Jan 30, 2009

Sad Sack Sam strikes again!

Many translators wonder why they have a hard time acquiring and keeping customers. For those with basically good linguistic skills, a little business education can go a long way. In rare cases, perhaps the only hope lies with psychopharmacology. Susanne Aldridge called attention to a rather disturbing mail exchange between a translator and his prospect posted on a German marketing blog. The original post is here.

I've put this post under the keyword "marketing", because the approach of this self-designated translator is, of course, a fine example of what not to do. His behavior is so extreme that the point is obvious, but in some cases I see others encouraging practices that might in many cases prove counterproductive. There are so many good ways to build one's business, so why waste time spamming "prospects" and chasing after clients who aren't in a desirable market segment. Too many do, but now of course, their excuse for failure will be the Great Worldwide Financial Crisis. Hey, your crisis is my opportunity!

I seldom make changes to old posts; for better or worse I let them stand unless the information is completely outdated and a possible source of technical trouble. In this particular case, however, I've made an exception after receiving 14 e-mails (and still counting) from a deeply disturbed individual with bizarre obsessions involving sex, baldness, Scottish water creatures and scatology. This is, unfortunately, the typical operating mode for this individual, who has made a number of bizarre attacks on clients of mine over the years and has apparently been stalking one colleague on XING for weeks now. His example is more valuable than his name, which appears to be known to all, as he is one of the most dedicated spammers of agency lists that I have ever heard of. The recipients of his mail are, alas, not as open to business as might be wished, so I passed on an opportunity which he surely deserves and wished him Godspeed.
In contrast to cases like the Great Snake, there are no specific warnings required here; the warning is writ large in every communication with this individual with Braille subtitles for those who can't trust their eyes.
Here's a truly unique approach to marketing from which we can all derive some good laughs. Now go and market otherwise.

Edited comment:

Sonja said...
Oh yes, I've seen this mail exchange and found it rather embarrassing. It does cast a negative light on all translators but then we cannot be held responsible for somebody else's mental state, can we? What strikes me as odd is that is still in business after so many years, and apparently so many years in trouble. How come natural selection hasn't worked here?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Why is someone like that in business? No idea. I could ask that in other cases, but mostly I don't worry about it. There's more niches out there than I can imagine, and I suppose that somewhere in the Purgatory of the translation world there's a good one for that sort too.
    I wouldn't even worry that his specific case gives "translators" a bad name. It's so far beyond the limits of reasonable human behavior that only a complete dolt would think that's how a professional would do business. I think of him as a sort of instructive caricature. Many of us can be a little unreasonable sometimes, and reflecting on an idiot like that might help us see when.

  3. Just got this hilarious note from ol' SS Sam. Hey Sonja, if you're my ex, can we re-negotiate the terms of the divorce?

    I saw your Translations Tribulations link. You and Sonja (that's your ex-wife) wrote that idiotic crap. You barely even know me and you make all these assumptions. I'm complaining to your boss and to Proz.com and will get a lawyer to get your Dreck off the Internet if necesary.

    The spelling is all I've come to expect from that source, too. He's a living argument for the value of Google Translate!


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