We build revision cycles into our copywriting quotes because we expect client feedback. We like to think we provide our clients with the best ways to phrase their messages, but they’re certainly not the only ways. And because our clients (a) know better than we do what they want and (b) know their business better than we do until we’ve been working with them long enough, their feedback is tremendously valuable and almost always makes the work better.

Notice how we said almost always.

Sometimes, client feedback can be the opposite of helpful: confusing, demoralizing, rude, disorganized and unthoughtful. You can’t do anything with this kind of feedback other than address it, give the client what they want and move on.

But this blog isn’t about bad feedback. It’s about great feedback and what makes it so.

The five qualities of great feedback

We’ve been doing this for a long time. We’ve written a ton of V1s and gotten feedback on just about all of them. This is what we look for.

1. Rationales

It’s okay to not like something. Seriously. This is a subjective business. But we have to know why you don’t like it. Too pithy? Too scientific or conversational or funny or goofy or long? If we know your specific objections, we can address them. Context is everything.

2. Examples

If you have an idea about what you want to see, share it! We’re not mind-readers. It can be a link to something you like. It can be something you write. Tell us where you’re head’s at and we’ll join you there.

3. Clarity

It’s important to read your feedback over before you send it through. Do you understand what you’re saying? If you don’t, how likely is it that we will? Our advice in this area is to stay basic. “I’m not feeling this paragraph. It’s too long and I think the reader’s going to get lost. Consider shortening by half and leading with the value prop instead of the example.” Perfect.

4. Time

Years ago, we heard a story of a senior copywriter who, upon getting a change request from an account manager with an outrageously short window to complete it, turned around and said, “You know, we’re not baking cookies here!” And it’s true. Feedback needs to be digested and considered. And it requires thought to shift from what we thought was solid to what you think is more solid. If you want it done right, give us the time to do it right. This isn’t to say we need a week, but more than 45 minutes would be nice.

5. Honesty

Never be afraid to give feedback, and never be afraid to give it to us straight. We’re all big boys and girls — we can take it. And we won’t take it personally because good creative professionals know it’s always about the work.

A last word about giving good feedback

Writing is an iterative process. This can get frustrating, but stick with the process because it’s effective. The best work results from a healthy back and forth between us and you. Sometimes we’ll do a few versions only to decide that what we showed you first was the best option. That’s okay because it’s all about discovery and comparison. The most important thing to remember is that we’re on the same side. We both want the work to be the best it can be, and we both want to be proud of it. And with a commitment to working together, it will be.