What I’m about to say may be considered a bit controversial, but it’s important for everyone to understand that when it comes to localizing for international trade, there is only one language that truly matters.
If you are a native English speaker, you will now be forgiven for somewhat arrogantly thinking that it’s English. In fact, if you speak Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish or Arabic you would have a good basis for arguing that your native language is the one that matters, with close to 50% of the world’s population speaking one of those languages.
Although a good argument, sadly you’d still be wrong. The role of localizing for international trade with new markets isn’t about playing the percentages. You can’t simply pick a widely spoken language and hope that your product or service resonates in that market. It is however about assessing demand, researching the culture, shipping, logistics and competition, creating an export action plan before finally selecting a target market, and only then can you think about localizing for that market with an effective translation – one that will really connect with your target audience.
Even if you are a seasoned exporter with multiple target markets, there’s still only one language that truly matters. That language is the language of your customer.
You won’t get far localizing your content for international trade into Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish or Arabic if you’re targeting trade with customers in France. It’s important to remember, as one of the great comedians of our time once said: “Boy, those French: they have a different word for everything!”
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