What to Expect When Selecting a Language Partner


What to Expect When Selecting a Language Partner

Even as the world economy continues to grow, digital boundaries continue to shrink. There is little doubt that conducting business in a different country or culture is becoming more accessible than ever, providing near-infinite opportunities for new markets in almost every industry. Getting there, however, still requires both effective strategy and execution. Entering any new market requires mastery of both the language and the culture within your new target audience. That is where hiring a language partner enters the equation.

Of course, this is different from your typical service provider. If you are about to target a new culture for the first time, you might need to become more familiar with the nuances of working with a language partner. We will cover those nuances in this guide, helping you prepare for the partnership to create a leg up in your communications and marketing efforts.

What Is a Language Service Partner (LSP)?

As its name suggests, a language service partner, or LSP, is an outside agency or professional you can hire to translate and customize your communications into different languages and cultures. Work with a language partner, and you can expect services like:

As you look to enter the new market, your LSP becomes your strategic partner on anything that has to do with your target audience. You can hire the LSP either short-term for a specific need or for a long-term partnership that helps to develop your market presence, product, and marketing strategy over time.

Before the Engagement: Define Your Language Service Needs

Among the most critical steps comes long before you hire a language partner. It focuses on defining your needs, so you know what type of partner you need to hire.

This is a crucial step considering the wide range of scopes and details that could define your relationship with an LSP, including: 

  • The type of language services you need, from translation to internationalization
  • The language and culture you are looking to target
  • Your industry and product category
  • The scope, from single and time-limited projects to long-term partnerships
  • Project deadlines as they relate to your larger market strategy

It helps to formalize those needs, creating a language brief you can use throughout your search. Defining your needs can also help you understand what language services you need. You will better understand how those services relate to your larger business strategy of entering or establishing yourself in a new market.

Looking for the Engagement: Match Needs With Capabilities

Searching for a language service partner can begin with your language service needs clearly defined. It helps you sift through these options. You can also ask a few core questions that will help you better understand potential partners. Consider questions like:

  • What types of language services do you offer?
  • Do you have examples or samples of previous work in my industry similar to my needs?
  • Are there references from current or previous clients we can check in with?
  • Do you re-use translation assets across clients and projects?
  • Who will create your content? Does the work happen in-house, or do you subcontract?

In addition to helping you select the right partner, these questions also set the course for the relationship. The more you know about the operating philosophy and work of your future LSP, the better you can adjust your process as you begin to work with them.

To Start the Partnership: Comprehensive, Mutual Onboarding

The start of the engagement with your LSP will be the most essential part of your partnership. This is the time for setting expectations. Ensure both parties have what they need to make the engagement and output as successful as possible.

The most important part of the onboarding process is sharing and communicating your brief. But it also pays to go deeper, including sharing documents like your brand guidelines and voice/tone. 

Technical considerations also matter in this step. Now is the time to learn about the software your LSP will use and how they will integrate you into the review process within that software. Any added value like translation analytics begins to matter, as does a mutual understanding of both source and output file types needed to make the engagement successful.

Throughout the Partnership: Consistent and Honest Communication

The bulk of the engagement, naturally, happens after the onboarding. Here, it becomes incumbent on both parties to establish and maintain open, consistent, and transparent lines of communication in all aspects of the partnership.

Be as straightforward as possible with individual needs and projects, including their priority level and deadlines. If any deadlines are especially urgent, your LSP will need to know. 

The same is true during the feedback stages. The more detailed and specific you are in reviewing pieces, the better. If parts of your business or strategy change, your language partner should be aware so they can adjust their priorities and deliverables accordingly.

It will help your business goals to treat your LSP as a true strategic partner. You can trust their expertise and judgment if you hire the right partner. The more open and honest collaboration can be, the better.

The Partnership Goal: Tangible Deliverables and Other Outputs

Finally, we have to talk about deliverables. Naturally, any engagement with a language partner has to drive toward these deliverables to make it worth your investment and time. Understanding those deliverables from the beginning helps ensure that everyone involved always knows the end goal.

Deliverables can come in a wide range of shapes. Prominent examples include translated, localized, or transcreated websites, mobile apps, or ad campaigns. But the examples can also be much less noticeable, especially if you are new to engaging an LSP.

For example, part of the engagement may include developing a glossary of terms related to your new target market and your intended messaging. Outputs like this are never intended to be seen by external audiences. But they can help to build consistency in communicating with foreign markets from the first moment on.

Understand the Nuances of Working With a Language Partner to Drive Long-Term Success

Defining the nuances of working with language partners can take time and effort. The types of services you may engage in to help you enter or establish your company in a new market and culture can vary significantly. A few cornerstones like those above can help you understand what to expect and prepare to make the partnership as successful as possible.

Of course, successful engagement also depends on hiring the right LSP. Vistatec works with many of the world’s largest brands to localize content and help them succeed in new and established markets. Contact us to discuss your language needs and how our services might help you accomplish your business and market expansion goals.