How to Give Your Agency Feedback

So you save time and money, get back better work, and earn that World’s Greatest Client mug.

Wrapping up our 5-part series on fostering productive and happy client-agency relationships, here are eight tips for how to give your agency feedback. Missed part 4? Check out How to Collaborate with a Creative Agency.

Why get good at how to give your agency feedback?

  • You speed up revisions by minimizing confusion and back n forth
  • You receive stronger work that’s more strategically appropriate for your goals
  • You foster strong relationships with your agency and the specific project team

Ready to dive in? Here’s some friendly feedback on how some clients unintentionally make the creative process more challenging and time-consuming for all involved. 

1. Determine your approval process

When figuring out how to give your agency feedback, keep in mind that most projects have multiple internal stakeholders. Some might be closely involved throughout, others only for certain steps or in a higher-level capacity. Every person and team can be different, and chances are you’re more familiar with your colleagues than your agency partner.

Before or during kickoff, decide what happens internally if a stakeholder can’t attend a key review meeting or is late delivering feedback. In our experience, things go smoothest when the client’s project manager (or main point of contact) tracks down the appropriate person for follow-up. While your agency can try to serve in that role, external folks tend to have the least access to a client’s stakeholders.

2. Identify who needs to review what and when

Not every stakeholder needs to do a full review of each deliverable for each stage of a project. Chances are, you have a core team involved throughout a project’s lifecycle and some stakeholders who come in and out at varying levels of involvement. 

Collaborate with your creative agency to identify key milestones for the project, then work with your internal team to decide who needs to see what and when. Chances are, your CEO doesn’t need to look at wireframes for a new website, but maybe they do want to see the mockups or the website during QA. 

When in doubt, ask key stakeholders how involved they want to be. Some other common considerations include legal or regulatory review or getting sign-off from a particular team or leader just for certain elements of a project (such as content related to a particular business unit). 

3. Assign a single point of contact

Have you ever played charades, Heads Up, pub trivia, or other games where multiple people are trying to tell you things…all at the same time? It can get confusing and cause important info to get lost in the noise.

As we touched on in How to Work with a Creative Agency, having a main point of contact to lead communications with your agency is a key step in establishing roles and expectations. A big tip for how to give your agency feedback: with one person clearly relaying feedback, your agency can focus on taking action instead of being confused.

4. Consolidate and align your feedback

Especially with more folks working remotely and collaborating asynchronously, it’s common for group feedback to come in a bit at a time. While that’s usually not an issue, sometimes conflicting feedback can lead to delays and uncertainty about how to proceed. Especially when some folks on the project team don’t have the same internal knowledge and context you do.

Similar to assigning one point of contact with your agency, pick someone on your internal team to clean up group feedback and ensure everything is aligned. That could be your project manager (often the point of contact, anyway), or it could make the most sense for your creative or marketing lead to do this step if they’re the most plugged in.

5. Focus on being objective 

One of the most difficult aspects of being a designer, writer, or other creative is getting subjective feedback. The more objective you can be, the easier it is to build on that feedback to deliver what you want. 

For instance, “I don’t like red” is a personal opinion and leaves pretty much every other color up for grabs. “I prefer blue to red” is still subjective, but at least gives clearer direction. “Let’s try another warm color that’s not as alarming as red” is objective and delivers useful context and direction. Now that’s how to give your agency feedback.

6. Be strategic and specific

One of the reasons why creative briefs are so useful is they clearly outline a project’s goals. Let strategy, not subjectivity or personal preferences, drive your feedback. While red might not be your favorite color, evaluate that color choice based on whether it helps accomplish your goal or work with your branding.

When reviewing creative work, look at everything through the lens of “What problem are we trying to solve or what goal are we trying to achieve? Does this concept/design/headline do that?” 

7. Speak for your audience (not yourself)

Sometimes internal team members belong to a project’s target audience, but that’s often not the case. And even when that is true, a sample size of 1 leaves no margin for error. Your creative brief likely lays out who the target audience is, which is as useful when reviewing work as it is when concepting and refining work. 

As with the tip above, circle back to strategy when reviewing your agency’s work. Consider your feedback from the point of view of your audience. Your marketing or product marketing team should be able to provide personas to define your audience segments, to help you (and your agency partner) dial things in just right.

8. Be engaged throughout the project

Even the best creative agency can’t read minds. Whether it’s positive or constructive, feedback needs to be delivered before it can be heard and applied to your project. 

It helps to attend meetings, even the check-ins or quick stand-ups. These are key times to share news, ideas, and suggestions in real-time with the wider team. And when questions or requests for feedback or assets come in, try your best to respond in a timely fashion. 

Have feedback? We’re all ears

We hope you’ve found this post about how to give your agency feedback useful. Try applying these tips the next time you have feedback to share with your creative agency (or even internal colleagues on the creative side of things).

Of course, we welcome your feedback on the post. Send us your thoughts using the contact form below. Especially if you’re looking for a creative agency that receives glowing feedback for our work.

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