Sunday, November 13, 2022

Oh, say can you see – the search for the “ideal client”


[man with VR goggles*]

Can you describe your ideal client? Virginia Katsimpiri in a webinar on LinkedIn marketing made the following comment: “If you market to everybody, you market to no one”. In other words, all marketing activity must be directed to some ideal-type individual or group in order to be effective. I have no issue with the logic of that statement but have a personal difficulty applying that advice. Although I have been a freelance translator since 2004 or maybe because of it, I cannot define the characteristics of my target customers beyond their need for my translating and editing services and willingness and ability to pay my rates, which are not very useful in themselves in terms of marketing. In explanation, I will present my situation as a freelance translator, specifically of legal and financial material as well as official documents from Hebrew, French and Russian to English as well as an English editor, which may or may not resemble your own. I should be able to create a picture of my preferred customer but I am not.

To begin, one major purchaser of translation services from freelancers are LSP’s, a fancy acronym for “Language Service Providers”, which used to be referred to as translation agencies. Their role in the industry in rapidly changing as large conglomerates are buying up local agencies worldwide and earning money for their shareholders at the expense of their translators. In other words, to make a proper living off work from these large corporations, a translator must be technologically efficient and live in a country with low prices. Alas, I do not fit that bill and thus do not seek more work from them. I do continue to work with their subsidiaries at the previously agreed rates but I have no particular motivation to market to these megafirms.

By contrast, with the demand for language services growing, notwithstanding machine translation, small agencies specializing in legal and financial, my areas of expertise, are ideal customers. The issue is that these ‘boutique” agencies can be located anywhere in the world from Hong Kong to Prague via San Francisco. Moreover, their size and volume may range from a one-person home-based business to a company with scores of employees working in company offices. Their decision maker can  just as easily have the title of CEO or President or no title at all. In terms of education, the founders of such agencies may have summa cum laude attached to their framed degree or “some come lauded” on their LinkedIn profile if they are highly reliable. There is no country with proportionally more of such ideal agencies than any other country. I do not see a way to target them.

As a result of the market changes and expanding consumer use of the Internet in all its forms to purchase services, many translators have become active seekers of end clients. It would seem reasonable to see some pattern of my customers in the last few years. In fact, I made a list of which I will share a part of and, to quote Tom Lehrer in the song Lobachevsky, ah then begins the fun:

·         Foreign students wishing to study in Israel

·         Israeli students wishing to study abroad

·         Academic institutions

·         Freelancers

·         Startups

·         Small companies

·         Corporations

·         Charitable institutions

·         People seeking to get married in Cyprus

·         People seeking to get divorced in Cyprus

·         People trying to avoid giving a divorce and living abroad

·         Online gambling sites (only once – against my principles)

·         People in tax trouble abroad

·         People in criminal trouble abroad

·         Insurance companies

·         Medical research companies

·         People seeking mortgages

·         Employees suing employers

·         Employers firing employees

·         Restaurants targeting tourists

As I said, the only element I see in common was that they were willing and able to pay me. However, I may be missing something here.

There is one group that I would like to focus on but have yet to figure out how. As I specialize in legal and financial, I would like to work with legal firms in Israel or abroad. Working from three languages to English should give me some advantage. However, that nut is harder to crack than the shell of a macadamia nut (300 psi) without a huge budget to participate in conferences. I welcome any ideas. It is still on my “to do” marketing list but marked TBA.

The American national anthem begins and ends in a question. Likewise, I will end this confession of an aspiring marketer with a question. At least so far, I am unable to create a picture of my ideal customer. As for your ideal customer, oh, say can you see?

* Picture captions allow the blind to fully access the Internet.

Picture credit

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