Translation agencies and freelancers alike always ask me “How do I grow my business?”  And, more times than not, that questions leads to “How do I get better (higher paying) clients?” Good questions!  But, if they truly want their business to grow, they’re not asking themselves the right questions.

I believe in having a solid strategy with a detailed marketing plan to grow your translation business, but even the best strategy will not get the results you want unless you create value and can clearly demonstrate that to your clients. As you well know, there are two kinds of clients out there—clients who are looking for the lowest per-word price and clients who are looking for value.  Who would you rather work with?

Clients stay with you for one reason only: they think that they are getting some kind of value.  If a proposal you presented got rejected, or a client you’ve been working with decided to leave, or you are not attracting the right kind of clients, you are probably not creating obvious value.

If you want to provide the best possible quality, get better clients, and charge more for your work, you have to start by creating value from beginning to end. Before you ask yourself “How do I grow my business?”, you need to ask yourself “How can I create more value for my clients?” By doing so, you will start learning more about what your clients really need (Sometimes they don’t know themselves!) and planning how you can better serve them and not just meet their needs.  When you have a value-based mindset, everything in your business changes. Your marketing activities get easier, your obvious value justifies your higher fees, and you worry less about the future. Wouldn’t that be a much easier and nicer way to grow a business?

Here are six ways for creating value:

  1. Pay attention to the way your clients use the translation. Even before you start the project, get a good understanding of how your translation will impact your client. Instead of delivering one project and immediately going on to the next, stop and ask your clients what effect the translation will have on their job. Create a system wherein you follow up with your clients after the project is delivered. This way you can get their feedback to measure results and make changes, if needed. By learning how each project will be used, you will gain insight into what is really important to the client. That information will help you help them achieve their goals. This will also give you case studies to share with prospective clients; using real life examples helps prospects look at their needs differently, and they now see you as a problem-solver or facilitator and not just a vendor.
  2. What’s their ROI? Will your work help your client make more money, save time or become more competitive?  Having a clear understanding and way to articulate the return on their investment will justify the client’s decision to buy from you.  We all know ROI for translations is not very easy to measure.  But, if you ask your clients how they determine the ROI, you will be seen more as a partner and less as a vendor.  If you can quantify the ROI your translation creates, you can show how valuable you are to your clients. Then use this information when talking to prospective clients to win their business.
  3. What are the benefits? All clients want to know is “what’s in it for me?”  Make sure they understand how a bad translation can affect them, but, more importantly, make sure they understand how a good translation will make their lives better. Translation agency sales people and freelancers alike are often afraid to ask such a confronting question, but, in doing so, you force clients to see the downside of a bad translation and the benefit of a good translation. This functional value can give your business a nice competitive edge.  Ask your clients how they benefit from your translation and how your work could benefit them in the future even more.  Your clients won’t tell you unless you ask.
  4. Utilize customer-centric marketing activities. Produce marketing activities that feature helpful information that benefits your clients. For example, if you post articles on your website, make sure the content truly benefits your intended readers and serves their needs. “It’s all about them” should be your focus in every marketing activity you engage in. How are you giving, helping or serving? If your marketing activities are not serving your clients and providing them something of value, chances are your marketing won’t see the results you hope for.  Talk about what problems your translation solves, how you made a client’s job easier, or how your translation projects have saved your clients money. Do NOT talk about how dedicated you are to quality or what experience you have. That is not client centric.
  5. Clearly state your purpose. The clients who are looking for the greatest value will connect to your WHY before they connect to your WHAT. Passion attracts passion, so have a well-defined Mission Statement and let people know why you are in the translation business. Your purpose needs to be bigger than you—something that will create a big change in the world. Think of it as something that could be your legacy. This will be the fuel that runs your translation business and the measuring stick for you to know that you are on your way to success. When your purpose is well articulated, you have a better chance of attracting the kind of clients who are in line with your passion.
  6. Be the expert.  Focus, focus, focus! People value and are willing to pay more for expertise. Your expertise should fit your clients’ needs. Don’t try to be all things to everyone. There is ZERO value in being a medical–legal–manufacturing–marketing translator. ZERO! In doing so, you may be able to get more work, but it will be at the lowest rates to unappreciative clients who value price first and everything else second. The old adage “a jack of all trades, master of none” means you were the lowest bidder.

The concept of a benefit experience is something that few people talk about. Yet, the value your customers receive from the benefit experiences you provide determines the success of your business. This is true whether you are running a hardware store or a technology company. You want clients that are willing to pay your company more for products or services than your competitors. Therefore, you must offer something different than your competition, like more value for the same price, a unique different delivery method, or additional value-added services.

In summary, to create value in your business, first understand what really matters to your clients. Create value in everything you do. The solutions may not be obvious. Keep trying different things. Look for ways to improve. Look at every activity in your business and keep asking “Am I creating value?” When a client can see value, you make their decision to choose you much easier. When you know you are creating value and can see that your work is producing positive changes for your clients, then you know you’re on the right track and your business will grow.

Take a moment and share 5 things you can offer clients that will allow your company to charge a higher price than your competitors:

1. ____________________________

2. ____________________________

3. ____________________________

4. ____________________________

5. ____________________________