Feedback. A very important element in a client/agency relationship. And like almost anything else, there’s good and bad feedback. Don’t get me wrong – by bad feedback, I don’t mean negative comments. As long as criticism is information-specific, issue-focused and based on knowledge of your product, service or industry, it is constructive and is still good feedback.
But let’s step back for a moment and ask the crucial question. How should a client judge a creative? Here’s an important tip: you want to make sure that your creative delivers on the ABCs of advertising. This means it attracts attention, it’s about the brand, it communicates the brand story and sticks in the consumer’s mind.
Attention: You have to get noticed in the crowded world of digital media. Consumers see thousands of posts every day and will only engage with those that stand out from all the clutter. So if your post does not draw attention, it needs to have something that grabs the limelight.
Branding: Posts that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will connect best. Even more powerful are creatives that are from the consumer’s point of view.
Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps one tell the story. It’s also important to keep the story simple and easy to understand. Communication is not just what you say, but also how you say it.
Stickiness: Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have to exist in the minds of the consumer.
Which now brings us to the next crucial question: How does one use feedback to make the work better? I’ve seen guys go in with pure instincts and spin around in circles. My suggestion would be to use your instincts but be guided by a process that can help you judge the work. Look at sports as a metaphor: there’s instinct used in every sport, but the superstars are disciplined in their approach and then let instincts go on top of the fundamentals. So use the ABCs above, and then let your instincts take over.
Creative feedback is not easy. You’ve got to balance the head and the heart against the good of the brand. You can sort it through by asking the following questions about a creative:
1. Do you love what it can do for your brand? If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like it”, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. Identify the X-Factor that’s missing and you go from “like it” to “love it”. (The Heart)
2. Is it on strategy? Is the advertisement an expression of what is in your strategy? Again, the ABCs technique above helps you frame things in your mind and so you can evaluate it past how you feel. (The Head).
Finally we come to the last and perhaps the most important of all questions. How should feedback be given? I personally think it’s a 3-step approach.
1. The 1st Impression: Don’t ever knock your 1st impression, because it usually is spot on with how you actually feel.
2. Focus on the bigger picture: “Yes this is good or not good” for this particular reason. Fix the broader picture before you start tweaking the details.
3. Focus on Direction, not Feedback: This is absolutely crucial. Feedback is static, direction has action and decision-making.
The last thing I’d have to say is this: feedback needs to come from a single source. One person from the other side of the table (the client’s) should be the “designated driver”. That person should be given the responsibility of collating all the feedback and sifting through it to ensure coherence and consistency, because nothing is more annoying than feedback that is confusing or contradictory.