Give Productive Feedback to Creatives
Whether you are working with a large agency, an in-house department or freelancers, great creative is a team effort. To get the best creative, you have to give solid, constructive feedback.
The following tips are based on my more than 25 years of experience as an in-house, agency and "free agent" copywriter, as well as an informal e-mail survey of direct marketing colleagues who both give and receive creative feedback. Many thanks to those who participated.
1. Keep revisions and alterations to a minimum by providing complete input at the beginning of the project. When you invest time providing good information at the start, it reduces revisions.
2. Make the objective clear from the beginning so work can be evaluated against a set of criteria. Refer back to this objective when providing feedback.
3. Involve everyone who will review and approve copy and design in the initial input.
4. Give feedback. Writers and designers are professionals; they don't take comments about their work personally when feedback is reasonable and easy to understand.
5. Start and end with a positive comment. Sandwich the less-than-positive feedback in between.
6. Be specific; be concrete. Saying "I don't like this," or, "Something about this bothers me," doesn't provide useful direction. Give examples or show a sample of what you're looking for.
7. Provide comments in writing. Whether you review a piece by phone or in person, follow up with written comments. This provides an accurate future reference for everyone involved.
8. Have one person review and combine all comments into one document if multiple people approve the layouts and copy. Do this before giving them to the copywriter or designer. If you don't, the creative team will have to make decisions about conflicting comments from various people. This can lead to changes that cost time and money.