Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Provide Feedback to Creative Ideas

One of the most uncomfortable but important moments for marketers and executives is in evaluating and providing feedback to creative ideas.  Whether the idea is advertising, media, web designs, packing or a promotional concept, – or any idea for that matter. 

After an idea has been presented by an agency or internal team, many times, the feedback is not constructive. It can be a long running commentary on the personal likes and dislikes of the idea that are not fully thought through and lack a clear point of view and direction.  Even worse, the feedback can be too short, too negative or disjointed if there are several people commenting.  Also, great work is great work, it should be seen and accepted as such without endless small nitpicks on improvement.

Good feedback takes practice and is an art to handle correctly.  But there is a very simple framework approach that makes the process easy and productive if followed in a step-by-step fashion.  Having sat through hundreds of these presentation, and still learning, I find this simple approach most effective.

5 Key Steps to Providing Feedback on Creative Ideas

  1. Sincerely thank the people that worked hard on the idea – really, the presenters have poured a lot of time and energy.  You would be surprised at how rarely this is done
  2. Point out first what is working well  given the brief objective.  What is inspiring?  What connects with you personally?
  3. Which idea best communicates the key consumer idea identified in the brief, regardless of your personal liking.
  4. What areas could be improved and what is missing – was anything unclear, confusing, etc.  Be specific as to elements you with which you are having problems.
  5. Do not try to fix the creative with your specific suggestions – this will backfire and leave the creative team uncomfortable, uninspired and confused with what to do next. They are the creative group you have hired for their expertise, not your own.

By the way, I have also seen marketers take a short break and compose their thoughts before providing feedback against these points.  This is a perfectly acceptable approach and the creative team will appreciate your well-constructed feedback. 

This 5-step approach is perfect for feedback for any creative presentation and can be adapted to fit your own personal style.  It is simple and keeps comments focused, clear and useable.  The creative team will be more likely to hear the feedback and and feel inspired to take their work to the next level if needed.


Jim Matorin said...

Solid five steps. I always like to utilize the sandwich approach: positive, suggestion, positive. I also think there is no need to over process when it comes to creative since the individuals fielding the final creative are not over processing like those in a creative meeting. They field and move on.

Bob Clark said...

@ Jim great point. To be clear and brief is much better and more helpful. I have enjoyed using the term "feed-forward" versus feedback which puts this in better perspective