You may have never thought about it, but when you work with an agency, you’re part of the creative process. I know what you’re thinking, “I write like a seven-year-old and I draw like a three-year-old. What can I possibly bring to the table?”
In a word, everything. As the client, you have the first word and the last word. And nowhere is your impact felt more profoundly than when it comes to giving feedback. It’s also one of the most important parts of the project because now you’re seeing the brief come to life in the form of creative execution. Now is the time to make sure it’s hitting the target.
Start with a clear creative brief
I know, I know – a creative brief isn’t feedback, but it is crucial to the feedback process. It is the inspiration behind the creative and it should be what the creative is judged against. Plus, when everyone’s on the same page from the start, projects go much smoother. A good creative brief should be as simple as possible and include background, unique selling proposition (USP), key benefits, reasons to believe and a clear audience takeaway.
Know your target audience
Most likely, you’re pretty familiar with your target. But reiterating it in the brief helps everyone remember that the creative idea isn’t talking to you, or your boss or your kids. In fact, the person you’re hoping to reach is probably very different from you.
Start on a positive note
It never hurts to start by recognizing the work your agency has put into the project and highlighting what’s good about it. Starting off on a positive note reinforces teamwork and prepares your agency partners to hear what you think could be improved. Which brings us to the next point.
Seek understanding first
It’s normal to have an immediate emotional response to the work being presented. But don’t fall into the trap of speaking out of this initial reaction. Ask questions to understand how the work addresses the brief. This creates an open environment and prompts your partners to think constructively and analytically about their work – as opposed to becoming defensive. It will help your agency better understand where you’re coming from and may also give you a perspective you hadn’t considered – all of which makes for better creative.
“I don’t like it.” or “It just isn’t working for me.” are fine things to express. But if the agency doesn’t know WHY you feel that way, they’ll just be guessing as to how to fix it. Instead, refer to specific elements of the creative such as color, layout, word choice, etc. to help them understand your concerns. They’ll appreciate your effort to communicate precisely and your feedback will be more accurately addressed.
Don’t be afraid to disagree with your agency. Your input is crucial to achieving the result you want. If you think something should be changed, speak up and collaborate with your agency. The sooner you say something, the sooner they can get to work finishing the project.
Most of all, when giving feedback, remember why you chose this creative agency — they’re a team of talented people who love finding creative solutions to your problems. Trusting them to do their work is crucial.
There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from communicating your brand through clever and insightful creative. But it’s a team effort. And while there is a natural push and pull between clients and agencies, there is also a joy that comes from building a close relationship with them. And guess what? It’ll lead to even better creative in the future.