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Getting the best results through constructive feedback (in copywriting and dog training)

by | May 15, 2019 | Communications, Content, Copywriting, Language, Tone of voice | 0 comments

Most dog owners know that one of the principles of basic canine training is rewarding good behaviour and correcting undesirable (bad) behaviour. If you aren’t clear with your dog about what is right and wrong he/she won’t have a clue what to do. Waiting patiently for food? Good. Jumping up at visitors? Bad. A lot of undesirable behaviour comes from us not being clear with our dog what we want and not giving rewarding feedback on the good.

What the chuff has dog training got to do with copywriting? I’ve got a dog, I’m a copywriter and it’s my blog is what 😉 Getting the feedback loop right in the copywriting/client relationship is key to getting the best work.

Feedback is an essential part of the copywriting process. The client has to provide notes on the submitted work in order to get the desired outcome. BUT, not all feedback is constructive and it can cause conflict and/or tension. So, what does good feedback look like? And bad, and ugly?

Before we get to the feedback bit, we have to assume here that a great brief has been provided, the right questions have been asked and answered and you have both (client and copywriter) decided you want to work together. A good copywriter will always do their utmost to ensure the brief is tight. Doing this SHOULD mean minimal revisions.

Before giving feedback on submitted work the client needs to think about:-

  • Is it fit for purpose?
  • Does it speak in the right language for the target audience? For example an internal comms piece for a global audience where English may be a second language for some needs to be kept in simple plain English, with punchy, short sentences and globally recognisable cultural references.
  • Is the copy directed at a particular age group, geographical sector OR focussed on a weakness, desire, need, fear? Is that all correctly addressed in the copy?
  • Has the brief been met?

So, having considered all that what does good feedback look like?

Good (constructive) feedback
Great on facts but needs to be more salesy
I like what you have done overall but it’s too salesy for me
Great, but I think we need to expand on this particular product/service
Having thought about I don’t want to push that particular service so can we cut it
Actually, can we cut that or rewrite so it so I’m not giving too much information to my competitors
I don’t like that word, can you use something else?
Please note I have deliberately missed out the oft used “Deborah, this is brilliant, exactly what I asked for”.

Bad feedback
It needs more oomph – come on, we need more to work with than this!
I don’t like it – what we need is what you do like!

Ugly feedback
Did you even read the brief? – !
My husband/wife doesn’t like it – are they your target audience?

Copywriters want to get it right for the client. They (we) want to do the best job for you (like an eager to please dog!) and that relationship works best when constructive feedback is given, listened to and acted upon.

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