Thursday, March 8, 2012

Localization: More Challenging Than CEOs Think

One of the mistakes many companies make during expansion is putting up foreign language web sites and thinking this is the end of their localization initiatives.

Imagine walking down the street in New York and a guy in a hot dog costume hands you a flyer in Hindi with a call to action. When you pick up the phone and call, what language do you expect the call to be answered in? Hindi, right?

Once you start down this road, by putting up your first Spanish web site, you have set expectations to your visitor that you will support their language across all their touchpoints:
  • Sales Literature
  • Tech Support
  • Customer SUpport
  • Invoices and Billing Information
  • Sales Proposals
  • Contracts
  • Technical Documentation
  • Installation + Maintenance Manuals
  • Social Media
  • Blog
  • Advertising
  • Everything
Develop a cross functional team and list every deliverable to be produced, staff to recruit, procedures and approval processes. Finalize your budget and determine what it will take to establish return on investment (feasability). Implement one language at a time, doing milestone reviews and documenting any improvements that could be made to streamline processes, decrease costs, improve quality.

Also bear in mind that local languages come in all different flavors. Portuguese in Portugal is very different from Portuguese spoken in Brazil. For some languages, like Spanish, classical versions will enable you to serve more customers across the Spanish-speaking world. Prioritize your language set by markets and potential reach.

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