In a recent post, we wrote about some steps you can take to streamline your networking skills and offered the advice that you can create opportunities for yourself by creating value for others. Humans are egotistic creatures and today’s consumers are only worried about three things: “me, myself, and I.” I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Henry Ford and the first Model-T cars. Ford’s famous slogan “The customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” epitomized business in the early 1900’s.
Unfortunately for Ford, that wasn’t the way to deal with consumers then, and it certainly isn’t the way in the 21st century.
If you’re asking yourself: How does this apply to me? I’m just a freelancer, not a business owner (get your stuff together, thebigword), hang on – give us a chance to explain. High-profile freelancers have long acknowledged that freelancing is a type of small business; thus, freelancers must behave as small business owners. Creating value for your consumer (whether an LSP or a direct client) is a huge part of this… But what do we mean by “creating value?”
How to Create Value for Your Consumer
Creating value simply means providing your consumer with a benefit that outweighs the cash payment you receive for your service. If you write a book about financial wealth, for example, and someone uses it and goes on to become a millionaire, you created wealth for that individual. But it doesn’t have to be something so out of the ordinary as helping someone make millions. Here are some ways Translators can create value for their clients:
Hone in on Your Product Positioning to Add Value
There are hundreds of thousands of translators out there, what makes you special? Do you have the fastest turn-around? Do you specialize in a certain industry? Did a priest predict you were destined for translation greatness? Find the unique benefit that your service provides, that differentiates yourself from your competitors. This is true for freelancers, as well as large brands: Bounty, for example, is the quicker picker-upper: guaranteed to pick up spills using half the amount of paper towels; BMW is the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ – guaranteed to get you where you need to go using twice the appropriate amount of gas. Your product position should ideally answer the question “why should I use your service.” Hone in on your product position.
You Must Become a Problem-Solver
PM’s are going to screw up (not ours, of course); it’s a fact of life. More truthfully, deadlines will be missed, communication lines will get tied up, and client preferences will change last minute. You can either use screw-ups as an opportunity to rant on your favorite social media outlet (guilty), or you can use times like these to cement yourself as a problem solver in the eyes of your client. My favorite quote happened to come from the mouth of a near-retirement college professor: “No matter the line of work, you get paid to solve problems: If you solve small problems, you get paid small money; if you solve big problems, you get the big money.” Go make the big money.
What’s their ROI?
This applies to working with direct clients; though it can be helpful when working with agencies, as well. Your clients care about one thing when it comes to translation: How much is it going to take away from the bottom line? You must be able to show clients the return they will get on their translating investment. Find out how they define success in their translation endeavors, and adjust your definition of success accordingly. The first step is to understand how they measure ROI. The simple act of asking “How do you measure ROI on a translation job” might be enough to elevate you from supplier to partner status. Work with clients to ensure a high return on investment.
People trust specialized experts. The advertising translator is an expert; the medical translator is an expert; the legal translator is an expert. The advertising-medical-legal translator is not an expert. Don’t try to do all of these things; although you may find yourself more work, it will likely be at a lower rate. The Jack-of-all-trades is not valued – the expert is.
Overview on Creating Value
You may have noticed all of these tips have one thing in common. They are all centered on your consumer. This is because creating value is consumer-centered by definition. Be careful not to fall into the trap of complaining about lower rates and losing work to globalization. These negatives can be turned into positives by creating value for your clients.
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