A young French copywriter recently asked me if an international client should take the sales letter he wrote for them in French and translate it into English and a series of other languages. And this is for a direct mail piece, which means a fairly large investment for the mailer.
Translation or copywriting?
Now this is something an experienced copywriter and marketer would immediately understand.
A Unique Audience
A copywriter always writes a sales letter for one specific audience. And in addition to the demographic specifics of each audience, the copywriter also writes for a specific market maturity and environment.
This is what increases the results of your sales letter.
Different Culture = Different Sale
If you change the language you change the culture. This means you change the audience.
In fact, you are probably also addressing a different market. This market has a different environment. There will be cultural differences. And possibly other differences in market environment.
This different audience might even be at a different stage of market maturity for the product you are selling.
Different Sales Letters In Different Languages
What does this mean?
A different culture will not respond to your letter in the same way. Your sales letter will not work well.
You need different sales letters when you write them in different languages. It is unlikely a simple translation will get you good sales results.
If you are investing in a direct mail package to sell your product, you should also invest in appropriate sales copy for each different language you use.
A company that invests in hiring a copywriter to write a sales letter, knows that a good sales letter will bring in more money. That is why companies pay large sums of money for experienced copywriters to write their sales letters.
An Example Of How Translation Ruins The Sale
Have a look at this example of translation into English:
- Van Cleef And Arpel’s Feerie Perfume
It is easy to see the lack of good copywriting skills in the English text. And the text reads as if it was simply translated from French. The text may work well in the original version.
But here, it does not go well with the elegant and expensive web design.
The English text will not add to the sales appeal. In fact, the English text actually takes away some of the sales appeal. And in some places the English is actually confusing.
It makes me wonder whether:
The translator did not do a good job. Which would surprise me.
Or with a company this size, I would expect the translator was told to give a strict translation and to follow the original text as closely as possible. A common problem.
Of course, in smaller French companies, the reason could also be because it was the technically minded webmaster that was asked to write the script.
The end result is a pity… especially after investing in such great design.
Foreign Language Sales Letters
As a marketing executive, I would never turn to a translator to write any sales copy. As a marketer this was easy for me to grasp even before I “discovered” copywriting as a profession.
How did I get foreign language sales copy?
The best solution is to network until you find a native language speaker with the right marketing and sales background to understand both your product and the foreign language market.
Yes, there are translators who do have copywriting skills. There are also many translators who say they do copywriting, and yet do not have the skills.
If it is my product, I would still prefer to spend the time to hunt down the person right for the job.
Professionals with good sales skills exist in all cultures. Your international sales results will increase if you learn to seek out other people with native language sale skills in your industry.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: translation
If you've read this far, you should sign up to receive updates
Sign up for the International Stories newsletter, and prepare yourself to manage international business