Sep 19, 2019

The Creative Review: Good Feedback Is A Skill

By: Susan Curhan


The way you provide feedback has the potential to strengthen (or destroy) creative concepts and your agency relationship. Approach giving feedback in three ways: 

  1. First impressions: During the presentation, be engaged enough to say “I like that” or ask a question.
  2. Clear direction: Focus on what’s working and how to make it better. Focus more on the concept you like first, and then move to the ones you don’t like, with less detailed feedback
    • Ask for a day to prepare your Detailed Direction on how to make it better. Moving the details (copy points, placement, colors) to the next day helps focus the immediate comments on big picture items and gives you 24 hours to digest all the little details that need to be included.
  3. Focus on direction, not specific changes: Feedback is about static opinions, but direction includes action and decision making. Speak on behalf of your audience and your brand, this isn’t about what you (or your mom) would like best.

ABCS: A Proven Framework to Review Creative and Provide Feedback 

Too many marketing professionals sit in creative presentations, brief in hand, unsure of whether they like the creative, not sure whether the ideas will drive their business, and unsure about how to give feedback to get what they need. Here are the four questions you should be asking:​

  1. Does this attract Attention? (A)​
  2. Does this showcase the Brand? (B)​
  3. Are we Communicating our main benefit? (C)​
  4. Will this work Stick in the minds of the target audience? (S)​

(A) How to Earn Attention: ​

  1. Be Different: Many brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them and is too risky. Blending in means being invisible.  If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different,” it starts with acting different. ​
  2. Resonate: Connect with the target audience in the way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.​
  3. Entertain: Strike an emotional cord by making your audience laugh, cry, or tingle. The audience interacts with media to be ‘entertained’, so entertain them.​
  4. Be Art : As much as movies, TV, and music continue to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect current trends to capture your target’s attention.  ​
  5. Be where they are: Be where your target audience is open and willing to listen. Media choices impact attention. Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  ​

(B) Brand It:

  1. Be Part of the Story: How do you tell a story using your brand? It’s not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand is to the main point of your creative.​
  2. Tell the Truth: If there is a disconnect between what you say and what you are then the brand connection won’t be there and, worse, could lead to distrust. ​
  3. Own the Idea: Be different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from everyone else. ​
  4. Repeat: The simplest way to build your brand is to consistently repeat your key differentiators.

(C) Communicate It:

Communicating is not what is said, but what is heard. The best way to communicate is through storytelling that involves the brand. The modern-day world of digital media allows richness in storytelling.  ​

  1. Start a Dialogue: If you can do a good job connecting with the target , the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse. ​
  2. What Are You Selling? Keep it simple, focus on one message, and keep asking yourself, “What are we selling?” ​
  3. Powerful Expression: Try to find one key visual that can express what you are selling. This visual can be leveraged throughout your marketing. ​
  4. Sell the Solution—Not the Problem: Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution that your target audience wants to buy.

(S) Be Sticky:

We all want our creative to endure. The best way is to have an idea that is big enough. Consider these five approaches:

  1. Have a Dominant Characteristic: Things that are memorable have something that dominates your mind.​
  2. Include a Big Idea: It’s proven that a goldfish will grow bigger with a bigger bowl. The same is true for ideas.​
  3. Tell Stories: While visuals are key to communicating, in the end people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals that are designed to stick. ​
  4. Always Add a Penny: With each execution, you have a chance to add something to your brand. Avoid duplicating what you’ve done … and try to stretch as much as you can. ​
  5. Know Your Assets: There has to be something in your creative that sticks. Know what that is and then use it in other parts of the marketing mix.​

You invest time and money to select and hire an agency. They deserve a client who can review their work professionally, strategically and consistently.  Use the ABCS model or one you prefer.

Just don’t wing it.


Part 1: Want The Best Creative From Your Agency? Be A Better Client.

Part 2: Great Creative Is Your Responsibility. Really


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