B2B Technology Marketing for ESL Readers

Robust economic growth in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries is good news for IT networking companies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (think, India and China).

However commercial success has meant that many IT marketing departments are under increasing strain as they struggle to operate across multiple time zones, languages and cultures.

Marketers new to this part of the world assume that because English is the de facto language of international commerce in Asia-Pac, it’s also an effective language of communication.

That’s not necessarily how it works… and appearances can indeed be deceptive.

It’s easy to forget that those representatives of partners and resellers you met on that last whirlwind business trip were chosen to meet you partly because of their English abilities.

Therefore, don’t be surprised to discover that few of these talented people are truly bilingual (holding a business conversation in English does not imply fluency), and even fewer are bi cultural. Remember, you are dealing with English as Second Language (ESL) speakers.

This can mean that content marketing to an ESL audience usually works best with a “simpler is better” approach, as long as you are careful not to confuse simpler with easier, and unintentionally insult your audience.

Of course, those fortunate marketing departments with budget for localization projects may see things differently. If they’re real lucky and pay well enough, a translator with the ideal combination of experience, technical understanding and business nuance might just be available to turn the original content into a local language replica that passes muster.

Alas, such people are difficult to find and their services are at a premium.

One workable compromise is to create short versions of your content.

For example:

a) A four-page customer case study becomes three PowerPoint slides.

b) A white paper is reduced to one page executive summary, with a call to action.

c) Create info graphics that convey the message using imagery and limited text.

The most important takeaway is that you can’t be all things to all peoples. Since a high level of business English often helps to increase their career opportunities, ESL speakers with a marketing role will mostly be pleased to act as conduits and ambassadors for your marketing messages from English to a local language. So, make it easy for all parties to succeed!

Mark ‘freelance technology copywriter‘ McClure

PS – This post was originally published on technologymarketers.com but is included here because of a change in business plans by the fine folks at technologymarketers. I very much enjoyed working with them and hope our paths cross again. Mark McClure

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About the Author

Author: Mark McClure – A freelance b2b case study and white paper writer to the computer networking industry. Based in Tokyo, Japan. About the ‘Samurai Writer’.

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