When it comes to marketing healthcare services and products, translating advertising materials into another language is essential.
However, it’s often not enough.
A direct translation does not have the same power as localization, and many businesses are finding this out the hard way.
Marketing in the Healthcare Industry
According to NPR, one example of the need for localization and not just translation in healthcare was the attempt in 2013 to market the Affordable Care Act — or “Obamacare” — in California. Apparently, those in charge of the campaign failed to appeal to the Hispanic population.
One of the main reasons was that the marketing materials were merely translated from English into Spanish. While translation is necessary in both healthcare and marketing, it is really just the first step of the process when you’re trying to get the attention of those who speak another language.
Understanding the Culture
Localization takes translation a step further by considering cultural differences. When you simply translate a sentence, it may be grammatically correct and therefore understood, but it might not carry the same impact in all languages.
In the case of the healthcare marketing campaign in California, those in charge seemed not to consider that transactions are not completed the same in every culture. For example, some groups prefer to buy in-person or via telephone, not online, so a marketing campaign that only calls for online purchases falls flat.
In addition, taglines that are catchy or memorable in one language might be dull, forgettable or even rude in another. When you opt for localization in healthcare marketing, or any other field, you ensure that you are considering every aspect of a culture, not just the language.
Localization Encompasses More Than Words
Whether you’re marketing healthcare or some other product or service, you should pay attention to more than the text of the campaign. That’s because localization also often requires you to alter graphics and colors.
For example, having an actor in a commercial wear white may seem innocuous. But not if you’re planning to air that commercial in China, since white is for funerals. This is also something which should be considered when localizing a website.
Of course, you should also consider any changes in currency and even the format of the date, phone number and address displayed on your marketing materials. Otherwise, people from other cultures might ignore your message or even feel excluded from the campaign.
The good news is that more and more business owners are realizing how important localization is. Industry leaders such as Disney are localizing their movies, and even video games have been localized lately! That’s why the healthcare industry should follow suit.
In fact, a lack of localization can result in an embarrassing PR situation. That’s why any marketing venture, including healthcare, benefits from professional localization services.