Preparing for recession: How can LSPs weather the coronavirus storm?

Welcome global recession. We weren’t expecting you and you are not welcome in our house. But it looks like we have no choice and you are here to stay for a while.

The coronavirus has already put many people out of jobs and we are just at the beginning. Many more people will be out of work. That means less spending by consumers and businesses. The stock market is in bear territory and the net worth of many people has shrunk dramatically. Shrinking budgets will become the norm in corporations worldwide. And this situation will probably last well after the coronavirus crisis is solved.

How does an LSP prepare for the recession?

It appears that many industries will be impacted by this recession. Some more than others. Since the translation and localization industry is primarily a B2B type of operation, it will undoubtedly be impacted by the recession. So how to prepare for this? Here are some of my thoughts on this topic.

Time to downsize

Many LSPs, such as GTS Translation, are built around a small permanent staff and many temporary staff (i.e. freelance translators). These small LSPS will be better equipped to handle the recession. Large LSPs with large staffs will not fair as well and will regrettably have to terminate some of their staff. As an LSP owner/manager, you will need to trim the fat (figuratively of course).

The same goes for suppliers such as marketing consultants. SEO experts, CPC budgets, industry conference expenses, advertising agencies. These expenses may be expendable in times of recession.

Time to call in the markers

Now would be a good time to focus on receivables. Recession means a cash shortage with a trickle-down effect. If your customers owe you money, now would a good time to collect and keep a war-chest to weather the storm.

Time to diversify

As I mentioned previously, some industries will be impacted more than others. Airlines and aerospace companies, for example, will be decimated. If you are an LSP serving this industry, you are in deep sh!t. Consider moving your offerings to other industries. For example, online gaming companies should be doing very well now. Pharmaceutical companies should go relatively unscathed. Try to find industries which are working well even in times of recession and adapt your sales strategy accordingly.

Time to lower prices

With shrinking budgets and the ever-increasing competition that is inevitable in a recession, consider making your price points more attractive. A lower profit is better than shuttering the doors of the business you worked so hard to build up.

Time for patience

Things are bound to improve. Patience is required to weather the storm. Of course it helps if you have deep pockets and can sustain your business in times when orders are few and far in between. Following the points mentioned previously about reducing your expenses will help.

Time to invest in automation

The industry is shifting towards automation, with human-assisted machine translation becoming a staple. If you are not involved in this activity, and if you have some budget that you can allocate in this direction, consider developing new offerings around PEMT. It will help you come out of the recession stronger, and will also help you lower your prices.

Time to go

If you have any other ideas which you think are useful, please let us all know. We are all in this together and hopefully we will get back to normal soon.


Should LSPs be using the coronavirus to drum up business?

In the last 2-3 days, we are getting dozens of emails from Language Service Providers (LSPs) who are using the Coronovirus as an excuse to spam potential clients and push their services. Here is an example:

Dear business partners,

Despite various restrictions and quarantine measures, we operate as usual. Our technologies enable complete home-office for our project managers, translators, editors, DTP staff and other production team members. So, if you have any jobs in CEE languages, we are ready to help you.

You can be sure that even with further and even more restrictive measures (including complete quarantine), we will be able to operate without any restrictions and meet our obligations to our clients.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at [email protected] We are available on working days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CET.

In the meanwhile stay healthy. We believe that this situation will disappear soon and everything will return back to normal.


I find this practice to be not only annoying, but also stupid. If you want to send an email to your customers who have opted-in to your mailing list, that’s one thing. But harvesting emails on the web and spamming people to say that your LSP is working like usual during this time of crisis? Chutzpah! And the chances of getting any business from these spam blasts is ZERO. Because business is slowing down in many industries anyway. Companies probably don’t have the stomach now for international expansion, especially with most countries in the western world having shut down their borders.

Should you send email blasts to your mailing list?

I am not sure that this is effective either. The whole world is engulfed in the coronavirus crisis and people are running scared for their lives. Do you think people need another reminder about the coronavirus from their LSP? Being the bearer of bad news will usually not win you any brownie points.

Using coronavirus as a selling tactic in social media

This is another variation on the email blast. Here is an example from one of the world’s largest LSPs.

I actually think that this kind of message is much more tactful. Offering free service in times of crisis is thoughtful and cloaks the come-on in an altruistic gesture which may be appreciated by the buying public.

Here is a tweet by SDL, another very large LSP.

I actually like this tweet a lot less than that of Lionbridge. Because what is the big news that SDL is announcing? That they are open for business? It’s pretty obvious that they are even without the superfluous tweet. A large company like SDL has account executives that can contact the major clients and reassure them personally. The tweet frankly looks like, in my opinion, as a way to hitchhike on a world crisis in order to drum up business.

The bottom line

Don’t use the coronavirus in your marketing efforts. It is tactless and won’t get you any new business. If you have a special offer that can truly benefit your clients in times of trouble-then pitch it. Otherwise, don’t.

See also:

Coronavirus drives demand for translation services


Coronavirus drives demand for translation services

The entire world seems to be consumed these days with the hysteria around the coronavirus outbreak. And for good reason. Thousands are already dead and the outbreak seems poised to wreak havoc throughout the entire world.

US President Trump has issued a travel ban, basically cutting off travel between Europe and the USA.  According to Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, as many as 70% of Germany’s population may become affected by the virus. World markets have come crashing down as many businesses and people are likely to lose their livelihood. Entire industries will be decimated. This includes airplane manufacturers, airlines, hotels, travel companies, restaurants and more. And they are talking about cancelling the Tokyo Olympics, which would be a financial catastrophe for Japan.

Demand for professional translation services not negatively impacted

But as sad as that may be for many industries, it appears that the demand for professional translation services is not being negatively impacted by the outbreak.  And indeed it may even be driving even higher demand for translation service. First of all, translation is probably one of the biggest types of work-from-home small businesses. Translators and project managers can work from the safety of their home and do not have to be overly concerned about getting the virus.

More online and written communication required

Additionally, with international air travel being seriously impaired, many businesses are using written communication to replace human contact. The increased demand for online services of every kind, due to the imposed quarantines and travel bans, means that companies will be spending more money to get their content translated into various languages.

We have been feeling this at GTS. One of our customers, West Valley Community Services (WVCS), has been translating a wide range of notices into Vietnamese, Traditional Chinese, Russian and Spanish. Another GTS customer, the US District Court of Hawaii has published notices in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Tagalog.

What others are saying

Here are two tweets that I have seen today on this topic. So far over 40 translators and agencies have commented on Twitter on how they are getting orders for translation services due the coronavirus. And it appears that this trend will only grow in the coming weeks and months.

We’re all in this together!

Everyone is praying that coronavirus goes away. Hopefully, the demand for translation services will remain strong but only for healthy and happy reasons!