This is a small series of blogs dedicated in whole as to why you really should buy from promo products specialists like ourselves, avoiding the big distributors and of course just avoiding trying to go the long way round and contact the manufacturers yourselves. It is likely to be cheaper not going through someone like us - that we are happy to admit - but you are going to run into a lot of problems.
Our first blog went into how you are going to run into problems with quality of manufacturing, but also print. If you want to read that blog you can do so here.
This next part in the series covers the barriers with language.
Why is Language Important?
Buying promotional products is complex. When you are talking to these manufacturers around the world, you are not only just pasting your brand logo onto a product, you are trying to discuss pantone references, types of print, various materials and even discussing various product specifications. With us, we can explain to you the difference between our promotional and match footballs and discuss what might suit your needs.
In fact, a lot of manufacturers we have spoken to say they speak English, and they do pretty well, but when discussing the very finite and important details you don't want them to get confused, or even for you to sign off on something because the idea was explained poorly. Imagine it like this: try and explain some of the finer, more complex elements of your job with someone who might only have a rudimentary understanding of your language, then of course them doing exactly the same thing back to you. Do you think it will be clear?
Language Test #1
Believe it or not, we know that one of our competitors actually runs every piece of communication he has with his Chinese supplier through Google Translate. Imagine putting your trust and money with someone who does that - there is such a high chance that what you ordered is not going to be the same thing that you receive. Also, can you be sure that the manufacturer themselves are not running your emails through Google Translate?
Whilst we are not knocking Google Translate, let's do a little experiment to explain the pitfalls of using such a tool in business.
Let's translate this very common sentence we might use into Polish: "Can you print digitally onto dimpled rubber?"
If we take the answer that Google gives us and run it back through the same tool, we get: "Can you print digitally onto rubber with recesses?". Whilst this is similar, this is not close enough. This tool is also going to cause havoc when one or both of you make any type of spelling or grammatical error.
Language Test #2
Learning a new language is hard for most. I remember those hours stuck learning French and Spanish trying to absorb everything whilst having unlimited amounts of respect for people that are able to pick up English as well as their native language. The one thing though that takes a lot longer to understand is sub-text.
When you are conversing back and forth with someone, your common way of talking may have gone straight over the head of the person that you are in contact with. For example, the most common email that we get goes along the lines of this:
"Please can I get a cost on 100 tennis balls please?" - Nothing wrong with this line of text at all. However, what everyone knows this means is that can we list all associated costs. You do not want to just know the cost of the ball, but of origination, delivery, tax and anything else that would contribute to the final invoice.
We've been there before when we started out. We sent the exact same type of email to a supplier, quoted the client and realised that there were a lot of other costs that our contact just didn't think of including because of course we did just ask for the cost of tennis balls.
This is just one example - it's not just about speaking in the same language, but by communicating the same way that they do, understanding what they are trying to say and of course finding someone who is able to understand what you are trying to say.
Language Test #3
Language discrepancies are something that exist everywhere. For example, the English language has both "flammable" and "inflammable". Whilst one looks to be the complete opposite of the other, they'd be exactly the same thing. Even here in England we make the mistake but it would be a branding nightmare if you asked for a product that would be inflammable, expecting it to never catch on fire, only for the thing to burst into flame and hurt someone.
Whilst this is quite an obvious and easy error to fix going back and forth over emails - especially when you are told the objects are going to be made of a very flammable material like wood - there are some more subtle ones that no matter how much communication happens between you two, you might still get wrong.
The prime example is "embossing". It's pretty much common knowledge what embossing is. Except that it's technically incorrect. What we actually mean is debossing. Clarification on words like this need to be made, but the more time you spend going back and forth is just going to cause more stress, more frustration and ultimately more time on the project. You might only have a small window of time before you need to get that order complete.
Language Test #4
Do you mean soccer or American football when you sent an email over to a manufacturer in China asking for a price on footballs?
There are a lot of differences in our language, particularly if you venture across the Atlantic to the USA. Whilst there might be some people who understand your exact needs, you might get some confused manufacturers who don't know that aluminum and aluminium are the same thing. It's about clarification issues that you could face everywhere you go.
You could go round in circles trying to communicate exactly what you want and understand exactly what they need from you. The solution is simple. by emailing or even calling someone like Pavilion, you are going to be put through to someone who can listen, understand, and advise in ways that might just nto be possible with contacting the factories directly.
You do not need to worry about any of the above as we have our contacts, we know how to speak and we put any language issues on our shoulders, not yours.
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