3 Simple Tips to Localise Content Like a Pro

In the age of globalisation, content creators are cross-border warriors. If your multinational client thinks you’re good enough to produce stellar copy for your local market, chances are they’ll come back to you for seconds (and thirds) to reach an audience in a different country.

 

Now the question is: if you’re tasked with writing for a market you’ve never set foot in, how do you write engaging copy that resonates loud and clear with your intended foreign audience?

 

If you don’t have the budget for an investigative trip and you don’t know have connections in the country, here are three tips to localise copy more easily.

 

Tip 1: Tap into Pride

Indians have their festivals, Germans have their beers, and Singaporeans have their chicken rice. The point is: knowing what has a special place in the hearts of your target audience can help you relate to them better, often with the use of just a single word or graphic element.

Knowing what has a special place in the hearts of your target audience can help you relate to them better, often with the use of just a single word or graphic element.

For example, when writing for an Indian audience, which of these sentences sound better to you?

 

  • If you enjoy Holi and the camaraderie that comes with the celebration, you'll love this light festival.
  • If you enjoy festivals that involve explosions of colour, you'll love this light festival.

 

To us, it’s a no-brainer: we believe it’s the first one because locals will find it crystal clear what you are talking about, and also feel a sense of pride seeing their much-loved festival shown in good light (pun intended!).

 

Tip 2: Know the Lay of the Land

When creating content for a foreign audience, resonating with them can sometimes prove difficult if you don’t first have a sense of place. For instance, if you’re writing for a Thai audience about fun weekend family activities and you haven’t been to Bangkok (or anywhere in Thailand, for that matter), there’s no way you can adequately or accurately describe the local vibe by simply Googling for articles on a few attractions and trying to spin something out of other people’s words.

 

To know a place more intimately before creating believable and compelling content for the audience there, always try taking the visual route. With so many cities and attractions that let you take a virtual walk around on Google Street View, you can write copy that reads like you’ve actually been there, done that and got a colourful t-shirt from that store. If Street View isn’t available for your destination, 360-degree panoramas can also help you nail that elusive sense of place.

To know a place more intimately before creating believable and compelling content for the audience there, always try taking the visual route.

Another option is to simply ask any of your friends who might actually have travelled there. These first-person accounts can be subjective, but there’s a chance that you might become inspired listening to them, and that goes a long way when you put pen to paper yourself. Try noting down the adjectives your friends used when they described their accounts and ask them how they “felt” about the whole experience.

 

Tip 3: Sweat the Details

Knowing what details matter to your audience, however minor or mundane, can drive them towards action. For a recent travel article produced for one of our clients, we needed to determine how best to sell an Australian mountain destination to a Malaysian audience. Here is our thought process

 

  • Thought-to-self: Why would they care about going up mountains in another country when they have their own gorgeous peaks?
  • Note-to-self: Emphasise the differences (e.g. an Australian outback experience, with its own unique wildlife that’s different from that of Malaysia)
  • Thought-to-self: Okay, what else about mountain destinations that really matter to them?

 

Cue drumroll. It turns out the answer to that last question was to emphasise the altitude — and any information relating to a convenient and hassle-free experience — of mountain destinations mentioned in the copy. Cradle Mountain has great views? Malaysians might argue they can already experience some majestic views without having to step out of their home country.

 

But Cradle Mountain with great views at a super-accessible yet lofty 1,545 metres with parking facilities? Say no more.

 

It’s natural to be intimidated when you have to write about a place you have never been to. But many great writers in the past have produced famous works without a huge deal of life experience. And with the ease of access to information and worldwide connectivity available to content creators today, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to produce great localised content!