I spoke to two Danish entrepreneurs in Aarhus last week about their decisions to have their websites and blogs purely in English. Both have spent time living outside Denmark but have different views on how to promote their businesses and on their reasons for choosing to write in English. We chatted about the dilemmas of choosing to write in Danish, English or in both…
Sidsel Dorph-Jensen has no hesitations that English is right for her business. As an established Silversmith she engages with artists all over the world with the aim of teaching them how to manage the business aspects of promoting their work. She promotes the idea that marketing and finance can be approached by artists from a “design” perspective, in the same way as they approach their artistic projects. For Sidsel, writing in English offers her a much wider audience and Danish artists who wish to benefit from her online resources have to be happy to do so in English. “If people don’t like that I only write in English, then they are probably not the right customers for me,” she says.
For Katja Hunter there is more of a dilemma. The aim of her business is to provide advice to people who identify themselves as being “multi-passionate” and encourage them to learn how to maximise this in their lives and businesses. This concept has gained popularity in the UK and US, but is not as widely known in Denmark. Katja writes in English, primarily as her personal preference, and because of the wider audience she can reach. However she realises that to really allow her to bring this concept to a Danish audience she may be missing out on opportunities by only using English.
“By not writing in Danish I worry that I am missing an opportunity to really connect with my Danish audience”.
“Choosing to write in both Danish and English is definitely double the work”
So what are the key issues to be considered in addressing the dilemma of which language to use – Danish, English or both? And if the choice is “both”, how do you manage that? As we discussed the “pros and cons”, together we came up with a few things to consider to make it clearer and possible to manage:
1. What is the mission of your business and the purpose of your website/social media communication? Which language most helps you to fulfil that mission?
2. Who is your audience? Where are they and what matters to them?
3. Plan and budget if you do choose to use both Danish and English. This is something that can be budgeted for in the long-term and can be bought in if necessary to help ease the work load of managing “both”.
4. Quality content – Danish and English content does not have to be identical, but it has to convey the message that each audience is valuable to your business – better to do it well, or not do it at all.
As for me, following our discussion, I am clear that choosing to stay in English is best for me!
My mission: to help businesses to manage long term goals of internationalisation – in the short term.
My audience: wish to internationalise using English
What is your mission and which language helps you to reach your audience most effectively?