At lunch today, my favourite writer told me a story about a client of ours whom she worked with while I was on vacation. She’s writing his brochure. After initial direction was approved, then a couple of back-and-forths between them, he took the draft to his advisory board for feedback. He got so many and such varied responses his head was spinning and couldn’t sleep that night.
We encourage clients to run their creative by an advisory board or, even better, ideal clients at exactly the stage our client did. However, if you simply say “what do you think,” the question is too open-ended. Here are some tips on how to get the most useful input.
This applies to anything from logos, to web design to any kind of content.
Give Them Some Background
Tell them who the audience is, how it will be used and what you were trying to achieve. For example, it’s going to a specific audience like financial controllers in large corporations (very different than the head of HR at a smaller company). It will be handed out at a tradeshow and you’re hoping to get meetings out of it. Also, tell them what specific result you are after, if applicable, like getting them to call directly versus sign-up through your website.
It helps to give a bit of background on your discussions with the creative team involved as well, like what led to the format or approach taken This may eliminate a lot of questions that can have you second-guessing yourself. Like ‘why didn’t you just do a tri-fold brochure’? You could pre-empt it by saying ‘we discussed doing a tri-fold brochure but realized it would be inserted into large folders and we also wanted to email it so…’
Consider sharing some of the market research that was done to help put it in context, like ‘client interviews indicated what’s most important to them is ______’
Create a List of Specific Questions
What about the piece is important to you – that a certain message get across? That people take a specific action at the end? That it builds a feeling of trust and stability or makes people feel warm and fuzzy? Use this as a guideline to come up with specific questions. Like, ‘did it make you feel warm and fuzzy?’ Same goes for concerns you have – ‘or did it seem too corporate’.
Also think about what you are sure of and don’t intend to change when framing questions. If you definitely like the design but are not sure about the colour, ask them specifically ‘what do you think of the colour?’ Tell them what message you are trying to convey and ask them if they get that from the design or copy. If not what did they get from it?
Broad Questions Are Okay
‘If you had one impression from this piece what was it?’
However, you may want to have follow-up questions ready. If you want it to convey that your services are delivered quickly because of the technology you’ve developed, and they got that, you could ask something like ‘but does it make our service sound cheap because it’s so fast?’
Make the Most of Your Community
Asking for feedback from people who represent your ideal clients or peers you trust for business advice is a great idea. Just prepare for it and know you may get some conflicting input. Don’t be reluctant to ask – most people feel privileged that you value their opinion.
Social media provides additional ways to get objective, anonymous and/or professional feedback. You can ask for feedback via the major channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, but there are also great places, both free, like Get Satisfaction or User Voice and professional/paid like EntreBahn (full version coming soon)
PS. It’s a great way to get a little social media exposure too.
The best thing to do is gather the feedback and go over it with your creative team, who should be completely open to that. We’d discuss each bit, hold it against the creative brief and objectives, decide what’s important and what’s not, and make some executive decisions.