Officially you sell to companies. Actually you sell to people.mar 1 2023
By Marcos Chiquetto
At a translation company, there are a number of activities that are necessary to keep the organization running. The main ones include:
- Development of a marketing plan in which you define how the company will operate over a certain period of time
- Management of the work flow for translations in a way that guarantees timely performance and quality work
- Actually perform the translations
- Control accounts payable and accounts receivable
- Recruit human resources
- Develop the available human resources
- Obtain new clients
Among these different activities, which one do you think is the hardest?
— I don’t know. Perform the translations?
No. Without a doubt, the most difficult task among those mentioned is the last one: obtain new clients.
— And why is that so hard? It seems like it would be a simple thing. There are so many people in the world that need translation work nowadays.
It’s hard because the search for clients is a competition between thousands of companies that are struggling to obtain the same prospective clients. Winning over a new client means convincing a company to choose you among countless suppliers that seem the same. Basically, the prospective client must understand that all of the available options are not the same, and that you offer the best alternative.
— And how has your company survived for more than 36 years when obtaining new clients is so difficult?
Well, throughout all of these years, our company has constantly engaged in promotional campaigns, spending a considerable amount of time and money in the search for new clients. But, oddly enough, many of our clients are not added through this work. Let me give you an example that makes this clear.
In 1997, continuing our constant promotional work, we ran a direct mail publicity campaign. One of the companies that received our material was the Brazilian branch of Creative Labs, which, at that time, was one of the largest manufacturers of audio accessories for computers. The Brazilian branch passed our name along to its USA headquarters, which asked us for a price quote, and subsequently approved our proposal and began working with us.
— So, you were able to find this new client.
Well, this one was the direct result of our direct mail campaign.
— What? You said that many of your clients don’t come directly from your promotional campaigns, but this is an example of the opposite.
Hold on a minute. Let me continue the story.
We worked with Creative Labs from 1997 until 2004, performing 52 translation projects for their marketing area. Our contact was the marketing manager for Latin America, based in Milpitas, California, who I’ll call by the fictitious name of Maria here.
In March of 2006, 2 years after having done our last project for Creative Labs, I received the following message:
So the reason that Creative Labs had stopped sending us translation work was apparent. Our contact there had left the company. Maria had changed jobs. She was now at NVIDIA, a leader in the area of video processing chips.
We started working with NVIDIA, through their Latin American marketing department.
However, 2 years later, Maria told me she had moved to Sandisk, a large manufacturer of memory devices.
In September of 2008, I received this message:
Nevertheless, even with Maria having left NVIDIA, we continued to provide translations for that company, working with the new marketing manager for Latin America. In 2016, the high management at NVIDIA decided to move all their translation work to a multilingual global agency, ending our cycle there after 10 years during which we delivered 410 translation jobs for that client alone.
And to continue our story, Sandisk is our client until today. We’ve currently done 246 translation jobs for them.
— So? Is that the end of the story?
In September of 2013, I received the following message:
Once again summoned by Maria, we started working with Symantec in 2013. They were our client until 2017, when she left the company. We received 13 projects from her during this period.
And now the story is finished!
To summarize, from one successful contact from a direct mail campaign, in 1997, by following Maria’s career path we were able to work with 4 global cutting-edge technology companies that over a span of 25 years sent us 721 translation jobs.
And we have others stories like this one. This experience taught us that even while continually spending money on marketing, the greatest source of new clients for a company that is a service provider comes from providing a positive experience to its clients, who will then recommend your company to their contacts, or literally bring you with them as they transition through the job market.
— If that’s the case, why invest in marketing efforts to find new clients? It appears that you just need to serve your existing clients well and that will provide you with new clients in the future.
Well, its not exactly like that. To serve your existing clients well, first you need to have some, and this makes it necessary to continually engage in marketing activities. This initial marketing work provides you with a client base and by satisfying these clients you grow your client roster.
That’s why making sure that your client always has a good experience with you is worth much more than it first appears: this is where a large part of your future revenue will come from in the long run, including clients who come as referrals from this base that you don’t even know exist at this point.
Marcos Chiquetto is an engineer, Physics teacher, translator, and writer. He is the director of LatinLanguages, a Brazilian translation agency specialized in providing multilingual companies with translation into Portuguese and Spanish.