Day 2: Know Your Customers

Today's SYS Challenge: Get to know your buyers #socialtranslator
Today’s SYS Challenge: Get to know your buyers #socialtranslator

Most of us use social media to connect with our peers, and rightly so. There are lots of benefits to this, and it’s relatively easy because we can imagine who we are reaching out to.

Before ever having met them, we can picture the kind of educational experiences they’re likely to have had, we can make an educated guess about the kinds of things they might enjoy, and the ups and downs of their working days don’t seem so far from our own. We can use this knowledge to find them, reach out, and build a connection of sorts. 

Reaching out to those who use our services can be quite a different experience though, so that’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Using Social To Understand Your Buyer’s Journey

It’s hard for us as translators to walk a mile (kilometre?) in our buyer’s shoes. Hiring a translator to buy a translation service is a relatively niche purchase.

Most people who can read will buy a book. Many people who have toilets will hire a plumber. Some people who have businesses will hire an accountant. But relatively speaking, very, very few people ever hire a translator.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this.

Except that it makes it difficult to imagine our buyers with the same level of detail as our peers. And this makes it very difficult to chart their buyer’s journey.

This is problematic in lots of ways:

  • When we don’t understand the steps clients have taken to find us, we can’t make sure we’re appearing in the right places in order to be found.
  • When we don’t understand our clients’ true needs, we can’t craft our marketing message so we stand out from the crowd (remember: quality doesn’t matter).
  • When we don’t understand our clients’ pain points, we can’t offer them the best possible service.
  • When we don’t understand exactly how and why our client needs us, we can’t offer them the kind of value that makes us a trusted supplier instead of a replaceable transaction.
    • … I could go on, but it’s late here Down Under and I think you get the drift 🙂

All this, ultimately, makes it hard for us translators to find our soulmate-clients online, to reach out, and to build a connection of sorts.

And of course, a core tenet of networking is that people do business with people they know, like and trust.

My experience

I’ve worked almost exclusively with direct clients throughout my translation career. Online marketing played a huge role in  enabling me to do this.

To make my marketing as effective as possible, I learned how to carefully map out the stages my ideal client went through before hiring me. I then figured out ways to effectively meet their needs at different stages of this process. I realised that for my clients, buying translation services was a complex sale which comes with its own unique set of challenges and concerns. What worked for sellers of books, plumbing or even accountancy services would not work for me.

I’m the first to admit this wasn’t the easiest of marketing processes, and I certainly didn’t do it perfectly. But it worked surprisingly well and more than one client commented that they had seen very few other translators put themselves out there the way I did. (I don’t think that’s necessarily true by the way, but that perception certainly worked in my favour).

I believe all translators can benefit from having a better understanding of their clients’ buying cycles. And social platforms offer us an excellent venue to do just that.

So what can we do?

Here are a couple of platform-agnostic  tools we can use to get a better understanding of our ideal clients and the steps they are likely to go through before they hire us. Apply them to your platform of choice and see what happens:

  • Hashtags and keywords: seek out the kind of industry events your ideal clients are likely to attend over the year and follow related hashtags or keywords on Twitter and other relevant platforms. Use this as a starting point for understanding the movers and shakers, key influencers, hot topics, and so on. Look out for events, questions or other actions that may indicate a client is in the process of considering translation services. For example, mentions of trade shows, retweets around certain topics, requests for recommendations about speakers of other languages, or even questions about Google Translate. You can use these events as the starting point for a specific outreach campaign, or at least as a starting point for finding other potential buyers
  • Lists: most social media platforms allow you to build lists or subgroups of people you can follow. Create a specific subgroup for your ideal customers, check in to it regularly and add or subtract to it as you learn more about your prospects and the kind of people who are likely to benefit from your services. This list should not be static – constantly prune and refine the type of prospect you include on this list based on your growing understanding of your ideal client.
  • Website analytics: use your analytic tool to figure out who is coming to your website, and how they are finding you. Line this up alongside your ideal client. Where are the gaps? How can you fill them in to move from your current client list to your ideal one (assuming they are different).

Remember: the point here isn’t to find someone with their mouse hovering over the “Buy”, and jump in front of them shouting, “Hire me! Hire me!”. The point is to figure out the steps people realistically go through that build up to them becoming your customer.

Only then can you really create the best possible online experience around that for them. And that is what will get them to hire you.

Further reading

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A Social Media Challenge!

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to do one thing each day in October that will have an impact on your social presence in the longer term.

Each weekday in October, I’m going to suggest a task to work on for whatever pocket of time you can carve out that day. You can choose to follow my suggestion, adjust it to suit your circumstances, or come up with an alternative – whatever makes most sense for you. Or just dip in and out as it suits.

Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the blog. Let me know how you’re getting on by using the hashtag #socialtranslator (so I can find you!). If you find it helpful, please give me a thumbs up, a like or a share – that’s how I’ll know you’re finding it useful, and it’ll help other translators join in too.