It’s extremely difficult to assess creative work. What’s fabulous to one person could be terrible to another. Let me give you an example.
During my time as a producer at a video production company, I wrote and produced a TV ad for a realty company featuring a conversation between a couple about their dream home. The client thought the setting for the conversation was inappropriate because the scene took place in a bed. In the end, we reshot the TV spot, changing the location from a bedroom to a kitchen.
What a learning experience! While I never thought twice about a married couple in bed together on television, the client’s opinion was that it would reflect badly on the company.
In some industries, there is often a clear right and wrong solution, but in creative work, everything is subjective. So how do you review work to make sure your clients or customers respond positively to your messaging? Here are some tips I’ve learned through my experiences reviewing creative work and having my work reviewed.
- Know your audience
If you are a 55-year-old man and are selling to teen girls, the marketing campaign may not be to your taste. That’s okay. You’ll need to separate your own personal opinion from your opinion as a marketer. It’s like using different lenses to see the piece from different perspectives. Imagine the mindset of your audience as they view the piece. This is easier said than done. For many people who are not in a marketing field, focus groups can keep personal opinions and tastes separate from the opinions of your audience.
- Make copy changes first
This is possibly the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my career. It’s much, much easier, faster and less expensive to make changes to text prior to going into the design or production phase of a project. Changes after the writing phase are often extremely expensive and time-consuming.
Read the text carefully to make sure that your message is on-point. If you are unsure of anything, ask early on, prior to when the piece is designed or produced. An hour in pre-production can save you days in production.
- Be specific about changes
I’ll sometimes receive feedback like, “it needs to pop more” or “it needs more of a wow factor.” It’s difficult to know what clients mean when they say phrases like these. I can guess, but really it’s just a guess.
Think about why something is not working. What are the reasons it needs to change? Try to be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of “it’s too jarring” you could say, “if you change the red to blue it may have a more calming effect.”
- Approach giving feedback as an open conversation
Unless you’re violently opposed to a certain aspect of the work, try to keep an open mind when giving feedback. A creative may have a reason you hadn’t considered. If you hire a professional contractor, they’re there to work with you and offer the benefit of their expertise. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even questions that seem obvious can help provide unexpected insight.
In the end, creatives want clients to be happy with the work. Changes are a part of the process to ensure that the product achieves its purposes. Our goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for the benefit of everyone involved.