Giving Your Creative Agency Feedback that Gets Results

Giving Your Creative Agency Feedback that Gets Results

Charles Bloom

The first round creative presentation has just concluded. Concepts have been shared, all fantastic, all potent, and all aligned to our agreed-upon strategy. Maybe there’s a big THANK YOU slide glowing on the monitor. Those who've dialed in are switching off mute, one by one. There’s excitement, a buzz, a murmur. What now?

We at Moxie Sozo have presented a first round or two (or hundreds) — even spoken on the subject — so we’ve got some ideas. First, collect your jaw from the floor (indulge me here, I’m manifesting). Then, as you figure out how to move forward, consider the following mindsets.


Be Clear

Pick a number between zero and ten. It’s six, right? No?

As a creative partner, we employ a lot of experience and techniques to deliver effective work. Mind reading (currently) is not one of them.

So until we do perfect the art of telepathy, it is crucial to communicate candidly and without ambiguity. Be direct. If multiple stakeholders are weighing in, collect that feedback and resolve contradictions before delivering. If there is a disconnect between strategy and creative, tell us. If there is a new hurdle that may affect a direction moving forward, tell us. Successful collaboration comes from transparency, not dilution. Our shared endeavor is not a protect-an-ego thing; it’s a we’ve-got-a-job-to-do-so-let’s-do-it thing.


Be Decisive

Back to that number from zero and ten … was it one? Still no?

Maybe it should be one — as in, pick one direction. Even if the scope allows for multiple concepts to advance, still aim for just one. A single frontrunner receives concentrated attention, energy and refinement, while multiple finalists divide the team's efforts. It is no secret that Moxie Sozo favors decisiveness. Weigh the options against your brand strategy and objectives, pick the strongest direction, and move forward fearlessly. If it helps, avoid revisiting the presentation for a day and take note of which concept is haunting you. Whatever your method: commit.


Be Open

Clarity and decisiveness might come easily, but what to articulate in that feedback may require an approach different than you’re accustomed to. The good news is, it puts the onus back on your creative partner.  

When a concept isn’t quite there, the client's reaction may be to launch into ideas for fixing it. This can involve isolating favorite elements from other directions in hopes of creating the perfect solution — the dreaded [insert name of bolt-necked Universal movie monster here]. Some agencies resign themselves to such a fate, intentionally providing a narrower range of concepts to mitigate this. At Moxie Sozo we prefer to dream up distinct ideas rooted in a singular strategy, and this means that treating design elements á la carte would be a recipe for chaos (and pitchforks).

That is why we ask the client to frame feedback as what’s successful and why and what’s not working and why — but not how to fix anything. We appreciate the vigor, but that is the role you have entrusted to us! Attempts to provide problem and solution can muddy both. We invite feedback for concepts not selected, too, leaving space for incorporating anything that makes sense. In trusting our expertise to solve your problem, you must also trust that even if we do not overtly apply every item of feedback, we do address it.

It's really that trust in the partnership that underlies these and any other collaborative mindset. So when that first round presentation is over and you’re left with a deck of options, try these approaches out for a path with fewer surprises and better results.

And we'll let you know if we ever crack that mind reading thing.