When Clients Choose by Price
Which criteria do clients go by?
The age-old question: Why do some clients settle for a mediocre translation just to save some money? Or maybe that’s wrong question.
How about: Why do clients keep buying mediocre translations when there are so many excellent translators waiting to work their magic?
Last year, I was called by a very nice lady interested in having her website translated into English. Her business was doing fine in Germany and she was testing the waters about offering her services to customers from abroad, specifically American customers. She had just revamped her German website and wanted an English-language version that would live up to its new style.
When our services are generic, bargain hunting begins
To cut a long story short, I sent her a set of quotes and she chose someone else to do the job. And life went on.
I came across her details again this week. A quick surge of curiosity sent me to her site and there it was: a bumpy, uneven English version. My gut tells me that she chose to go with a cheaper translator. This actually makes me feel bad for her because she may have lowered the cost of getting her website translated, but I fear that her new English site won’t be sending many potential customers her way.
At some point in the future, she’ll come to the erroneous conclusion that there’s no American market for her services – and I am convinced that there is. For her sake, I hope that she’ll reconsider how she is presenting her services, i.e. I hope she’ll revisit the issue of translation instead of just giving up.
What went wrong?
I fully understand that it’s difficult for clients to really judge the quality of a translation. I also absolutely understand that if all services offered by translators seem the same, then a client will decide on the basis of what they can judge – the price. And this where I (and all the other translators she got in touch with) failed her.
When she first contacted me, I spent some time on the phone with her discussing her target audience, some cultural specifics, technical details and different service packages that would make sense for her. My message was that she wasn’t paying for translation as a necessary expense; she was investing in new clients. And a great English-language version of your website is like a warm, welcoming hug for your English-speaking clients. It’s a first way of showing them that you care.
Now, it’s obvious that she skimped on the translation. And I’m forced to admit that I might need to work on communicating my services and the value I add. There’s no doubt in my mind that she would have ended up with a better translation had I succeeded at explaining why she wants more than an English word-by-word translation of her German copy.
Do you have a tried-and-true method of wowing potential clients with your unique services? Care to share?
PS Another possible explanation is that someone did stand out from the crowd and failed to deliver on their promises. This would be an even more depressing scenario, in which the website owner would have purchased a pricey but still poor translation.