Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Revenue Opportunities for LSPs

Innovation and new services are regular topics in my consulting engagements. My clients want to know how they can differentiate and increase their margins. They want to go beyond calling prospects and offering translation for cents per word.

Recently, while on-site at my clients, I happened to come across requests that I thought could become opportunities for starting new conversations with potential translation buyers. After all, calling a prospect to offer translation services is a losing proposition. To use the words of Anne-Marie Colliander Lind: to be successful in sales, you have to talk about activities that will generate translations, and not translation itself. Here are some examples:
  • Video subtitling. In the middle of my consulting session, a project manager asks permission to talk to the LSP owner about an urgent project that required subtitling in two languages. Using the traditional processes, the transcription, translation, and subtitling would have taken four days and cost $3,000.00. I introduced them to dotSub, a site that I first mentioned here back in 2007. In a few minutes we had an account and I walked them through how to do the job. Few hours later, the translation was ready and we downloaded the HD video to deliver to the client for no cost at all (except our effort). 
  • Tape transcription. Same scenario: PM brings a client's request for the transcription and translation of the recording of a Board Meeting that was held in English. Finding foreign language transcribers is not always easy, especially on short notice. Enters CastingWords, a crowdsourced web-based transcription service with fast turnaround and prices varying from $1.00 to $2.50 per minute. Low cost transcribers can also be found on Elance and other freelance sites. The result was that the transcription was done in 24 hours by native speakers and the translation was ready the next day. Point, set, match! 
  • Streaming content. Hot day, no air conditioning (you guessed, I was in Europe!), my client tells me that he recently lost an opportunity because his client had short sentences that needed to be translated within 5 minutes for the duration of a sporting event every Sunday. These were newsflashes and game statistics that needed to be broadcast in several languages and my client lacked the infrastructure and the linguistic resources to fulfill the need. The project never materialized. I explained to him that companies like SpeakLike specialize in this type of service, and that he could have outsourced the solution for as little as $0.06 per word, giving him enough room to mark it up and make a profit, without having to invest in the technology infrastructure.
The action item following these three events was clear: Productize the request and call potential buyers asking questions that will generate translations. 

So in the first case, the question could be: "Do you ever receive training videos in other languages that you need to share with your employees?" 

In the case of transcriptions, the LSP could call administrative assistants (or secretaries as they are still called in some countries) and ask if they ever have to transcribe audio from meetings in English (if you ever had to do it, you know it is a pain).

As for streaming content, any website that publishes news is a candidate for on-demand translation. Financial sites, sports associations or events, news organizations, all need to provide information fast and accurately. After all, news has as very short shelf life. In theory, a Czech hockey player in Canada might want to have his Twitter feed and news published in Czech, English, and French to satisfy his fan base.

Using creativity to transform project challenges into new and innovative products is a good practice. All you need to do is say yes to your client requests, and maybe give me a call.

1 comment:

  1. There are other factors to consider as well. The organization has to see it as well.