Many translators will be familiar with the Jenner twins through one of their blogs (Translation Times or Neue deutsche Rechtschreibung), their other publications and speaking engagements, and their active participation in many translation industry events, associations, and discussions.
The Jenner twins are different from many of us (translators). For instance, they never work with language service providers but choose to work exclusively with end clients. Naturally this has strong implications for how they market themselves, and since they have language and business degrees, they not only do that very well but also decided to share it with the rest of us.
I really enjoyed reading the book and I learned a lot.
The book is divided into various parts. It starts with a look at you as a translator (why you are a business as a language professional and how you should act as such), goes on in great detail on how to meet direct customers, how and how not to present yourself and your business to them, and how to negotiate prices with them (in short: don't), then talks about you as a translator again (activities in professional associations and balancing life and work), and finally summarizes everything in a helpful recap.
When I talk about books or software I often start with, "This XYZ is not for those among you who. . . ." Truthfully, however, I cannot think of many translation professionals for whom this book would not be helpful (maybe with the rare exception of those who already have so many clients who pay such high rates that there really is not much else to hope for -- but even for those the Jenners have advice: never stop marketing because you will lose some of your clients).
Here are some ideas that provided some aha moments for me:
- Any business relationship that you as a translation professional have with someone is a business-to-business (B2B) relationship in which there are exactly two equals: you and your business partner. And it does not matter whether your business partner represents a small company with a handful of employees or Lionbridge or IBM. Do you really always carry yourself that way when negotiating deadlines and prices?
- Client education is important, but only if it's done smoothly. Many of us become extremely dogmatic when "teaching" clients about our business. The reality is that clients will not appreciate our dogma and will not learn much at all.
- Forget about résumés when dealing with direct customers, and offer a well-written company brochure instead (and, by the way, save on all kinds of things, but not on marketing materials).
- And here is the coolest one: when a client asks you for too much in a conversation (pricing, deadline, etc.), just be quiet. Don't say anything. In most cases the client will reconsider and ask for more reasonable conditions.
In the book, the Jenners spend a lot of time and give excellent advice on the need for publications (including detailed advice on how to write blogs and news releases), social interaction on the web ("the Web 2.0 is your friend" -- I really appreciated the section on Twitter and LinkedIn but did not quite understand the business case they made for Facebook), how to manage things like business expenses and other paperwork ("love to do your paperwork" -- I wish that could become true for me!), and the way we need to present ourselves and reciprocate favors that we ask for from others.
Both of the Jenners live in metropolitan areas (Dagmar lives in Vienna and Judy in Las Vegas), so much of what they describe in their marketing is with local contacts -- clearly something that is not applicable to us country bumpkins. However, we are also spoken of and blessed with advice on how to find contacts (travel to trade shows, build networks, etc.).