LSP’s guide to building a niche

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Antoine Rey, the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Venga Global, believes that LSPs need to specialize in order to thrive. By focusing on specific industries or types of content, you can improve your brand recognition and the quality of your services.

Antoine has 20 years of experience in the translation/localization and software testing industries. We spoke to him about how Venga approaches specialization and specific steps other LSPs can take to target a specific niche and improve the services they offer.

Start with where you have ins

LSPs often base their specialties around the background of their founder or C-level leaders. For instance, Venga’s CEO, Kåre Lindahl, has a rich history in the human resources sector and the company started as an in-house department at PeopleSoft and then, when PeopleSoft was acquired, Oracle. Now an independent company, Venga uses its employees and translators experience and network to better serve the HR industry.

Whether it is the background of your leadership or your translators, build your ideal customer profile (ICP) around what you know and do well. Antoine tells his sales team to stick close to their ICP, “because the likeliness of us winning that business outside of [it] is very low. So we would waste valuable time and money.”

“If I go off into the hardware industry — the NetApps, Ciscos, or Dells of this world — I’m going to be facing fierce competition and commoditized pricing, with people that do it very, very well,” Antoine said. “My chances of breaking into some of those companies are going to be very limited unless I go after a specific type of content or services like content marketing and SEO. Within our ICP, we have excellent customer success stories, solid knowledge from our team and translators across all contents, increasing our credibility and ability to win new business!”

Offer multiple related specialties

According to Antoine, having just one niche is not enough when it comes to growth potential. “I think it’s too limiting to have just one area, and one can lead to another. But you’ve got to find the common denominators where you’re going to be stronger.”

While Venga’s primary niche is human resources, they also work in the software productivity platforms and developer world, life sciences, legal, eCommerce and online retail industries. However, they approach these various industries through the departments and service areas they know best: HR, corporate communication, multimedia, learning & development, content marketing, and software localization. These are Venga’s common denominators.

With each specialization you offer, your goal is to become the go-to company in that area. This requires a holistic approach to marketing.

“We are working with several HR companies on the software platform side,” Antoine explained. “We are attending advanced events in that space. We are writing blog posts around that space. We’ve built our case studies and success stories around that space, and we’re known in those circles now. So now we’ve expanded to another 10 to 15 clients in that space.”

Consider buying into new niches

Expanding into new markets isn’t just a sales and marketing problem. When you specialize in a certain industry or type of content, your entire supply chain should be specialized: from VPs to project managers to translators. This doesn’t happen quickly.

Instead, if there’s an area you’d really like to grow your LSP into, Antoine suggests buying into it. For instance, Venga recently bought a company with a background in the security sector. By purchasing a smaller LSP, they now have the advantage of an entire team of people knowledgeable about a new industry.

Specialize your entire supply chain

Venga looks for translators with experience in their specialization. They’re also equipped to train new team members. When it comes to localization services, it’s important for language experts to have a working knowledge of industry-specific terms. But it’s also important to understand the market’s typical pain points, goals, and perspectives.

When your entire supply chain is specialized, it makes for stronger translations and others services; it also fosters transparency and deeper client relationships. Antoine explained, “The relationship is shallow if it only extends from the sales and marketing side to the client, or even potentially the project manager and the client. The whole relationship has to extend all the way down the supply chain to the translators.”

Antoine readily admits that technological breakthroughs, from neural machine translation to enhanced workflow management, are positively impacting the industry, but he sees a parallel trend happening that’s just as important.

“Somehow we’re depersonalizing the overall supply chain by automating a lot of the processes, and then the counter effect is that we also realize that we need to have that human interaction — that relationship and emotional drive — to sell products and services.”

This interaction starts well before a customer signs a contract with your LSP. And, according to Antoine, the best way to promote your company and build these relationships are in-person events.

Attend events connected to your specialties

Antoine explained that events may be the most expensive marketing tactic, but they’re also the most rewarding for Venga. Especially when you’re trying to establish yourself in a specific industry.

Venga’s goal is for all their ICP companies to think of them first when they’re ready to go international, and “if they haven’t seen us at events, it’s unlikely they will ... we’re going to do a great job on SEO and blogs, etc., so they’ll find us... but I think you also need the presence once you have managed to convert a few clients in that space.”

He explained that inbound and outbound marketing, can help an LSP establish brand credibility, but face-to-face interactions are still vital to help build stronger customer relationships.

“Personally, I think if clients are going to spend half a million dollars or more, you need to into a person’s eyes before signing on the dotted line. For certain decisions, you need to have the person opposite you. We are doing some business with clients we have never met, but I am pushing the sales, technology, quality, and production teams to go and meet clients on a regular basis, face-to-face, and build solid long term relationships.”