According to the 2013 Languages for the Future report commissioned by the British Council, approximately 75% of British people are not able to carry on a simple conversation in a foreign language, let alone sell their products using anything other than English. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has calculated that this costs the British economy £48 billion every year. All this despite the fact that in many countries, people understand English very well. We can only wonder how huge the corresponding losses are for Finnish businesses whose employees don’t have the same advantage of speaking the global lingua franca as their native language.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” In a business context, this means that if your sales and marketing materials are available in your customers’ language, they will accept the content of the materials more readily. They will not only understand what you tell them, they will take it to heart, even be convinced.
Language skills and the quality of your international materials are therefore investments that lead to increased global sales. What’s more, your foreign customers see your company through the website, documentation, press releases and other materials published in their language. Any errors or clumsy expressions in these will reflect on the readers’ conception of your company and its products. This is something you will want to avoid.
You may be able to try your first baby steps into international markets by translating key sections of your website yourself, or by hiring an English student you happen to know to do the job. If you are aiming for long-term international operations, however, you will need to partner with a language and communication specialist, who will help you to look after your company’s public image, ensure your product documentation is clear, and engage in successful multilingual communication. All these are core operations for us.