It is a cardinal rule of international business that a company sells
their products in the customer's language, and this is just as true
in Japan as in any other overseas market. Thus, Japanese language
marketing and sales literature and technical documentation should
be considered as an absolute requirement for selling your products
You should consider your sales and marketing
literature and technical documentation as an integral part of
your company's product line, and you should exercise the same
level of control over them as you do for your products themselves.
This should be just as true for the Japanese versions of your
literature and documentation. When you hire a translation company
to translate your literature and documents into Japanese make
sure that they have lots of experience in translating materials
for similar products. Ask them for references of previous clients,
and make sure you call these companies to confirm the quality
of work that the translation company did for them. Poor or inaccurate
translations of your literature and documentation can have a very
negative impact on your company's image in the market and can
result in the mis-positioning of your products.
Before you sign-up a translation company
ask them to describe their English-to- Japanese translation process
to you. A good process will involve a three-step approach of translation,
editing and proofreading, with each step done by a different person.
Additionally, a good translation company will typically assign
a project manager to any translation project (this person will
often double as the editor for the project). Ask the company to
let you speak to the project manager, and then make sure that
you can communicate effectively with this person and that they
have a good grasp of your products and technology and the relevant
terminology. You can judge this by the quality of the questions
that they ask (it would be rather unusual if they did not have
any questions about your materials).
As a quality check, send one page of the Japanese translation
to another reputable translation company and have them do a reverse
translation back into English (don't tell them that you are doing
this just as a quality check). If the results of the reverse translation
vary from the English in your original document (especially on
key points) then bring this to the attention of the project manager.
It is not inexpensive to have material
translated into Japanese; a good rule of thumb is about 30 to
35 cents per original English word. (Yes, you can get things done
on the cheap but, as we all know, you inevitably get what you
pay for). It would, obviously, not be advisable to have much of
your material translated into Japanese until a thorough marketing
study has established that there is a market for your products
Once marketability has been established, start with translations
of marketing and sales literature (include a profile of your company
along with a list of major customers and clients). Once you have
appointed reps or distributors in Japan, you may want to consider
cost-sharing Japanese documentation with them. However, you should
retain control of the Japanese versions of all your literature
with copyrights clearly indicated.
JE Curry has several years of focused experience
in translation and development of Japanese marketing, sales and
technical literature. We provide very competitive pricing and
thorough A to Z project management for both printed and electronic
(including Japanese web sites) literature and documentation projects.
Please contact us for a free, no-obligation evaluation and quotation
for your project.