The Wiki definition of a “commodity“: “A commodity is something that is relatively easily traded, that can be physically delivered, and that can be stored for a reasonable period of time. It is a characteristic of commodities that prices are determined on the basis of an active market, rather than by the supplier (or other seller) on a “cost-plus” basis. Examples of commodities include not only minerals and agricultural products such as iron ore, crude oil, ethanol, sugar, coffee, aluminium, rice, wheat, gold, diamonds, or silver, but also so-called “commoditized” products such as personal computers.”
“Prices are determined on the basis of an active market, rather than by the supplier” simply means that there are several people selling exactly the same commodity and competition is on price: people will buy the cheapest, since there is no difference in quality.
So you have to make sure your translation service is not “commoditized” and competition with you is not on price. You do this by differentiating your translation services so that prospects will unhesitatingly turn to you even though you may be more expensive than some of your competitors
Some suggestions on how you can do this:
1. Needless to say, you must OVERdeliver on your work, both in terms of quality and deadline. This is a given. Please don’t think if you say “High Quality” and “Timely Delivery“, your prospects will consider you as a great service provider. These are no longer considered as differentiating features, but simply as “normal” for anyone that calls him/herself a professional. Of course you can, and indeed you must say “High Quality” and “Timely Delivery”, but you do not stop at that!
2. Know your client’s business and industry better than anyone else, including him/herself if possible. Use “insider jargon” in your communications with them
3. Become a trusted advisor, for example research your client’s market and give them advice or make suggestions on that market. Your business relationship with your client must be of a consultative rather than a purely technical nature
4. Be your client’s friend: go beyond purely business relationships
5. Become a Global Communication consultant, show them that globalization, i.e. internationalization, translation/localization must accompany the product, all the way from product idea to product marketing and sales (Some companies do not know even what EXACTLY they must have translated)
6. Take up the role of a Going-global consultant: almost play the part of an EMC (Export Management Company) or an ETC (Export Trading Company)
7. Act as a Cultural Advisor: selling at home is not the same as selling abroad
8. You may even decide to double as a Sales Representative…
9. Offer to localize their website
10. If you’re working with Translation Agencies, make sure you write nice emails to your Project Manager. You can even go as far as finding out whether she has a family, hobbies, pets, etc.., build a real relationship with her. You must at all costs differentiate yourself from other translators with the same language pair as you.
11. There are lots of other ways you can differentiate yourself. Now, dear friend and colleague, what can you add to this, for the benefit of the “Translator Power” community? That’s what the “comments” are for! Please give us your $0.2 worth!
N.B. You sometimes hear or read “commodification” (J.C.Levenson) or even “commodization” (Smartbiz.com) instead of “commoditization”. All these words refer to the same beast :-))
P.S. We have turned our Free 7-Part PR ecourse into a free ownloadable PDF and all you have to do is visit this link and instantly download it!
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