Business.

Why Translation Services Are Vital in a Global Marketplace

So, you’ve come up with the slogan, you’re thrilled with the visual branding and your adverts are short, sharp, and effective. What’s next? If you’ve found success within your home-country give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve done a great job.

Now it’s time to step out onto the international playing field and tap into new markets, reach a greater audience, improve your reputation and expand your revenue.

There’s just one tiny problem: you don’t have a translator.

Translating marketing ideas from one culture to another isn’t just a matter of having the language and dialect translated well: your revolutionary ideas may hit cultural barriers in another country and your clever marketing campaign will simply fly over the heads of your intended audience.

In the past we’ve seen well-established brands such as KFC, Pepsi and Schweppes caught in international marketing blunders, begging the question: if someone like Pepsi can make a huge marketing faux pas, what’s stopping a small business like yours from doing the same?

Before you set off on your worldwide marketing venture, take heed of these reputable brands, who simply had to learn the hard way.

“Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave!”
When Pepsi branched into the Chinese market, they certainly didn’t want to imply their beverage would raise the dead… but their slogan did. The hit slogan ‘Pepsi Brings You Back to Life’ was poorly translated to ‘Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave’ – not an ideal sentiment for a culture that reveres their ancestors.

No Storks in Japan!
Pampers nappy manufacturer Procter & Gamble were hit with a translation blunder when they expanded to Japan. After wondering why sales were so low, Procter & Gamble did some research and found the problem was the packaging, which featured a stork delivering a baby. This Western fable isn’t a part of Japanese folklore, and as a result, the campaign was lost on Japanese parents.

KFC – It’s so good you’ll want to “Eat Your Fingers Off!”
Even the likes of KFC aren’t privy to a translation mishap! When they opened up in China in the late 80s, their infamous slogan “Finger-lickin’ good!” was completely lost in translation and turned into “Eat your fingers off!” Not the most tempting thing to see before dinner…

“Schweppes Toilet Water”
Over to Italy and we have big-wigs Schweppes happily boasting their refreshing “Schweppes Toilet Water” – a serious translation confusing the words “toilet” and
tonic”!

Richard Gere: Unpopular in China
Global giants in the automotive industry have also watched marketing campaigns fail in other cultures, with FIAT using the copy + paste method for their TV ads. In 2008 FIAT released an ad featuring actor, Richard Gere. Unfortunately, Gere is despised in China for his outspoken support of Tibetan independence, and online message boards become rife with people saying they would never buy a FIAT. Oops.

Parker Pens Make You Pregnant!
When Parker Pens moved their campaign to Mexico their in-house translator dropped the ball. Their ads were supposed to say their ballpoint pens “won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Unfortunately, they chose the verb “embarazar” for “embarrass” which means “to impregnate” so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”.

Comprenez vous?

When big names find themselves in hot water over translation fails, their chances of bouncing back are much higher than when a small company makes the same mistake.
Smaller brands don’t yet have the benefit of a global reputation – their products aren’t widely recognised so the likely-hood of the public simply dismissing them straight off the bat is very high.

Save yourself the embarrassment: invest in a professional translator to really carry your marketing campaign across cultures and languages.

After all, employing a savvy translator now will save you a world of embarrassment in the long run – take it from Schweppes!

Ditch the Pitch

Literary legend has it that Ernest Hemingway took on a bet that he couldn’t tell a complete story in just six words, and won it with this simple sentence: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

In the 21st Century we’re no strangers to this kind of bare-bones messaging. We can’t watch a news bulletin without simultaneously reading headlines flashing along the bottom of our screens. We abbreviate entire SMS’s into an almost illegible jumble of letters. We’re suckers for the succinct.

As a business it is imperative that your marketing strategy reflect the demands of your would-be clients, customers or investors for instant gratification and bite sized news items. It’s time to forget the out-of-date Elevator Business Pitch, and acknowledge that we live, after all, in the age of Twitter.

The Elevator Pitch, the long standing bread and butter for ambitious entrepreneurs and successful salesmen, was originally conceived as a reference to an incidental meeting in an elevator, and thus having the course of a single elevator ride during which to make your sales pitch.

Traditionally, the most liberal of time-keepers would say that your elevator pitch should clock in at around 30 seconds, a sentiment reflected in television advertisements (themselves a form of the Elevator Pitch), which in recent decades have shrunk to averaging at around 30 seconds as well.

A 30 second Elevator Pitch, at a rate of 2.5 words a second, would result in roughly 75 words in which to deliver your message. Contrast this with a Twitter post, which ranges between 100-140 characters. If we figure that the average word is between four and five letters in length that leaves us with only 10 seconds/25 words with which to pitch! It is interesting to note that TV ads are increasingly coming in at around the 10 second mark as well.

It might seem like an impossible task to generate enough interest, convey enough information and include a call to action all in a single sentence. Yet, as pointed out by Carmine Gallo from Forbes Magazine*, Apple founder Steve Jobs would pitch his products with half a Tweet-sized tagline; the iPod was famously introduced as “1,000 songs in your pocket”, the Macbook Air is “The world’s thinnest notebook” and most recently the new Macbook is hailed under the clever line of “Light. Years ahead.”

There are three key ingredients encapsulated in each pitch:

–       An introduction of the product.

–       Information of what is being offered beyond its competitors.

–       An indication of how this advantage benefits you.

Your marketing tagline should, in Jobs’s own words, “[get] so close [to your customers] that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves”. So to help you get started, here are three simple tips to help you craft your own perfect Twitter-pitch.

1)    Differentiate – isolate the single most definitive aspect that divides you from your competition and will entice consumers to seek you out.

2)    Describe – develop a one-line description that rolls off the tongue easily, that uses clever word play, or is simple and iconic.

3)    Delete & Develop – trim away all of the extraneous words and descriptions. Ensure that you’ve created the most succinct pitch possible, and make sure that you keep it to one line and under ten seconds, because less is more and if it can’t be digested in 10 seconds or less, no one is going to take any note of it regardless of its quality.

It’s 2015 and it’s time to pitch small and strong, or go home. Your customers/clients are all scrolling down dozens if not hundreds of Tweets a day. They’re seeing billboards sprawled across the city, and ads on TV pumping products down their throat – so it’s your task to break through the white noise and get yourself out there.

Go simple, get Tweeting!

– Aaron

Wax-On, Wax-Off: Clean Up Your Business Skills

How do you turn your business acumen from good to great? The answer… it’s all in the little details.

Take the classic 1984 film “The Karate Kid”; Mr. Miyagi trains his protégé, Daniel, to become a karate master with a series of seemingly menial tasks, the most famous of which is, of course, the endlessly quotable instruction: “Wax on, wax off”. As the movie progresses we learn that Mr. Miyagi has used the repetition of seemingly arbitrary activities to create muscle memory and instinctive reflexes that help turn Daniel from a helpless teen into a formidable martial artist.

You may not be competing in a karate competition, but each and every day we come across opportunities in the workplace where we could become business gurus through perfecting little instinctive actions.

Let me give you an example. We all spend time on the phone, talking to potential clients, fielding questions, or even taking down messages for John who’s getting his 12th cup of coffee! Here are three deceptively simple yet effective ways in which you can transform the manner in which you conduct business on the phone.

1) Use People’s First Name
How many times have you been denied access to the individual you need to speak to by a gatekeeper? Have you tried using that person’s first name only? This small innocuous use of a contact’s first name will make you seem, not like you’re trying to push your way to their attention, but like a friend casually calling to catch up on the week’s events. It’s a simple trick but it works like a charm.

2) Get Rid of Crutch Words
Work on eliminating your crutch words. Crutch words are impulsive, filler words that do nothing but make you sound unprofessional and unsure, such as: um, right, okay, uh, like, etc. Try isolating the words you use and make a conscious effort to remove them from your vocabulary. With focus and time you’ll begin sounding like a world-class orator.

3) Smile When You Talk
Smile while you talk on the phone. Yes, we know the other person can’t see you, but they can hear you, and they hear more than the words you say. Tone is very important in verbal communication, and when you smile it changes the way you come across, even on the phone. It provides an opportunity to inject personality and enthusiasm, so that you’ll sound more relatable. Sure, you might think that you look a deranged clown but they can’t see you, remember? It might be hard at first but soon it will become infectious.

More often than not proper phone skills do not come naturally, and it’s not easy to perfect these skills at an instinctive level. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We need to train ourselves to rewire our brain so that these simple skills become so second nature that you hardly remember you’re doing it at all, much like Daniel’s incessant chores fine-tuned his instincts to become a karate champion!

By crafting the perfect set of basic phone skills you’ll be able to build the rapport and trust necessary to ensure business success. So ask yourself how important success is to you and your business? It’s time to start waxing on and waxing off!

– Aaron

A Good First Impression: How To Nail It

Talk show host Ricki Lake once said: “For me, being memorable is more important than winning.” In a world where trends come and go and the next big thing has become commonplace, how do you create a good first impression that stays in everyone’s minds?

Here are 5 ways to ensure that you’re making a good first impression that will last.

1. Get it right the first time

You only get one shot at making a good first impression. If you’re meeting a new contact in person, give them a great handshake and be genuinely interested. Instead of just nodding and looking away, make eye contact and repeat their name. Prospecting a new client over email? Make the effort to find out and address them by their name, making sure it’s spelt correctly. You’d be surprised how careless many people can be with little details that count.

2. Tell a great story

Don’t hold back when it comes time to share. Engage your audience, be it one or a thousand, with something real and honest. Whether you made your first million at age 21, have a bizarre talent for recalling the title of every Celine Dion song, or have a knack for extreme sports, share your story and give people an extra reason to remember you.

3. Get personal

Polite niceties are easy enough to throw about in conversation. How many times have you said “How’s it going”, “Take care” or “Stay in touch” and actually meant it? Make a difference by taking it a step further. Take the time to write a note congratulating a client on their recent promotion, or send your sympathies at a tough time. If you genuinely care for a friend or client beyond the superficial, the returns may far surpass your expectations.

4. Have a signature look

In fashion, a signature look can make you unforgettable. The actress Audrey Hepburn knew that all too well and worked it to her advantage with her minimalist wardrobe of button-down men’s shirts, headscarves, classic sheath dresses and cigarette pants.   And who can think of a black turtleneck without remembering Apple founder Steve Jobs? Find your look and you’re well on your way to standing out from the crowd. For businesses, never underestimate the impact of a powerful logo and the right choice of colours. The story of a famous fast-food chain might be quite different if they had gone for brown and white, instead of red and yellow.

5. Let your actions speak for you

Can you walk the talk? Words come easy and instead of telling your clients or potential partner how good you are, show them that you’re more than just empty words. Impress them with your sincerity, detail to attention and willingness to go the extra mile. You’ll find that they’ll do all the talking for you.

– Sharon

Using Twitter for Business: Kardashian or Perish

Recently the Twitterverse exploded with the news that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have graced the cover of American Vogue.

And the world kept spinning.

But the cover has divided but Vogue readers and interested by-standers alike. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) herself tweeted “I guess I’m cancelling my Vogue subscription. Who is with me???” Her overuse of question marks aside, she echoed the thoughts of many loyal readers who were disgusted that the noble tome did not hold up their high standards. But on closer inspection, this apparently risky move is in fact a very clever business decision.Using Twitter for Business

The Reason? Using Twitter for Business

There’s no point beating around the bush, the print medium is in trouble and magazines are in a stage of do or die. So is this stunt going to gain new readers, or just lose the loyal ones?

Let’s look at the facts. Kim Kardashian has 20.3 million Twitter followers. Kanye West has 10.3 million. And Vogue? Vogue has a measly 3.63 million followers. When Kardashian posted two photos from the fashion spread to Instagram they gained more than a million likes, each! You can’t beat that publicity.

That’s what it comes down to. Vogue, as well as being a fashion icon, is a business. A business that has to compete in a frankly crowded & shrinking marketplace and the publicity that comes from celebrities of this stature is invaluable. Vogue has embraced using Twitter for business as a part of their marketing strategy. And the fact that it’s causing debate outside the fashion community? Well that’s a serious bonus.

Vogue may be pandering, but they are also making a calculated business decision to keep from extinction. And if they lose a few loyal subscribers in the process, so be it.

– Emily

Shop Sharing – Something Fishy Is Going On

Business share a lot of things these days: a healthy rivalry, customers and if you’re a hip Melbourne small business – a shop location! At first, this might sound counter-productive: two different businesses operating in the same locale. Allow me to explain…

Two businesses – one shop: it’s an idea so crazy there’s no way it can’t work. The first one I came across was a clothing store with a barber shop inside it. Genius, when you think about it. People who are going to get a haircut want to look sharp – and the clothes being sold right here complement their new look. Or perhaps while you’re trying on a shirt you notice you look a bit scruffy – hey presto! – there’s a barber shop right there to fix that. That’s the beauty of shop sharing.

So what we’re seeing is two businesses that feed off each other’s clientele but don’t infringe on the sales. Plus, I’m sure the split utility bills help too.

More Examples of Shop Sharing
Shop Sharing

Think of it as the business version of ‘friends with benefits’

Another that stuck in my mind was this delightful little bar called The Catfish, located on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. Inside is a food stand/kitchen called Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks. Again, both feed off each other. Hungry and feel like a drink? Thirsty but could use a bite to eat? It’s the perfect combination (PS: the Philly Cheesesteaks are to die for).

This outside the box thinking is a prime example of small business passion and ingenuity. They’ve found what they’re good at and focussed on it. Then they’ve found someone else who complements them (and vice versa) and formed a perfect symbiotic relationship. This is nothing new; the Clownfish has been ‘shop sharing’ with Sea Anemones for centuries!

– Lachy

Sound Like A Winner On The Phone

At Messages On Hold we conduct 95% of our business over the phone, so we’re acutely aware of how important our phone manner is. We know that nothing drops the buying temperature of a lead like a poorly handled phone call. To ensure every person in our company is not just competent on the phone but confident too, we go through rigorous training.

Customer Service Guru & Messages On Hold MD Kym Illman

Customer Service Guru & Messages On Hold MD Kym Illman

So you can start 2014 by offering your customers unwaveringly brilliant service over the phone, we’ve compiled our five most powerful phone techniques.

1) Smile!

Sounds simple, right? If you smile while you’re on the phone, your voice will sound relaxed, friendly and upbeat. Keep in mind that 38% of communication is tone of voice. Over the phone, it’s north of 50%.

2) Eliminate the hanging or…

“Do you want to hold or…” This sounds unprofessional and indecisive. If you can’t provide a second option, drop the ‘or’ altogether.

3) Never say “It’s not my department”

Believe it or not, customers don’t care about how your company is structured. All they care about is who they’re speaking with – you – the representative of the entire company. Instead, try saying “I’ll help you with this” then do the leg work to resolve the issue.

4) Stop placing your hand over the receiver

Your hand is not sound proof. It merely muffles the office sounds as you shuffle papers about your desk, frantically type on a keyboard or worse yet, call out across the office for a colleague. Remedy this by purchasing a soft touch keyboard or using your phone system’s hold button.

5) Have a pen handy

Almost every phone conversation will result in you having to record details of some sort. Telling the caller that you just have to get a pen & pad impresses nobody. Be ready.

That’s it! Implement these rules across your office and notice the difference it makes to how customers respond to you. To find more helpful tips that you can implement right now to sound like a Fortune 500 company, visit Messages On Hold.

If you’d like to share a useful tip, leave a comment on our Facebook page today!

– Lachy

It’s Always Personal, It’s Business

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business” is a phrase that, unbelievably, still lingers in some modern business owners’ lexicon. The reach of social media, the rapid rate at which consumers can communicate and the speed with which they can congratulate or condemn means that whether you’re in customer service or marketing: business is always personal.

When customers use social media to query or complain, the business is presented with a unique opportunity: to personally engage with this one customer. Studies into complaints made over social media indicate that 50% of customers give a brand only one week to respond to a complaint before they stop doing business with them. The same study indicated that 89% of customers began business with another company after a poor experience. Can you afford to stay silent?

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

It would be unreasonable for a business to completely change their terms of service on the whim of one customer… but prompt acknowledgement and resolution of a complaint online can help a customer to not only forgive the grievance, but flip their view of the company from negative to positive, thereby strengthening brand loyalty.

Another study indicated that after having two-way interaction with a brand over social media, 90% of customers would recommend the brand to others. In developing an emotional connection, a sense of loyalty, between customer and brand, social media is an invaluable and incredibly effective approach.

Still not sure just how “personal” it can be? In 2008, United Airlines were shown just how effective social media can be as a weapon when it was used against them with humiliating and ruthless efficiency. After irreparably damaging musician Dave Carrol’s guitar during a flight, and refusing to reimburse him despite 9 months of negotiations, Dave released a song on YouTube which blasted their business and customer service. The song went viral, and four days after its release, United’s stock had dropped by 10% – an estimated $180 million.

As more consumers choose social media as the means to communicate with the brands they use, the age old adage “it’s nothing personal, just business” should recede from all minds serious about strengthening brand loyalty, and increasing their customer base.

– Kyle

Likes: Good Sense of Humour

Picture yourself at a party. You’re talking to a member of the opposite sex; they look great and appear to be quite interesting.  In the middle of conversation they accidently use the word ‘suppository’ instead of ‘depository’ (imagine that!) You laugh, understandably. They duly acknowledge the mistake was made, and ensure they will do all they can to ensure the rest of the conversation will be free of errors. Stunned by the sterile response, you take an awkward sip of your drink and hope to be bailed out as soon as possible. From the other side of the party, you hear chuckles from a conversation you’d much rather be part of.

Now, not all business-client relationships can be represented in the above analogy. But some can. Too often many businesses will avoid showing a sense of humour out of fear of appearing ‘unprofessional’ when in reality it can be taken as a profound display of respect for your customer.

People are savvy. They know (and are likely weary of) ‘corporate’ and ‘marketing’ speak. Addressing them in this tone may make them feel like they’re being talked down to. But engage with your customers on their level, and you’re not only checkmating their cynicism and respecting their intelligence, you’re also demonstrating you understand them.

Famous news-parody publication The Onion boasts an enviable readership demographic – 18 to 44, 26% with an income over 100k and 35% with an advanced degree. This hip parody paper has started producing ads.  Only these ads feature The Onion’s biting satirical approach. So what brave company would pay to be publicly mocked by the world’s most renowned satirists?

You might have heard of them – a company called Microsoft. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was famous for being terrible. If you weren’t aware of that and the armies of keyboard warriors that perpetuated this opinion, let me get you up to speed with this ad for the latest version of Internet Explorer. With almost 3 million views at the time of writing this and an overwhelmingly positive response – this just shows how beneficial being self-deprecating can be.

This approach isn’t limited to mass-advertising. It can be applied to day-to-day transactions.  Displaying a sense of humour demonstrates intelligence and confidence – give your customers the credit they deserve and you might be surprised by what it does for your brand.

– Jakub

The Art of Answering the Phone

Answering a phone – pretty simple, right? Wrong! As one of the most common business tools, it’s often the one that’s taken for granted. That fact is only a small percentage of businesses actually train their staff to use the phone correctly. I’m not talking about holding the handset in a certain way or perfecting a dialing technique, I’m talking about the words and tone they use while on the phone.

Will you answer the call to good phone manners?

Will you answer the call to good phone manners?

At Messages On Hold, the telephone is our bread & butter. And because we do business over the phone, every employee who joins our team undergoes a thorough and complete phone training session as part of their induction. This training focuses on the words & tone they use while on the phone, as well as helpful phone techniques such as barging & transferring a call and placing a call on hold.

So, what are our top tips for improving the way you use your most powerful business tool? Read on to find out!

Answering The Phone

Bad Practice: “Hi thanks for calling, (your name) speaking”

Good Practice: “Thanks for calling (company name) this is (your name).”

To help the caller confirm they’ve called the right company, say your company’s name. And there’s no need to say ‘speaking’ after your name – they can already determine this.

Returning From Hold

Bad Practice: “Are you there?!”

Good Practice: “Thanks for holding, (client name).”

If the caller isn’t there, they can’t answer your question. Thank the caller for holding and continue with your conversation or just leap right in with what you’re returning to tell them.

The Hanging Or…

Bad Practice: “Can I take a message orrr…”

Good Practice: “Would you like to hold or shall I take a message?”

The hanging ‘or’ sounds unprofessional; if you don’t have another option just drop the ‘or’. You’ll sound more decisive.

Calling Back

Bad Practice: “Sure, I’ll call you back later today.”

Good Practice: “Sure, I’ll call you back at 2:42 this afternoon.”

Later today isn’t specific and does nothing to ensure the person you’re going to call back will be ready for your call. By providing them with a specific time (and keeping to it!) you’ll appear more committed and they’ll know to be ready.

There you have it! Use these lines effectively and you’ll have a real edge over your competitors while leaving a positive impact on your callers. The quicker you put these ideas into practice, the quicker you’ll reap the rewards.

– Lachy