Market Expansion Strategy with an OTTIAQ Translator:
The Importance of Translation, Localization, and Document Review in helping you expand into new markets
As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to reshape work in America and all around the world, companies of all sizes look at global market expansion and ways to implement the most suitable market expansion strategy.
Offering a product or service outside your usual place of business is global market expansion.
Hiring remote workers living in a different country is global market expansion.
And it isn’t just something for large corporations.
Many small businesses, including freelancers with a very niched type of service or product, know they can miss out on opportunities by exclusively serving their local market.
The number of clients who need their services may not even or rarely be present where they live.
Airswift.com refers to the 2022 GETI Report which indicates that one third of the current petrochemical workforce is composed of expats. The website further states that “the energy sector as a whole is embracing globalization with nearly nine out of ten oil and gas companies considering relocation. Energy companies are adopting and perfecting policies that cater for remote work. This gives them access to international talent and international employees with region specific skill sets.”
Whatever the reason for a business’ market expansion is, a clearly defined market expansion strategy is required for a successful global business.
According to Airswift.com, a successful market expansion strategy will include the following 9 elements:
- Methods to penetrate foreign markets
- Identification of target countries
- Customer base
- Understanding of talent pool
- Product strategy
- Country specific employment policies
- Risk mitigation policies
- Business costs in foreign location
- Collaborating with global partners to enhance expansion
Obviously, the weight given to each step and implementation method will depend on a variety of factors, such as company size, revenue, and type of product/service offered.
Let’s look at the role Translation, Localization, and Document Review services play when it comes to some of these elements.
Market Expansion Strategy with an OTTIAQ Translator: The Importance of Localization
The traditional and most common international market entry modes are exporting, licensing arrangements, partnering and strategic alliances, acquisitions, and establishing new, wholly owned subsidiaries, also known as greenfield ventures.
Localization, which can be defined as “the adaptation of a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s “look-and-feel”, is maybe the most important element of a product and market expansion strategy.
That goes especially for advertising slogans.
Blindly translating a string of words from one language to another is hardly ever a challenge. Any translation program can do it.
Conveying the meaning and making the message not just appealing, but actually appropriate for the respective target market, is an entirely different story.
One example of cultural insensitivity due to a lack of localization is the international marketing fail of the telecom company Orange. As the company launched in the United Kingdom in 1993, its slogan was “The future is bright, the future is Orange.” Unfortunately, this slogan did not translate well in Northern Ireland, a country divided between Catholicism and Protestantism, often called “The Orange Order”. Orange’s seemingly innocuous ad campaign took on a new meaning in a place torn by religious tension during that time.
A local translator who is also knowledgeable of the target country’s culture would quickly have spotted the issue.
Market Expansion Strategy with an OTTIAQ Translator: The Importance of Translation
For US and Canadian companies, the most “natural” way to expand into foreign markets is by simply selling to the respective neighbouring country.
There are many reasons why that kind of move would make sense: the existence of the largest free-trade region in the world spanning Canada, the US, and Mexico (CUSMA), as well as historical and cultural ties all favour international trade between Canada and the US.
Selling between the US state of Washington and the neighbouring Province of British Columbia is often not that big of a deal.
Selling in Quebec
Things get a lot more complicated when an American (or Canadian company situated outside of Quebec) is eager to do business in the Canadian Province of Quebec.
The following section about Bill 96 is based on an article by the McMillan law offices (Québec: Bill 96’s Impact on Franchise Businesses).
Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, became law on June 1st 2022. It is aimed at strengthening French language protection within the province of Québec.
The Act builds on and amends the Charter of the French Language which had first introduced French language requirements for commercial contracts, advertisements, public signage, and other branding in the 1970s.
From June 1st 2023, a party may only be asked to sign a commercial contract, or adhesion contract, in a language other than French if it is first given a French version of the contract before consenting to any other language.
A similar rule to the one applicable to adhesion contracts also applies to many consumer contracts.
Workplace communication and hiring in Quebec
Bill 96 also has an effect on hiring.
A number of written employer communications in the workplace, such as offers of employment and promotions, have long been required to be in French.
This French requirement was further expanded by Bill 96, which now includes employment transfer offers, employment contracts, written communications addressed to a particular worker or to a group of workers, application forms, documentation relating to work conditions, training documents, etc.
Bill 96 prohibits employers from requiring employees to possess a specific level of knowledge of a language other than French, unless they:
1) indicate the reasons for this requirement in their posting of the job offer;
2) demonstrate that this knowledge is necessary for the performance of duties; and
3) demonstrate that the company took all reasonable steps beforehand to avoid imposing such a requirement.
Bill 96 further increases the penalties associated with non-compliance. The fines for legal persons have been increased as follows:
Quebec’s example shows that ignoring translation requirements cannot only slow down your business expansion, but actually put an end to it right here and there, in addition to resulting in hefty fines.
A French company that already operates in French and wants to expand into Quebec might be inclined to think that a market expansion strategy is obsolete for them. However, localization and document review can still be required, even if translation is not.
The differences between so-called Standard French and Canadian French may not weigh too much in some aspects, but they make a difference when it comes to others, especially advertisement language.
Translation and risk mitigation policies
Getting translations for your HR documents is an important aspect to consider for your market expansion strategy and helps you protect your business.
The key factors in this context are:
- Clear communication
- Keeping the right talent
- Workplace safety
Not all countries/jurisdictions have the level of language protection the way Quebec does.
This, however, does not mean that language requirements should be ignored here.
For example, forgetting one word in the Spanish version of an employee handbook ended in a lengthy court battle that could have been avoided had this handbook been translated.
Equity is another important factor to consider when we’re talking about market expansion strategy. Considering that not all of your employees will be native English speakers, multilingual employees can be put disadvantaged if they are not offered HR documents in the language they best understand.
Inclusivity should be a significant value for any company, and this is even more true for companies which are in the process of or are looking at global expansion and finding the best suitable market expansion strategy.
It has been shown that companies who are culturally diverse have been able to outperform their respective industry norms by 35%. So while you’re at building an international business, you should make sure it advertises in an ethical and respectful way and attracts the most suitable local talent.
Market Expansion Strategy with an OTTIAQ Translator: Where can you get localization, translation, and document review services for your market expansion strategy?
Finding the right service professional for your business will depend on a variety of factors.
These include the size of your company size, how advanced you are in your market expansion strategy and global expansion plans, and, of course, your budget.
If you are interested in expanding your services into Quebec or the German-speaking market (DACH market), I invite you to send me a message directly right here, so you can set up a complimentary consultation with me, an OTTIAQ translator, to get started.