Content Bureau clients are a diverse set, ranging from global tech marketers to venture capitalists, and we take genuine pleasure in getting to know them through email, conference calls, and in-person meetings.
It’s a rare project that doesn’t start with a kick-off call, and it’s during these calls that everyone will toss around a few jokes while nailing down the details that’ll produce another successful collaboration. People even share family news, and life stories—just the other day, I was on the edge of my seat listening to a client’s story of escape from the 2017 Northern California fire.
So when a client wants to jump on a call to discuss a draft we’ve just sent mid-project, it’s very tempting to just pick up the phone. And it seems like the most efficient way to go with feedback: Ideas can be shared, and questions can be answered immediately.
But is it?
Calls are a great way to kick off a project: Ideas are fleshed out, dates are established, general questions are answered, and a level of excitement is usually in the air. Ideally, everyone hangs up knowing what’s expected, and super motivated to get started.
But calls can also get fast and loose. People sometimes stray from the subject, which can be interesting and engaging—except that the focus waivers. And that’s great for a brainstorming–style kick-off call! But not so much when we’re seeking feedback on the first draft of copy.
With mid-project feedback, the key is specificity. Where exactly do we need to change the copy? Are there certain words or sentences that don’t work? Is there specific language already used and approved in-house that we should use instead?
And this is where Track Changes steps in to save the day. When you’re on a call, you’re often multitasking. But when you’re editing a draft, you have to focus, put aside your other activities, and communicate what you really think—and what your other stakeholders have told you they want, as well. All of the distractions and extraneous chat gets weeded out, and usually what results is a clear, directive, and precise set of consolidated changes you’d like us to make. When we receive feedback via Track Changes, it’s faster and easier, and therefore less expensive, for us to deliver exactly what you want in the next draft.
But what if you (or your stakeholders) like to hash out your ideas verbally?
Oh, technology—how sweet you are. I find a great way to do this is to go ahead and hash my little heart out—but I do it into a smartphone recording app. I can crystalize what I want to say, then turn around and fix whatever I’m writing. Some of our clients conduct internal calls where busy execs give verbal feedback on the marketing asset we’re writing, then one person consolidates all that feedback into the document using Track Changes. This isn’t as efficient as asking each stakeholder to provide specific written feedback on the document, but if it’s the only way you’re going to get their feedback, we’ll take it!
The biggest benefit of written feedback? Your writer can come back again and again to your tracked changes. Notes taken during a call risk misunderstanding. But with written communication, the information tends to simmer and get digested on many levels. Ideally, you’ve gone through the process of distillation, and then that process further gets distilled in our brains. And that, Dear Reader, is just what we need to deliver the high-quality marketing asset you so deserve.