Found in Translation

 Clear, Crisp Communications: If there is one role that marketing must play in every organization, it is taking the complex and making it simple. I don’t mean dumbing down information; I mean succinct and precise words to convey benefits to stakeholders along the value chain.

A marketing colleague who works in the software/technology industry was relating to me how the company he works for has a team of IT professionals who are brilliant. But he has to translate their genius into meaningful English so that customers can appreciate the benefit their software offers clients. But his dilemma is that he has multiple audiences he needs to reach and each one speaks a different language.  His three targets to communicate with are purchasing agent, technical managers and marketing management.  Marketing must be the translator.

His metaphor for me was Google Translate. He said that he often thinks that his role as head of marketing is to put their key message and benefit into a translator, and to set the language for purchasing manager, quality assurance or marketing team. 

Google Translate: Explaining an idea to different stakeholders

Why the marketing department needs to be CTO (Chief Translating Officer)

Not all stakeholders in the sales cycle have the same motive: I bet that you have multiple stakeholders you need to influence to complete a sale. You probably have more than one influencer and more than one decision maker in the sales cycle.  Each one needs to have the benefit of your product/solution/service translated into language they can understand.

I'm trying to sell you something but you need something else

The essence of the message must be consistent: 
You have to share the same type of message to the different audiences but they need different cues or examples to process this information. This is no different than writing a statement of benefits in English and translating it into French, Italian and German. If you use Google Translate, the meaning won’t really come through even though you have a rough idea. You must get crystal clear with the right word or phrase to explain the benefit. 

Translation: translation
By example, if you are selling a very expensive product that the purchasing manager will resist, you need to clearly explain how your product will save on the total cost of ownership for their clients. Maybe your product, although more expensive, will prevent breakage, which could be very costly to the quality assurance team.  Your translation has to put the benefit into words purchasing will understand. “Our product will save you money on your complete solution”. 

Uncovering the message
The real world challenge is that within most companies, different influencers on the sale don’t talk. Quality, purchasing and marketing can be in different universes with little interaction.  For this reason, it only underscores the importance of speaking to each group with language that convinces them that your product will help them solve their problem.

A foam packaging company that I used to work for once approached an appliance manufacturer with a brilliant packaging solution to protect their appliances. They had a damage rate of 7% which translated into millions of dollars. The purchasing agent balked at paying 50% more for our product. There incremental spending was $50,000 to save over $10,000,000 yet the purchasing agent was focused on keeping his total purchases under a certain level so he'd get his bonus. We had to convince him of the big picture. 

When we returned and showed the true value of what we had to offer, he saw the solution in a different light because the company could have saved millions on incremental costs for this component. We presented a cost of quality to him- not a selling price. By rephrasing and repositioning our message, we helped him understand the issue from a fresh perspective.

Getting it right

Selling is a complicated communications problem. Marketing can help by translating and positioning arguments so that the audience understands what is being said in a way that is relevant to them. The marketing team must support the sales network so they can bring the right words to different audiences.

I like that my last name is embedded in this word. If you work in marketing, are you a translator to? 

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