One of my main business goals for this year is to work with more direct clients. Although I have a number of agency clients who pay well, have interesting projects and are very easy to work with, I find that I really enjoy the greater degree of autonomy and higher income that direct clients usually offer.
So far, most of my direct clients have found me through word of mouth; one was a hand-me-down from a friend who closed her freelance business, another found me through the Colorado Translators Association directory, another came through a friend who now works in-house for the client. Now, I’d like to expand my marketing efforts to clients in Europe and specifically in Paris, partially because a colleague and I are planning a marketing trip there at some point this winter.
The marketing technique I’m considering is the sample translation/free trial offer (as described by Chris Durban and other translators who work exclusively with direct clients), whereby you find either a poorly done translation or something that isn’t translated at all (i.e. a page from the potential client’s website, their brochure, advertisement, etc.), translate or improve it, and send it to the client along with an offer of your services and some other informational material such as a copy of ATA’s brochure Getting it Right.
I’ve found that it’s not at all difficult to find potential targets for the free trial offer. Many high-level entities in France have beautifully designed, splashy websites with a much-promoted English version that reads like a machine translation post-edited by someone who took about two weeks of high school English. It seems to me that the key issue is how to draft a successful letter pitching your translation services. My sense is that it’s best to start with a compliment (“Congratulations on reaching out to potential visitors/clients/residents who don’t speak French…”) and then cut to the chase (“During a recent visit to your website, we noted that the English version of your website does not convey the quality of your products and services as well as it could…”). I think it can also be helpful to include some statistics that show how a good translation can benefit the potential client’s bottom line; for example the fact that France is the world’s number one international tourism destination.
Readers, any ideas on this? Has anyone else used the sample/free trial offer with success?