Unexpected Crisis Effect

There's been a lot of discussion in translation circles about how the economic crisis is affecting (or will affect, or has affected) all of us. We've now discovered a somewhat surprising effect: we are now translating more than ever for our clients, but we are translating a lot of the following:

  • Internal memos to employees advising them how to save money
  • Letters to customers announcing new services and emphasizing competitive advantages
  • Internal seminars and presentations on pricing and how to maximize revenue
  • Newsletters to clients and higher frequency in communcation with clients
  • Follow-up with clients met at trade shows who have expressed interest in the company's products or services
  • Internal motivation letters to employees asking them to stay positive and productive
  • Reports on the financial situation so far this year
All of this is, of course, quite discouraging. We wonder when companies reach the point that they will decide to forego translation? On the other hand, many of our valued customers are trying to reach new markets (or expand business in new markets). For this, they certainly need our services. Now more than ever, companies need to market their products quite aggressively, and many have realized (correctly) that lowering their prices is not the answer (we don't lower our prices, either). Rather, they are looking for new markets, distribution channels, and creating innovative ideas.

Have any of you, fellow language professionals, been doing translations along the same lines? We'd love to hear your experiences!


Kevin Lossner on March 17, 2009 at 12:15 AM said...

I can't say that the changes were altogether unanticipated here, but I am careful about extending my observations to language pairs that I do not know. For German to English we have seen absolutely no decline in demand, but more of a shift to requests to translate initial assignments from new customers (of agencies making an acquisition drive to stay afloat), new direct customer business (from companies cutting out agency intermediaries) and newsletters, memoranda, etc. dwelling on downturn themes. I got quite upset yesterday at the tone of a script for a trade press conference I translated which outlined how to evade questions about the company's intentions toward its employees and justify a doubling of persons forced to work fewer hours. Lots of that sort of work going around it seems, though I also note a greater selectivity among European clients. My clients seem more hesitant to take risks and try "untested" translators, and often put it that way when I try to recommend somebody else. "We can't risk..." is what I hear often now, whereas before they would usually say thank you, give the suggested persons a call or chase up other possibilities. So I guess you could say that I see a greater emphasis on quality. This is of no benefit to me materially, as gratifying as it may be emotionally in some cases, but the downside for others, such as qualified beginners or those perceived as belonging to a different market segment, is disturbing.

Anonymous said...

I can say that the CEO's letter "of that equipment company that fired merely 20,000 [in a very F. Zappa style: 'that's right, you heard right, twenty thousand, my friend'] employees" was totally prepared in December, 2008 already.

How the hell could I know that?

Well, translators might get some things ahead a time or another, eh?

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