Companies allocate substantial budgets and resources for good copywriters. They also invest heavily in their corporate branding and content marketing initiatives. But when it comes to reaching out to worldwide audiences and the need to overcome the language barrier, too many businesses simply outsource to the cheapest translator in town or rely on those online machine translation systems.

Although the source language version has been written with so much oomph and brevity, it's unfortunate that their translated language content does not live up to the company's branding tone-of-voice or desired impact with target audiences in certain countries. Pundits in content marketing widely advocate on the dos and don'ts of effective content strategies. Strangely, though, these advisories fall short of highlighting the linguistic and cultural diversities in the global marketplace — and that not everyone speaks comfortably in everyone else's language.

The King Isn't Always Dressed Appropriately

In 1996, Bill Gates popularized the phrase “content is king.” How right his observation was and still is, as every day we're fed all sorts of content in a variety of media apps and devices hosted on multiple platforms. Content as king is ubiquitous.

Over the years, critics continue to argue about exactly what makes content so kingly. The fact is that content, in and of itself, isn't necessarily the king — especially when it so egregiously misses its mark. When the language and cultural mindset of the target audience isn't effectively addressed, the message isn't very kingly at all. It may not even be fit for a pauper!

The Challenge Lies with Marcom Teams

Marketing communication (marcom) teams are constantly challenged to grow their brands in a multicultural landscape. They're mindful too that content in one language — for example, English, which may have attracted measurably good audience responses — might not achieve the same results in non-English speaking markets.

Obviously, there are differentiators at play — such as the ability to comprehend the language, colloquial knowledge, cultural mindset, exposure to social mores, etc. that determine how different audiences react to the same content. Indeed, the hype on ‘content is king' is a perfect misnomer in view “one size does not fit all.” Similarly, the age-old adage in consumerism, “can't read, won't buy,” is perennial and considered to be the crux in planning content strategies in a global marketplace.

Transcreation Can Bring the Crown Back

One of the solutions to bringing the crown back to the marketing content landscape for readers of different cultural or language backgrounds is transcreation. Transcreation is a process that encompasses translations infused with creative editing to create equally impactful derivative marketing content in other languages. In essence, it's a transformation of words and expressions from one language and culture into another, including the use of proper syntax to express ideas and meanings with equal brevity in the vernacular of the respective target audience.

Transcreation is a reliable alternative to creating separate content versions for each market. So, to promote products or services in Europe, China, or any emerging market where your native language isn't commonly used, transcreation is ideal for developing effective marketing content at a much lower cost and in a shorter timeframe.

The Numbers Support the Demand

Today, the fastest emerging tourist market in the world is China. A report by Intercontinental® Hotels Group and Oxford Economics comprehensively mentioned China as the key contributor to the global tourism market. The report cited that annual Chinese travel expenditures worldwide will exceed $97 million USD by 2023. To vie successfully for this pie, marketing teams must feature a range of localized Chinese language content.

The overall global travel market reported by the World Bank is well over $1.3 trillion USD. Except for USA, UK and Australia, the other top 10 biggest spenders are from non-English speaking markets.

Top 10 Biggest Spenders on International Tourism in 2015 & 2016

In line with UNWTO's findings, it is clear that the needs for transcreation and content localisation support are ubiquitous too, as evident in the worldwide Language Service Provider (LSP) market growing steadily. Surveys and analyses on the LSP business conducted by research firm Common Sense Advisory Inc. indicated the following:

  • In 2012, the estimated global market for outsourced language services (written and verbal) was $35.5 billion USD.
  • By the end of 2016, the estimated global market had exceeded $40 billion USD.
  • By the end of 2020, the global outsource language service market is expected to reach $45 billion USD.

Can't Read, Won't Buy

But consumers won't buy it if they can't read it. Indeed, transcreation has been playing a key role not only in helping marketing teams develop their global content more economically, but also so that the mantra “content is king” remains relevant… even in a multicultural landscape.