One tip that many businesses have been taking advantage of is getting into foreign markets. Specifically, getting into marketing in different languages. For example, if you’re a local business, you might want to consider the other languages spoken throughout your local area.

When it comes to marketing, many countries look to English-speaking countries like the US, copying successful elements of marketing strategies into their own work and tailoring it to local audiences.

This might create a bit of lag time, but that means that even more outdated strategies can be useful when writing them for use in another language. It also represents a huge opportunity for access to an otherwise untapped market. For instance, writing in Spanish allows for a wider reach into markets across the US.

What exactly is a “foreign” market?

This term essentially refers to any market that is made for readers of languages other than English. For example, if you have a great eCommerce product, you can try marketing it in other languages. Generally speaking, this is what digital marketers refer to as “foreign markets,” and is the main aspect of bringing US based marketing strategies and products to non-U.S. countries.

That said, if you have a local business, you can also simply translate your existing marketing materials into the most common languages spoken in your particular area. If you live in a state, region, or city with a high population of people speaking English and Korean, for example, you might do well to market in both languages.

What are the Advantages of catering to a Foreign Market?

The main advantage is that competition is much lower. There are fewer people online who write and market for their business in a variety of languages, which means they miss out on the views and potential sales of an audience that might speak a language other than English.

It’s easy to simply translate your work into another language, which allows for more traction in the marketing sphere. That traction also comes around a bit faster, and there will usually be less competition. This is understandable, as only 20% of the world speaks English, so branching out with Spanish, French, or Chinese might be a step in the right direction. 

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is something that takes months or years to really get going when done in English. But transferring to a new language, and entering a new market can allow your website to get this traction in a much quicker time, maybe even days or weeks, depending on what you are selling or discussing. 

To give a real life example, this article titled: Como Criar um Site em apenas 4 passos, I simply took what was working in English and repurposed it in Portugese. Now, besides the English speaking market, we are positioned for a completely different market.

Utilizing Old Methods to bring in new Customers

When it comes to businesses branching out, people don’t usually do it with language. Businesses are more likely to branch out through different platforms, like social media, or use different forms of marketing altogether, like investing in better graphic design. Few businesses see the benefit of reaching out to markets of people who speak other languages.

SEO and Paid Ads are pretty much universal when it comes to language, so translating your text into a new language doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to learn a new marketing method. Many are afraid to branch out into new languages because of the time or a perception that new languages are much harder to implement. Filling that gap that most aren’t willing to fill could represent a fantastic opportunity, however.

Don’t forget the Disadvantages

Just because something is a good idea does not mean that it will not come with some pitfalls.

Waiting times

Implementing marketing in other languages can be effective fairly quickly, but only if you’re fluent in the language that you’re marketing towards. If you’re not fluent in Chinese or Spanish, then you’ll have to rely on others, such as writers or translators that can speak the language fluently.

There’s always going to be a bit of a delay in this area, because you want to ensure that your marketing is good, and not hastily thrown together. So if you have to rely on others to provide accurate translations, be prepared for the whole process to take a bit longer.

Also, structure and systems are vital to ensure that no mistakes are made when it comes to the language that is used. The fewer errors you can have, the better. Working with native speakers would be ideal to fully capitalize on any potential market expansion.

Relying on Trust

If you do not fluently speak another language, then you are going to have to trust that someone else knows what they are doing. This means that if someone else slacks off on their translation of native writing work, readers who are fluent in that language will be able to automatically detect it. It may even cause you to get even less viewership on your English pages. 

Poor grammar makes you look unprofessional and can feel like you wasted your money if you paid someone to translate your work. This is where trust and skepticism come in. 

A great thing to do would be to hire a proofreader or editor that understands the foreign language to make sure it makes sense. You do not want to hire someone who just puts your work through Google Translate and accepts the paycheck. 

Also, you need to pay people what they are worth. Cheaping out on who you hire will just cause them to give you poorly done work. Make sure you find out the standard rates and pay them a decent wage. 

Return on Investment

Otherwise known as an ROI, a Return on Investment is a great way to know if a marketing strategy is worth it. If you are paying far more on your advertising than you are making back in sales and revenue, then it probably isn’t a good investment. 

Here is an easy way to figure it out:

  • Do your current English based marketing efforts provide a healthy ROI? If so, applying a similar methodology to a different language might provide good results. 
  • Use digital marketing tools to figure out if the buying intent is there. Often, non-english languages just aren’t as developed in terms of ‘buying.’ Make sure you use tools such as Google Adwords Planner, Ahrefs, and other marketing tools to ensure people are actually looking for your business offerings. This is what we did for our site Mestre Do Hospe da Site, we didn’t jump in blindly, lots of research informed our decision. 

It might take a little bit of research and trial and error to find the methods that work best for you and your business.

Final Thoughts

The best thing to ask yourself before you start this is whether you are willing to put forward the time and energy to get it off the ground. 

Here are a few things to think over before you get started:

  • Do you have a methodology that currently works in English?
  • Can you easily apply the same marketing strategy in a different language? 
  • Is there an ROI in your new target market? Use marketing tools to get a general estimate.
  • Do you have the infrastructure to build or can current staff members handle the new challenge?

If you are willing to invest the time and energy, this can be a great way to grow your business with very little effort on your part. Just make sure that you do a lot of research, and don’t quit out of fear. If you wait for everyone else to jump on the bandwagon then it is going to be too late. 

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