Do you want to give great feedback to your content team?
If so, this post is for you!
Remember when you worked really hard on something only to have someone else completely knock it down—red marks on your book report, holes in your argument, hesitancy about your idea, etc.
It’s no fun.
But have you ever left an in-depth discussion about your work and felt energized?
Is there such a thing?
That feeling likely came from constructive, descriptive feedback. It’s the type of conversation with direction and promise, not one that leaves you with a headful of impostor syndrome.
When you outsource your content, you’ll likely have to give feedback to your content team (no one is perfect). But how can you give great feedback that enables your team to produce content you love?
Giving Great Feedback Starts Before You See A Draft
No matter the topic, there are thousands of ways to approach and frame a piece of content. Say you tell your content team you want a blog about Social Security.
To them, that might mean you want a history of Social Security, commentary on its present funding problem, and how professionals plan to solve it.
But you were thinking about a post that talked about the best time to enroll in benefits.
Those are two completely different articles.
Wouldn’t you (and the writer) like to know that before you’re grimacing at the final draft?
A great way to solve that problem is to get a sense of the article before it’s actually written. Content teams do this in various ways, but at PPC, we create a tailored blog outline for you to review before the writing begins.
With a detailed outline, you can:
- Review the blog for content and structure
- Make comments and changes before writing begins
- Add your unique flare via a story, case study, philosophy, anecdote, etc., to personalize the piece even further.
Giving great feedback happens in stages, and stage one should be before you’re looking at a completed draft.
Use A Central Feedback Hub
When giving feedback, it’s essential to be as efficient as possible, so a crucial piece of information doesn’t get left behind.
If you send line edits in an email, it could bring the editing process to a crawl and introduce room for errors. Sticking with a streamlined system can also avoid getting lost in a sea of multiple drafts.
Many content teams find it helpful to submit, review, and edit content in one place. At PPC, we use Google Docs. With this platform, you can make real-time edits, access all versions of the document, and share feedback internally and externally. But other content platforms can work just as well!
PPC editing tip: Before you start slashing sentences, switch your settings from “editing” to “suggesting.” Doing so highlights your changes, making it easier for your writing team to see what you’re updating and ensure all the edits are well incorporated into the final draft.
Limit The Number Of Content “Reviewers”
Create a scalable internal process for reviewing, editing, and passing feedback to your content team.
While it may feel natural to have an entire team review every piece of content, you’ll quickly run into costly roadblocks:
- Inconsistent feedback among reviewers
- Longer, unsustainable timelines
- Inconsistent content
- Internal and external communication friction
Cut down the number of eyes glancing at every piece of content. Here’s a guide to help.
The Makings of A Strong Internal Content Review Process
Select 1-2 people to be in charge of content review maximum. While this may seem challenging, choose the people with the most exposure to the content, like operations, marketing, or digital specialists.
These people are familiar with your brand guidelines and can give clear direction for the tone and messaging. Finance firms may also benefit from enlisting a junior or mid-career advisor to fact-check the material.
But what if you have a separate compliance department?
Many financial firms work with compliance to ensure their content is above board and doesn’t make outlandish claims or promises to readers. If you’re working with a compliance department, be sure to factor that review process into your internal timeline. 5-10 business days for review and turnaround is usually a safe bet.
Think of compliance as a built-in reviewer. If they take up one seat, you may only need one additional internal person to edit the piece before sending it to the compliance officer.
It’s also important to choose people that have the time to review and give great feedback on content. Ideally, you should budget for about an hour for monthly content review (from outline to final editing).
In most cases, this won’t be the firm owner. Often, owners get bogged down with running the business and serving clients that their content can slip through the cracks. While entirely understandable, prioritizing consistent content is paramount for long-term results.
Your outsourced content team should also provide you with deadlines to help structure the process, but you must stick with those deadlines to avoid delays.
Trust and Teamwork
If you feel you need dozens of reviewers, it likely boils down to the fear of giving up control. Here’s the thing: outsourcing your content is scary, especially for small business owners who are used to having their hand in every piece of communication.
However, the decision to outsource does mean trusting the firm’s expertise and loosening your grasp on control, which isn’t easy but is imperative for a well-oiled content marketing strategy that produces results.
We see many teams and solo-firms struggle with the idea of a blog (or other digital communication) not sounding exactly like them. While your content team will identify your tone and produce pieces specifically designed for your brand’s message, it won’t be the same as hosting a meeting with clients.
A great way to help ease the pressure is to change the “author” field from an individual to a firm or larger team. That way, you can set brand and tone guidelines for the company at large and not necessarily every individual advisor. You may also feel more comfortable outsourcing when the content isn’t directly attached to your name.
Find The Right Words To Give Great Feedback
It’s hard to give great feedback in an area where you’re not an expert.
Take wine tasting as an example.
Say you head over to your local wine bar, and the sommelier pours you a glass of red, but it’s not your speed.
Most of us would say something like, “it’s not my favorite,” or “I don’t like it.”
But will that information help them find you something you actually enjoy?
You’d have to go deeper into why the taste felt off. Perhaps it was too bold, oaky, spicy, acidic, floral, etc. See, getting more specific may help the sommelier realize that you’re not a fan of new-world Syrah, and they can pivot and find you something different, like an old-world Pino Noir!
The same idea applies to your content.
When you’re descriptive about what you like or don’t like, your content team can better understand what works for you and how to repeat that process.
Let’s look at an example. Below are two sentences that say the same thing in different ways:
- Sentence A: Collaborating with a trusted financial advisor catalyzes the goal-setting process.
- Sentence B: You and your advisor can work together on a plan that gets you where you want to go.
The first leans more formal, while the second is more relaxed. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one is better than the other, but it might mean you like one version better. Now, how can you make “like” more specific?
Make Your Feedback Descriptive
If you’re looking at a piece of content that doesn’t quite land right, you may be tempted to simply say you don’t like it.
While that may be true, take some time to figure out why the article doesn’t work for you. Start by asking yourself high-level questions like,
- Is the information incorrect or misleading?
- Does the piece miss key points or ideas?
- Is the language, phrasing, or presentation different than you expected?
- Did the piece lack examples or practical applications to your target audience?
- Did it communicate the message in a way that contradicts your personal beliefs, ideas, processes, etc.?
- Was the language too formal or informal for your brand?
Once you identify the high-level mistakes, start brainstorming some specifics. Don’t worry if you can’t find all the “right” terminology. Being as detailed as possible gives your writers insight into your thought process, and they can make the necessary course corrections.
Let’s use a tough example: tone.
Tips To Give Great Feedback On Writing Tone
What can you do if you feel like the tone of the piece is off? Or if you find yourself thinking, it doesn’t sound like “me”?
First, don’t panic! There will likely always be a learning curve as your writing team understands your business, target audience, and ideal tone/style. Take a deep breath, and then dive in.
Once you’re ready, go through the piece and highlight specific words or phrases that made you pause. When you can offer tangible examples, the team will get a sense of what you don’t like. Perhaps you’re like Ernest Hemingway and don’t appreciate adverbs. Or maybe quick, pithy sentences feel cold and distant to you.
Sometimes when a piece of writing misses the mark, it’s because it didn’t include enough information or didn’t tackle the topic with as much detail or explanation as you’d prefer. So ask yourself, what would you add if you were writing the piece? Is the topic too broad, and you’d want to discuss pointed, specific questions?
Just as important, what would you take away from the piece? Are you deleting examples? Entire sections? Minor phrases? The type of information you prioritize can also give the writer clues about your desired tone.
But how will you know the type of “tone” you’re after? Most financial advisors benefit from one (or a combination) of the following tone archetypes.
Four Tone Archetypes for Financial Advisors To Help Give Great Feedback
- Conversational and approachable
- Approachable tones are more relaxed, friendly, and engaging. This style encourages dialogue with readers and makes brands feel more relatable.
- Inspirational and empowering
- With an inspirational tone, your goal is to create text that helps readers imagine what’s possible. It’s a unique blend of motivation, creativity, imagination, and storytelling.
- Professional and formal
- Cue confident and academic. Professional tones are more objective and data-driven as opposed to personal and story-driven.
- Educational and informative
- If you’re aiming for an educational tone, you seek to bring knowledge to the world. This type of content gives a comprehensive look at a topic to help readers make informed decisions.
If you’re struggling to find the right words to describe your ideal tone, check out our Brand Tone Infographic.
Now you can start giving constructive, descriptive feedback (no wine required).
Remember, you should create all of your communication, like your blog, email, social media, and website, with your audience, values, and goals in mind. An excellent way to get started is outsourcing that messaging and ongoing communication strategy to the experts.
If you have any questions about what it’s like to work with an outsourced content team or how to give great feedback, let’s talk about it together!