We’ve said it once and we’ll say it a million more times: giving and receiving feedback is a skill. And, it’s a skill not enough professionals, copywriters or otherwise, workout enough. So, while it can sometimes be hard to receive feedback on our copywriting, we can take what we learn from how we receive feedback and incorporate it into how we give copywriting feedback.
If you take away nothing else from this, remember that it all comes down to communication. And we only get better at communication if we practice! So, with that, here are our top tips for giving feedback, both to clients and other writers.
How to Give Feedback to Clients
Ideally, your relationship with your clients is a partnership.
It’s all too easy to gripe about clients and say, “they just don’t get it!” Or shake our heads and say, “Oh clients.” But the truth is, it’s on us as professional copywriters to communicate our needs to our clients. They’re not mind readers!
They also don’t know how to give copywriting feedback.
Going in with this mindset—you and your client wants what’s best for the project and have a positive intent—will help you
How Do You Best Communicate and Process Feedback?
Before you start any project with a client, you need to get clear on how you best receive feedback
Does it work well if you hop on a video call with your client and you walk through the copy together? Does it work better if they include comments on your copy doc explaining what they like and what they don’t like and (here’s the key) why they like or don’t like it?
You need to get clear on what you need to best receive and process feedback. And then you need to ask for it.
Tips for Giving Clients Feedback
- Be timely. If you need to communicate something to your clients, positive or negative, do it as close to the event as possible. For example, if a client is sending you feedback in five different emails over five different days instead of providing consolidated feedback, you may say something after the second email to say, “I noticed I have a couple of different emails with feedback. In the future, is it possible to get all feedback in one consolidated email? That way I can ensure I address all your feedback and no messages get lost in my inbox!”
- Choose your medium wisely. If you want to thank your client for something, email or a group meeting is totally fine if that makes sense. However, for something like working through how your process aligns with the clients’ internal processes, you may not want to try and communicate it via email—or call out their clunky processes in front of an entire group.
- Give the why and the benefit. If you’re asking your client to provide feedback a certain way, focus on the benefit to them! For example, “In an effort to save you any time on word smithing, please provide any feedback via comments versus track changes—I’m happy to take it from there!” Or “In order for me to turn V2 around to you as fast as possible, I appreciate having consolidated feedback from all stakeholders by [insert deadline].”
- Schedule regular check-ins. It’s easy to get in to send-receive mode in our inboxes, especially with clients we’ve worked with for awhile. Don’t underestimate the power of a quick 15-minute check-in with your client every now and then. Particularly for large projects, say a 30-page website rewrite, you may recommend getting a weekly check-in on the books for the length of the project. That way if something is starting to go off the rails, you can get it back on track before it’s too late (and a much bigger headache).
How Give Copywriting Feedback to Junior Copywriters
As you grow in your copywriting career you may hire junior copywriters. As our CCA Next Level members know, this is one of the best ways to scale your copywriting business beyond six figures into the multiple six-figure—and yes, even seven-figure—range.
But hiring a junior copywriter means you need to know how to give feedback to
Show Them the What Not the How
Much like in a pitch where you tell clients what you can do to help their business, you want to do the same for junior writers. The how is what you hired them for! (And what your clients hired you for!)
Inevitably, they’re going to need a few assignments to get used to the client’s style and how best to work with you. But they’re only going to get there—and grow as a writer—if you explain to them what they’re doing well and why it’s done well, as well as where they can improve and why.
For example, let’s say the junior copywriter wrote something like this for a headline: “This 8-ounce mug keeps your coffee extra warm!”
Your instinct may be to say, “Great start, but we need something that focuses more on the benefit. Something like, ‘Power through your entire to-do list before your coffee even goes lukewarm.'”
But … if you’re writing for them—even examples—what’s the point of having hired them? That doesn’t tell them why their headline is off.
Instead you could say something like, “Great start! You’re getting somewhere with the coffee staying warm. Why does that matter? What is that ultimately going to help this customer do? (Small note: I’d recommend losing the 8-ounce piece since that’s a feature!)”
Consider Your Tone
If your writer missed something on the creative brief, it’d be easy to say, “Hey, you completely missed this!”
It’s direct, but not necessarily very effective when it comes to morale.
Instead, consider saying, “The client mentioned x, y, and z in the brief. Can we weave that in here?”
Anytime you see don’t, can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t … basically any contraction with “not,” see if you can reframe in the positive. Pro tip: do a “control F” before you send through any feedback to see if you’re using any “nots” or negative contractions.
Think About How You Like to Receive Feedback
If you absolutely hate certain ways clients give you feedback, consider that when giving your own feedback. It’s all too easy to realize we don’t like certain things clients do, and then turn around and realize we’re doing the same thing to our own team!
When it doubt, have a conversation with your writer. You can even say, “This is how I typically give feedback [tell them how you give feedback]. I want to make sure this works for your process.”
Having the conversation sooner rather than later will ensure a stronger relationship from the get-go.
Your Turn! What are your best practices for giving copywriting feedback? How do you like to receive feedback–and how don’t you like to receive it? Tell us in the comments below!
Last Updated on December 20, 2022