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Getting your pitch to not suck

Defining a good sales pitch is hard work for translation suppliersThe title of this recent entry over at Duct Tape Marketing is really relevant to translation in general and medical translation specifically.

Because there are no meaningful certifications or standards in the translation business, it's an arch-typical mom-and-pop industry with thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of freelancers pursuing clients. Particularly in this area of shrinking translation budgets, having a pitch that gets you noticed and gets you business is critically important.

The primary challenge for most translation service providers is to answer the question of "What makes you special?". Few translation suppliers have a compelling answer.

Everybody talks about quality - but without measurement it's meaningless. Everybody lists the same impressive-looking clients - but because companies use dozens or hundreds of suppliers, it's not powerful either. Everybody says that they have experience in "medical translation" - but because they don't understand that labeling is totally different from regulatory submissions or clinical research work, the claim rings hollow. And everybody espouses their process - but if you just slightly scratch the surface, you realize that all suppliers are basically doing the same thing.

Our company is by no means excluded from this. At ForeignExchange Translations, we regularly talk about this and have taken steps (developing and living our company vision, defining what constitutes "good" work for us, etc.) to better explain what we do - both to ourselves and our clients. It's hard work getting your pitch to not suck!

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  1. Corinne said...
    Andres, I agree with you about the difficulty of creating a unique professional identity, whether you're a freelancer or an agency. After all, everyone says that they're fast, accurate and affordable! A few translators I know use exceptions to the above rules as part of their pitch; one tells clients that she is 'the world's slowest and most meticulous translator,' another hints that her rates are above average because her quality is too. I think that any concrete examples you can give are a big asset. I often tell prospective clients that I still get calls from clients I landed during my first 6 months of freelancing, or that 80% of my business is from repeat clients. I figure that those statements at least avoid the vague assurances of "fast, accurate and on budget."
    Lia said...
    Corrine and Andreas, I am in total agreement with your points. What I have found, however, is that proven subject-specific knowledge assists greatly in landing contracts. For instance, I specialise in legal translation from French into English and Afrikaans into English. I have been pursuing a Bachelor of Laws degree through correspodence for the past year and this has assisted me greatly in getting work as clients have increased confidence in me.

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