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  • Writer's pictureRhys Wesley

How to manage workflow and feedback as a professional copywriter

You can’t help but feel a bit of a sting when well-intentioned feedback comes laced with personal opinions. It can seem like sometimes the process is going to squash your ideas into jelly.

Here’s the good part. Most technology companies understand that good content and copy are key to marketing success. When you need feedback, subject matter experts are happy to offer their thoughts and opinions. There’s almost always a lot of healthy discussion with many different ideas.

But people are all different, and they have different tastes. Everyone has their own opinion on things, and you can never please everyone all the time. Furthermore, on technical subject matters, even subject matter experts can have different opinions on how to explain things. A healthy discussion can turn into a debate that leads to friction. So managing feedback can quickly become an area fraught with conflict. But you can find ways to make the process efficient and gain the respect and appreciation of your colleagues.

Here are seven pointers to manage feedback as a B2B tech copywriter.

1 - Create a repeatable workflow and feedback management process

Create a framework of how you’ll handle feedback, which can be replicated across different content with just details such as dates and stakeholder names being changed. Share this upfront, and keep it visible to help avoid disagreements later. Here are a few items to include in your feedback process:

1. A detailed copy brief with the final goal.

2. The deadline for the final copy.

3. The channel for feedback (Slack, Asana, Google Docs).

4. A list of stakeholders who will take part in the feedback process.

5. Clearly defined response times from stakeholders.

6. A set number of revision drafts - normally no more than two.

You don’t have to add any more steps and overcomplicate the process. Just focus on execution, and there will be no slow down because of unnecessary obstacles.

One of the most crucial factors here is setting response times (or deadlines for delivery of feedback). This is important to keep the project on track, but it also gives you as a copywriter some leverage to move forward and publish if non-critical stakeholders do not meet their feedback deadlines.

Sample B2B tech copywriting workflow
Sample copywriting workflow. A smooth process should have no more than two versions before it is ready to be published.

Another important factor is to divide the diverse set of stakeholders into two groups—those who have approval power (real knowledge owners and/or the marketing sign-off) and those who have an opinion. That’s the best way to rank feedback in terms of criticality and seriousness.

But what if your work is suffering from too much collaboration?!

Too much feedback from too many sources can negatively impact the quality of your work. There are a few things you can do to push back.

1. First, determine who will give feedback.

2. Inform every stakeholder to offer edits as per the expectation in the copy brief.

3. Show them the kind of feedback you want. Do mention in the initial brief whether you wish the line-by-line comments or a high-level impression.

4. When someone looks to add a new angle or idea, refer to the copy brief. Ensure that every stakeholder understands the vision, audience, and end goal of the copy.

By creating a defined feedback workflow, you can weed out people who offer feedback for feedback’s sake. These boundaries will help you use the “collaborative” tech culture without sacrificing quality.

2 - Choose the right tools

Feedback management is easier than ever because of our access to technology today. To begin with, you may want to think about what copywriting tools are best suited for your situation. To help, here are some pointers.

a. Cloud-based tools are the best option because they have one central source of truth, and people can see each other’s comments. More specifically, Google Docs has a more intuitive interface than Microsoft Office 365. But both programs will suffice for most feedback management tasks.

b. Sometimes, even experts can disagree on certain points. So if one gives input, it may trigger someone else to build on or debate that point. The entire discussion can evolve into a back-and-forth session of ideas flowing organically. That’s where a Slack group conversation can help, since once again people can see what others are saying.

The back-and-forth helps since everyone is forced to present the best thoughts at all times. You get to see varied POVs to come up with something great, even if it means being part of a difficult group conversation now and then.

c. Stay away from MS Word and email. With MS Word, it is easy to lose track of the right version as people offer feedback on various files. And with so many emails going out at once, you can easily get distracted by multiple threads happening (instead of responding promptly to any one thread.)

3 - Be specific about what feedback you need

If feedback is too general, you may need to ask the stakeholders to be more specific. Find out the real issue and consider the feedback on its merit with the final goal. For example, maybe the copy needs more evidence. Don’t forget to dig in if you don’t understand the feedback in one go. Ask for clarifications. If you are not 100% clear on something, don’t guess and get it wrong.

4 - Don’t take it personally

Sooner or later, you’re likely to receive strong feedback that goes way beyond your comfort zone. Don’t let it impact you, and don’t lose sleep over it. Remember that this is not about you. It’s only about what you wrote. That’s the only way you can frame the feedback in a more positive way. Letting go of your ego and owning the feedback is always the first step to growth.

Be sure to separate feedback from emotions.

Copywriting is a complex task. There could be many reasons for feedback that was not the way you hoped. More often than not, the reason is the lack of adherence to the copy brief. The more time you invest in understanding the initial brief, the better you will be down the road, and you’d find the feedback in line with what you expect with minimal surprises.

5 - Get a second pair of eyes

It is always great to have a second pair of eyes for a simple sanity check before hitting the publish button. In some tech startups, there are 2-3 copywriters who share responsibility for all published work. The setup is beneficial because everyone knows what it’s like to be the audience and a writer. The group can look at each other’s drafts so that everything looks flawless when the copy finally releases.

Another set of eyes serves several purposes:

  • They can catch any last typos.

  • They can offer a fresh perspective on things that you have looked at so many times that you may be already blind to.

  • They can confirm that your story is understandable for your target audience - especially important in B2B tech content where concepts, terminology, and solutions may be complex.

6 - Manage the process yourself for the best results

Sometimes, you need to stand by your argument and address the feedback that came your way. Be sure to respond to the concern and not just blindly make the change. Too many corrections can ruin a good narrative.

Present your research-backed reasons and offer a pushback on parts of the copy that you strongly believe in. For instance, tech execs want to focus on “the features” instead of what they can do for clients (the benefits). You can refer back to the initial copy brief and explain that your choices were based on the target audience, positioning in the market, and competitors.

Again, accept that your copy will not be received well by everybody. That’s OK. Your job is not to ignore the feedback but don’t automatically let it divert you. If you don’t want to incorporate the feedback, you still need to respond and be diplomatic. Remind the stakeholders that while you respect their views, you intend to keep the project on schedule.

Here’s a sample email template for such situations:

Hi {name}, thanks for the feedback!

I did this because I wanted to {offer research-backed reasons and/or refer to the brief.}

Unless you would like to discuss more, I'll take this forward to keep things on schedule.

7 - Sometimes you have to throw the process out the window

A lot of unexpected things can happen in a tech environment, especially if you are in startup or scaleup mode. A new product manager gets hired, someone goes on break, a launch is delayed, or a regulation changes. Sometimes you just need to roll with it and be prepared to exercise flexibility and patience - proactively communicate with your stakeholders to redefine the workflow and expectations, and be prepared in case things change again (and again, and sometimes even again).

Concluding thoughts

Feedback management comes down to making a process, owning your craft, and being confident in your research-backed arguments.

Plus, it’s free education. You get to learn from product managers, software developers, marketing executives, SEO specialists, and designers. These are people who know their stuff.

It’s like getting holistic learning that many people pay for!

So although managing feedback can be hard, remind yourself that no copywriters write into a vacuum. That’s not how you progress or produce work that’s of real value. View feedback as an opportunity for becoming better at what you do, and view managing the feedback as a key skill that is just as important as copywriting itself. This will help you learn from many perspectives and become a better professional, and in the long run, the feedback process will be more like a smooth and efficient chance to collaborate than a thankless hard slog.


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