How to Master Efficient Translation in Life Sciences

July 5, 2021
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The life sciences industry has experienced a lot of forward momentum recently.
Companies have had to adapt quickly to respond to sudden changes in the market. For many, moving to a more global way of thinking has been a key part of the change.
If you want operate effectively as a global company, you need to be efficient about how you handle translations. But, it can be hard to know how to manage your translation efforts in an efficient way.
What unique properties of life science translations make them challenging?
How can you ensure that you are getting the most from your translation budget?
The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic is one factor that has moved more companies to adapt their global operations. But, it’s far from being the only factor. Other current challenges have been around for a few years, including increasing pressure to digitize operations, changing global regulations, and logistical difficulties.
There are various actions you can take to improve your translation process as a life sciences company.
But, there is one vital step that you should take before all others…

The challenges of translation in life sciences

The underlying problem for many global life science companies is that they approach translation in the wrong way.
They assume that creating content for international markets only involves converting their English content into other languages. While this is certainly a core part of translation, there are many more aspects that make for an efficient localization process. When companies view translation in this simplistic way, they can often find themselves running into problems in the long term.
Consider the difference between selling life science products to customers in the USA versus selling those products in the Middle East in the current climate…
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the move to more digital ways of selling. In 2020, in-person sales meetings were replaced by videoconferencing calls and sales videos.
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Deloitte reports that this change was easier in countries where virtual work was already familiar, such as Australia and the USA. However, in Middle Eastern countries and Japan, there was a general resistance to virtual work. This meant that sales teams in those regions struggled to gain traction during 2020.
Such differences in culture are an integral factor when you are creating content for global markets. They can influence which content you should localize and how that content should be translated.

Global markets are about more than just languages

If you want to create your global content efficiently, you need to view your localization efforts as a whole.
Life science translations are influenced by a myriad of factors including governmental regulations, differing cultural approaches to life science products and services, and complex market dynamics.
Let’s take the example of the differing approaches to health in each country. This is a relevant issue for life science companies working with healthcare.
For instance, consider the frequency of doctor visits in two different markets. In Spain, the average number of doctor visits per year (from 2019 figures) is 7.3 doctor visits per person in the population. However, in Mexico, the average is only 2.8 doctors visits per person.
Clearly, the populations of each country have a slightly different relationship with healthcare, even though both countries have free national healthcare and both speak Spanish (albeit different types of Spanish).
If you were a healthcare-related company and you simply translated your content into Spanish for both markets, that content could be unsuitable for one or both of those markets.
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You would probably spend a lot of time, budget, and effort reworking the translations, which would be very inefficient.
Cultural differences can directly affect the type of content that you need to create for your customers. They will influence how you talk about your products in your marketing content. They will also influence what supporting content you need to provide to your local representatives.
These differences are often small and nuanced but have a huge impact on the success of your products. For example, one market might require liquid quantities to be specified in US fluid ounces while another uses imperial fluid ounces, which represent different quantities. Another market might work with metric measurements. But, people in that market prefer might prefer to buy products in smaller quantities (for example buying bottles of 50 ml) while people in a similar market might be more economical and prefer to buy in bulk (with bottles of, say, 500 ml).
You need to keep up with these differences if you want your global content to work effectively.

The key to efficient life science translation

How do you ensure that all your translated content is created efficiently and fully meets the needs of your local markets?
The important first step is to create a Global Content Strategy.
This is a task that we often undertake with our clients when they first start working with us. It takes a little extra time, but the benefits of getting your strategy right from the beginning can be huge.
Your Global Content Strategy is a plan that aligns with your company’s overall global strategy. It helps you to ensure that the content you release in your international markets is focused on the impact that your company wants to make.
Companies that take this vital step in the process often end up saving a lot of time and money as a result.
Their translated content better serves their needs and the needs of their international customers. Their content creation processes also become more streamlined and efficient, meaning that they can do more with their localization budget.

How to start creating your Global Content Strategy

While it’s possible to create your own Global Content Strategy without any help, it’s far more efficient and effective to do it with someone who knows the process well.
A good way to start thinking about your strategy is to talk to one of our strategists.
You can book a free Global Content Strategy call with one of our strategists and find out more about our approach and how it applies to businesses like yours on our life sciences industry page.