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Break out of English into Urdu if you are marketing into Pakistan: experience on web sites in other languages OR "Ap kounse zuban boltay hen?"

By Gary Granai

Those working from America still generally miss the fact that there is a big world on the internet that does not live in America.

Our firm is Poland based, American managed, and internationally staffed. We maintain a large multi-lingual web site that is considered by many to be a resource site for Poland.

Since 1995 we have watched some people succeed in penetrating this market and most fail.

Generally Europeans, and Eastern Europeans in particular, are multi-lingual. For example most people in my firm speak at least three languages. And since the firm is multi-national, Ukrainian and Russian are native tongues to some of our people. They communicate with us mostly in English, but they still prefer their native tongues. And they are often "very nationalist" about it.

We have noticed that too many firms, and not only the Americans, that want to enter the markets in Europe do not understand this and resist using the local languages.

It is a big mistake. Negative reactions do result if pages are not in the local tongue.

For example, some people in Poland resent even a page created using English letters rather than Polish letters. They simply state that they will not do business with a firm that is "not serious" and does not have a page in Polish with Polish letters.

And as an additional example, a local monthly internet magazine routinely reviews web sites. If it is a commercial site that is not in Polish, they simply ignore it. If it is in proper Polish, they will likely publish a review. This is free off-line promotion to a targeted audience.

It often makes a serious difference. Eastern Europe and Russia, etc. are big markets. China and the surrounding region are big. If you are going to go international, you have to go local. How do you do it?

Look at the major sites in countries of interest and ask them for a referral. Look at their site to see how it looks in multiple languages. They can probably send you to local translators that can do a good job for you. And often the prices will be bargain basement.

All politics turn on local activities. International advertising turns on local languages. To go international you have to go local. You have to look serious.

Gary Granai

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