Localization Matters for B2B and B2E Content Too!

Mar 18, 2016

Article ImageSome myths or misconceptions still affect digital globalization and lead to risky decisions or faux pas. One of them is the assumption that it is less important to localize content when it comes to engaging with business-to-business customers and employees internationally. This boils down to stating that they neither need nor deserve the same level of content quality that other valued consumers require. Some decision makers are willing to justify it by claiming that English is the universal language of business. This proves to be an opinion rather than a fact more often than not.

This argument is fairly questionable in global business ecosystems and multinational organizations where they are most likely to interact with clients, investors, suppliers and associates speaking other languages and coming from various local backgrounds. This point comes on top of other challenges that may be put forward such as funding issues or a lack of awareness.

Be that as it may, it is crucial to bear a few major factors in mind in order to shape and deliver digital experiences rather than a normalized experience. That makes a positive difference to business partners, customers and associates around the world. While these factors are rooted in diversity and engagement they all enable greater content effectiveness and global growth ultimately. Let's select and highlight just a few that should be addressed.

  • Oversimplification may be around the corner. When standardizing English-only content to the maximum the pitfall of Globish may not be far away. Rather than a standard, Globish becomes an oversimplified language that is supposed to be understood by everyone in no time. Far from THE global English that should be good enough for non-native speakers it ends up as the poorest form of that language and eventually as broken English for native speakers. Moreover it comes up as a mixed bag when several content creators define and use their own Globish flavor as a base line. Instead of conveying messages and communicating in the most simple and direct way, non-localized content therefore turns out to be counterproductive in many cases.
  • Meaningfulness and comfort drive productivity. Ignoring localization or not managing it properly results in unexpected weak spots and hidden failures. Missed opportunities to maintain or increase productivity fall in these categories. If B2B or B2E content is created in a time and cost effective way it means that audiences have to understand and act on it naturally. Making a workforce and a client base think - or think too much - does not help them work better and faster.
  • Language and culture belong to people at all times. Associates and business-to-business customers carry most of their personality and habits into their work environment. It is a fact even if it may not be conscious, intentional and expressed. Since diversity at work is about letting people be who they are, linguistic and cultural sensitivity plays out when people consider content as appropriate and relevant. This must be part of the DNA of global business and be valued over quick assumptions and opinions. Getting to know people who must be engaged and understanding them upfront produces low-hanging fruit. And it has become even more critical in digital workplaces and relationships where effectiveness is the name of the game.
  • The cost of doing it may be lower than the cost of not doing anything. This has proven to be true in a number of digital globalization areas. Localization is no exception for B2B and B2E content. Localization costs are sometimes like a convenient road block or a painful argument to "escape" this aspect of digital globalization. At the very least they must be put in perspective and balanced with reality checks and globalization factors. For instance linking costs to actual business objectives and talent development indicators helps make costs real and decisions holistic.
  • No localization does harm and uncontrolled localization hurts. Localizing requires due diligence for any type of content. There are many benefits to targeting and executing localization based on linguistic, cultural, organizational and business criteria. Localizing most important or engaging content effectively rather than localizing any content poorly may help overcome funding concerns. Localizing content for most sensitive countries rather than trying to satisfying all markets at the same time may have a bigger impact. Prioritization builds bridges provided all drivers are taken into account and consequences are anticipated.

Like Nelson Mandela said "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." This quote should fit nicely in any manifesto to engage with employees and business customers in a digital world where simplicity and centricity are no options.

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