investment in new technologies and additional in-house staff.
Which tools have most impacted your profitability?
Translation memory tools, without a doubt.
Do you have any advice for others looking to market their services?
Don't underestimate social networks and an active online presence!