Whether you’ve got an outsourced team or someone in your office managing your marketing, it’s important to provide feedback in the right way so it saves time and effort for you and your marketing team. It ultimately gets you to the finished product you had envisioned (or perhaps not envisioned). Because of this, your feedback needs to be clear and constructive.
Although you hope the first draft will hit the brief 100% the first time, this is often not the case….and that’s ok!
Whilst it’s your marketing team’s job to manage your expectations, it also helps to remind yourself of this when beginning a new marketing project.
Before you start typing that feedback email, here are a few things to think about to ensure the comments you provide are useful, clear and directional:
Remind yourself what you are trying to achieve with this marketing item
Think about the original brief, the why. Remind yourself why you’re doing this and how it’s going to be used in the big picture.
It’s important to review the item as part of that bigger picture and not just as a stand alone item. This helps with not getting stuck on the details (which is a common issue!). Think about the goal or purpose of this project.
Don’t get stuck on the detail for the first review
Try not to get stuck on details – we know it’s tempting, because it’s easy to catch a spelling mistake or say ‘I’m not quite sure that’s the right blue.’
For your first review, think big picture! Considering who it’s for and why we’re doing it, are we on the right track? Overall, will it help move people to where we want them to be?
If the answers to these questions are yes, great!
So what types of things do I look for in my first review (I hear you ask)? This is the time to consider things like general layout and style (if it has design elements), key messages, and calls-to-actions. Remember that images and words can be easily and quickly changed.
Think about your audience, not yourself
The finished item might not be in your favourite colour, or talk to your specific needs, but you need to remember that the marketing item is not for you. It’s for your target audience.
Remember, this applies to your brand too. During our Branding Workshop, we spend ages talking with you about who your audience is and why, what they care about, what types of problems they have, and how you solve them.
Think about exactly the kind of audience that you are producing this item for. Why are you producing it for them? How do they feel before they look at it or use it? Do they have any specific preconceptions, concerns, fears or motivations that you need to address?
Will what has been produced help them? If so, how? If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
Focus on the general flow, key messages and calls to action for your first review
Feedback can differ slightly, depending on what the actual project is. When reviewing a custom image for the first time, don’t focus on the title and a word that isn’t sitting right. Yes, those things are important too but only once the general design, key messages and call to action have been confirmed.
We recommend focusing in on these items for blogs, design elements and website pages:
- Blog – look at style of writing, tone of voice, key messages and calls to action. Is the content correct, helpful and answering one of the ‘Big 5’ (problems, price, comparisons, best of and reviews) for my audience.
- Design element – spend time looking at the visual elements, the colours, imagery, key messages and call to action. Does it match the style of your brand? Is it clear, easy to ready and visually impactful
- Website page – look at the key messages, calls to actions, the general layout or flow of the page and the overall user experience. Is it easy for the user to find what they are looking for. Have you provided encouragement for them to take action as you have planned?
Ask yourself questions to figure out what you might not like
We know it can be hard if you don’t like something, but you aren’t sure why. Ask yourself questions about what isn’t fitting for you yet.
- Is it just that you don’t like that colour? Is that why the whole design isn’t appealing to you?
- Is it not how you imagined, and what HAD you imagined? What was it you imagined, and where did that come from?
- Are you comparing it to someone else’s brilliant marketing item – their design, their website page, their PDF guide? You might feel your new website page isn’t great, but that’s because you’re comparing it to someone else, who has an entirely different brand and audience.
- Are you worried the audience for this will not get it or it won’t appeal to them (if so why)?
Feedback is always a judgement so it’s important to be constructive. One way to do this is to ask questions instead of just using statements.
Example: Switch from using statements such as “I don’t like the placement of that image” to asking questions like “What makes the placement of this image a good choice?”.
This allows us to not only address the issue but also find the real reason behind the issue.
Don’t compare your marketing project to another firm’s
Are you comparing the finished project to other firms’ or other companies’ stuff? If so, ask yourself the following:
- Who are their audience?
- What is their brand and style?
- What is their tone of voice?
- What are they trying to achieve?
If the answers to the above questions are different to your company, it’s not relevant and doesn’t deserve a comparison. Why?
It’s completely natural to compare yourself or your firm to others. We all do it, everyday: “She is skinnier than I am, he dresses better than I do, that firm has more clients than we do, their branding is so stylish!”
Although a little competition never hurt anyone, it can become dangerous to start comparing every little aspect of your business. Use competition to encourage and inspire you, not to bring you down. When you have a strong brand and you know who you are as a firm (and stick to that in all that you do), your prospect will see that and be drawn to you if they are your ideal client.
You might find you are comparing yourself to someone else because you subconsciously feel there is something missing or something that needs changing. Ask yourself why you are comparing your firm to another and what you feel might be missing from your marketing item.
Look at the other firm’s brand, style, tone of voice, key message, service offering and location to confirm if they truly are a direct competitor.
Sleep on it
Sometimes we need time to grow to love something. The finished item may not be exactly what you envisioned but that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t what you need.
Give yourself time to revise and reflect on your initial thoughts. Whilst it might not be something you love, you might realise the finished product is perfect for your target audience.
Whilst we’ve suggested you give yourself time to sleep on the feedback you are pondering about, it’s also important not to wait too long. Give feedback while it’s still fresh in your mind and before doubts start to settle in. If you wait too long, you may find you can’t be bothered to get into a back and forth conversation about a certain colour or placement and you may just settle with the first draft. This is not the answer.
Whilst following these points will help both you and your marketing team to reach your goal, none of these points will matter if you don’t start with a clear and detailed brief. After your initial chat, you need to decide and agree on all the elements of the project together.
It needs to be detailed enough that there are no grey areas should any issues arise. If either of you find that the brief starts to change mid-way, it’s important to refer back to the original brief and remember the why.
Why is this marketing item being done, who is it for, and what do you hope to achieve by using it? If any of these answers have changed since the original brief, you may need to rethink the brief and start again.
The great thing about working with a marketing team consistently, is that the more work you do with them, the easier it is to hit the brief the first time. With valuable and directional feedback, they will get to know your style, tone of voice, general brand and key messages. They’ll also learn to understand what you like and dislike, and why.
Remember, the best type of marketing is when you, as the business owner, are involved in the process. A clear brief and constructive feedback allows you to be involved without taking on the stress of getting it all done.