Less than 6% of the world’s population are native speakers of English. Is that reason enough for you to have multi-lingual marketing material to communicate with the world ?

There are three important aspects to consider:


A picture says a thousand words. The right picture speaks a thousand words, and the wrong one will speak a million. Research your target audience. What works in one culture may be wrong in the other. A woman in scantily clad clothing when targeting the Middle East market may not be a good idea. Remember that some countries read right to left, so design pictures accordingly.


Certain colours can have different meanings in different cultures. In China, Red is for good luck, but in south Africa, its the colour of mourning. Different countries perceive colour combinations differently. US and Europe websites choice of colours is markedly different from India and Japan. Understand your major markets.


Hire a translator who is a native speaker of that language, is fluent in English, understands your industry, and understands marketing. Lost in translation blunders have been made by companies small and big. See this classic from Lonely Planet.

For a small business aspiring for International business, you should leverage the Internet for your business. During your web design phase, start with free automated translations done by a software (or WordPress plugins like WPML or Multilingual Press Free). This is infinitely cheaper, but has its own issues with accuracy, and in cases, things being lost in translation. Take care of finer points such as page URLs, translated menus, translated (and relevant) keywords, longer words in certain languages – especially when dealing with the menu. And yes, do not allow your automated multi-lingual website get indexed – it will pull down your website ranking and traffic.

If you do get the above right, then you will have the next happy problem: Deciphering a lead received in a foreign language, and responding to it appropriately.

Happy Selling !