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      I’ve written, edited and translated a lot of marketing assets for German businesses, and there’s one question that keeps coming up: what’s the best way for German businesses to create their English content? Should they have the German text translated? Write the English themselves? Hire a copywriter? 

      The answer is: it depends — on the type of asset, on the person doing the writing, and on the target audience. What works best for one company and one marketing asset might not work well for another. 

      Making the right decision is important — it can both save you money (on outsourcing) and help you make more of it (with your awesome marketing)! So let’s take a look at the questions you should ask before deciding.

      What’s the best way for a German business to create their English marketing assets?

      Question 1: What type of marketing asset is it?

      Long-form content

      If you have long-form content that has already been written in German, like a white paper or a blog article, then it will probably make sense to have it translated into English. That’s because the research has already been done, the arguments have already been decided on, and the logical flow of the text is nicely organized. 

      However… If your article or white paper has links pointing to German-language sources, you might want to consider asking your translator to find similar sources in English. Not all translators offer this service, but it’s something I’m happy to help with if you need it!

      If you have someone on your team who is really comfortable writing in English, and they’re really comfortable talking about this particular subject in English, they might be able to create the content for you. It really depends on the person and the text — but if you go this route, I would recommend that you have a professional editor check everything before you publish. Even someone who is really fluent will occasionally make little mistakes, and a native-language editor can make sure that the text flows well in English. For example, German often uses long sentences that can be tough for English-speakers to read, and a good editor knows how to break those sentences up so the text flows better in English.

      Marketing claims and homepages

      If it’s a marketing asset with short, snappy marketing claims, like a graphic with a headline, or a homepage, you should look for what’s called “transcreation”. Transcreation is where a translator goes beyond translating the words on the page and instead thinks about how to communicate the same thought using other words. Marketing claims often contain word-play or cultural references that wouldn’t make sense if the claim were translated normally. Transcreation solves that problem.

      Your company’s homepage should also be transcreated, or even written by a native speaker. This is especially true if you’re targeting the American market, as opposed to having an English website for Europeans. Americans are used to a very specific style of marketing — one that is friendly, snappy, and very benefit-focused. German marketing tends to focus on features and logical arguments, and is usually much more distanced and a bit more formal. If you translate your German homepage directly into English, it won’t convert like it should.

      I wouldn’t recommend having a non-native speaker write these kinds of texts for you. This goes beyond “being able to write English”. After all, even most native English speakers can’t write marketing claims or website text. Copywriters and transcreators put in a lot of time and effort learning to do exactly that, so take advantage of their skills!

      What’s the best way for a German business to create their English marketing assets?

      Question 2: Who is the target audience?

      As I mentioned above, your needs will be a little different if you’re targeting Americans vs. a European audience. 

      Americans

      If you want Americans to do business with you, you need to make sure that your marketing assets are spot-on. Americans are constantly exposed to highly polished marketing written by professional copywriters and marketers, and a website that feels “foreign” in any way is going to be a turn-off for most of them. That means:

      • Your website needs to be tailored to an American audience: friendly, personal, benefit-focused.
      • The minor mistakes that Germans make in English will stand out to Americans, because they aren’t used to seeing them. (Hint: use an editor.)
      • Translations need to be truly excellent — so that they don’t sound like translations.
      • If it’s in your budget, it’s worth it to work with a copywriter for key marketing assets.
      • As a foreign company, you need to make an extra-trustworthy impression. The more familiar and “native” your marketing assets feel, the more successful your business will be.

      Europeans

      If your target audience is European, you’re writing for a wide spectrum of people from several different countries. They’re used to a more European style of advertising and English is probably their second language. That means:

      • The text needs to be clear and well-written, so non-native speakers can read it easily
      • You might want to avoid word-play that could be misunderstood
      • You can keep a somewhat more formal tone
      • A slightly “foreign” sounding English will be less of a problem than with an American audience. Having a fluent, non-native speaker write in English might be fine in this case (but get it checked by an editor to be safe!)
      What’s the best way for a German business to create their English marketing assets?

      Question 3: Which team member would be doing the writing?

      If you have employees in-house who are fluent in English, should you have them write your English marketing content? There is no definitive answer, but here are some signs that it could work for you.

      The person:

      • Lived in an English-speaking country for a few years
      • Grew up bilingual
      • Can easily explain the subject they would write about — in English
      • Has given presentations in English before and found it easy
      • Feels comfortable and confident writing in English

      If one or more of the above are true, then there’s a good chance that the person will be able to write well in English. That said: it’s really hard to write marketing assets in your second language. I’m not going to say that it never works, but I would say rarely

      I have edited texts from people with PhDs, from people who speak English all day in the office, from CEOs and Heads of Marketing… and most of them needed a lot of help to make their written English easy to read. Remember, even if your spoken English is good, writing is a whole different way of communicating. Writing well is an art that needs to be learned, even for native speakers!

      I generally recommend that most companies should have their marketing assets translated or transcreated if they don’t have any native English-speakers on the team. It is often easier to translate a text from scratch than to fix a piece of writing that has a very heavy German “accent,” and the results are better and more natural sounding. But you know your team best. If you think they’re up to the task of writing in English, then give it a try! 

      If your business needs English marketing content and aren’t sure which approach would be best, feel free to email me with any questions. I’m happy to help you go over all the options and figure out what the optimum solution would be!

      What’s the best way for a German business to create their English marketing assets?

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