5 Ways to Give Constructive Feedback to Agencies

There’s a little thrill I get hitting send on a deliverable to a client. While I may not have actually created the deliverable, we client solution partners (CSPs) are there every step of the way, collaborating with our creative, strategy, analytics and development teams. And, most of all, we’re collaborating with our clients so that we can be their voice in the room and anticipate their thoughts and feedback. So, when I hit send on that email after checking it over for what seems like the millionth time, a wave of exhilaration surges through me.

And then, boop. You, the client, see that email hit your inbox. I know you are just as excited to receive it as I am sending it! As you’re reviewing, you are going to have feedback that can move creative executions from great to stellar. You may think, “Where should I start with providing feedback?” or “How do I make sure to get my thoughts across clearly?” Well, as I often say to my clients, I’m happy to help.

Dust Off That Brief

Especially with a bigger project, it may have been a while since you last reviewed the strategy or the creative brief. In anticipation of receiving creative, refamiliarize yourself with the problem, the objectives and the goals. As we create on the agency side, we are constantly looking at the brief to ensure every ask is being covered and completed in the right ways. Before you give feedback, make sure that you ground yourself in the ask to ensure that there is nothing contradictory.

When Do You Have Time for a Call?

Ever feel like you’re just not able to communicate your thoughts accurately in an email? Sure, you have—we all have. You can’t read pauses, or hmms, as you ponder over an email. Your facial expressions can’t be read. And you can’t get that real-time thinking from your creative partners. When reviewing a deliverable, it is key to be able to simply talk it out. Getting on the phone with your agency partner (or better yet, video chatting, where you can share screens), is one of the best ways to give constructive feedback. It creates a dialogue rather than one-way conversations. And it opens the door for explanation of thought. Direct connection can also streamline refinement rounds and, dare I say, scope creep. A bonus is that it creates a deeper relationship not only with your CSP but with your entire agency team. These relationships are so important in developing work that continues to exceed your expectations.

Gather It All in One Place

It can be so challenging to deliver creative and get feedback at different times from different people. Receiving feedback this way can be contradictory, and more time is spent deciphering the feedback than being able to work on refinement. We often see timelines increase based solely on this. On the client side, it is important to identify one person who will gather all internal feedback, work to resolve any contradictory comments and send it back to your agency.

Be Descriptive. Be Specific.

I don’t like this. This doesn’t feel right. I feel like this missed the mark.
Great. But why? These simple statements don’t tell your agency how to make it right. We don’t present creative that we don’t like, or doesn’t feel right, or we feel misses the mark. Sometimes feedback causes confusion on the agency side. Instead of “I feel like this missed the mark,” maybe it’s “I feel like this missed the mark by not speaking directly to X audience.” Providing that additional context is critical to determine how we may need to pivot. It can also lead to a greater conversation on why the agency team approached it that way, if we’re able to talk it out.

Point Out What You Like

No one wants to hear that you don’t like their work. Honestly, we can all get a bit defensive about it. When reviewing the creative, talk about what works well or how it made you feel. We are anticipating that you are going to have points that you may not like or that you want refined. Starting with what you do like goes a long way in how the rest of the conversation will go. Everyone will leave the call feeling much better about the direction and next steps.

Giving constructive feedback to your agency partner is what makes our relationship work. It’s going to make the strategy better and the creative better. We both have the same goal: To make you and your work stand out. To meet your objectives. To build up your business, together.

Interested in exploring other ways of enchancing client/agency relationships? Read our It’s the little things that build strong client/agency relationships blog post which highlights key actions agencies can take to build strong, transparent and trusted client partnerships.

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