Kathrin Bussmann is busy.
She produces and markets the podcast on her own, and has put out a new episode almost every week since its inception in May of 2016. When she’s not running the podcast, she’s acting as an all-in-one consultant, offering advice on international marketing strategies for Verbaccino.
In short, she has two full-time jobs.
Bussmann has a PhD in linguistics, but decided to leave academia to pursue the business world. As she puts it, she created Verbaccino so she could be her own boss. Both Verbaccino and the Worldly Marketer have gained traction in the localization industry, and Bussmann has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
We talked with Bussmann about her podcast, neural machine translation and what global brands she’s impressed with.
You do the podcast on your own. Is it hard to facilitate every piece of The Worldly Marketer Podcast by yourself?
KB: There’s no doubt about it: Producing a weekly podcast is a lot of work, and it requires a high level of commitment. I think a lot of first-time podcasters underestimate just how much time and work is involved. There’s a reason why so many podcasts run out of steam after the first dozen episodes or so.
Depending on the format, the logistics (e.g. scheduling interviews), the frequency (daily, weekly, bi-monthly), and how much of a perfectionist you are when it comes to pre- and post-production, it can really take over your schedule. Like it or not, there comes a point when you have to monetize your podcast somehow in order to make it sustainable.
You either have to turn it into a paid project for yourself, or you have to start outsourcing as much of the work as possible so you can reclaim that time in your schedule. Either way, you need to find some sponsors, and that’s the point I’m at right now.
Finding sponsors is tricky, though. In the world of podcasting, most sponsors are only interested in the number of downloads you’re getting. The Worldly Marketer Podcast is rather “niche,” so it doesn't get the kinds of download numbers that big-name podcasts can boast. That’s why I’m looking for sponsors that value audience quality over quantity. The people who listen to my podcasts are motivated, global-minded professionals. That’s an attractive demographic.
That said, any sponsor of mine will need to be the right fit in terms of the product or service they’re offering. I've put a lot of effort into building trust with my audience, and I don’t take that trust for granted. So, I’ll only work with sponsors that I can genuinely get behind, and whose product or service I’m happy to endorse because I believe it will really bring value to my audience.
What do you think is the most interesting/hot topic in the localization industry right now?
KB: Based on the conversations I’ve been having with people in the industry, and on the conferences I’ve been attending, the hottest topic for most people is definitely neural machine translation. There’s no doubt in my mind that Artificial Intelligence is set to revolutionize translation technology.
The most interesting thing to me, though, is how the language industry will adapt. I think that Language Service Providers will need to rethink what their value proposition is and how they market themselves. It’s an opportunity for localization companies to reposition themselves as expert partners, rather than just service providers.
Going forward, I think that the human element will become an important differentiator, as technology continues to make translation and localization more affordable for more people. At the end of the day, humans will always be drawn in by good storytelling that speaks to them in an authentic, relatable voice. That’s what successful global brands invest in, no matter what hot new technologies come along.
What global brands are you impressed with right now?
KB: I think Netflix has been doing a great job entering new global markets. They’ve understood the importance of offering culturally relevant content to different local audiences, alongside their internationally popular titles. And so, they’ve invested heavily in the production of original, high-quality local content – as well as making sure that imported content is available with subtitles.
They’re clearly playing the long game, investing what they need to up front in order to win over audiences and corner the VOD market wherever they go. It’s not the cheapest approach, but it’s smart.
What is one piece of advice would you give to global brands?
KB: Don’t look at localization as a cost. Look at it as an investment. Allocate the proper resources to it, and the ROI will be more than worth it over time.
Also, make sure your localization team is working in full collaboration with the rest of your teams. It’s quite shocking, for instance, how many marketers are unaware of what localization is, let alone what’s involved.
Even in large global companies, the marketing and localization teams often work in separate silos. Then, the localization team is brought in at the very end of the content-creation process and expected to fit a square peg into a round hole.
A much more efficient, more successful approach would be to get the localization and marketing teams working together from the very beginning.