Of course, as a hardworking freelance translator, you want your direct client to “value the value” your expertise and skills bring them. It’s critical that your prospect or client understand what they’re paying for, so that they never think they’re buying a commodity item.
The other part of the proposition when it comes to value pertains to you showing you understand your prospect’s or client’s need to feel valued, appreciated.
Remember that everyone has a basic need to feel valued, appreciated. Like most people, your prospect or client probably deals with working too many hours and not feeling adequately esteemed by their peers and higher-ups for their hard work.
Are you showing respect for your prospect’s or client’s time, conveying your points concisely so no one feels expected to sift through what you’re saying? Is your tone coming across the way you’d like? Are you sure you’re completely free of any off-putting or awkward wording that triggers a bad gut-level feel?
Your prospect or client, in the long run, wants you to help them look good in the eyes of their peers and higher-ups. A basic human need is what you’re addressing here. The need to feel appreciated.
You’re likely already addressing this basic marketing question in your marketing efforts. But take a closer look at the question to understand the underlying issue, and you’ll discover it’s not only what matters – it’s why it matters.
Here’s the scoop. Anyone can declare something matters. “We want a translator who’s been in business 10 years.” “We need a translator with such-and-such software.” “We have to use a translator who has experience in this type of document.”
Oftentimes, people who make these types of statements are simply repeating what they’ve heard others say. Not understanding the nature of language services, they take such declarations as indisputable fact and compulsory criteria.
The idea becomes more and more deeply ingrained the more often the party line is repeated. At some point, no one stops to question their thinking.
But you can make a difference. You can take the time to gently object to the prevalent attitudes about what your clients think they need from you. It’ll serve you better in the long run.
Your marketing pieces stand a better chance of converting prospects into clients when you take the extra step to find out why something matters to them. From there, you can redirect their attention to what you truly believe ranks as significant regarding your translation work, credentials, experience, etc.
A tactful approach is in order here if you want to be heard and understood. Telling someone they’re wrong about their beliefs quickly puts up walls and makes people want to stand their ground.
A succinct definition courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subvocalization:
“Subvocalization, or silent speech, is defined as the internal speech made when reading a word, thus allowing the reader to imagine the sound of the word as it is read. This is a natural process when reading and helps to reduce cognitive load, and it helps the mind to access meanings to enable it to comprehend and remember what is read. Although some people associate subvocalization with moving one’s lips, the actual term refers primarily to the movement of muscles associated with speaking, not the literal moving of lips. Most subvocalization is undetectable (without the aid of machines) even by the person doing the subvocalizing.
The concept underscores the importance of carefully “rolling around on the tongue” the words on the page on behalf of your reader – so that you can more easily detect any word combinations that come across “clumsy” as you read. If you want to be as sure as you can that your reader will understand you and remember what you’re saying to them, you can’t afford to dismiss the fact that we all apply the internal speech tool of subvocalization when we read.
You might be shocked to discover one of the reasons clients discount the importance of translation quality. It’s an urban legend that has become so prevalent, even companies in the business of communication cite it as fact!
The urban legend has these variants:
What you, as a translator, need to know is that this misinformation can damage the perceived value of any language service.
In case any of your clients or prospective clients believe this urban legend (and I feel confident saying that at least some of them do), please borrow this little fact sheet to educate them on this area of language.
Here’s what to know.
Albert Mehrabian, a UCLA professor of psychology, conducted experiments and completed research in 1967. In his experiments, a listener analyzed a speaker’s general attitude toward him or her (rating it as positive, negative, or neutral). Importantly, his participants did not know each other.
Mehrabian found that when the situation was ambiguous (for instance, a speaker would glare, look disgusted, and say in an unpleasant tone, “I don’t have any problem with you”), a disproportionate influence of tone of voice and facial attitude occurred.
(It makes sense. When kind words accompany mean looks and an ugly tone of voice, we rely on those unkind looks and harsh tones to sort out a message – especially when we’re communicating with someone we don’t know.)
The professor concluded that in this particular experiment, with these exact conditions, “The combined effect of simultaneous verbal, vocal, and facial attitude is a weighted sum of their independent effects – with the coefficients of .07, .38, and .55, respectively.”
Much like the Bad Translator! final renditions, the facts of this study have been twisted and contorted over the years. First, “facial attitude” morphed to “body language.” Then, the coefficient of .07 that related “verbal” to “facial attitude” became the sole focus. Mehrabian’s work became incorrectly extrapolated as implicating that in any communication situation, the meaning of a message is carried mostly by non-verbal cues, rather than by the meaning of words. (Bad Extrapolator!)
If you think about it, we’d be up the proverbial creek if this “93% nonverbal” legend were true. Email would be just about impossible to decipher if you could only get 7% of the intended message. Phone conversations would be confusing and useless. We’d have to hear and see anyone to understand what they’re telling us. (Making your work as a translator null and void. Interpreters, you might still be okay.)
Does that seem anywhere near reasonable?
Yet the urban legend continues… and it continues to diminish the importance of the written word among those who haven’t been clued in on the truth behind the legend.
1. Other LSPs are prospecting, likely sending your clients *their* marketing information regularly – and clients can be fickle
2. Your contact will be more likely to pass along your communications to others in the same company
3. Your contact will be more likely to pass along your communications to others outside the company
4. You convey the idea that you’re not just waiting for work – you’re saying you appreciate the chance to work with them
5. Your name will come up first when new projects pop up
6. You look more professional – it’s good business!