We live in an ever-growing digital world, which means businesses can now have influence, and reach clients and customers, far beyond their local area.
Reaching an international audience, especially for service-based businesses, is a way to scale up the business for long-term success and growth. Unlike product-based or e-commerce businesses there are none of the issues involved with shipping products across national borders.
So, it’s a highly attractive proposition for service-based businesses to grow internationally; and there are many advantages. However, as with all things in life and business there are also some disadvantages. For internationally focused businesses the main disadvantage is communicating with different regions that have different languages and cultures. However, the challenges of global communication can be overcome – let’s first take a look at the main challenges:
Globalisation offers opportunities to employ the best talent and reach a whole new audience of customers and clients. But, clearly, there will be language barriers – and for professional companies an automated translation app just won’t deliver what’s needed. For marketing, training and other corporate videos and written communications you’ll need a professional translation to use as subtitles or a voice-over on videos, and to provide local language written documents. Depending on the regions covered this could potentially require translations in a whole variety of languages.
It would be easy to say “English is the international language of business” and communicate entirely in English but that would miss the point of true globalisation. Even though many people across the world speak and read English, if you provide communications in local languages your business can be more certain of getting their message across; whether that is a marketing message to customers, communicating corporate goals and ethos, or training new employees. A professional translation is more meaningful as it will use familiar idioms and examples that often do not translate directly.
It’s, obviously, not just languages that differ but culture too and this is where a native speaker can understand and be sensitive to cultural differences. That’s why a simple translation will never be enough when marketing a new service or brokering a business deal in countries that are culturally different. Even tone of voice can potentially result in business communications having a negative impact. Another reason it’s essential to use a professional translation, subtitling and voice over agency for expert results that are meaningful to the intended audience.
Doing business internationally will invariably require virtual meetings from time to time where communication is equally important. But so too is the time at which these meetings are held. Everything from video conferences to social media posts should be planned with consideration of all time zones impacted. It is unreasonable and insensitive to expect global employees to regularly attend virtual meetings at a time that might encroach on their private, family time or might even be in the middle of the night!
Meeting the Challenges
Language, culture and time zone differences are just some of the challenges you will encounter when communicating with audiences around the world. Here are some of the important factors to consider for the greatest chance of globalisation success:
- Adapt advertising, marketing and corporate videos to use the languages of your main target regions. Use a professional subtitling service or automated dialogue recording (ADR) for a voice over for best results.
- Develop separate sections of your website to cover your target regions. Consider the languages used but also general content, news and images that are relevant to the regions and are culturally appropriate.
- Where possible, set up a physical base staffed by local company employees in regions you wish to expand the business into. They can provide local, on-the-ground, knowledge and insight to help in developing an effective international business strategy.
- Use video conferencing apps such as Zoom, MS Teams, GoToMeeting or Remo to enable virtual face-to-face contact with remote employees to help build more cohesive internal teams.
Communicating effectively with geographically dispersed employees and potential customers across the globe has never been easier with the raft of digital tools available. However, it still poses many challenges which can differ depending on the industry and type of company. Nevertheless, using a professional approach and the skills of local people and services in each region can ensure successful globalisation is within the reach of your business.