Persuasive Appeals in Translation

Consumers throughout the world buy products for many reasons: pleasure, prestige, reputation, health, status, approval, security, beauty, love respect, comfort.  In short, the buy to fill social, practical, egoistic needs.  Consumers often don’t know the real reasons for their purchases.  For instance, as one Houston French Translator explains:

Consumers in France might say they buy designer jeans because they fit better, because the color is nicer or because they are more durable.  In reality, they think they look sexier and more stylish in the jeans.

Rational and Emotional Appeals

In the preceding example, consumers rationalized buying the jeans for practical reasons (fit, durability) when, in reality; they bought them to fill emotional needs (looks, status).  Although controversy exists over which appeal is more effective, sales letters combine appeals.  If, for instance, you are selling smoke and fire detectors, your major appeal is rational.  You explain why the prospects need the detector.  But you’re also appealing to their emotions—their love of family, fear of death and the like.

As New York English to French Translators suggest, “Your product therefore determines your appeals.”  When you sell designer jeans, your major appeal is emotional.  Yet you can still include rational appeals (fit, durability) in your letter. In general, emphasize rational appeals when the product is expensive, long lasting or essential to health, security and comfort.  Emphasize emotional appeals when the product is inexpensive, short-lived or non-essential.

Same Product: Different Appeals

Since the sales letters will be sent to target groups in foreign countries, Portland Translation workers suggest that companies vary their appeal for different groups.  Say you’re writing a letter to promote a new computer operating system.  Since the new the new computer operating system will be expensive to switch over and train employees on, your major appeal will be rational and stress increased productivity, enhanced security and lower service costs.  Through product and market analysis, you’ve determined the target markets to be global insurance companies, investment firms and financial institutions.  In your communications to each of these organizations, you might stress different product features and capabilities that might be uniquely tailored for linguistic differences and industry needs.

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