Written on 29 July, 2016

When you are expanding into global markets, it can be both exciting and challenging at the same time. You are opening new doors for yourself to increase your business, sales and profits. But how are you going to fit yourself in within the new legal structure, culture and language? When you have your marketing materials, website and legal documents in place in your own language, it doesn’t seem like a daunting task to just get a free translation in the language of the host country. But it can gravely impact your business if the quality of this translation is substandard or not within the right cultural context.

In this series of blogs, we will highlight the disadvantages of going for a free translation, whether that means using Google Translate, a distributor in the host country, or even your bilingual cousin!

Part 1: Getting your translations from your international distributor/in-country agent

When you enter the global market, you will need to localise your online and offline materials for international markets. It can be tempting to ask your distributors to do it for free rather than paying for a professional translator.

You might think, “Why not?” Distributors live in the host country; they must know the language and understand the culture. You would assume they are the best people to convert your marketing materials and legal and technical documents from English into their own language.

It takes time, money and effort to produce marketing materials. It is important for the right message to be conveyed across all platforms. This is not just about a single translation; it is about establishing your brand and a client base in a new market.

So, consider the following before you jump the gun:

Quality standards

Are you certain that your distributors will put in as much effort in translating your high-quality materials as you did when producing the source media? Or will an average quality end product be ‘good enough’ for them?

Technical advantages

If your distributors don’t handle translation tasks on a regular basis, chances are they won’t be using translation software. Without these, they could be compromising on both consistency and speed.


Free translations from your international distributor might be a pleasing thought. However, have you considered how they will manage translation along with other commitments? The translation of your website updates, new marketing materials and technical documents is an ongoing task. If they are also successfully managing their actual job of selling your products/services, will their translation be high quality? Similarly, if it’s free, will they be committed to doing the best that they can? Time is money, after all.


If your relationship with the distributor turns sour, who will own all your materials that have already been translated? By giving your distributors the translation tasks, you may also give away your ownership rights to the translated documents.

You may also have absolutely no control over how your business, services & products are seen in the new marketplace.

Legal consequences

When you are at the early stages of establishing your business in a new country, the last thing you want is to get into legal troubles. Will your distributor share the same level of concerns about the legal implications of mistakes in the translation of your materials?

Venturing into the global market can mean great potential profit, but it can also be expensive if not handled properly. One wrong or culturally inaccurate translation can lose you a massive chunk of your new client base. It could result in product recalls that translate (forgive the pun!) into enormous losses!

This additional risk makes most businesses opt for professionals to translate their key materials. Investing in your messages means you are more likely to make a successful entry into the new market!

Here at Surrey Translation Bureau, we can take care of translating all your digital and print materials. Coming to a professional agency like ours will help you expand your business quickly and smoothly. You will save costs in the long run, and lower the risks of complications further down the line.

Call 01252 733999 or email hello@surreytranslation.co.uk to find out how we can assist you in entering a new global market.