Focus On Culturally Appropriate Marketing Material, Expert Says


Focus On Culturally Appropriate Marketing Material, Expert Says

Devices & Diagnostics Newsletter - March 22, 2004

Devicemakers looking to expand into foreign markets should develop a comprehensive international marketing plan and focus on cultural sensibilities when translating materials, says Liz Elting, a translation expert and president of TransPerfect Translations.

"There's an exciting opportunity now, especially in Europe, with the 10 new countries joining the European Union and all will be regulated under the European Medical Device directive," Elting said. "This will create new opportunities for multicultural marketing, and firms have to be sure their websites and materials are culturally appropriate to these new markets."

Founded by Elting and her business partner in 1992, TransPerfect operates 21 offices worldwide and employs more than 4,000 translators. Medical translations are one of the firm's specialties, and Elting estimates at least 20 percent of TransPerfect's business comes directly from devicemakers or through device ad agencies.

"Device firms should take a comprehensive approach to translation and international marketing, making translation an integral part of their international marketing to save time and cost in the long run," Elting said. "It's much more time-consuming and costly to have everything done in English and then have to translate it, than it is to include translation as part of your expansion plan initially."

Elting advises firms to take a three-tier approach when planning an international expansion:

  • Decide on the countries you want to market to;
  • Assess the costs of translation and operations; and
  • Examine the regulatory requirements of those countries.

Once a firm decides to move forward with the expansion, Elting said companies should develop an action plan to address translation issues. The key steps of the plan include:

  • Employing a translation company to analyze the brand and product, and ensure product names and symbols are translated correctly in a culturally appropriate manner;
  • Planning out the time and budget for translation; and
  • Partnering with a reputable translation company to save time and money.

Elting says device firms should move their products across nations with full awareness of the risks and challenges involved.

"As expanding internationally can create great opportunities for growth, devicemakers need to be aware of their products as they market internationally to protect their interests. Device companies have to protect their intellectual property and patents as they market across cultures."

Translating web content poses a particular challenge for devicemakers due to technical language and differing regulatory demands across nations. Elting offered the following tips for translating corporate websites:

  • Keep English concise on the company website to minimize translation work;
  • Keep text within graphics at a minimum to avoid high redesign costs; and
  • Turn to a company with experience in cross-cultural marketing and research to ensure the redesign is done in a culturally appropriate fashion.

"Having a reputable translation company can reduce your time to market and clear regulatory obstacles in the future," Elting concluded. "Planning for a simultaneous rollout of products and translations can get your products to market faster, which is important in the competitive device industry."

About TransPerfect
With revenue of over $250 million, TransPerfect is the largest privately held language services provider in the world. From offices in 66 cities on 5 continents, TransPerfect offers a full range of services in over 100 languages to multinationals worldwide. With a global network of over 4,000 linguists and subject-area specialists, TransPerfect is the largest translation company to be fully ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006 certified. TransPerfect is headquartered in New York and has regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit our website at


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