What’s so important about Lunch, Language and Understanding?

What’s so important about Lunch, Language and Understanding?

It’s easy to undervalue the natural alliance between international trade and translation services

All too often, they are counted as separate entities instead of a natural pairing that can be vital to succeeding in overseas markets.

When approaching new markets, it is not only language that is a factor in deciding which country to target. Even if a country defines that the main language is English, the cultural differences mean that there are differences in inflection, in emphasis and indeed in meaning. I am sure we all know the tale of trying to buy a “rubber” in the US…

Entering countries that have another first language can be a challenge if you don’t take into account the very real danger of idioms or pure translations. Trying to sell the Nova car in Spain when in Spanish the word translates to ‘doesn’t go’ was always bound to result in failure.

Communication is the key to opening negotiations, to marketing, to business development and ultimately to sales – and aftersales support. Getting your messaging wrong could damage your opportunities and your reputation. 

In 2021 global trade is transitioning rapidly with the context of WTO leadership, trade agreements and trade wars. It is difficult to adapt to the many changes we face in exporting and importing whether in manufacture or service sectors. Clearly, we need to retain current customers and engage with new ones if we are looking to be a truly Global Britain.

The Brexit referendum brought many uncertainties to the future of European trade, and time and time again UK businesses have since been told to explore non-European markets for export. However, Europe remains the UK’s largest trading partner, a partner we are familiar with and close to, with much to offer and to be offered to. With a UK-Europe trade deal now agreed upon and businesses in need of recovery and growth, perhaps it is worth looking at our neighbours again.

A good place to start identifying potential opportunities is your website. Are you receiving traffic from any European country or elsewhere? Your website analytics can help you determine not only where the overseas traffic comes from, but also the pages they visit, how long they stay for and what actions they take. Also, think about your website as your global shop window and take the necessary steps to ensure your prospects like what they see and engage with you. It is recommended to localise your website for specific markets, translating its content and doing a cultural adaptation of symbols, currencies, colours, SEO, etc.

Europe is rich linguistically and culturally, and understanding the culture of the countries you are interested in is not only important when localising your website and translating your branding and marketing, but also when building fruitful relationships. For example, certain countries such as The Netherlands have a more direct communication style which may be perceived rude by other cultures; others, like Spain, gain trust from knowing you personally and going for long lunches before completing tasks and replying to e-mails. In the current pandemic, video calls and online communication have become the norm across the world, and it is connecting more and more businesses from different countries together. Your local networking group, for example, may now have attendees from other regions and even other countries. Why not build an international collaborative network this way? However, bear in mind that communicating online across cultures has its own difficulties too. Body language is restricted and communication in general may be more difficult, especially for those not using their first language. Being aware of cultural and linguistic barriers, using Global English (e.g. avoiding idioms, and compound sentences), knowing how to avoid and tackle misunderstandings and finding the right communication solutions for all parties involved will certainly put the pressure off and make everyone focus on what matters most: building a fruitful relationship that will lead to international business growth while enjoying the ever-so-wonderful cultural diversity.

International Trade Matters Ltd partners with Local to Global to provide comprehensive language and cultural coaching to help develop business in overseas markets.

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