Author Archives: JAPANtranslation

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East Asia Translation Business News

New: East Asia Translation Business News

East Asia Translation Business News

About this:

About East Asia Translation Business News
First thing I want to say is, Please don’t be overly impressed! This “newspaper” is simply a collection of the best news content linked to in the Tweets of industry people we follow every day. The online application is an aggregator. The stories you see there are from links posted on Twitter in the past 12 hours by the many we follow. The news is completely refreshed every 12 hours. It took only a few minutes to create this. If you follow a lot of people on Twitter, you can make your own in minutes using We’re sending this out just to ask our clients, partners, vendors and friends to help us build a little momentum behind East Asia Translation Business News. (I launched it just this morning.)

Really, who likes tweeting? I don’t.
Normally I see no point in Tweeting. It sometimes seems like another waste of my time or other staff members’ time. (Usually it’s my time.) But I discovered this “” just this morning and its format makes a lot of sense. They’re not paying me to say so. I genuinely like very simple, very usable web applications. Digesting the posts that matter becomes a cinch.

So, I’m sending this mailing to explain how it works and how we can collaborate just by following each other on Twitter.

Our offices now, after the triple disasters in Northeast Japan
We’re all fine. The Osaka office was barely shaken. The Tokyo office was badly shaken, though. There are rolling blackouts, and a number of other inconveniences. We remain open for business but expect things to be a little slower for at least a couple of months. Meanwhile, let’s connect on Twitter!

If you’re concerned about the effects the disaster is going to have on business in the rest of East Asia in general, and on business in the translation/localization industry in particular, please be sure to bookmark East Asia Translation Business News now. It gives a fresh overview twice a day, all by aggregating links that matter to the companies we follow on Twitter.

You can participate almost effortlessly
We’ll be happy to follow your company on Twitter. If we do, some of your posts will become part of the news when you link to material relevant to the translation industry — news about your company, about conferences, about TM software, or about East Asia (Japan or China or Korea or Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, etc.)

SDL’s LSP Partner Program

JAPANtranslation is pleased to announce that our parent company WIP Japan is partnering with SDL International (SDL plc). We’re one of the first SDL LSP Partners in East Asia. The arrangement is a strategic business innovation created by SDL to benefit both SDL and participating language service providers (LSPs) mutually.

We’re “Advantage Plus” partners, one of three options within the LSP Partner Program. Part of that level of participation includes training from SDL on their Global Information Management (GIM) solutions. This enables your agency to offer skillful consulting to your enterprise clients that use SDL’s GIM platform — the SDL Translation Management System application suite, SDL WorldServer, the SDL TeamWorks collaborative workflow environment, etc.

Japanese translation company
JAPANtranslation certified in the SDL LSP Partner Program

Japanese translation outsourcing for LSPs

One major step in developing the translation/localization industry

The Program’s purpose
If you’re working in the translation/localization industry you probably know that SDL’s business can be divided into two main areas — 1) translation, localization, interpretation and content development, and 2) software development, software testing, and promotion of the GIM platform for enterprises. Of course SDL’s departments working together can cross-support a considerable chunk of the translation/localization market internally; but they’re also aware that there are hundreds of other LSPs out there covering the rest of the market. And, as we all know, the rest of the market is gigantic and growing. With a goal to reach out widely and broaden its sales and support network, SDL has been building its various partner programs. One overarching objective of the LSP Partner Program is to increase translation/localization demand globally and, in so doing, contribute to the development of the entire industry. In short, working together to enlarge the market pie is in everyone’s interests.

SDL Certification
If your agency isn’t already participating, you might want to consider becoming an SDL LSP Partner. There are all sorts of benefits. First of all, participating in the Program helps you to keep your company’s SDL Trados expertise up to date. All SDL LSP Partners have their expertise validated by SDL. Your project managers have to pass the SDL Certification Program. And at least one member of your team (at each of your offices) is required to test at the highest level (SDL Level 3 Certified).

Japanese translation agency
When you buy translation from JAPANtranslation, you can rest assured that our SDL Trados expertise is certified.

Other benefits for LSP Partners
You may already know that LSP Partners get discounts on SDL Trados software licenses and support from SDL. In fact, Associate level LSP Partners receive three free licenses for SDL Trados Studio 2009 when signing up. (And Advantage Plus and Premier level LSP Partners receive five!)

But there are broader benefits for LSPs that work together with SDL that you may not notice just by skimming the Program brochure. Participation in the Program gives your agency and SDL the chance to build alliances. Sometimes SDL’s technology division sales staff meet customers who want to buy their products but don’t have contact with translation vendors that can utilize SDL Trados. So it helps their technology division to know reliable vendors to introduce. Naturally their LSP Partners are frequent recipients of these jobs based on a combination of factors — mainly expertise, cost and schedule.

And, further on the topic of alliances…

Collaborative support for your larger enterprise clients
In 2010, large enterprise clients have become more and more savvy about TM technologies. If you have clients with offices spread out around the globe that you know will benefit from working with enterprise-level SDL solutions such as TM Server or MultiTerm Server, as an LSP Partner you can work together with SDL to introduce the right solution to the client. Or if your agency receives an inquiry from a client that’s already using TM Server, for example, you’ll be better equipped as an SDL LSP Partner to support them. It appears that this joint consulting aspect of the Program is going to continue to grow.

As the Program keeps evolving, there’s a lot of information to keep up with. SDL knows this and has been producing webinars that you can participate in live via the web or download and watch later.

If you’re looking for translation support from an LSP Partner in East Asia, feel free to contact me (Lawrence LaFerla)

More information about the SDL LSP Partner Program

SDL LSP Partners group on LinkedIn

About the author


Sharing company data: Tips for translation agencies that buy from, or sell to, other translation agencies

Whether your agency is buying from another LSP or selling to another LSP, you probably struggle with vendor questionnaires on a regular basis. Read on to find three helpful tips for buyers, and three for sellers. We’ll suggest some steps for working towards the standardization of the way we share internal company data within our industry.

Japanese translation company
Japanese translation agency questionnaire

Japanese translation outsourcing for overseas agencies

Useful tips for both buyers and sellers

Those dreaded vendor questionnaires – who really has time for them? For agencies that are buying from other agencies, obtaining the appropriate information from vendors in crucial to the smooth operation of your project management team – but we all know that getting and distributing the information you need does not always go smoothly. And for agencies that are selling to other agencies, answering some of the questions might feel as if you’re being asked to fit a round peg in a square hole. But, at the same time, you know that each questionnaire presents a prime opportunity to promote your services and to show the client what differentiates your company from the competition. So, here’s the predicament: how to share all of your company’s relevant data without driving yourself crazy and dallying away precious time.

Our own agency, JAPANtranslation, sells to a number of larger MLVs outside Japan. (It’s about half of our business, in fact.) We find ourselves filling out these questionnaires all the time, so we know the frustrations involved. Recently, it got to the point where we were feeling hampered in our efforts to respond efficiently to agency questionnaires. So we decided to invest some time into studying and improving the process. Our objective was to uncover ways to make the process easier for both parties involved. We undertook a small research project, discussed the issue internally, and contacted vendor managers at various agencies to discuss the difficulties we’d been encountering. And, guess what? It was research time well spent! We’ve come up with some helpful hints for efficient information sharing that we want to share with you, below. These are just first steps. We hope vendor managers and sales managers at other agencies will join us in thinking out further steps we can take to standardize the way we share internal company data within the translation industry.

Okay, with no further ado, we offer the following suggestions. First, three tips for LSP-to-LSP buyers. And we’ve got three words of wisdom for LSP-to-LSP sellers, too.

Are you the outsourcing agency?
Tired of waiting around for late questionnaires and last-minute emails saying, “How should I answer this?” Our research showed that there are three extra steps that buyers can take to help vendors respond. (1) The questionnaire you send to agency vendors should be appropriate for agencies. You know that there are two main types of vendors of translation services: full-service agencies and individual freelancers. The data you collect from agencies won’t be the same as the data you collect from freelancers. So, it makes sense to adapt your questionnaire to the two main types of vendors. This means creating separate questionnaires or sections for agencies and freelancers. Think about it. Agencies are groups of people with various backgrounds, various roles, various skill sets, etc. And within each agency a variety of hardware and software is in use. Ask about capabilities that you’d expect from a full-service agency.

(2) Think about inserting explanatory comments that act as a guide to the response you’re looking for. Take, for example, the CAT tools and applications section of your questionnaire – very important to you as a buyer. If you provide a checklist of the tools you’re most interested in, you’ll be more likely to get a satisfactory response. Not only is it much less time-consuming for the vendor to simply mark the tools they own, but you can rest assured that you have the answer to the information that is most important to you.

And (3) don’t forget to include a section for additional information or comments at the end. Most vendor management database systems have a component for attaching documents, and it can never hurt to have additional reference information at hand, right?

And, if yours is the agency that’s selling…
First off, you have to realize that the client agency’s project managers are often in a hurry to identify and compare suitable vendors for outsourcing particular job inquiries. They just don’t have the time to read through heaps of detailed data and marketing materials from every selling agency. Sorry, but your agency is no exception. What they want is information that can be easily processed and quickly transferred to their database – the ultimate goal of this entire exercise.

Want to know how to respond better? We’ve got three tips: be concise, be efficient, and be perceptive.

Be concise
If you’re a mid-sized or larger language services provider, an MLV with extensive offerings and capabilities, it may be difficult to answer questions regarding language pairs, pricing, and specialty fields, for example. Have you ever found yourself complaining, “Do I really need to list them all?” The answer is no – be concise and think about what the client agency needs to know and the information you want to promote. What are your strongest language pairs? What language pairs would the client be most interested in? Consider listing your local and regional languages first, and don’t be afraid to keep it short. The client doesn’t want to read through pages and pages of lists – they need the most relevant information, and they need it fast. Try providing a link to your full list or attach a separate document with specifics.

Be efficient
Do questions about in-house equipment, operating systems, and words processed per day have you thinking, “This is impossible to answer!”? You probably have several in-house computers with different operating systems and software, and your company – with scalable teams in various language pairs handling various jobs – probably processes too many words per day to calculate. But, remember that your client agency is most likely also dealing with individual freelancers, and really just wants to check for compatibility and capability. So, be efficient and don’t hesitate to list “N/A” for questions that just don’t apply to you.

Be perceptive
You may come across sections where you just don’t feel comfortable using “N/A,” where you feel the need to input some sort of an answer. In this case, think about what the outsourcing agency needs to know and what their question is trying to get at, then satisfy the question by addressing the reason behind it. With simple comments like, “our in-house hardware is compatible with most other hardware” and “we can handle high-volume orders,” you can give the client what they need to know, without racking your brain to come up with numerical figures. Satisfying the need behind the question is sometimes more important than answering the question itself.

Any other advice?
The sharing of translation vendors’ internal company data with LSPs that outsource is a somewhat bothersome necessity, but it doesn’t have to be a big, laborious project. Take a moment to consider things from the other agency’s perspective, and communicate. We are far from standardization at this point, but if we work together, buyers and sellers can both benefit from the process. Leave us a comment and share your experiences, ideas, solutions – whatever you’ve got, please share!

Oh, and please ask us about our “Generic Questionnaire”!
Here at JAPANtranslation, we’ve developed a “generic questionnaire” – a snapshot of our company that satisfies the questions found on most vendor data questionnaires. We know that you don’t have all day, so we’ve got what you need to know now. We’re happy to share this with other LSPs. Contact Lauren using this form, and feel free to reuse the questionnaire for your own data!

About the authors



Defining and maintaining a core brand essence globally

Guest article introduction.
We’re back. There are several new articles in the works. Jonathan Finer gets things rolling with notes on globalizing a core brand essence. Essential reading for anyone involved in local campaigns for global brands. International copywriters take note.

Japanese translation company
Global Branding

Cloverleaf Innovation

Global Branding
by Jonathan Finer

Early global branding efforts generally adopted a rather ethnocentric approach: simply exporting successful brands with little or no regard for unique local customs and consumer concerns. The pendulum then swung in the opposite extreme, as next generation branding had the tendency to fluctuate widely from nation to nation – cultivating local significance, but compromising a broad and cohesive brand essence.

Current thinking on global branding recognizes the critical need to strike a careful balance between these previous two extremes. Leveraging the power of big brands with a necessary small worldview defines a winning formula: global brands with local perspective. Maintaining this careful equilibrium, however, can be tricky. Too much regional segmentation can water-down the brand, and conversely, developing too dominant of “mega-brand” approach may miss the opportunity to appeal to local audiences.

To avoid either extreme, it is critical to define and maintain a core brand essence – the central theme that is inexorably part of a cohesive brand expression. By establishing a clear, definitive and constant essence, a brand then maintains the necessary flexibility to adapt and expand to reflect local needs.

McDonald’s, for example, is always committed to providing a fast, fun and consistent food experience. That’s their core essence. Determining how to deliver on this promise, however, differs around the globe. So in Stuttgart, for example, you can order a beer with your “Big Mäc”, while Parisians may follow their Royal Deluxe with a choice of “patisseries” which includes the Mandise and the McCrispy. While they are serving up “I’m Lovin’ It” universally, McDonald’s is clearly expressing their love in distinct regional ways.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Further reading on global branding

Global Brand Rankings

Yamaha teaches Al Ries a bit of branding, Japanese style

Shiso & Green Tea Cola for the Summer

Clorox, Toyota and the Japanese Culture

How do you take a brand global?

Brand Inspiration From The Far East

What Color is Your Brand?

‘Resist Simple’ – Tanqueray Gin’s First Global Campaign

About the author

  • Jonathan Finer is a Principal at Cloverleaf Innovation in Chicago, IL. Cloverleaf is an innovation consultancy that is dedicated to driving top-line growth for our clients by delivering fresh, creative and commercially viable brand, product, service and organizational solutions, through a highly collaborative and dynamic process.


International copywriting

Feel free to share our 5-part series on international copywriting…

  1. English-to-Japanese translation for persuasion: Words to the wise (and words of warning!)
  2. Dealing with special sensitivities – a real-world international copywriting case study
  3. Adaptation agencies cf. plain old translation agencies: All about “Advertising sans frontieres”
  4. Selecting translation companies for copywriting: Seven tips for evaluating and choosing the right agency
  5. Six steps for preparing a nuanced marketing campaign for a local translation… and getting great results users: Thank you!

Six steps for preparing a nuanced marketing campaign for a local translation… and getting great results

Part five of our five-part series on international copywriting.
Learn six key steps for working with a translation agency when you have a culturally sensitive marketing campaign (web copy, ad copy, etc.) to adapt to a local market. Find out how to prepare for a successful project – and learn about a few red flags to watch out for in the process.

Japanese translation company
International copywriting series

International copywriting
(all articles)

Follow 6 key steps. Avoid pitfalls.
A prerequisite for all of our tips below is to find a local copywriting supplier with marketing savvy, lots of experience and a work style compatible with your team’s. And, truth be told, though one of us works at a leading Japanese translation agency, we know that not all companies and projects are a good fit. Carefully choose a vendor who works the way you need them to work.

For the sake of today’s article, let’s assume you’ve already found the right agency. When you’ve selected a vendor and you’re about to order the full process, from translation through independent proofreading through a final copy rewrite, here are six preparation steps that will take you a long way toward a satisfactory result.

1. Prepare a copywriting brief. The purpose is to give the vendor some background and explain the persuasive intent of the copy. There’s no special format necessary when writing a brief. You could put it all in an email if you prefer. Just be sure to explain the target market/audience, the context of the campaign, the company’s branding strategy, and any visuals that go along with the copy. Most importantly, explain what the current copy is meant to say to the reader, the impact and/or effect it’s supposed to have.

2. Save and share background materials. Always keep your original source files for layouts in whatever program (InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, etc.) with editable text layers (if you’re not familiar with that term, just pass it on to your graphic designer!). In fact, always keep everything related to the original campaign development or translation process. Better to have it and not need it than vice versa.

3. Make sure that your agency contact understands you’re ordering more than just translation. In the conventional workflow of volume-driven translation agencies, we know from experience that normal text is handled by a translator and independent proofreader, neither of whom is expected to go beyond carrying the meaning of the text. When we say “normal text” we mean straightforward documents that merely explain, describe or inform. (Think: user guides, city signage, product instructions, engineering specs, academic papers, and so on.) If your text is straightforward, a translator and proofreader can take care of the whole job. In that case, you don’t even have to be reading about copywriting.

But, if your original persuasive copy is for marketing material, a snappy ad or tagline, which requires cultural savvy or a native play on words, then that’s another story. You need to make this very clear to any potential firm and make sure they have the expertise to handle the project. It’s a much different kind of project. In this case, the copywriter will work with the project manager to understand the goals of the project and will need to rewrite the text to be persuasive in the new language and culture. Make sure any potential vendor knows that.

4. Encourage the local copywriter to be creative. This may seem like odd advice, but your encouragement can make a huge difference in the persuasiveness of the final copy. Unlike copywriters at advertising agencies, you may find that translation agency copywriters hold back their creativity. This is natural. Translation is by its nature a conservative art. If you want bold ideas, be sure to encourage boldness throughout the process. Try it. You’ll see what we mean.

The Japanese copywriter, for example, understands how to adapt your original copy to convert Japanese readers into buyers or brand loyalists but needs to be “licensed to kill” with creativity. The agency coordinator or project manager will select the writer with the most appropriate industry knowledge and background. A good project manager will ask for multiple iterations and form internal focus groups to ensure the highest quality results. The desired result is copy that persuades. Remember, people from any culture – Japanese, Western or other — can consciously or subconsciously sense when copy is truly speaking their language and when it’s just a bland, safe, “faithful” translation of some foreign copy. Wording really counts. Tell your agency NOT to play it safe. Get unique copy in each language.

5. Find fussy final reviewers at the client’s local office, but make sure they understand the goal. If possible, the final client-side reviewers should be at a local office in the new target market. For example, if the end-client has a Tokyo office they’ll probably want the local staff there to review the Japanese copy. If you find that the native reviewers fuss over details, don’t worry – but do listen. It means they’re paying attention. This is a good thing, because then you can discuss their feedback with the copywriter to decide whether or not to make edits. But beware: The local office staff are also trained to play it safe. If they feel that the unique copy is a “bad translation” of the original campaign, make sure they understand that it’s not the meaning but rather the persuasive effect of the copy that needs to be equivalent with the source campaign.

6. Don’t forget to request font selection and layout. The translation company team should be able to present you with a selection of appropriate font samples, ranked according to their recommendations. Fonts matter, and are often overlooked in requests for proposals. Bring it up when you’re negotiating the order. Make sure that it’s included. Also, most translation companies offer layout and graphic design services. This can add a lot to the budget — but for very special copy such as the large text in ads, it’s usually necessary to have native layout engineers choose font spacing and line breaks.

Those are just some basics and we’re sure there’s a lot more to add here. Comments? What else has helped you or your clients prepare for projects? We especially welcome input from other professionals from inside our industry. If you’re a copywriter or a translation agency professional, are there other tips you’d like to share? Ways to keep a project progressing smoothly? If you’re new to all of this, what other questions do you still have about preparing for your translation project?

About the authors


Selecting translation companies for copywriting: Seven tips for evaluating and choosing the right agency

Part four of our five-part series on international copywriting.
Your translation service agency –and the copy they produce for you– affects how an entire country and culture thinks about your products and services. No pressure or anything. Since you often don’t know the new language or culture, it’s critical to select a trustworthy, experienced vendor in the target country. Here are seven unbiased tips for evaluating and selecting the right translation services and copywriting agency.

Japanese translation company
translation and copywriting

International copywriting
(all articles)

International copywriting:
7 Tips.

If you’re new to this blog or to the exciting world of translation services companies, you might want to start here to find out why “persuasive copy translation” services are such a big deal. By persuasive copy, we mean materials meant to persuade – such as sales, advertising and marketing materials or press releases. This ballgame differs significantly from translating straightforward text, such as user manuals.

For persuasive copy, picking the right vendor for you and your project is critical. Though we work for a firm, which offers English-to-Japanese copywriting services, we intend these tips to be unbiased, honest recommendations gained from our own experience. These seven tips will help anyone assess any translation services firm, so you can choose the best fit for you. Like tips? Check out this post on how to prepare for a translation project, once you’ve picked the right vendor.

1. Choose an agency, not a freelancer. There are thousands of brilliant freelancers in our business, but only an agency has the resources to handle the entire process of adapting marketing campaigns. We admit that this is a controversial statement. There are many freelance translators who genuinely believe that if they work together with the end-client’s local office they can produce ad-agency-quality marketing copy in the local language. The truth is that a freelancer and the client’s local office in the target country both have an interest in playing it safe. Yes, yes, of course they’re savvy enough to avoid literal translations but they’ll remain too “faithful” to the original campaign’s meaning.

When the client reviewer receives translated copy, he or she expects a specific meaning to be conveyed. Contrast this with the review process for transcreated copy. In the case of adapted copy, the actual meaning of the text could be practically anything. It doesn’t particularly matter what the copy says. What matters is what the copy does.

(We’re probably going to get angry mail about this from translation professionals. To understand the controversy in more detail, have a look at this discussion. Of course our industry wouldn’t even exist without professional translators. But the point here is that organized teamwork is required to create killer copy in local languages.)

If you want bold, creative copy, it takes a bigger team. You need to connect first of all with a main contact at the agency who speaks your own language fluently. That agency has to be able to assign to the project an entire team, who should be native to the target language and culture: you’ll want a native project manager, a native translator, a native proofreader, a native copywriter and an internal focus group to review the copy. No lone individual, no matter how dynamic, can manage all this on his or her own. Find the right agency.

2. Select a multi-service agency. Find a translation firm that offers not only translation and independent proofreading but also native copywriting in your target language(s). Find an agency that shows you a willingness to take the time to read your marketing brief, listen and ask clarifying questions, and build an ongoing service relationship with your team.

3. Pick an agency with someone who speaks your language – literally. If English is your native language, make sure that you connect with a translation company project manager (agency rep) who understands your language. Every step of your interaction with a translation company – negotiating your order, providing the brief, explaining the business context of the copy – requires close communication. Your agency rep needs to understand the nuances of the original copy and exactly what you want. He or she will need to have a sort of “mind meld” with you before he or she briefs the translator(s), proofreader(s) and the target language copywriter(s). So, if the rep is a native English speaker, that’s a big plus for you.

4. Choose an agency where you can get the same team for every job. Ask the agency rep if you’ll be able to rely on the same team for each job. Sometimes timing or special circumstances will require you to accept different teams at any given time. But if quality and consistency are important to you, it’s better to stick with the same team even if scheduling has to be delayed now and then.

5. Know your history and your goals – the more specific, the better. Be prepared to explain the sales or branding objectives of the campaign. Brief the translation agency rep on the creative processes that led to the current copy. What feeling or reaction is the reader supposed to have? What attitude does the campaign want to impart? What’s the broader context of the target market?

6. Make sure that details don’t get lost somewhere along the marketing campaign’s supply chain. If there’s a string of agencies outsourcing to other agencies on the project, be sure that a copy of the creative brief will be shared with all involved. For example, if the process starts at the end-client office, proceeds to an advertising agency, then back to the end-client, then to a home country translation agency and then to a target-language country agency, be sure that the brief gets passed along and that the most potent ideas in the campaign aren’t watered down or changed with each retelling. (Remember the childhood “telephone” game? Funny when you were five years old, not so with a five-digit project budget. Learn more about creative briefs here.)

7. Be wary of promised “perfection.” If you contact a copywriting team that claims to be infallible, run away! The best professionals will offer multiple iterations of the same copy. They’ll go out on a limb, try different ideas and brainstorm. They’ll have internal focus groups review copy and may change things as they learn more or get new insight into the project. Taking chances, being creative and sometimes failing, is all part of the process. Embrace it – your campaign will be better for it. Promise.

Your turn. What else should people consider when choosing a translation services agency? What did or will you look for in a translation service company? Scroll down and post a comment!

About the authors


Adaptation agencies cf. plain old translation agencies: All about “Advertising sans frontieres”

Part three of our five-part series on international copywriting.
An adaptation agency provides a level of service that differs from the straightforward service you tend to expect from a translation services company. Below, find out exactly what makes the difference.

Japanese translation company
Adaptation agencies close the gap between translation and copywriting

Burton · Münch & Partner World Wide Writers

What’s advertising sans frontieres?
We wish we had been the ones to coin that phrase, but it most likely was first used by Mike Münch of Germany’s top adaptation agency, Burton · Münch & Partner World Wide Writers (BMPwriters), specialists in creative translation copywriting that goes the extra mile.

An adaptation agency is like a translation agency cross-bred with an ad agency + branding consultancy + copywriting firm. Think high end, high quality service (and really nice offices). BMPwriters’ clients are advertising and PR agencies that need BMPwriters’ help to give clients “a compelling voice internationally.” If you have a multilingual ad campaign that has to be rendered pitch-perfect and culturally savvy in different international markets, and you have the budget to invest in top quality service, consider going with an adaptation agency. They’ll guide you smoothly through the entire process.

Adaptation agencies are designed to offer full-on consulting. They’re prepared to take their time working with clients in a more intimate way than you’ll find at ordinary, volume-oriented translation agencies, explains Mike, a friend of ours and co-founder of BMPwriters. Working with advertising, public and investor relations agencies as well as marketers going global, BMPwriters has built up substantial adaptive copywriting and consulting expertise.

“Adaptation agencies close the gap between translation and copywriting,” considered Mike during a recent phone conversation…

It’s all about readjusting and fine-tuning the original message so it can perfectly home in on the target group, which is always a critical balancing act. On the one hand, the adaptation must reflect the marketer’s agreed tone of voice, corporate wording, etc.; on the other, it has to satisfy the target market’s linguistic, cultural and psychological requirements to come across as powerful, hard-hitting copy. We also look into differences in the competitive situation on the home vs. the target market and take other critical factors into account. The adjustment may range from finding or creating a play on words that works and adds currency to the marketer’s message, to rewriting text that is perceived as tongue-in-cheek in the original message but might strike the wrong chord or be politically incorrect outside the home market. In other words, it’s a results-driven approach for high-impact messages in advertising, public and investor relations as well as executive communications.

By contrast, most translation services companies are set up to take the usual translation orders for the vast majority of documents that merely describe, inform or explain things. Experience trains conventional translators to take a conservative/prosaic approach to text. They normally aren’t given to taking a bold/poetic approach. Most can, but won’t get creative unless the project manager specifically asks for it. Nothing wrong with that. And this is not to disrespect the work of translators. As translator David Stormer noted in a comment to one of our recent blog posts, quality translation involves “the creativity and discipline of professionals specialized in making the foreign sound familiar and the incomprehensible clear.”

Adaptation of copy differs from translation in that with adaptation it doesn’t particularly matter what the copy says. What matters is what the copy does. Much of ordinary communication is meant to explain, guide, inform, not necessarily to call the reader/listener to action or meld a brand ever more deeply into the subconscious. Copywriting is not ordinary communication.

Our own agency (JAPANtranslation) is one of those that deals mostly with standard texts – i.e., ordinary documents that describe, inform or explain – though we also offer persuasive Japanese copywriting services. In fact, we work with adaptation agencies on projects to provide additional insight and consulting. An adaptation company vs. a translation company boils down to a different business model (and price point). If you’re dealing with a more general translation agency (such as ours), you can still get high-quality results, but you need to be prepared (more tips coming soon!) and you may need to provide more overall direction rather than just hand the work off to a vendor and hope for the best. We’ll be posting more on this topic in early May.

Have we left out any important points about adaptation companies cf. translation services companies? Comments are very welcome! (Scroll down to add your comment.)

About the authors


Dealing with special sensitivities – a real-world international copywriting case study

Part two of our five-part series on international copywriting
Some products and services are particularly challenging to sell in international markets due to target buyers with cultural differences and unique buying tendencies. In this case study, find out how a financial services company reached wealthy, but cautious, Japanese investors with a well-executed website. Learn how our own English-to-Japanese copywriting team helped them rewrite and revamp their web copy – and find out the results.

Japanese translation company
Swiss private banking

Nicholas Rose:
Private banking advisor

International copywriting case study
We keep telling you how valuable it is to think carefully about international copywriting projects, and here’s some more inspiration. One of our favorite copywriting success stories is about our development of Japanese web copy for our client Nicholas Rose. As the sole Japan-focused partner at Invest Partners Wealth Management AG, he’s responsible for marketing to Japanese web surfers who are interested in Swiss private banking and wealth management.

When we worked on this project a couple of years ago, private banking had recently become more popular in Japan. Prudent risk-taking by Japanese investors was more common than it had been in the 1990s. So, off-shore providers such as Invest Partners were able to compete in Japan against a growing number of domestic private banking firms. Invest Partners came to us to launch their website,, which needed to emphasize that ‘Swiss private banking is just as safe as savings and investments offered inside Japan, and comes with unique advantages.’

Now, we consumers, Japanese or otherwise, don’t buy financial services the way we buy music or clothing. We don’t tend to make important purchasing decisions on a whim while browsing a website, no matter how trustworthy the seller. Japanese in the demographic targeted by firms providing wealth management services tend to hesitate to identify themselves in an online contact form, let alone make any sort of hasty commitment. So, Invest Partners’ goal was simply to convert web visitors to viable prospects. They planned to define “conversions” as each occurrence when a visitor was persuaded to make initial contact by sending an email or making a phone call. From there, the eventual path toward signing the necessary account opening documents would be made through direct communication, often over the course of months. Easy, right? Nope. Not so simple at all. Even if the first sales step is merely to make contact, sites aimed at such a sensitive market as this require incredibly meticulous native copywriting in order to convey complete trustworthiness. That’s where we came in. We needed to build exactly the right internal team to fuss over every single word together with Nicholas, directly.

As luck would have it, one regular member of our Japanese copywriting team had written private banking material for Citigroup. For this project, she worked closely with Nicholas along with our project manager and the Japanese search engine marketing team at Wasabi Communications to rewrite Invest Partners’ boilerplate text for the Japanese site. The three-way conferences between the SEM firm, the client and us were indispensable. That’s where the real success was created. They launched the site and we held our breath.

During the first year as Nicholas and Wasabi both monitored the actual site usage, they paid close attention to the “persuasion architecture” – or text, navigation and images used to persuade websurfers to take action. The first iteration took some tweaking. Honestly, early on, none of us felt completely sure that Japanese prospects in this market would respond via the web. But then things started to turn around. Conversion rates rose. Our heart rates dropped back down to normal levels. And most importantly, Nicholas and Invest Partners saw their Japanese business take off.

Today, this well oiled marketing machine of a website is generating quality prospects and the investment has paid for itself. It’s not magic. It’s all a matter of careful collaboration. When a client team, a search engine marketing team and a copywriting team work together closely, it’s possible to come up with persuasive copy even for the most sensitive markets.

About the authors


Reality check: International advertising

Japanese translation company
International copywriting

Chocolate covered coffee beans

International advertising
Every now and then we want to post “reality checks” as a way to clarify or qualify claims we’re making in recent posts, especially where we spot ambiguities in our own writing and may have second thoughts after receiving thoughtful and thought-provoking feedback from readers.

Global or local?
In our post the other day, “English-to-Japanese translation for persuasion: Words to the wise (and words of warning!),” we detoured around the fact that most very large, multilingual advertising campaigns are properly handled not by translation firms but by global advertising agencies and/or adaptation firms. At the more local level, i.e. assuming you have a campaign in one language and want to expand just to one other language for starters, we think it’s possible to create great copy with the assistance of a translation firm in the target country. Since we’re a translation firm in Japan that blogs in English, the latter scenario naturally becomes the focus of our blogging. Truthfully, though? Most professionals in the translation industry are wary of providing valuable marketing assistance at translation agency rates. It’s controversial and worth discussing. We welcome comments from others in the industry.

Translate or rewrite?
Regarding the same article, we received warm applause from marketing and copywriting people but some misgivings from professional translators. The linguists thought that our interchangeable usage of the words “translation” and “copywriting” was particularly derelict. Well, to be honest, many more web searches are made for “translation” than for “copywriting,” so we used phrases that included both words heavily in that post. There are also gray areas where whoever is managing an international advertising campaign might not know whether to have the source language ad copy translated for the target language or completely rewritten.

This leaves the question: How do you choose?

The answer: Case by case. Ask a translator or a translation firm in the target country for their opinions. And, if it’s a high-budget, crucial campaign, pay an agency in the target country to test the translation out on native customers.

Faithful or bold?
On our post yesterday introducing adaptation/transcreation agencies, C. Turney comments, “I really enjoyed your analogy, ‘Adaptation/transcreation is to translation what copywriting is to writing.'” Thanks! This distinction between international copywriting and translation is larger than most people outside our industry realize. Translation is a profoundly conservative art. Translators faithfully convey meaning. Copywriting, by contrast, is a radically creative skill. If you have an ironic ad slogan that works well in the UK, it may not be well received in Japanese translation, no matter how beautifully and faithfully translated. A Japanese copywriting team can write an entirely new slogan that conveys the brand’s attitude and the campaign’s persuasive effect. But notice that the meaning of the original slogan is completely beside the point.

Note that translators work for cents per word for long texts and hourly for important lines of text. But don’t ask them to work at these rates for ad copy worth thousands. In upcoming posts we’ll explain why crucial, creative and bold ad copy requires a team. It also requires an adequate budget.

Big budget or moderate budget?
Speaking of budget. If you’ve got a huge one – huge budget, we mean – and a multilingual campaign to run, there really is no reason to be reading this series about working with translation agencies. Instead, stop reading here and contact one of the adaptation/transcreation firms we listed yesterday. But if you want to target one foreign language and you have a moderate budget, stay tuned to our blog this month. We have some ideas just for you.

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Do you believe in transcreation?

Or do you prefer adaptation?

Some people in the translation industry think that “adaptation” and “transcreation” are just buzzword equivalents for plain, old translation.

Agencies that are pioneers in adaptation/transcreation beg to differ. Adaptation/transcreation is to translation what copywriting is to writing. Here’s a sampling of web copy from some these agencies’ sites…

Sternkopf Communications
“We don’t translate. We create. Rather than direct translation, we always strive for the perfect adaptation.”

Bauzá & Associates
“Transcreation is the creative adaptation of marketing, sales and advertising copy in the target language”

NTIS New Zealand
“Translators translate, whereas Transcreation is an entirely different ballgame, involving the creativity and discipline of professionals specialised in adaptation.”

Vision Communications
“Transcreation: For services related to the adaptation of promotional material”

“…project manage the adaptation, transcreation, production and delivery of international advertising…”

Mother Tongue
“…anyone in advertising or marketing who needs to be sure that the foreign-language versions of their copy will be as good as the original in every way…”

Text Appeal
“…help global brands adapt their marketing campaigns to different markets, languages and cultures…”

“…strategic marketing analysis, concept development, copywriting and copy-editing; adaptation and transcreation; concept checking and transculturization…”

So, what’s the difference between translation and adaptation?

  • Adaptation supports marketing. Translation is much more general.
  • Adaptation involves changing both words and meaning but keeping the attitude and persuasive effect. Translation involves changing words but keeping meanings.
  • We describe successful adaptation with words such as “bold” and “creative.” We describe successful translation with words such as “faithful.”
  • Adaptation inevitably requires a team (or a series of teams). Translation can be done by an individual (though independent proofreaders are often involved).

Be sure to check out our series of articles on international copywriting.

About the author


English-to-Japanese translation for persuasion: Words to the wise (and words of warning!)

Japanese translation agency

Part one of our five-part series on international copywriting
Whether you’re a small business owner, an advertising/PR agency professional or a corporate marketing executive, how you approach the process of translating persuasive copy – annual reports, advertising, web copy or press releases – can make or break international marketing efforts. Find out how and why companies outsource copywriting to translation agencies more often lately. And, learn more about common pitfalls you must avoid in your next copy translation project.

Japanese translation company
Graphic by Maniackers Design

Maniackers Design

Translation for persuasion
Most of us in the translation services business can list some hilarious instances when clients have come to us with overly literal translations that had been done by novice freelancers. When the original English ad copy for high-priced women’s accessories includes the expression “Love makes the world go ’round,” translations in other languages may use entirely different local idioms to correctly carry a similar feeling and convey the attitude that’s supposed to attach to the product line advertised. The original idiom, after all, is supposed to answer the question “How great is love?” It’s not supposed to attempt to explain the physics of whatever it is that actually causes the earth to spin on its axis. Dull, un-persuasive or nonsensical examples of literally translated copy may seem funny to us after the fact – but not funny to the company who runs that copy in an expensive, glossy, four-color print ad to introduce their new line to the lucrative, yet discerning, Japanese market.

The goal of translating copy for a new country, language and culture shouldn’t be to say exactly the same thing in all languages. In fact, you can’t say exactly the same thing in every language. The goal is to get equivalent reactions in each language. It’s not always an easy task, but executed correctly – the payoff is well worth the extra care.

So, we’ve put together a series of blog articles designed to help anyone who needs to have persuasive copy, such as sales, marketing or advertising materials, translated for targeted overseas readers. We’ve pooled our collective knowledge, gleaned from our experience as an agency that handles a whole lot of English-to-Japanese translation and from our broader network of partners. If you don’t have time to read the series in its entirety, just save the following nugget of wisdom: Copy rewrites in foreign languages require more of your involvement and cost more than basic translation orders…but it transfers the marketing value that your team has already created to millions more existing or potential customers, so it’s sooooo worth it. The key is to make sure that the copy’s meaning is not lost in translation.

Why is this such a big deal?
Whether you’re translating annual reports, advertisements, website text or press release copy, consider all the work that went into the original. Your team most likely arrived at the copy through a long versioning process, may have run the versions past focus groups, probably made multiple revisions and finally had to get approvals from at least one or two main stakeholders. If you hope to make the same impact across international markets, we have an inconvenient truth to share with you: That creative process has to be revisited by native teams in each target language and culture.

Sounds exhausting and costly, right? Don’t panic! Repeating the process for new languages can go much faster than the first time. In fact, you’re partway there if you make it a habit to preserve some kind of background documentation such as the original copywriting brief and meeting notes for each new campaign (being a packrat pays off!), and you make sure to show translation vendors the visuals that accompany the copy in the campaigns you have them translate. Then, it’s only a matter of having each native team revisit your goals in the context of the target market.

This re-run of the creative process pays off. We promise. When you’ve already invested in developing a killer marketing campaign in one language, you’re practically assured to increase the value of that investment by localizing the copy for other languages. For example, does your company’s website (or your client’s website) truly speak to 70 million Japanese web users? If not, why not? The advantages of localizing copy are clear. You can significantly multiply the reach of any campaign.

Common global copywriting pitfalls

But before you start, it’s a good idea to know the most common pitfalls to avoid:

Pitfall #1: Choosing the wrong translation company
Of course, if you have the budget, you may want to consider the option of going to a local ad agency in each country you’re campaign targets. There are ad agencies that’ll help you with translation, and translation agencies that’ll help you with advertising. And, as the world becomes smaller, there are “adaptation agencies” springing up that are a kind of cross-breed. (Learn more about adaptation agencies here.) But the tips we’re offering here assume you’re working with a translation agency.

There are many translation companies out there – but not all of them are a good fit for you and your goals. It’s critical to find a vendor that matches your specific project and has the right experience, work style and copywriting processes to handle the project smoothly and successfully. What worked for your friend’s company or project might not work for you. Our own translation firm is one of the fastest growing agencies in Japan, but we know that we’re not the best fit for all projects – and we’re not afraid to tell people that. Our advice: Find the right match for your company. Know enough about the process to help guide the project, so it meets your goals. We know you’re reading this and wondering what criteria to use. Right? Well, there are too many to explain in this one modest little introductory post. So, we delve into this more in this post – but, as you plan your project, compare possible vendors carefully.

Pitfall #2: Being unprepared when placing a translation order
This sounds obvious, but the way that you work with a translation agency greatly affects your results. The more direction you give your translation services team, the clearer your goals and the more background materials you can provide – the better. Unless you work with a high-end adaptation agency, you’ll need to put a bit of thought and effort into the way you outsource your translation order. Check out our detailed advice on this right here in this post.

Pitfall #3: Overlooking the professional distinction between translation and copywriting
We have this straight from the experts. Last year we approached a well known American copywriter to see if she would review our own translation company website on her blog. We were delighted that she accepted! The Copywriting Maven usually turns such requests away. We were in luck.

She made some key points about multilingual copywriting that identify exactly why it matters who you choose as your vendor:

Copywriters know that writing powerful, persuasive copy is tough enough when English is your first language. This is especially true when writing conversationally and that actually can add a second layer of difficulty. Common slang, figures of speech, and subtle shades of meaning are what we weave together to get our prospects and customers nodding, resonating and responding to our messages.

Which makes the whole process of translation so dang hard and fraught with peril. When we transport our advertising messages from their native language base to another language – with its own slang and common understandings – well … we can only guess at the magnitude for ourselves and our clients if mistakes are made.

When you need persuasive copy translated, make sure that your translation vendor understands that you want native copywriting, not just translation.

Pitfall #4: Ignoring or downplaying special sensitivities and cultural differences
Cultures vary greatly – especially when you’re talking about Western vs. Eastern cultures. Sure there are social, industrial and occupational subcultures that transcend East/West, but within these demographic groups are even more specialized subsets of buyers, both B2B and B2C – buyers who have to be approached in a specific, culturally savvy way to indentify personally with your product or service. For large, corporate campaigns you may need to outsource to multiple, specialized vendors – branding/marketing, translation, etc. – to work on strategy or setup additional focus groups. Of course if your campaign is smaller and simpler maybe you don’t need such a huge team, but just know that specialized markets require specialized approaches. Ignore this at your peril! (Check out this post to read a case study of one company that mastered this.)

OK – so that’s a brief look at what NOT to do. We hope this post hasn’t filled you with anxiety. Better to dwell on the positive results you can expect when you get your campaigns translated right. The more you globalize your copy the more you’ll feel “The sky’s the limit!” So, stay tuned for more tips on what TO DO and learn how to get the most out of your translation project. And, please take a minute to leave a comment or question. What other common pitfalls have you encountered in the copy translation process? Do you have any funny or scary translation horror stories to share? Scroll down to the comments box and let us all in on it!

About the authors


Tokyo subway? No, global Web Trends Map…

Based on the Tokyo area train map, – Information Architects Japan, also known as “iA,” sometimes clients of ours – have created their second annual “Web Trends Map.”

Trend Map detail

Actually, it has nothing to do with Tokyo subways or train lines and everything to do with the planet’s most successful and influential websites, starting with the obvious: Google, Wikipedia, YouTube etc. replacing the heart of Tokyo. But the closer you look, as the lines spread out around the global village, you’ll notice some cheeky neighborhood naming and interesting website choices. (Did you click the thumbnail, above?)

Choices were based on all sorts of factors ranging from global branding/marketing to design to usability to plain old “coolness,” but the overriding factor has to have been influential-ness.

Order the huge paper version for your office wall. They’re printing only 1000 of them, so contact iA while supplies last!

Giant wall version

The live, clickable version…

Do you Digg? If you Digg, then Digg this:

Clients’ confusions about the difference between translation memory and machine translation

Translation memory manager vs. machine translation
To those of us working in the translation industry the two technologies couldn’t be more different in their purpose and usage. But we often find that the two are easily conflated in the minds of people outside our field, including current and prospective clients.

Here’s the way we explain the distinction on our company site:

The use of translation memory management software (TMM) is not to be confused with machine translation (MT) such as automated online translation applications that translate at the level of vocabulary and grammar – and produce results that typically read like amusing gibberish. TMM assists human translators by allowing them to break a document’s text into segments (sentences, headings or clauses) and pair each source language segment with a translated version. The application manages these human-translated segments so that the same native translator (or another native translator sharing the same database) can call up and recycle the segments as appropriate when working on updates of the same document or similar documents. The result is as natural and native as any other human translation. The use of computer-assisted translation tools saves translation professionals time, so it saves translation clients money. And there are other benefits. You get better standardization and consistency within and between documents.

Yes, sir, it’s still human translation
I think that clients easily grasp the fact that computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools save time and reduce costs. But they don’t readily understand that we’re still talking about human translation, that TMM software is just a tool in a translation team’s toolbox, or that it helps the team edit the client’s information assets with increased care, consistency and clarity.

They understand “translation” but misunderstand “translation memory”
Even if laypeople aren’t completely hip to professional translation software, more and more businesses (large, medium and small) these days understand the need for quality translation. Haven’t we all noticed the widespread localization (a.k.a. localisation) of just about every business website lately? The web is soooo worldwide that there are no “foreign languages” anymore, just local languages. More and more people outside the translation industry are coming around to the understanding that their organizations are situated in a multicultural/multilingual world that requires “global communication,” as clichéd as that already sounds. Members of our profession are valued as intercultural interpreters.

Humans have human sense, and software applications don’t
I guess we need first to explain to clients what human translators do that automated translation software can’t.

The other day I was chatting with a client who shared with me a rolling-on-the-floor laughable document that some speech-to-text transcription software had produced. Instances like this remind us, to our great relief, that human labor is still indispensable even in 2008. In translation work we can’t produce quality documents without being humans endowed with great writing skills and a completely native mastery of the target language and its overarching culture.

A professional translator makes sense of the meaning of each part of a document by understanding the whole document. Likewise, she understands the whole context by following the intended meanings of the parts. Like a back-and-forth interpretive dance. It’s likely that she’ll have to “read between the lines” and rely on a broader understanding of, say, marketing objectives that aren’t even stated in the document.

A software application alone – no matter how fancy the algorithms you program into it – can’t perform such feats. And it seems doubtful whether it’ll be possible in our lifetimes, if ever. Only a human can follow the sequence of thoughts and intended meanings throughout an entire document.

Professional copywriters have the good sense to translate entire phrases as equivalents to phrases in the source copy even if the equivalence is in the impact of the words rather than their literal meaning. And they have the good sense to leave some words untranslated for effect. No software is savvy enough to make skillful decisions like that.

Software and its limitations
When a client hears the phrase “translation software,” does he or she imagine a skilled copywriter working with tools? Or does he or she imagine machine translation (sans human)? An unscientific polling of project managers leads me to expect that most people imagine the latter. And no wonder. We all know the free web applications based on SYSTRAN technologies such as AltaVista Babel Fish, don’t we?

Have you heard of the way biologists use the word “translation”? (I found this in Wikipedia.) Not sure I get it, but,

In translation, messenger RNA (mRNA) is decoded to produce a specific polypeptide according to the rules specified by the genetic code.

The process seems to follow predictable laws.


Linguistic translation is completely different, isn’t it? Unlike mRNA, text requires shared subjective understandings. Linguistic translation requires a certain cultural accuracy and pure savvy that no computer algorithm can possibly approach. When Walter Mondale in 1984 asked Gary Hart “Where’s the beef?” he wasn’t trying to locate some meat. He was trying to win the Democratic nomination. How would Babel Fish translate that debate into Spanish, German, or French? When we express something in our native language from a foreign source we don’t just decode words and sentence structures and match them up according to a language pair dictionary. If we did we couldn’t expect culturally appropriate and comprehensible language to flow out automatically. Right?

Machine translation creates output that often reads like absurdist poetry rather than meaningful prose. And often very funny absurd poetry at that.

Today I entered this sentence into Google Translate:

“We knew it from the word go.”

English speaking natives will understand that the idiom “from the word go” means “from the beginning.” I had Google translate it into “Japanese,” and got:

“Wareware ni iku to iu kotoba wo shiteru kara da.”

Japanese readers will know that this is ungrammatical (just a clause with no subject) and meaningless. It reads like:

“Because (I/we/they/he/she/you/it) know the word(s) of us to go..”

If you replaced some characters you could make it grammatical, but idioms are expressions of culture. Interpreting an idiomatic phrase in a literal way, as free online translation does, results in a loss of meaning (and style, too).

Okay, okay… This is not news to any of us. We all know what MT produces. But this is what clients fear we might use on their documents.

Explaining CAT tools to laypersons
Is it any wonder that the idea of using translation tools gives people a negative feeling? Inside the translation industry we know the complete difference – like apples and orangutans – between Trados and Babel Fish. But do clients get it? Can they get it?

This is where I’m stuck. I’m in translation marketing. I’m not a linguist. I’d love to get some comments to this post. (See Comment box, below.) There must be a useful, quick and clear way of explaining this to clients. I know basically how translation memory apps work by watching Japanese translators work in our office, but I’m not sure whether my explanations to client prospects are persuasive when the question comes up. The clearest difference I see is that CAT tools organize entire documents of text that has been translated by human translators. Entire documents, not word-by-word dictionary translations. These tools simply help translators organize segments of human-translated text inside the document. And…erm… Is there any more concise way to explain it to a lay client?

Of course the smart option for huge translation agencies such as WorldLingo is to offer both machine translation and human translation. Wicked smart! Or… Does that only cause more confusion??

:: :: :: :: ::

By the way, if you own or manage a translation agency, please visit our new page for translation agencies!

Outsourcing Japanese translation

Many readers already know that JAPANtranslation/WIP Japan provide Japanese translation and copywriting support to overseas language vendors. I like to think that our teams are the most reliable in the business.

Well, yesterday we launched a special pricing only for overseas translation agencies. This should interest translation companies with projects that require native Japanese translator-and-proofreader teams that specialize in a particular industry (such as pharmaceuticals, patents, IT, and so on).

Check our new Agency-to-agency services page for details about the new pricing, further cost reductions for TM matches and repetitions, and more.

Also, this blog will officially launch later in February. You’re invited to subscribe now and we’ll mail you an announcement when things are really rolling.

Whatever you’re successfully marketing in English, you can probably market in Japanese.

Japanese web users, not unlike Western users, can consciously or subconsciously sense when your business is speaking their language or trying to force them to understand yours. Much of your English-language content can easily be translated, but there are some conventions that are unique to Japan. It’s how you say it that counts.

As much as growing businesses are tempted to market on the Japanese web, it can be time-consuming and frustrating hiring both the right language help and the right technical help at reasonable prices.

Most Japanese web shoppers search in Japanese, and won’t find a site without at least a page of Japanese, anyway.

Hire a qualified web project manager to review your project’s business objectives and the expected customer experience of the Japanese web content, the two common starting points. Once you or your client start seeing results and developing a sense of who the site’s Japanese customers are, the business is primed for more developed Japanese web marketing strategies to attract more precisely targeted traffic and convert more visitors to customers.

Marketing on the Japanese web will launch in February 2008!

Japanese translation company
Graphic by Maniackers Design

Maniackers Design

Okay, I intend to make a serious, committed effort to write daily for this blog. But the first posts will define the entire mission of the blog, so they have to be really good. You see? For that reason, I’m delaying the official launch until February. Right now our department is overwhelmed with client orders. Clients come first. Then the February launch. Then words on this blog will flow out of me, and flow, and flow. You’ll see. Once things are started I won’t belabor the writing process. From then onward, regardless of our busyness, you can expect to see posts all the time. PROMISE! You won’t be able to shut me up. Haha.

For now, readers are invited to play with our “Swicki,” a search engine focused on Japanese localization, translation, web development, web design, web content, branding, SEO, marketing and copywriting. Try these searches and feel free to edit the search results:

Honestly! Useful, readable content is coming to this blog next month!