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Going Global:
3 Lessons from the Golf Course

by Alyssa Paris

June 12, 2013

golf and translationYou may have heard the expression, “Born to golf. Forced to work.” Luckily for aficionados who have a day job, oftentimes golf is work. Though some may argue the sport has gone the way of the martini lunch, the golf course is still a second office to countless business professionals around the globe who schmooze, innovate, network and close deals somewhere between holes 1 and 18.

Whether you’re one of the lucky ones playing a round this morning, watching the action at the U.S. Open or simply dreaming of greener expanses, enjoy these three golf-inspired tips for going global with your business, on par and on course.

Drive for show, putt for dough.

Seasoned golfers understand the merits of working on both their long and short game, the long favoring power and distance, the ability to drive the ball as close to the green as possible, and the short demanding finesse and precision to sink the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.

When it comes to growing your business overseas, no matter if you’re in software, fashion, advertising or healthcare, the same principle holds true. Your drive can confer you a first mover advantage in lucrative emerging markets across the globe. But in your rush to the green, don’t overlook the minute details that will set you apart from the amateurs: high-caliber translation of your brand communications. The accuracy of your translated materials, whether corporate websites, marketing collateral, customer service training programs or advertising campaigns, will have significant bearing on how your brand is perceived by your new customers, and ultimately how much “dough” your company generates in the long run.

Use the wind to shape your shot.

On the golf course, conditions such as wind, altitude and slope have a huge impact on strategy. Expert golfers who understand the physics of the game work course conditions to their advantage, using the wind to carry their ball where they want on the fairway.

Businesses, in turn, can and should use local market conditions — trends and preferences — to shape their approach in each country. If headed to South Korea, for example, you could ride the wind of its prolific blogging culture, second in proportion only to China’s, and generate buzz for your brand via industry bloggers. If Brazil is your destination, you could take advantage of the high smartphone penetration rate and develop a mobile app such as a GPS assistant to guide customers to desired products in retail stores. If moving into a market where video consumption is high, such as China, Spain or Italy, you could invest in local-language video snippets to entice entertainment lovers.

Just as every hole on the golf course has a unique micro-climate, so each individual locale you market to will require a fresh and customized approach. This holds true for everything from your marketing strategy and website experience to your product offerings. All of your efforts to identify customer tastes and “micro-innovate” or adapt your product features accordingly will be rewarded. These small tweaks could result in big lift for your brand, and get you well down the fairway toward your goal.

Pick your partners prudently.

When you’re playing 18 holes and spending half the day with someone on the course, compatibility is of the utmost importance. Your pace, level of play, goals and personalities should align in order for your foursome to function (and for the round to be fun). From the beer-sipping, tell-me-your-life-story types to the play-as-it-lies  scratch golfers, and everything in between, golfers are as diverse as the courses they play on. It’s best to pick your partners with prudence.

Embarking on a journey into international markets, you are similarly in it for the long haul and should select your translation partners with even more care than your golf-mates. Here are some criteria to consider:

Changing translation partners down the road can be as tricky as disowning your golf buddies at hole 13. Although it’s possible, you’ll have a smoother ride if you tee off with an agency that’s well suited to your company’s culture and vision.

When taking a swing at new markets, you don’t always get to “take a Mulligan”. Sometimes your first chance is also your last. So ace your global rollout by doing your prep work and partnering with a professional translation agency. And may thy ball and thy business lie in green pastures!

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