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How to give feedback to your creative team, without hurting feelings

There’s no question that marketers and creative teams need each other, but the two camps don’t always see eye-to-eye.  A marketing manager might want to fit several messages into an email campaign and send it immediately. The designer, on the other hand, is trying to take a business problem and create a focused, emotional connection with the consumer.

Personal biases, miscommunication and different expectations challenge the marketing-creative relationship, but it’s possible—and necessary—to develop a strong working dynamic.

Start with the business problem

The marketer’s job is to pose the right questions for the creative team to solve. This means mapping a strategy that includes the customer's actions — both expected and desired. While this takes more time up front, it helps the marketing and creative teams focus on the primary message.

In the mobile era, it’s especially important to ruthlessly prioritize the message or call to action. Creative teams have just 20 percent of the real estate and half of the customer attention span they historically had with email or display ads. If marketers can articulate in one complete sentence what they want customers to get out of the campaign, they'll have a much easier time putting together a creative brief, explaining that to the team and clearly communicating that message to their target audience.

Ask questions

Instead of saying, “I don't like that,” to creative teams, marketers give them the benefit of the doubt. When people make design and copy decisions, they put each word and pixel there for a reason. It’s important to understand their thought process before making bigger moves and changes. Spend the time to understand how this creative team was trying to solve the business problem you articulated to them. That way you can have a discussion about whether or not it’s solving the problem and it’s not about whether you personally prefer red or blue.

The more that marketers pose comments as questions when they’re giving feedback, the more it gives the creative team time and space to really articulate what it was they were trying to accomplish. It’s possible that the work isn’t meeting the business objective, but maybe both sides can get to the crux of the issue and can move past some of the more generalized aesthetic issues.

Rely on discussions — not email

If marketers are giving feedback to their creative team and it’s taking more than 10 minutes to write up their comments, that time would be better spent discussing the work together. While email and comment tracking are important to document changes for future reference, teams will solve more issues with an in-person or even an over the phone conversation followed by a quick synopsis later, versus trying to explain feedback over email.

Share data to establish trust

Any good relationship involves trust, and that’s certainly the case with marketers and creative departments. Performance data helps both teams develop a level of confidence in each other.

One of the best ways to get members of your creative team more invested in the marketing sophistication of your program is by having them see what kind of business they’re driving by their decision-making. Even if marketers have the greatest strategy in the world, there’s a real possibility that those campaigns won’t perform if their designers and copywriters don’t understand the objective. When the creative team has insights into the impact its work has on company performance, those members will better see how their contributions really are critical to business success.

Creative is more strategic than ever

Your creative people are more than simply the ones who makes things pretty. They hold the keys to great customer experiences. Today, designers and copywriters represent your brand in unconventional channels and ensure that customers have consistent encounters across platforms. Their role has become more strategic as issues like content marketing and user experience gain prominence in the marketing mix. Marketers who understand the strategic relevance of their creative departments — and vice versa — are well on their way to developing a successful working relationship.

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