When you’re talking copywriting, there’s no place like home.
In today’s global economy, sometimes outsourcing can be a good thing. But if you’re considering farming out your company’s copy/content to a foreign writer?
Just. Don’t. Do. It.
You’d think a U.S. company hiring a U.S. copywriter would be a no-brainer business decision, right? Think again. Better yet, poke around and peruse some of the awfully-written-by-someone-from-who-knows-what-country crap that’s plastered all over the web. Also, take note of obviously outsourced copy that doesn’t actually SAY anything beyond the most basic “well DUH!” ideas.
The information superhighway is ass-deep in b-o-r-i-n-g copy, awkward sentence structure, improper word usage, nonexistent punctuation, rambling sentences and repetitive messaging. Make sure that none of it is on your site.
So why on earth do businesses outsource their copywriting?
Because they’re cheap. And delusional. And cheap.
Buying copy from overseas isn’t like buying foreign widgets.
High-quality, interesting and well-written copywriting is hard to find. And the chances of finding it halfway ‘round the world are zippity doo-dah.
Never forget who you’re speaking to and make sure you speak their language. Fluently.
Don’t get me wrong here. My point isn’t “USA all the way!” for your content. But if your website is for France, hire a native-speaking French copywriter. Putting together a site for your new branch in Germany? Don’t hire a writer from India to work on it. Capisce? ¿Comprende? Follow my drift?
Don’t let your message get lost in translation.
“Okay so why can’t I just take my English stuff and have it translated?” In a word: Yikes.
Most translators perform these tasks word-for-word: one or two at a time, literally, with little to no regard for the meaning of the words themselves (let alone how it all flows together). This method is doomed before it even starts, since the original copy contains native idioms, cultural references and/or expressions, etc. that just DO NOT TRANSLATE WORD FOR WORD:
- In Chinese, Pepsi’s “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
- Remember The Donald’s “Trump Airlines?” Well, in the UK, “trump” is slang for “fart.” ‘Nuff said.
- Why didn’t the Ford Pinto do well in Brazil? “Pinto” is Brazilian slang for “male genitals.” (Ford renamed it the Corcel which, thankfully, means “horse” or “steed.”)
Don’t be a jelly doughnut.
The fact that JFK’s infamous 1963 “Ich bin ein Berliner” statement doesn’t really translate as “I am a jelly doughnut” isn’t the point.
To this day, people still think it means “I am a jelly doughnut,” no matter how many times they’ve heard otherwise in the past 48 years.
So while an actual jelly doughnut has a very short shelf life, these language bloopers live forever in infamy, especially online. And while definitely amusing, it’s not all that funny when your business is the one that’s stepped in it with both feet.
Why not let our worldly wizards guide you through the potential outsourcing minefield?
Lenni Lee | word wrangler