Are You a Professional Translator? If So, Do NOT Lower your Translation Rates!

by Marcela Jenney, posted on Marcela Jenney’s Blog, 7 March 2010
Go here to see the original post and follow the comments/discussion.
Republished by permission.

When was the last time you asked your doctor or your lawyer to give you a discount on his/her fees? Unless your doctor or lawyer is a relative or good friend, it’s very likely you wouldn’t dare ask such a professional service provider to give you a discount, would you? So, if you consider yourself a professional translator, how come you continue to allow others to ask you to reduce your rates? But this fact is not the worst part of the situation. Many professional translators are lowering their rates in a desperate attempt to get business.

Clients are asking for discounts, and translators are honoring their requests more and more every day. When you provide a discount on your services, you are giving permission to others to think your services are not worth much. And, unfortunately, this trend is adversely affecting the entire translation and localization industry.

Price your services right. The price you set for your services must be determined by the value perception your clients are getting in return for their money. Are you meeting your clients’ expectations? What are they walking away with? Why should they buy from you and not your competitors?

Learn to say “no.” When you reduce your rates, you are sending a distress signal, not just about you but also about the entire industry. When you reduce your rates even just one time, it’s going to be very difficult to say no the next time this same client comes back. One of my dearest copywriters told me once when I asked him to come down on his price that he would feel very uncomfortable with himself if he were to reduce his rates. I loved his professional approach to standing behind his work.

Focus on your promise of value. When you know and have proof that what you are offering is of great “value” to your clients, make sure this is consistently displayed in your service delivery. Rather than discounting your rates to match competitors, focus on value-added features. Think about ways you can bundle in certain supplementary services, or create various offerings at various price levels so you can accommodate your client’s budget.

Improve your service offering. In today’s economy there are so many products and services that the market is simply oversaturated. Translation is seen by many as a commodity for the simple reason that everybody is focusing on the same “attributes.” Translation should never follow product-marketing models. In the service business it’s all about that “special touch” you add to your offering. Your clients are simply looking for someone they can trust. They want to make sure you are reliable, that you are consistently delivering good value to them, and that you are always there for them. Benefits and service features are always good selling points. But a great relationship with your client is your best selling point.

Focus on your target market. If you are continually being asked to lower your rates, it is very likely you are targeting the wrong clients. Ask yourself if you are wasting your time trying to attract clients that are not willing and able to pay what you are worth. When you decide to focus on a niche market, it is important you understand what your clients’ practices and preferences are. Furthermore, make sure you have the capabilities and competencies to do an excellent job of delivering a high-value translation offering.

Create a strong brand. Just as big corporations develop their brands, translators can also develop a strong, differentiated brand. When you concentrate on developing a strong brand, you will not only become easily recognized but also create an emotional connection with your clients. Your competitors can try to replicate your processes, business model, technology, etc., but it will be very difficult for them to reproduce those beliefs and attitudes that you have established in the minds of your clients.

Remember, when we are selling a product or service, it’s not about us. It’s about our clients. Focus on your clients’ needs and wants, and always look for ways to enhance the relationship. In the absence of value, price becomes the only decision factor. Do not reduce your rates; instead, increase your competitiveness and the value-added features to your services.

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