Pharmaceutical and medical industries are the two biggest players in the life sciences sector who frequently launch and sell their products on the global markets. Of course, to do so, they need to approach each of these markets with the utmost care. We are all their customers and we all have different healthcare needs and desires.
You guessed it, this requires individual approach and special attention to product localization, not only in terms of the target language and culture, but also in terms of the specific needs of the target audiences. It goes without saying that the accuracy and precision of localized medical and pharmaceutical materials can always mean the difference between living and dying. To avoid the latter, we need as much information as possible, that are not just aesthetically pleasing and catchy, but also accurate.
The first thing that springs in my mind is how irrelevant the 911 emergency call can be in different parts of the world. For example, if you find yourself in Croatia, or, say, Sri Lanka, dialing 911 would probably kill you, as there would be no one to pick up the phone. That number is probably completely irrelevant for your locale.
This banal example represents the most obvious and the most extreme case, but under the surface there are many more of them that are barely noticeable to non-experts. Naturally, it gets me wondering who stands behind the whole process and how it is done.
There are several key participants who are responsible for producing and delivering accurate marketing materials for the life sciences products and services.
It all begins with medical and pharmaceutical companies, who develop the products and services and have the practical and technical knowledge about the product, and their marketing teams who have a deep understanding of the products, the target markets and audiences but need the external linguistic help to launch their products and campaigns on the foreign markets.
Their 911 emergency call is the Language Service Provider. The LSP will take care of the next stages of the process, which includes assembling linguist teams with the appropriate education and experience. They need to be tested, graded and have their output scored. However, LSPs shouldn’t bite off more than they can chew, meaning they should only accept projects they are equipped to handle.
Finally, there are subject matter experts (SMEs) with the expertise in the field, who are in charge of proofreading the translated material and provide professional feedback before the product launch.
Localization of marketing materials for pharmaceutical and medical products often involves more stages than, for example, those needed for clothes or food and beverages. Throughout the process, the LSP should be in contact with the manufacturer and other stakeholders in order to harmonize the different aspects and requirements of the project.
The process can include different stages depending on the specific requirements of a medium (for example, DTP processing and prepress proofing may be required), but it can always be described as close cooperation of all the other stakeholders in order to develop impeccably localized marketing material that will help the product manufacturers reach, engage and support their clients and customers on the target market.
It is also a good idea to find out a bit more about the SMEs, just to get the insight into their daily responsibilities and proofreading capacities. Delivery times and volumes can be determined only when the earlier steps have been established.
It is important to realize that most of the time, marketing materials are not developed for the experts and the healthcare workers, but for the patients and lay users. It is linguistics duty to deliver all the relevant information, but in a way that everyone can understand, which is called readability. There is no point in advertising a product using the language and the terminology that only select groups can relate to. Sometimes it means shifting away from the source and adapting the meaning, sometimes it may include transcreation and it is not only allowed, but also necessary to bring the product closer to the audiences.
In this day and age, it is no longer enough to communicate with the clients through the traditional channels such as printed leaflets and brochures.
In order to reach the wider audience, it is necessary to spread the corporate message and brand awareness online, which opens a set of whole new challenges. But it is certain that, in addition to product / service quality, the safest way to stand out from the competition on the target markets is through careful and high-quality localization, both online and offline.