Content (and the copywriting behind that content) is the backbone for any brand’s voice in the digital age. With a strong content strategy backed by skilled translation services, a brand can become something more than just a provider of a product or service.
For every market you want to enter, you have a blank slate in terms of who you are. On a local level, a new branch of a restaurant will have to prove itself to the locals of the new town that it’s placed in. On a global level, a brand has to create content that wins over the locals of the new country.
When crafting your voice, you should always keep these points in mind. Below is your guidebook to international marketing – read it, digest it, and translate it!
3 factors of Content Judgement
No matter which culture you’re writing for, content as a whole is always judged in a uniform set of ways.
- What you write about – what does your brand care about? What does this say about you?
- How you write about it – what’s your tone? Are you casting a wide net by being friendly and neutral, or are you trying to win over one particular side with a more critical stance?
- How much value the reader takes away from your content – are you going to leave a mark, or is your content going to be forgotten like most of what else he reads today?
No one can write about everything. When you’re choosing what to write, take your time to make sure that your subject matter and tone are in line with the image that you’re trying to cultivate for your brand. And of course, make sure that it’s valuable – generic, unhelpful content in a new market will make your brand seem cheap and low-value.
Cultivate a relatable voice with cultural knowledge
If you or your client is based in the UK, then you know what’s going on here day in and day out. You know what people are reading, you know the controversial topics, you know what will spark conversation.
It’s absolutely vital that you incorporate this knowledge into your writing. That’s what people in the UK are going to care about reading. If you’re a US brand expanding into the UK and you constantly use American jokes, references, and dialect, you’ll alienate your audience.
If you do the opposite, you’ll draw your audience in with ease. People like other people who are similar to them – immerse yourself in the culture, reflect your knowledge of it, and people will be more interested in what you have to say as a result of you doing so.
Speak as an authority on what you know, and what you know only.
Balancing Volume & Value in New Markets
If you’re writing all of your content for a single country, you can afford to put out some mediocre content along with your big-ticket headline grabbers. It’s obviously not the best route, but if you come out with something that’s just okay, it’ll be seen alongside all of your other, acceptable content and often will round off and deepen your brand position.
Writing for an international audiences means that you’ll be putting out more content to more countries, though. Our advice is to pick your content pieces carefully and translate the key elements of content that influence new business acquisition.
Overall, there will be less to judge you on in each and every country that you expand into. You need to make sure that every single piece is impactful so that your image is maintained – one hiccup will do a lot more damage to your image if you’re not putting out a constant flow.
Professional freelance writers are more in-demand every single day for this exact reason. Brands looking for international impact where their name isn’t know can no longer afford to put out something that’s just okay. If you don’t have an in-house writer that can translate your content and context for the country that you’re targeting, it’s time to get one.
Beyond that, write about what you know. The easiest way to be seen as an expert is to write about the stuff that no one else is writing about (you provide value that no one else matches)… and the easiest way to be viewed as a follower with no value is to write less helpful pieces about the topics that other people and brands are already covering.
Keep this in mind – the content itself has to be on-brand in terms of tone, and what you’re delivering within the content has to always both provide value and excel over what your competitors are putting out.
Don’t alienate anyone unless that’s your main strategy
As an international brand, your grasp across all of the countries that you’re targeting may not be as strong as the hold of your domestic market. You want to make waves… but not the wrong ones that can permanently influence the perception of your brand.
It’s a fine line that you have to dance around. Getting a native speaking writer and translator who understands the culture is your #1 priority. This is often called transcreation and it’s a different skill to simply translating.
Make sure that management who understands the company’s goals in full is always reviewing the content before it gets published, and you may want to even run the article by a couple of locals or partners in that geographic region (if possible) and ask them to point out anything that could be seen as offensive.
We’re not saying be completely bland. Feel free to ruffle a few feathers to draw people in!
But as a business, you want to cast as wide of a net as possible. Your content, despite what many doubters say, isn’t just something to feel good about. Rather, it’s the external voice of your brand, and must be consistent with what you believe and what your customers need to hear to have confidence in you. If it’s not, you’re not seen as who you are, and your bottom line will eventually suffer.
You will never please everybody, but as a brand, a wide net is the way to go. It mitigates risk, and that’s what we’re always after!
Leverage content appropriately for sales, email subscriptions, and more
After consuming your content, assuming you’ve done everything correctly, readers from countries around the world will see you as an authority and like the approach you’re taking with your voice. As we said, the content will never make an impact on 100% of readers – that’s unrealistic – but assuming you’ve done everything right, you can take this affinity towards your brand and the respect you gained from the value you provided and turn it into something tangible.
- Use a holiday or recent pop culture event to cross-promote your brand’s products and services
- Build an email list, segmented for each individual country as quickly as possible so that you have a guaranteed audience for your content
- Get social shares and an increased international follower audience with well-placed social icons and buttons
- Always be looking for opportunities – a reader of your content can always turn into a customer or client down the line
In order to do this effectively, though, you need a translation service that is familiar with the country’s audience. They will be able to find your brand’s context in a way that the country finds tasteful. If they are not familiar with how advertising works in the country they are writing for, your attempt to transition from providing value to drawing the reader in will be viewed as worthless. There’s every chance that your valueless copy can alienate your audience, making them hit the unsubscribe button and they’re gone forever… even if the rest of the content is 100% perfect.
Some translation services will be familiar with copywriting, but not all are.
There’s a reason why fiction novel writers aren’t working at advertising agencies. They’re two completely different skills. Ideally, all of your content should be helping you at the same rate – if you find that one particular country is lacking despite the content being exceptional, it’s worth taking a look at the copy and who’s translating it.
What you do at home, translated and adapted!
You wouldn’t hire an inexperienced writer at home. So don’t expect that an inexperienced translator (or transcreator) can make this content work for you across language barriers. You wouldn’t write about topics that are too controversial at home. Don’t do it abroad.
The content behind your brand is important – make sure that it’s making you shine in a positive light no matter which nationality you’re writing for or where it’s being published. Take the same steps that you’d take for your domestic audience and you can be known worldwide as you are at home.