You’ve found a creator with a great portfolio to help make your digital marketing video. You’ve authored your creative brief, held a super productive kickoff meeting, and you’re awaiting your first deliverable. The ball is rolling, and the fate of your video is all in the creative’s hands, right?
The client is a crucial part of the video creation team. You don’t just pay for the video, you guide its development to ensure it meets your business needs. Your feedback is crucial, because you have information and insight that your creative lacks. So it’s important to give high quality feedback, which will result in a smoother process, and a better finished product.
Honesty is the Best Policy
The core of good feedback is early honesty. Don’t mistake politeness for helpfulness. If you see something that doesn’t work, point it out the first time you see it. Silence is interpreted as approval, and if you don’t speak up the problem won’t go away on its own.
The peril of not exercising early honesty is that as the production process winds on, things get more expensive to change. Lines in a script are easier to change than a voiceover. A storyboard is easier to change than animation. So the longer you wait, the more the change will hurt.
Tips for Providing Honest Feedback
The biggest cause of out-of-control feedback cycles is inconsistency in the team on the client side. This gets complicated, so let’s break it out into a few tips.
Feedback should ideally be funneled through a single person.A good creative team will ask you in the kick-off call who the gatekeeper is on behalf of your organization. This person should process the feedback, resolve any conflicts or contradictions between advice, and present it to the creative in an orderly fashion. This person should have the authority to make executive decisions about the content of the video, or the ability to work closely with someone who does. The alternative is wasting time trying to sift through multiple conversations and discern what’s actionable and what’s not.
A small feedback team is better than a large one.A more cliché version of this advice is “too many cooks spoil the broth.” If you have ten people with their hands on the video, that’s ten people with differing tastes and goals that need to be made happy. Limit your team to subject matter experts, and people who have the knowledge and authority to be decisive about what will make a more appropriate final product.
The feedback call is not the feedback meeting. Before you loop your creative back in, you should gather your team, review the deliverable, and discuss it amongst yourselves. Scheduling this meeting might be difficult, but if your stakeholders aren’t seeing the deliverable until the creative is on the line, you will only offer shallow, snap impressions instead of detailed, considered input.
Bullet-pointed lists are king. Everyone processes information in a different way, but my personal experience has shown that itemized lists of feedback demand clarity, concision, and specificity. The latter is especially important, because it makes it much easier to talk about solutions. Long paragraphs of prose, or discussion threads, create ambiguity that might lead the project astray.
- Finally, those who start the conversation should end the conversation. Here’s a nightmare scenario for a creative: the video has gone through concept, preproduction, and animation. Lots of decisions have been made, but it’s polished to a shine. Then the client contact says “Now let’s show it to the CEO.” The CEO who hasn’t seen the video before. The CEO who might have had some valuable input early on. Code red, the train has derailed. Late additions to the feedback team will bring new priorities to the project, priorities that demand fundamental changes. And late in the process, those changes will be expensive and difficult. They also might damage the clarity of your end product. So decide on your stakeholders early, and make sure they are involved from beginning to end so you avoid nasty surprises.
Good feedback is too complicated to encompass in a single article. Hopefully, these tips are a productive start. The feedback cycle is a discussion, and as you work with your creative you will learn how to communicate with them effectively. If you understand your role on the creative team, practice early honesty, and manage the discussion well, you will make a better video and have more fun doing it. If you don’t take our word for it, take it from the Flight of the Conchords.
Kole Ross is a freelance writer, voice artist, creative consultant, and podcaster. He worked as a Creative Director for six years before going independent. He is also the founder of the Duckfeed.tv podcast network.